2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether it is correct, as stated in connexion with the report of the interview with Captain Creswell which appeared in the Age of yesterday, that the Imperial Defence Committee is opposed to Captain Creswell’s present proposals for the creation of Australian torpedo flotillas. If so, I should like to know why the information referred to could not have been given directly to honorable members instead of being permitted to first become public per medium of an interview between one of the officers of the Defence Department and an Age reporter ?
– I read the report of the interview, but do not recollect the particular remark to which the honorable member refers. If, as the honorable member says, Captain Creswell alluded to the report of the Imperial Defence Committee in the terms referred tobe may have been drawing a bow at a venture, indicating his expectations, or have derived information from some source of which we are not aware. He had not then seen the, report of the Committee.
– In the Age and Argus of last Saturday, the following statement appeared under the heading of “ Queenscliff Canteen “ : -
The following statement was issued yesterday by the Minister of Defence on the question of the prices charged to officers and men at the Queenscliff military canteen.
Then followed an attack upon the minority; report of the Hawker Inquiry Board. I should like to know whether this statement was made upon the authority of the Minister of Defence.
– I have no information as to the authority for the statement, but I shall make inquiries and communicate with the honorable and learned member tomorrow.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister a question with reference to the statements made by the Premier of New South Wales, and reported in the recordsof the Conference of State Premiers recently held in Sydney. Mr. Carruthers, speaking on the subject of the Federal Capital, is reported to have said-
I do not like the idea of a “ stringy-bark “ capital, but there is no necessity.
Mr. Bent. Why not adopt the idea of ten years in each place - Sydney and Melbourne?
– Let them bring that on
Mr. Bent. Shall we suggest that course?
– You can suggest it, but we shall get into deep water when once we suggest amendments in the Constitution.
At a later stage Mr. Carruthers further stated-
To suggest an amendment would put ourselves in a false position. I think the general feeling in New South Wales is against a bush capital. If the Federal Parliament can gather that that feeling exists, it should at once take the matter in hand and propose an amendment of the Constitution to get the question settled.
I should like to know whether the Prime Minister will give consideration to the suggestion made by Mr. Carruthers, with a view to submitting to Parliament a resolution in the direction of referring the question of the revision of the Constitution to the electors.
– The honorable member has quoted from a report of the Confer ence which took place between the States Premiers alone. I had not an opportunity of being present at that discussion. Though I would not for a moment dispute that the Premiers of the States represent their respective Parliaments, I would point out that we look to the repre.sentatives of New South Wales in this Parliament for an expression of the opinion of the electors of that State with regard to the Federal Capital Site question. To my recollection, they have not proposed any such course as that suggested.
– They opposed it when if was suggested.
– It was suggested two years ago.
– At any rate, the suggestion has not been made so authoritatively as to call for consideration by the Government, and I am not aware that it calls for that consideration.
– I wish to know whether the Minister of Home Affairs has yet concluded arrangements for a visit by honorable members to the new sites proposed for the Federal Capital.
– I have prepared an itinerary, and I have telegraphed to Mr. Carruthers, asking him to meet me in Sydney to-morrow with a view to definitely arranging matters.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the following passage in a resolution with regard to the Braddon section of the Constitution, unanimously passed by the States Premiers at the recent Conference : -
Subsequently this clause was modified by the Premiers’ Conference, in 1898, at the instance, chiefly, of New South Wales.
The alteration suggested by the Premiers’ Conference resulted in the present section of the Act, but neither Victoria nor South Australia nor Tasmania submitted the amended Bill to the electors.
We therefore believe that the majority of the electors are still in favour of the original clause, and that the earliest opportunity should be afforded to them of directly expressing their opinions to that effect before any attempt be made to vary the present system of distribution of the Customs revenue.
We believe that the most opportune time for such reference to the people will be at the ensuing general elections, and we therefore invite the Prime Minister to move in that direction.
– I rise to a point of order. The course that is now being adopted by the honorable and learned member is an abuse of the privileges of honorable members in addressing questions to Ministers. If this kind of thing is to be permitted, honorable members may read the whole of the reports of conferences such as that referred! to by the honorable and learned .member.
– Are we not entitled to ask questions, in a form in which they will elicit the information we desire?
– Yes, in the proper way. But I submit that the honorable and learned member is abusing his privilege.
– I was on the point of interfering when the honorable member for Parramatta rose. I ‘had intended to point out that the extract that the honorable and learned member was reading was too long, and to ask him not to read any more than was absolutely necessary to indicate the nature of his question.
– I was about to ask the Prime Minister whether the statements quoted by me were correct. If they are incorrect, will the Prime Minister take into consideration the propriety of having prepared or compiled some history of the Federal movement, in order that States Ministers may not be so utterly unaware of what has taken place?
– The statement quoted by the honorable and learned member is erroneous. A second referendum was taken in every State. What may be termed a semi-official record of the Federal movement, and of the votes recorded by the electors, is to be found in Quick and Garran’s Annotated Constitution.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether it is in accordance with the regulations for officers of the Defence Department to grant interviews to representatives of the press?
– I do not think that there is any regulation dealing with that matter, but obviously the practice to which the honorable member refers would be unwise.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster- General whether, since his return to Australia, he has noticed in the daily press, statements to the effect that various illegal establishments known as “ tote shops” are connected with the telephone system, and that the use of the telephone is necessary for the conduct of their business? Also whether he will take further steps, if necessary, to prevent such establishments from enjoying the use of the telephone system?
– In reply to the honorable and learned member, I would point out that the regulations provide that upon the conviction of any person carrying on a. “tote” shop, the telephone may be cut off from his establishment. That is the power I have at present, and I shall be very pleased to have the telephone disconnected from the premises of any person who is. convicted either of conducting a “ tote “ shop or of engaging in any other illegal business.
– In view of the serious nature of the betting and gambling evil, will the Postmaster-General consider the advisability of altering the regulations so as to insure that the public telephone shall not be used for such immoral purposes?
– I should like the honorable member to ‘give notice of that question, because it seems to me that to give effect to his desire would necessitate the introduction of a Bill to appoint a censor of the morals of the community.
– In the newspapers to-day the Prime Minister is reported to have stated that a commercial convention between the Commonwealth and New Zealand -had been signed by Mr. Seddon before his death, and that it would be laid upon the table of the House before the next election. I should like to know whether the convention was also signed on behalf of the Commonwealth, and, if so, why it cannot be laid upon the table of the House before the next election?
– In reply to the honorable and learned member, I desire to say that a draft commercial convention was signed both by Mr. Seddon and myself, but in consequence of the lamented and unexpected death- of the late Premier of New Zealand, the Government were requested by his surviving colleagues to defer any publication of its terms until they had a further opportunity of considering it. Owing to the fact that they did not receive the papers of their late chief at the time the New Zealand Parliament met and adjourned for two months, they had no opportunity of seeing all the details of the agreement. Our understanding was that it should be laid upon the tables of the Houses of the New Zealand Parliament and of the Commonwealth Parliament simultaneously. As soon as the New Zealand Government are ready, we are prepared to lay it upon the table.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether he is in a position to make an announcement respecting the proposed formation of a squadron of the Light Horse Regiment at Bendigo, and what is to be the arrangement, organization, and command?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The Ninth Australian Light Horse Regiment at present consists of two squadrons in the Ballarat district; and two troops each, forming two squadrons, at Elmore, Echuca, Kerang, and Pyramid Hill. The redistribution of the troops allotted to Elmore, Echuca, Kerang, and Pyramid Hill have been found necessary, owing to the unsatisfactory attendances at parade. On the recommendation of the Military Board, it has been decided to reorganize the regiment as follows : - One troop each at Elmore, Echuca, Kerang, and Pyramid Hill, which will constitute No. 4 squadron. One complete squadron at Bendigo, to be called No. 3 squadron. These two squadrons will have their head-quarters at, and be administered from, Bendigo. The question as to who will command will be decided when the squadrons have been reformed. The two squadrons (Nos. 1 and 2) in the Ballarat district will be independently administered from Ballarat. It is not at present proposed to appoint a Commanding Officer for the whole regiment.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions, as supplied by the Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s, questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. Arrangements have been made in New South Wales tinder which the Police, whilst conducting their annual house to house canvass for the State rolls, shall also endeavour to bring the Commonwealth Rolls up to date, as far as possible, by reporting -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The following replies have been furnished to the honorable member’s questions by the Public Service Commissioner, who has arranged the transfers consequent upon classification : -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– I have much pleasure in placing the information upon the table of the House in the form of the following; return : -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The Public Service Commissioner “ has furnished the following replies : -
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s questions is as follows : -
The duration of the summer vacation was eight weeks, and that of the winter vacation will be four weeks, as enacted by Parliament, in Order XLVIII, Rule 3 of the Rules of Court scheduled to the High Court Procedure Act 1903.
– I can now answer the question put to me on Friday last by the honorable member for North Sydney, in reference to city telegraph offices. The honorable member desired to know -
The answers are as follow: -
Melbourne, where three offices have been worked by tube and one by messenger for years past.
– I am now in a position to supply the information sought on 5th inst. by the honorable member for Maranoa, in reference to military travelling expenses. The return is as follows: -
Returns of amounts paid as Travelling Allowances, &c., during the financial year 1905-6, to : -
The Inspector-General of the Military Forces arid his Staff.
The members of the Military Board, and the Directors of the Administrative Staff.
The District Commandants and their Staffs.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending that an appropriation be made from the consolidated revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the Bill be now recommitted to a Committee of the whole House for the reconsideration of clauses 3, 6,10,11,11b, 14, 17, and 18a, in regard to the following proposed amendments : -
Clause 3, page 2, line 6, omit “ Lower,”insert “ Inadequate.” page 2, line 6, omit “ less,” insert “ inadequate.” page 2, line 6, omit “ longer,” insert “ excessive.” page 2, line8, omit “ more,” insert “ unduly.”
Clause 6, page 3, lines 1-2, omit “ a lower,” insert “ an inadequate.”
Clause 10, page 3, line 47, omit “ destroying or in juring,” insert “ destructive or injurious.” page 3, line 48, before “any “ insert “to.” page 4, line 6, omit “ Judge,” insert “Justice.”
Clause 11, page 4, lines 15-16, omit “any competent Court exercising Federal jurisdiction,” insert “ the High Court before a Justice without a jury.”
Clause11b, page 4, omit the clause.
Clause 14, page 6, line 14, omit “ a lower,” insert “ an inadequate.”
Clause 17, page 7, lines 47-48, omit “including the power, if he thinks fit, to.” insert “ He may, if he thinks fit, and shall on the application of either party.” page 7, line 49, at end of sub-clause (2), add “ and he may, if he thinks fit, at any stage of the proceeding, refer the investigation and determination of the matter to the Full Court, which shall, in that case, have all the powers and functions of a Justice under this Part of this Act.” page8, line 3, omit “ thereby,” insert “therein.”
Clause18a, page 8, line 49, omit “ in,” insert “ or limitation on.”
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the following words be added : - “ and clause 17, page 8, lines 25 and 26, omit ‘without unfairly injuring any other section of the community.’ “
Question - that the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- When clause 21 was under consideration, I raised the question whether a penalty of imprison ment should not be provided to meet the case of a man of straw being put forward by a manufacturer to give false information to the Department - a proceeding which might lead to the “ holding up “ of a trade, and to an evasion, on the manufacturer’s part, of the mere money penalty imposed by this clause. The Minister said he would consider the paint, and I should like to know the conclusion at which he has arrived, and whether he is serious in the matter. The clause was allowed to pass on Friday on the Ministerial assurance that the point would be considered ; and I suggest that a division might be taken, without debate, on a proposed amendment, with the object of imposing the penalty of imprisonment in cases where there has been deliberate evasion of the Act.
– A penalty is already provided.
– But there is no penalty against a man of straw, on whose recommendations the Minister may act under clause 15. If it be found that a complaint made is one that cannot be substantiated, the only penalty is a fine of £100 and the costs; and it is obvious that, as the Bill now stands, a man, who is absolutely without property, could not be touched. Indeed the Bill, in its present shape, offers a premium on actions such as I have indicated. On Friday I suggested that the penalty of imprisonment should also be provided, but, owing to the lateness of the hour, I did not press the point. This is a suggestion which I think the Minister might accept as one likely to strengthen the Bill.
– But there is a penalty of £100, and also the liability to pay costs.
– It is impossible to get blood out of a stone ; and a man who has no property does not care whether or not damages or costs are awarded against him - he simply does not pay. I am sure that the Attorney-General must see the point ; and, at any rate, no ill result would follow the discussion of an amendment of the kind on recommittal.
– We cannot consent to recommit the clause.
– Then I beg to move-
That the following words be added, “ and clause 21, with the object of providing the penalty of imprisonment, as well as a money penalty.”
.- I second the motion, on the ground that we are placing in the hand’s of a class of manufacturers a very formidable weapon which might enable them to ruin any one of their tirade rivals. A manufacturer would not be able to readily procure a dummy or man of straw if, in addition to a penalty of ^100 and costs, imprisonment were likely to follow. When we create the great powers we do under this Bill the least we can provide is that the man who is really instrumental in putting the law into motion shall himself bear the ]enalty of wrongful action. If this clause were recommitted, we should be able, possibly, to insert an amendment to that end ; but, failing that, it is our duty to, as far as possible, prevent any manufacturer from procuring some person, in return, probably, for a few pounds, to lay any information which may or may not be absolutely true. There might be so much partial proof of the information, that, in case of proceedings for perjury, a jury would decline to convict; and it is not too much to ask that a person, who wilfully makes a false statement, shall be subject to more than a mere fine. Considering that on Friday last time was too pressing for us to consider such points as these, I hope honorable members will see the advisability of supporting the motion of the honorable member for Wentworth. This is a matter worth consideration, because, in the absence of an amendment, very great abuses may arise.
– If the money penalty is not paid, is the informant to foe sent to prison ?
– There should be that power ; the real person at the back of the proceedings should pay the money penalty, lt must be remembered that the offender who goes to prison will have to be convicted of perjury ; and I know of no law passed by any Parliament, in which such an offence is visited bv a money penalty only. Had no penalty been provided under the clause, an offender might be proceeded against under ordinary criminal law; but the specific penalty prevents any such step. As the clause stands, a man who has committed perjury is merely liable to a penalty not exceeding £100.
– And the penalty cannot be recovered from a man of straw.
– There are also the costs.
– But the case to be met is one in which a man has wilfully made a false statement - committed perjury.
– It is not perjury; the informer has not taken an oath.
– According to the clause an offender must have made, and be convicted of making, a wilfully false statement to the Comptroller-General, or some other officer of Customs; the offender has not to make merely an inaccurate statement, but one that he knows to be false. What are we coming to when this Parliament allows a clause to slip through which would allow a man who had been convicted of committing perjury to be fined only £100) If he is a wealthy man. such a fine would be nothing to him whatever. I fail to understand why the AttorneyGeneral does not grasp the importance of the point. It is a very great pity indeed that he should refuse to consent to allow the Committee to have another opportunity to discuss a clause which slipped through while we were hurriedly dealing with the last part of the Bill on Friday afternoon.
– It was before the Committee for a considerable time.
– I have no hesitation in saying that the particular provision to which I refer has never been before the Committee. Take it that a wealthy man lays an information under the clause, and that he is afterwards convicted of having made a wilfully false statement. Does the Attorney-General imagine that that man will be punished merely by being fined £I00 ? He can turn round and say. “ There may be laws for perjury, but all you can do, to me is to fine me a sum which I can very easily pay.”
– Did the honorable member say that when the importer was relieved in just the same way ?
– I do not care who the offender is; a man who commits perjury ought to be properly punished.
– It is not perjury.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral tell me what making a. wilfully false statement is if it is not perjury ? Here we have the lawyers’ distinction again ! A man can lay an information, and make a wilfully false statement in so doing, but he has not committed perjury because he was not sworn according to proper forms and ceremonies.
– It may be worth a man’s while in a case involving hundreds of pounds to make a false statement.
– A man may have landed his trade opponent in costs amount- ing to£1,000 by making a wilfully false statement. But here we have the highly technical distinction drawn that if the wilfully false statement is not made on oath the offender is not guilty of perjury.
– Does the honorable member say that it is perjury ?
– I say that, except for the distinction drawn, it would and ought to be perjury. Any man who wilfully makes a false statement to the ComptrollerGeneral, so as to mislead him into instituting proceedings by which another man may be put to an expense of hundreds of pounds in costs, is morally guilty of perjury. Indeed, I am not at all sure that it would not be perjury despite the provisions of this Bill. It is quite true that perjury does consist, in the legal sense, in wilfully making a false statement on oath.But it ought not to excuse a man who wilfully makes a false statement under this clause that he has not made it on oath. He ought not to be allowed practically to compromise merely by paying a fine of £100. Such a penalty would be no punishment whatever in the case of a man of wealth, and it would be useless in the case of a man of straw. It might pay a man of wealth to institute proceedings against a trade rival, and it might also pay a man of no means to do the same, with the knowledge that the only penalty attached to the false statement was a penalty of £100. I have no hesitation in saying that this clause ought to be recommitted. The Minister must understand the full importance of it. Therefore, I gladly support the motion.
– There is a strange confusion between the two honorable members opposite who are opposing this clause.
– Wilfully making a false statement is what I dealt with.
– The honorable member for Wentworth said that a very poor man, who had not sufficient money, could give no satisfaction in such a case unless he were sent to gaol. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa says that the rich man who is able to pay is the person who can give no satisfaction in such a case unless he is sent to gaol.
– We spoke from different points of view.
– The honorable and learned member has made a very long speech, in which he said the same thing three times over, and perhaps he will now allow me to make an answer once. He also said that he would challenge us to show any other provision of a similar nature.
– I do.
– In this very Bill-
– Except in this Bill.
– In this very Bill, when the importer or monopolist, however rich and wealthy he may be, has done something with intent to injure the public, we have said that for the first offence he shallnot be imprisoned.
– Did not the honorable and learned member for Werriwa object to that?
– The honorable and learned member was one of the very strongest supporters of that provision.
– I say that if a man wilfully makes a false statement he should be imprisoned.
– I have shown a case of the kind in answer to the honorable and learned member’s challenge, and here we simply apply to the poor man what honorable members opposite have agreed shall be applied to the rich man. The wealthy importer for his first offence of attempting with intent to destroy our industries, or to act to the detriment of the public at large, is not to be imprisoned.
– That is not committing perjury.
– Order ! The honorable and learned member is out of order.
– For the first offence he is to be let off with a fine, and in this clause we have said that a man who comes forward to give information shall be put on the same footing. According to honorable members opposite, what is not right in this case is to be considered right in the case of the rich importer. I am unable to admit the justice of that argument. Let me put something else. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa fell into confusion of thought in his own remarks. If a wealthy manufacturer desires to injure an importer he goes to the ComptrollerGeneral and makes a statement. Every one knows the distinction between a false oath and a false statement. One is perjury and the other is not. Morally there is no distinction, but we know the distinction in law. This manufacturer, the honorable and learned member contends, will know that he has only to pay a penalty of £100. But that is not correct, because in the clause referred to it is provided that he may be ordered to pay the whole of the costs of the importer. Is not that, rather a heavy penalty?
– - Not if he wilfully makes a false statement.
– He is placed in the same position as the importer found guilty of what is treason to the whole public, treason to the community of which he is a member. For his first offence of this kind he is liable to a penalty of £500. I do not think that he can be called upon to pay costs, but an injunction may be issued against him. A man who brings false information which the Minister may test or not as he pleases - and the Minister, or the Comptroller-General rather, will take very good care that he is standing on fair ground before he proceeds - is liable to a penalty of £100, and to be brought before a Justice, and made to pay the whole of the costs he inflicts on the other side. We can say that he is placed in a worse position than is the importer. We have heard no groans from the other side on behalf of the importer, and we propose to place the two men in precisely the same position. We hold that what is justice for the one is justice for the other.
– Why not provide imprisonment for both?
– That is exactly what honorable members opposite have kept out in the case of the importer. Therefore, we say that we have dene the fair and proper thing. It seems to me that having put ‘both on the same footing there should be no ground for complaint.
– The Attorney-General stated that he could not see any difference between an importer who committed treason against the community being allowed to escape imprisonment for his first offence, and a person who made a wilfully false statement having to pay a penalty of only £100, and being allowed to escape imprisonment. In the first case the reason why there should be no imprisonment for a first offence is that this is novel legislation - of a character entirely different from any which has governed commerce in the past, and the importer might act unwittingly. It was felt that in the circumstances he should be given full notice, and that no verv drastic punishment should follow a first offence of the kind. But under clause 2i we are dealing with a man who deliberately and wilfully makes a false statement, and there is no reason why he should be given any particular notice. A man who comes forward to make a statement of this kind which he knows to be false, deliberately and wilfully makes a false statement, and in such a case it would appear that the punishment should be governed bv the enormity of the offence. The Attorney-General went on to say that the statement made is one which the Minister can test, and that he will not put the Act into force unless he is satisfied that there is good ground1 for so doing. The honorable and learned gentleman’s faith in the Minister of Trade and Customs is much greater than is mine. I judge the Minister only by our experience of his actions on previous occasions. We must allow our experience to govern us in these matters. Unless we have a strong recantation from a person who has offended, we are justified in concluding that what he has done in the nast he will be prepared to do in the future. As in the past the Minister of Trade and Customs has put the law into force without any consideration except for one side, we may reasonably expect that the honorable gentleman will put this law into force in the future against these treasonable importers. In connexion with these matters there is no doubt that strong preventive means should be adopted. I am not quite sure that legal, sentences always prevent people from committing offences, but when people do commit offences their punishment should have some relation to the nature of the offence committed. To make a wilfully false statement, which has the effect of stopping a man’s trade completely, and of injuring him largely in his business, must be admitted to be an offence of very great magnitude. and one which should be visited with severe punishment. The Attorney-General has stated that the Justice can five costs against such a person, as well as fine him .-£100. What costs? I take it that the justice is not empowered under this clause to say, “You have stopped this man’s business for one, two, or three months; as a consequence, he has lost -£2,000 or £3,000. and therefore you must pay him that £2,000 or £’.000.”
– The business is not stopped
– I say that publication of the certificate of the .ComptrollerGeneral in such a case may stop the importer’s business. I am suggesting only what can happen, and what I feel pretty sure will happen, under this Bill, unless the Minister changes his mind. There is nothing in the sub-clause to which the Attorney-General has referred to meet that difficulty. The honorable and learned gentleman knows that the costs which can be recovered are only the usual law costs of barristers, solicitors, and witnesses, and there is nothing in the clause to empower the Justices to award damages against the person whose wilfully false statement has prevented a man’s business from being carried on. If it be contended that that is not perjury, then I think that every statement required by the Act should be made upon oath. I take it that we should not lightly allow any man’s business to be shut up or to be interfered with on the statement of a single individual, and that, therefore, when a man makes a statement of that kind, he should be called upon to make it in the most solemn manner possible. I am not here to defend the taking of oaths, because I believe that a man who will wilfully and deliberately tell a lie will swear falsely. If I had to try a person upon the evidence of a man whom I would not believe when he told me a thing in the ordinary way, I would not believe him when he made his statements upon oath. I do not believe that the taking of an oath has any controlling power in respect of many individuals. The only advantage in the svstem is that there is a certain punishment attached to perjury, and that some men may be deterred thereby from making a false statement. I submit to the AttorneyGeneral that if the Bill does not make a wilfully false statement perjury it ought to do so. It ought to compel all this information to be given toy means of a statutory declaration, and in the usual form. I hope that we shall at any rate increase the penalty. It would only mean a fine not exceeding £100. Under the provision a man might be fined £1. The Justice wouldhave to decide as to the heinousness of an offence, and he would fix the amount of the penalty according to the enormitv of the offence. When the Bill was passing through Committee, we tried to get inserted a provision for the taking of a bond so that nobody could complain against an importer or anvbody else unless he had entered into a bond. We ought to have made that provision. In this case, a man might be put upby his employer to make a complaint for the purpose of injuring a competitor in trade. I have not very great faith in the nature of men who are continually wanting Government assistance. My experience of them is that their intense selfishness will lead them to do anything in order to attain their ends. They will lie, they will take every course that is vile in order to accomplish their purpose. I would do everything I could to prevent these men from seeking to destroy the competition which prevents them from robbing the public, as they now do by law. In this case, severe penalties should be provided for the commission of the offence, otherwise men of straw might be put up to lay the information. I do not think that we should allow the Bill to pass with all its power to prevent men from carrying on an honest business, and to abolish that competition which, at any rate, keeps somewhere within bounds protectionist manufacturers, who would screw the last shilling out of the unfortunate public. Men whom we look upon as being respectable ask for this kind of legislation in order that they may enrich themselves at the expense of the poor. In these circumstances, we should not act as is done in America, but we should allow competition to be as free as possible. And in cases where men make charges against others, the penalty should be extremely severe, so that nobody would make a complaint unless he was absolutely certain he was on the right track. I support the proposal for a recommittal of the clause.
– I hope that the Minister will agree to a recommittal of the clause. When we were considering the Bill in Committee, I stated that I objected to creating, a new offence unless it was intended to punish the offender, but at the same time I said - and I am glad that the Government agreed to the alteration - that we ought to be easv with a first offender. In another part of the Bill we provide for a penalty as high as£500 and imprisonment ; but this clause provides a penalty of only £100 in a case where a man has wilfully made a false statement.
– There is no imprisonment for a first offence under the other part of the Bill.
– That is right. But the reason for that decision was that there was no desire to punish a man who might have committed the offence unwittingly.
– No ; that is a case where he has committed the offence with intent.
– Yes; but the AttorneyGeneral will see that now power is only given by the Bill to take out an injunction against an offender in the first place.
– No; he is liable to a fine of £500, but to no imprisonment, although he mav have done it with intent.
– For committing the offence with intent, he. will be liable to a fine of £500 and to imprisonment.
– No; there is no imprisonment for a first offence.
– No imprisonment if a man has done the thing with intent?
– Not for a first offence.
– But if the man were to repeat the offence, he would be liable to fine and imprisonment.
– Yes; but, in this case, no man could repeat the offence, because the Minister would not take the word of a man who had been convicted of wilfully misleading him.
– At all events, it would be a wilful offence, and I contend that a wilful offender ought to be severely punished. I ask the Minister to look back to the history of his own Department during the last year or two. What do we find? We find that commercial men have robbed the country to the extent of thousands of pounds. What is a paltry penalty of£100 to a man who is making thousands of pounds out of the country ?
– This will not be the case of a man who was making thousands of pounds out of the country, but the case of a man who has given information to the Comptroller-General that somebody else was injuring thepublic.
– Exactly. If a man makes a false declaration he may injure another man to the extent of many thousands of pounds. In my opinion, any one who would take that course should be very severely punished. The least we can do is to deal with a man who is wilfully guilty of an offence, in exactly the same way as we deal with offenders on a small scale, and that is to place them in the dock. The imposition of monetary penalties is simply absurd. It is high time that we treated oneclass of offenders precisely as we treat every other class of offenders. For committing a comparatively trivial offence, we put a man in the dock and give him no opportunity of paying a fine. But here, although a man has committed an offence which might seriously injure another man in his business, in fact, might ruin him,yet he is to be subjected to a fine of only £100.
I ask the Minister to agree to a recommittal of the clause, so that the punishment in such a case may be made imprisonment.
.- I am thoroughly in accord with the remarks which have just fallen from the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and I hope that the Minister will pay some heed to his suggestion. When we read the clause, we are struck with the fact that it refers, not to a person who might perhaps unwittingly commit an offence or unwittingly make a statement not in accordance with facts., but to a person who deliberately intended to misrepresent the facts and mislead the ComptrollerGeneral. Where an offence is wilfully committed, and with the object of injuring another person in trade, I submit that it is a very serious matter, and that the fine proposed is wholly inadequate to the enormity of the offence. It must be remembered that when a person has madea false statement in evidence before a. Court in the ordinary way, he is subject to a very heavy penalty. I do not know what the penalty for perjury is in Victoria, but in New South Wales it carries with it a liability to two years’ imprisonment. In this case, the clause does not refer to a statement made upon oath - at least, I suppose that it does not, because it reads as follows : -
Any person who wilfully
makes to the Comptroller-General or to any officer of Customs any false statement in relation to any action or proceedings taken or proposed to be taken under this Part of this Act; or
misleads the Comptroller-General in any particular likely to affect the discharge of his duty under this Act shall be guilty of an offence.
Although nothing is here stated about the making of a false statement on oath, the making of a false statement is itself, undev the provisions of the Bill, an offence, and is, therefore, in my opinion, tantamount to the making of a false statement on oath. In any case, the effect upon the object of the false statement is just the same. Certainly, if the Minister takes action, the consequences to the persons injuriously affected will be as serious whether his action is taken upon afalse statement made on oath, or upon a false statement not made on oath. We should provide the greatest safeguards against the making of false statements by interested persons to the possible injury of the business of others, by providing for the adequate punishment of the offence. Not many months ago, Mr. McKay, of the Sunshine Harvester Company, went to the responsible officers of the Customs Department, and made to them a statement, based, not upon evidence which he could substantiate, but upon a copy of a copy of an alleged letter.
– The statements proved to be true.
– I doubt it. No proof has been furnished to this House. I looked through the papers which were, laid on the table in the Library, and could not find the slightest tittle of. evidence in support of Mr. McKay’s statements. All that was given was the copy of a copy of a letter alleged to exist, but for the existence of which no one in Australia could vouch. In that case, action was taken by the Minister on the reports of his officers seriously injuring the trade of the Massey-Harris Company, which is doing business in Australia. Rash statements made on such flimsy evidence should be punishable by the infliction of a very much more serious penalty than is provided for in the Bill. The statements of interested parties who complain to the ComptrollerGeneral, although not made upon oath, may seriously affect rivals, whose businesses may be held up pending inquiries in connexion with the instituting of proceedings against them, and it will devolve upon them to prove that the allegations of the complainants are withoutfoundation. It is true that those making complaints must substantiate them in certain particulars ; but, as the business of the persons complained of may be seriously injured if action is taken on their statements, a bond should be given to secure the payment of compensationin the event of failure to sustain a charge, or to show that reasonable ground existed for making it. Where a complainant fails to prove his case, he should be made to suffer a much heavier penalty than that provided for in the Bill, and should pay compensation to the defendant for the injury done to his business. However, it is of very little use to dwell on this matter, beca use the Minister in charge of the Bill is not now in the chamber, and the AttorneyGeneral seems to be taking very little interest in it.
– Is it not a question of trusting the Justice? Surely, the Justice will not award imprisonment unless he feels it to be necessary.
– I am speaking of the provisions of clause 21. If we turn to clause iiaa, we find that, under it, a person who had committed a far less heinous offence than that of which I have been speaking would be punishable on conviction by a penalty up to £500, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding a year, or both, while the penalty for an offending corporation may reach£1,000.
– The honorable member seems to wish to make the penalty for a first offence as serious as the penaltyfor a second offence.
– But the one offence is, at the best, only a legal crime, an offence created by this measure; whereas the other is a moral offence, for which the penalty should be much heavier.
– Apparently the AttorneyGeneral thinks that a man should be allowed to make any false statement, so long as he does not swear to it.
– I did not say so.
– I am pointing out that the offence for which a heavy penalty- is provided is not a moral crime, but that the offence for which the lower penalty is proposed is a moral offence of a most objectionable character. When a man deliberately makes a false statement with the object of wilfully injuring some person who is carrying on his lawful avocation, he should be heavily punished, and I hope that the Attorney-General’s sense of proportion will suggest to him the desirability of revising the penalties.
– The man whom the honorable member says would not be guilty of a moral crime would be a traitor to his country.
– That is only the Attorney-General’s opinion. A man with an evenly-balanced mind would require to subject his imagination to a great strain to arrive at such a conclusion. The proposal which has been brought forward is reasonable and equitable, and I trust that the Attorney-General will agree to the recommittal of the clause.
.- I have listened very carefully to the arguments in what may be described as the case of Wentworth v. Hume, and it seems to me. that the Attorney-General has conclusively proved the case for the plaintiff, namely, the honorable member for Wentworth. He pointed out that an importer who was proved to be guilty of an offence under clause 4 would be liable to a penalty not exceeding £500, and he admitted that clause 11aa provided that any offence committed by a person who had previously been convicted should be punishable, on conviction, by a penalty not exceeding £500, or bv imprisonment for any term not exceeding^ one year, or both. He, therefore, made it clear that an importer who became an offender within the meaning, of clause 4 could commit a second offence, and be liable to fine or imprisonment, or both. He conceded, further, that under clause 21 no man could repeat the offence specified in that clause.
– The claim made by the honorable member for Wentworth was that imprisonment should be provided for in the case of a first offence.
– And I maintain that the Attorney-General has proved the case for the honorable member for Wentworth. It would be impossible for a man to offend a second time under clause 21, because the Minister would not listen to him, and I contend that where a man commits an offence that is tantamount to perjury, bv wilfully making a false statement, which may lead to a serious interference with the business of some persons in Australia, he should be severely punished. It is proposed that such an offender shall be liable to a fine of only £100, and to be mulct in costs. Suppose, however, that those who are interested in making a complaint put forward a man of good address, who can speak well - and there are many such in Melbourne - to lay their case before the Comptroller-General, and that action is taken upon his representation. Suppose, further, that it is afterwards ‘ found out* that a false statement has been made, and that the offender is fined £100. He has not a penny to bless himself with, and he can neither pay the fine nor any costs that may be awarded against him. In such a case, the law would absolutely fail to accomplish its object. A gross injustice might be perpetrated, and the offender escape scathless. Any person who is guilty of an offence under clause 21 should be liable to be imprisoned for a term not exceeding twelve months. In order that there may be no misconception, I think that we should make it clear that clause 4 would apply equally to the importer and the manufacturer. If the Attorney-General will agree to the reconsideration of clause 21, I shall move for the recommittal of clause 4, so that we may provide that persons committing an offence under that pro vision shall be subject to a penalty of ^500, or a term of imprisonment.
– The Committee were entirely against adopting that course.
– The cases are entirely different.
– lt is all very well for the honorable and learned member to argue for one side, but I believe in meting out equal treatment to both sides. Any man who commits an offence under clause 4 cannot be innocent, because it must be proved that he has acted with intent. Let us do even-handed justice to all parties. I have endeavoured to look at this matter in a judicial manner. I have weighed the arguments carefully, and I think that the Attorney-General has established the justice of the claim made bv the honorable member for Wentworth.
– I think that the Attorney-General must yield to the appeals that have been made to him. I trust that he will accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Corangamite, and that clause 4 will be recommitted, so that we can harmonize the penalties provided for in relation to the two classes of offences. I agree with the honorable member for Corangamite that in prescribing;, penalties we ought not to consider whether an offender is rich or poor. I cannot understand why the rich man should be subjected’ t6 a heavy fine for the first offence and to imprisonment for the second, whilst the poor man should merely be liable to a fine. I contend that justice should be no respecter of persons. If the offence with which! we are now dealing merits punishment,, that punishment should harmonize in both cases.
– So it does now.
– It does not. Under the clause, the penalty provided for a breach of the law is £too and costs. But if an individual be a man of straw, how can that amount be recovered from him? The AttorneyGeneral has spoken only of importers in this connexion, but I would remind him that just as many rogues are to be found to the square inch amongst the ranks of the manufacturers. I do not regard members of the manufacturing class as being angels without wings, any more than I do members of the importing section of the community. Both are intent upon making as much money as they can out of their- business. It is all moonshine for the AttorneyGeneral to suggest that an importer is likely to do something which a manufacturer would not do.
– I said just the reverse. I wish to put both upon the same footing.
– Let us suppose that a manufacturer deemed the competition to which he was being subjected by an importer, to be too keen. What is there to prevent him from making use of the secretary of the union to represent that if such competition continued, he would be compelled to close his factory, with the result that a number of men would be thrown out of employment ? The informant in such a case might actually believe the information which he supplied. He might say to the Comptroller-General, “ The industry will be ruined if the competition of a certain importer is continued.” He would know very well that the penalty prescribed by the Bill for giving false information was £100, and he himself might not be possessed of one hundred pence. Consequently, I say, let us make the penalty £100 or imprisonment, so that if a man be made the instrument of a manufacturer to penalize an importer, he may be punished. I do not desire to see any differentiation between rich and poor. Both classes, if they transgress the law, should suffer alike. The Attorney-General complimented the honorable member for Corangamite upon being logical. I say that he was not only logical, but just. I do hope that the honorable and learned gentleman will consider whether it would not be prudent to recommit the clause, with a view to removing an obvious imperfection in the Bill.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Second Recommittal) :
Clause 3 amended to read as follows, and agreed to: -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ Inadequate remuneration for labour “ includes inadequate pay or excessive hours or any terms or conditions of labour or employment unduly disadvantageous to workers . . .
Clause 6 amended to read as follows, and agreed to: -
For the purposes of the last two preceding sections … in the following cases the competition shall be deemed to be unfair unless the contrary is proved : -
if the competition would probably or does in fact result in an inadequate remuneration for labour in the Australian industry…..
Clause 10 amended to read as follows, and agreed to: -
The Attorney-General . . . may institute proceedings in the High Court to restrain . . the carrying out of any contract . . or any combination which -
is destructive or injurious by means of unfair competition to any Australian industry . . .
On the conviction of any person for an offence under this part of this Act the Justice …
Clause 11 amended to read as follows, and agreed to : -
Any person who is injured . . may, in the High Court before a Justice without a jury, sue for and recover treble damages for the injury . . .
Clause 14 consequentially amended, and agreed to.
Clause 17 amended to read as follows : -
Justice shall sit in open Court, and shallhave all the powers of a Justice in the exercise of the ordinary jurisdiction of the High Court. He may, if he thinks fit, and shall on the application of either party state a case for the opinion of the Full Court upon any question of law arising in the proceeding.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the following words be added to subclause 2 : “ and he may, if he thinks fit, at any stage of the proceeding refer the investigation and determination of the matter to the Full Court which shall in that case have all the powers and functions of a Justice under this Part of this Act.”
.- The form of the amendment which I suggested was, I think, rather better than that now submitted by the Minister of Trade and Customs but, under the circumstances, I am willing to accept the latter. The proposal which I submitted would have enabled an appeal to be made in all cases to the Full Court of three Justices ; and from that point of view I have not been able to obtain all I desired. I am satisfied that any one of the Justices, in a matter in which his own personal feelings or prejudices were likely to be involved, or when the effects might be so momentous as to paralyze a particular line of trade, would much prefer to be able to refer the case to the Full Court. Under the circumstances, I accept the amendment proposed by the Minister.
Clause 17 -
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the word “thereby,” line 4, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ therein.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 1 8a amended to read as follows, and agreed to: -
The Governor-General may at any time, by proclamation, simultaneously with or subsequently to any prohibition under this part of the Act, rescind in whole, or in part, the prohibition in any condition or restriction or limitation on importation imposed thereby.
Bill reported with further amendments.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the Standing Orders be suspended to allow the Bill to pass through its remaining stages this day.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I desire to make some observations before the Bill finally leaves this Chamber. No more important measure has been before us than that at present under review. I venture to say that no Bill of the kind has been passed so speedily by any legislative body in any part of the world, though, for the matter of that, I am not aware that any Legislature has ever attempted a Bill of this far-reaching character. And the peculiarity of the circumstances surrounding the discussion of this Bill arises from the fact that scarcely at any time during its consideration has there been a quorum of members present in this Chamber. I say that, because I think it is a fact that ought to be pointed out. The public outside ought to know under what conditions Bills of a supremely vital character such as this, affecting the industrial ramifications of the whole community, are considered here.
– The honorable member’s leader has been absent all the time.
Mr.JOSEPH COOK.- I am aware of that, and the honorable member’s leader is absent to-day upon the same business.
– It is the first time this session that he has been absent.
– We might as well be absent from the House altogether for all the good we can do, facing, as we do, a silent, solid, and stolid majority on the opposite side.
– That is all the trouble !
– It is, and it is a very serious trouble, when we find honorable members voting on matters on which they know absolutely nothing, trooping in when the division bells ringlike the solid party that they boast of being, to record their votes without knowing anything of the reasons which should prompt them in voting. That is a point which I think ought to be made as strongly as possible. The honorable and learned member for Parkes said here a little while ago that this was no longer a deliberative assembly. That, unfortunately, is the case. It is impossible to get fair, full, and free discussion of matters in this Chamber. Members opposite take so little interest in the detailed consideration of such measures, that I think that the honorable member for Fremantle who just interjected, is the onlyone in his party, with the exception of the honorable member for Perth, who has even suggested an amendment in this very farreaching Bill. The rest of the votes have been cast at the whip of the Government. The bell has rung, and the members of the party have trooped into the Chamber and voted1 - I repeat, many of them without knowing anything of what they were voting upon.
– Does not that remark apply to the honorable member’s own side as well ?
– An incident that occurred I am told the other day, illustrates my point. I am told that had members belonging to the honorable member’s party known what they were voting about, they would have voted the other way.
– What was that?
– I refer to the proposal which attempted to fix prices. I think it my duty to call attention to the circumstances under which the consideration of a Bill like this takes place in the national Parliament of Australia. I should like to suggest very strongly to the Government - without. I fear, the possibility of success - that before a Bill of this kind is finally agreed to, it ought to receive the approval of the country.
– Does the honorable member want this Bill to go to a referendum ?
– I want this Bill to be taken before the people of this country, to get their judgment upon it before it finally becomes the law of the land.
– The honorable member declares Parliament to be impotent to deal with the subject
– I do no such thing, but I decline to believe that there are emergent circumstances requiring Parliament to act on its own initiative in this matter - that is. without consulting the people. This is supposed to be a democratic Parliament, and of all parties in this House, the Labour Party is supposed to come here wilh specific instructions from the electors. And yet, forsooth, during the currency of this Parliament those members have been engaged in considering matters which have never been considered by the constituencies, and as to which they have no mandate. A Bill of this character finds no place in their programme, or in their pledges to their constituents. Yet these honorable members, who are constantly boasting of their discipline, and of the fact that they are delegates sent here with instructions specific and imperative from outside, are assisting to pass measures before they have been submitted for the consideration of the people.
– We cannot please the honorable member anyway.
– I am not suggesting just now that the honorable member is trying to please any one - neither he nor his party. It would be a new thing, indeed, for them to rise to the level of their parliamentary responsibilities, and try to please any one in the House, outside their own section. As I have before remarked in this Chamber, all that they need to do in these matters is to be solid. They make their mistakes solidly, just as they make their wiser proposals solidly. Solidly, for good or ill, they act together. I am showing just now how the solidity of their action operates in connexion with this Bill.. As it leaves them, and as it will probably leave this Chamber, it is more a Bill- toprovide for prohibitive protection than to abolish trusts or to eliminate their injurious effects. It is an anti-trade Bill. There is very little of the anti-trust element about it. It has been so riddled by various .amendments which have been proposed - all of them necessary, owing to the faulty way in which the Bill was originally introduced, and owing to the fact that it slavishly followed patterns which had noapplication to the conditions of Australian industrial life - that it emerges from Committee containing very little Reference te* trusts at all, so far as those references are of a practical character, and are likely tobe effective. But it emerges from Committee with all the provisions in it which may lead to the prohibitive protection of Australian manufactures, and the prevention of commerce. And I venture to suggest that, after all, that was its main purpose. I do not believe that Ministers and thosebehind them were so anxious to hit at any of the great and menacing evils arising from trusts. If they had been thev would” have set about trying to find some substantial basis for the introduction of this- measure. But time and again the Minister has been challenged, and not a tittle of justification has he shown, either for the dumping clauses or for the more drastic provisions for the suppression of what are called destructive monopolies. No such destructive monopolies have been shown to exist in Australia; and I apprehend that at the bottom of all the considerations which have weighed with Ministers there has been the fact that this Bill will prove to be prohibitive so far as the importation of goods is concerned. It occurs to me that, as the Bill is framed, it will go a long way in the direction which they wish. I fancy that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports blurts out the truth when he says that he desires the passing of this Bill for the protection of the manufacturers of Australia, and in addition to any further modicum of Tariff protection which he can get. What I am concerned in pointing out now is that we are passing a Bill of this description, providing for prohibitive protection for industries in Australia, during a Parliament which, before all else, is pledged to fiscal peace. Again I point out that no cause has been shown for this Bill, either by the Minister of Trade and Customs in his second-reading speech, or in any of the subsequent deliverances of the AttorneyGeneral or of any one else who has spoken in its favour. It occurs to me that we are busily and foolishly apeing the legislation of America in connexion with this Bill, and in connexion with some of our other legislation, more particularly that passed during last session. One has only to consider for a moment to be aware of the wide difference that exists between the conditions of industrial life in America and in Australia. Here we are a few people, numbering 4,000,000 all told, while the United States have 84,000,000 of people, and over 100 years of development in advance of us - a development which we are hoping may be, ours, so far as its substantiality and prosperity are concerned, but which, for us, is yet but a dream of the dim and distant future. The United States are 100 years ahead of us in point of population, volume of business, and the development of their industrial life, and yet here, at the very threshold of our industrial life, we are apeing the legislation which has been shown to be necessary there only after 100 years of development. Although such legislation is shown to be necessary there, none of it, so far as we know, has proved to be substantially effective. With all their experience behind them, and with all their legislative ability to boot, they have not yet been able to frame legislation which will effectually put down the evils of these trusts as they have developed there. Because these evils have been developed in America, we argue - and it is a roughandready and empirical way of arguing - that therefore similar evils will accrue here, forgetting that trusts have arisen in America because of certain conditions of industrial life in that country. Every writer on the subject has pointed out the peculiar conditions existing in America, which buttress the trusts and lead to their development and maintenance. It seems to me that, instead of looking for the causes which have led to the establishment of trusts in America, and which have led to the development of their evils, and then seeking steadily to avoid the causes which have led to those evils there, we are simply taking it for granted that similar evils exist here, and we are copying their legislation and trying to make it apply to circumstances in Australia which find no parallel at all in the United States. It is well known that the abnormally high protective duties upon many of the imports to the United States have facilitated the development and maintenance of these trusts. More and more the writers on the philosophical side of these corporations point this out, and many writers to-day are suggesting a reduction of the United States Tariff, that there may be a corresponding reduction in the evils of the trusts.
– There is no hope of reducing the Tariff in the United States.
– It may be so, and I am not questioning that for a moment. I suggest, however, that that is not an answer. Whatever maybe done in America is not necessarily right. It would be a strange thing if at the beginning of the twentieth century we had come to the belief that everything which command’s a majority is, therefore, right. I am well aware that this is a doctrine which is being set up in Australia, and that it receives great support from the operations of my honorable friends in the Labour corner, who believe that everything that is framed in their conferences must necessarily be right, simply because it commands a majority in those conferences. As a consequence, they come here to support any proposal it is resolved to submit, and give it the weight of their solid vote, simply because it has received a majority of votes in a conference.
– Simply because they stood as candidates for election on those principles, and will not depart from them.
– Does the honorable gentleman say that he stood on an anti-Trust Bill at the last election?
– This is a Trust Bill ; not an anti-Trust Bill.
– The honorable and learned member is right, of course, but I venture to say that honorable members of the Labour Party are not adopting their usual methods in dealing with this question.
– We stood upon the nationalization of a line of steamers also?
– The honorable gentleman did, and on the question of nationalizing monopolies, but this is not the nationalization of monopolies.
– No ; I did not do that.
– Does the honorable gentleman say that, at the last election, he stood specifically on a Bill to regulate trusts?
– No, not specifically
– That is what the honorable gentleman said just now. I asked him the question whether he stood upon this Bill, and he said “Yes.”
– The honorable member asked me whether I was in favour of antitrust legislation.
– No. I ask the honorable gentleman now if he discussed this question at the last election?
– Yes ; I did.
– And told his electors that he would vote for a Bill regulating trusts?’
– I did not say that I would vote for a Bill regulating trusts, but that I would vote against the principle of trusts.
– But the Bill we have before us is a Bill to regulate trusts. The platform on which the honorable gentleman stood was one for the nationalization of trusts, and not for their regulation, as is here proposed. I have yet to learn that at the last election the honorable gentleman told his constituents that he would advocate a measure which means prohibitive protection. The honorable gentleman, I apprehend, stood on the same platform as the Government, for an attitude of fiscal peace.
– I did not stand for fiscal peace.
– The honorable gentleman did, and no man more solid . or unequivocally than he.
– The honorable member is wrong.
– The honorable gentleman declared time and again that he stood for fiscal peace.
– The honorable gentleman said that the Tariff should be allowed to rest. In one of his speeches he said it should be allowed to rest for len years.
– What nonsense i I never said anything of the kind.
– The honorable gentleman did say so in his speech at Albury, before the elections.
– The honorable member is in error. The Minister said seven and not ten years.
– I did not say seven years.
– The honorable gentleman said it should be allowed to rest for either seven or ten years.
– I know what I said.
– The honorable gentleman said it in a speech which he made at Albury, and if he denies that he said it we shall have to look it up.
– The honorable gentleman can look up what he likes ; I did not say it.
– Am I to understand that the honorable gentleman did not subscribe to the Prime Minister’s manifesto? He went up to hear it delivered at Ballarat. *
– I did.
– Then are we to understand that the honorable gentleman did not subscribe to it?
– The honorable member is not asking pertinent questions.
– I am asking a question which has been provoked by ihe statement which the honorable gentleman has just now made - that he did not stand for fiscal peace at the last election.
– I did not.
– Then I say that if the honorable gentleman did not, he had no right to stand at all as a member of the present Government. Because, in the very forefront of their pronouncement to the country, fiscal peace was placed.
– What I said was, “ Give the Tariff a trial, and see where its weak points are.” That is all I have ever said.
– What is the difference?
– There is a great deal of difference.
– Then I am to understand, from what the Minister says, that he did not agree with his leader on the occasion of the last election?
– Never mind about that. The honorable member need not trouble about my leader and myself.
– It is not a matter between the honorable member and me.
– The honorable member is not my leader.
– It i.s a matter between the honorable gentleman and the people outside. He practically tells us now that he played fast and loose with the programme of the Government at the last election.
– I did not do anything of the sort.
– The honorable gentleman tells us in plain language that while his leader went on to the platforms of Australia and advocated fiscal peace, he spoke with the reservation that he did not subscribe to it, that he did not believe in it. If he did not, then he had no business in the Government, and no right to go on the platforms with the Prime Minister on that occasion.
– Other things have taken place since then.
– There is no doubt that other things have taken place.
– Is this a lecture on ethics ?
– I hope that it is an ethic which the honorable member will always observe. I suspect that he does not play “ ducks and drakes “ with the solemn pledges which are formulated in the conference, that he does not go on a platform and say something different from what “his leader has said when enunciating the platform of the party. Here is the statement of the Minister that he was practically playing the part of a political traitor to Shis chief.
– The honorable member has no right to say that.
– The Minister is doing that now.
– In the forefront of his programme, the Prime Minister put fiscal peace, and here is the Minister of Trade and Customs deliberately stating that he did not go on that ?plank at all. That was neither more nor less than an act of political treachery to his chief and to the rest of his party.
Sir William Lyne. - The traitor is the man who is interjecting.
– Let brotherly love prevail. I hope that before the debate is closed, we shall be able to look up one or two of the statements made by the Minister at the last election.
– The honorable member may look up anything he likes.
– I have a distinct recollection, amounting to an almost overpowering conviction, that on more than one occasion during the contest, the honorable gentleman proclaimed for fiscal peace. However, he says now that he did not, and I must take his word for the time being
– I said, “ Give the Tariff a trial,” and did not stipulate any time.
– The honorable gentleman said distinctly that he did not subscribe to his leader’s declaration in favour of fiscal peace.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– Again Hansard where it is published will be the judge between us. We are too apt to imagine that the evolution of the trusts in America has reached its final stage. I do not think it is at all clear that they have reached their final stage. The system is in the process of evolution, and some years must pass before we can get any definite result from which it will be possible to prognosticate with any certainty what the ultimate effect of the system is to be in America, and the rest “of the world.
– Should it be allowed to run riot in the meantime ?
– What have we to do with America?
– We are not legislating for them.
– What have we to do with the trusts in America ?
– They have a lot to do with us.
– I should like the Minister to tell us what they have to do with us?
– Surely the honorable member does not want to eat rotten food from Chicago.
– They do not send us food. That would be Tike “ sending coals to Newcastle.”
– Have we nothing to do with trusts in America ?
– That is a good protectionist interjection coming from the honorable member for Barrier. We are getting protectionist interjections from that quarter pretty frequently just now. I ask again, what have we to do with American trusts, so far as their internal working is concerned? All we have to do is to take ca.re that thev do not damage us. If they have attempted to damage us, the matter ought to be susceptible of proof from the only quarter in which such proof can be obtained, but so far no proof of an authoritative character has come from that quarter. What is the genesis of this Bill in Australia? There is every reason to believe that it is the result of the manipulation of one man, and in the absence of any proof to the contrary, I am bound to say that all the indications point that way. Only when McKay quarrelled with the trust, of which he formed a part, and in which he engaged to keep up prices against the farmers of Australia - in fact, he did keep them up for many years - do we find this movement for a Bill to suppress trusts, and to interfere with them in any way ? The Minister has said that the American trusts are hurting us. The only fi cures we have had so far, show that last year from 5,000 to 6,000 harvester machines were sold in Australia, and that out of that number only 1,300 came from trusts abroad.
– That is not correct.
– Will the Minister supply the correct figures?
– Speaking from memory, I think that the number was t.700. .
– Does that look as if the trusts were injuring us in a deadly way ? Does it look as if there was anything more than healthy normal foreign competition such as is likely to make our manufacturers keep up to the requirements of the market in point of productive skill and to afford facilities to purchasers. If the importation had been in the proportion of, say, one-half or twothirds of the consumption, then I submit that the Minister would have had a very much better case. He would have beer* able to say that there was a dumping of these machines. Last season when this Bill was under consideration, we were told that certain shipments were afloat, and that harvesters were going to be dumped in, Australia by the thousand, but nothing of the kind has occurred. Therefore, we are driven to the conclusion that it is for purposes outside the question of actual dumping that the Bill is introduced. It is introduced for the purpose of its second part, for what is called the preservation of Australian industries, which is only another way of saying ‘for the purpose of enacting prohibitive protection for our manufacturers with regard to certain things. When we have a Federal Parliament which is open to manipulation, indirectly, through the Ministry, by one man, or by a coterie of men even, we have arrived at a very undesirable state of affairs. So far as I know - and my experience extends over many years - the administration of the public departments in Australia, taken as a whole, has been above reproach. Australia has reason to congratulate herself upon the fact that, on the whole, her .politicians aria clean and incorruptible, and that the administration of her high officers has respect and regard for only the public welfare. But when we are enacting legislation of this kind, and it is found that a Parliament can be manipulated, indirectly, by, means of one man, or a few men, we are treading upon ground which might lead to a condition of things which would obviously be inimical to the reputation of Australian public life. We ought to avoid courses which may have such an effect as that. The Bill as it has emerged from the Committee seems to be full of openings for the escape of designing men. It appears to have been contrived rather to entrap the honest than to catch the dishonest trader. Whereas the end and aim. of legislation should be to make it difficult to do wrong and easy todo right, the Bill will make it supremely difficult for the honest trader to comply with its provisions, while allowing many ways of escape to the villain and the rogue.
Therefore it is framed on wrong lines, and its passing may lead to very unpleasant consequences. In my opinion, Part II., which purports to punish depredation, is in contradiction to Part III., which seems to have been framed for their encouragement. In Part II. we have set ourselves to punish anything done in restraint of trade to the detriment of the public; but the provisions of Part III. encourage restraint of trade and the doing of things which may result to the detriment of the community as a whole. For instance, in spite of the exertions in Committee of the members of the Opposition, the Bill contains provisions which will have the effect of forcing up prices, and of making goods dearer than they should be, and will prevent the community from taking advantage of the means provided by modern skill, enterprise, and organization for supplying their requirements with the least effort and at the lowest cost. These provisions aim a definite blow at the interests of the public, and operate in restraint of trade. How can trade, in the wider sense of the word, be restrained more than by the prevention of the importation of goods which our people wish to purchase? But, while we are to be allowed to dump our surplus stocks upon markets in distant parts of the world, there is to be no dumping here, no matter what the industrial conditions may be. These provisions certainly run counter to the provisions of Part II. They are clumsy and quixotic in the extreme. ‘ The aim of the Bill seems largely to discourage and to punish production by large concerns. I have yet to learn that production in a large way, which means economical production, should be proscribed by legislation. But the Bill indicts a business because of its extensive ramifications, and because, by reason of its enterprises being conducted on a large scale, and with due regard for economy, its production is cheap. That is regarded as predatory business, which is one of the fundamental mistakes of the framers of the measure. Part III. is, to use the words employed by the honorable member for Mernda in the very able speech which he delivered the other day, fantastic in the extreme. It commences bv instructing a public servant, the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs, to establish an espionage over imports, to pry, if needs be, into the ramifications of a private concern, and. upon mere suspicion, to act, if he thinks fit, in such a way as may lead to the holding up of an importer’s business.
He has only to satisfy himself that something is taking place which he thinks may ultimately interfere with industrial conditions here to be able to drag a party before a Justice, pending whose inquiry the business concerned may be held up. We instruct him first to formulate, and then to express, a definite political opinion concerning the probable effect of a certain course of action. For instance, he is to satisfy himself that the importation of goods may probably dislocate and disorganize industrial enterprise here. Surely that is a matter of opinion. Honorable members have been arguing during the last four or five years whether the importation of certain goods would prejudicially affect the industrial conditions of Australia. Time and again have we been divided on these important matters. But in future, instead of Parliament dealing with these questions, the Comptroller-General is to exercise that function. He will not be bound to furnish facts and figures in justification of his action. He is only to satisfy himself that certain things are being done to be able to move a Justice to investigate his suspicions. These provisions make him a politician to commence with, because he will not be able to take action such as is provided for unless he possesses definite political opinions. It makes him, in spite of himself, a party politician, and that is the very thing we ought to avoid in the case of the man who has supreme control over our inward and outward commerce. In order to answer the interjections of the Minister in his own language, I must refer to some remarks made by him in this House, since the last election, on the subject of fiscal peace. Speaking of the leader of the Opposition and his supporters, he said -
They won seats upon the issue which the leader of the Opposition described so vividly the other night. Thank heaven that issue is not such a live and rampant thing in the reasonable States of the Commonwealth as it has been in New South Wales under free-trade. I do not wish to enter upon a discussion of the fiscal question, but as honorable members have blamed the Government for attempting to reopen that question, I ‘ would point out that it was clearly understood when the Tariff was under discussion that certain action would be taken .under Part 6a, and in proposing to introduce a Bill to provide for the granting of bounties for the production of iron we are not raising the fiscal question. The Government, in introducing that Bill, is dealing with a matter with which the States cannot deal, and which must be dealt with by the Commonwealth. There is nothing, however, in our action contradictory to the statement of the 1’rime Minister that he went to the country pledged to fiscal peace and preferential trade.
– Hear, hear.
– The Minister was. presumably, subscribing to that doctrine then. He continued -
The Government do not propose to raise the fiscal issue, but I intend to maintain my principles. At the same time I shall adhere to the statement of the Prime Minister, that fiscal peace is to be preserved.
Thus the Minister pledged himself to fiscal peace.
– Not as the honorable member represents it. I was then speaking of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, and everything I said was in consonance with my ideas.
– It is not worth while to bother about the matter any further.
– I should think not.
– I venture to say that no Minister in this Chamber, or in Australia, has within recent times made such an extraordinary declaration as that which has fallen from the Minister to-day. He deliberately went on the platform with the Prime Minister, and declared himself in favour of fiscal peace, and afterwards came here and stated that he had not subscribed to the doctrine as enunciated by his leader.
– I never stated anything of the kind, and the honorable member knows it.
– The Minister indorsed it in his speech on the Address-in-Reply.
– In setting up a civil servant to make inquiries - to make himself the victim of suspicions, and to form opinions - we are opening up a fine study in probabilities, and, I may add, a fine study in credibilities. We are proposing to launch the Comptroller-General into a series of metaphysical inquiries. We tell him that he is to judge of a man’s intent and purpose before any action has taken place. The intention of the importer, so far as the initial stages are concerned, is not to be argued from any act on his part, but we instruct the ComptrollerGeneral to inquire as to the probable effects of a shipment of goods, or the results of certain .conditions of employment, not merely in Australia, but in other parts of the world. Trading operations that would tend to dislocate or disorganize our industry are to be judged from the stand-point of probability only. An inquiry is to be conducted into hypothetical cases, which, if they could be translated into absolute facts, might furnish ground for action. The Comptroller-General is to enter into the metaphysical realm, and to argue from probabilities which have not materialized, and which may never materialize. He is to entertain suspicions, and form opinions, and to drag persons before the law courts at great expense, and to there challenge them to prove that their intentions are honorable. He is directed under the Bill to say in effect, “ We suspect you. We believe that you are. going to do something to injure us, and you must come to the law courts, prove what your intentions are, and give us pledges as to your future action.” Having regard to the structure of the Bill, it may be that the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne was a logical one. He suggested that all trading firms should submit the ramifications of their business to the review of the Minister, and obtain from him a licence authorizing them to trade on lines that he could approve of. The Minister might have been strictly logical if he had agreed to a system of initial inquiry and licence in the manner suggested. Under the Bill, we challenge a man to say how or where he picked up a bargain, what he paid for it, and through what agency it came to our shores. This is a kind of Socialism that we have not hitherto had espoused in Australia, and I suppose that in this fact we find the reason why honorable members of the Labour Party have so earnestly supported the measure. No other explanation can be found for the support given to the measure by free-traders of the most pronounced and radical character. Thev have, apparently, all through, looked at these provisions from the socialistic side. Upon no other supposition can we understand why men like the “honorable member for Coolgardie, the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, the honorable member for Canobolas, and the honorable member for Maranoa, and, as to many of these provisions, also the honorable member for Perth, should support the proposals contained in Part III. of the Bill. They mav believe that investigations should be made into the ramifications of ordinary business. They ‘may regard it as in accordance with their creed that business men should be compelled to disclose the sources from which they obtained their goods, and the prices which they gave for them. They would have gone further, and fixed the price for the goods, if they could have secured their own sweet way.
– The honorable member helped to save the Government.
– Yes, because I do not believe in that kind of thing. I have, however, seen the time in this House when I have played irresponsible pranks of that kind, for the purpose of bringing the Government face to face with the logical conclusions of their proposals. The strange feature about it is - so I am given to understand - that three or four members of the Labour Party actually voted against this perfect piece of Socialism, and have been regretting their action ever since. 1 am assured that had these members, who voted ignorantly with the Government, known what they were voting upon the proposal would have been carried, and the Bill would have emerged from Committee containing not only a provision for forcing up prices and the regulation of the profits to be enjoyed by traders, but a provision for fixing the prices at which goods should be purchasable by the consumer. Only by the merest accident did that proposal not find a place in the Bill. However, the measure still contains the precious provision under which, if a man secures a bargain at all, he is to be challenged as to the place where he picked it up, as to the price which he paid for it, and as to the price at which he marks that bargain here. If that price means that he has secured a bargain in any substantial sense of the word, the goods are open to forfeiture, and he is liable to the penalties prescribed by the Bill.”
– That is not correct.
– That is what the Bill means, and the Minister knows it.
– It does not. Was not that clause specially altered at the instance of the Attorney-General?
– I am sure that nobody in this House will pay as much attention to my interpretation of the clauses of the measure as they will to that of the Minister of Trade and Customs. He has shown his remarkable cleverness in that direction during the whole time that the Bill has been under consideration. I believe that for a man who does not know anything about a matter to imagine that nobody else does, is merely in accord with a well-known natural law. At any rate, I interpret the provisions of paragraphs d and e, of sub-clause 2, of clause 14, as meaning precisely what I say, namely, ‘that all bargain hunting is indicted and tabooed under the Bill. Hitherto, we have been wont to make these trading inquiries under our Customs Act, but only for the legitimate purpose of ascertaining whether or not the taxation imposed upon certain goods was being evaded. That is a perfectly justifiable thing to do. But this is the first occasion upon which it has been proposed to adopt a similar course, not in the interests of the revenue, but in the interests of certain traders in Australia. So far, our Tariff has ‘been the regulative means which has determined the conditions of the competitive plane upon which our. industries shall stand in relation to similar competitive enterprises in other countries. But in this Bill we go a step further, and declare that if goods are imported which have been purchased cheaply, and which are in the nature of bargains, they shall be indicted, impugned, and destroyed unless we obtain satisfactory guarantees both as to the prices which shall be charged to the consumer, and as to the way in which their importation will affect our own industrial enterprises. This is a radical socialistic departure from the ordinary rules of commerce, and from the conditions which, I venture to say, have been laid down by any Legislative Assembly in any part of the world. To put it plainly, the Bill means a possible guarantee of profit to unprofitable industries by preventing them from being subjected to the scourge of outside competition, although that competition may arise from perfectly justifiable causes. Of course, we have inserted in the Bill a very good provision, which renders it necessary that, in making these investigations, regard shall be had to the efficiency of the management, machinery, and skill of those who are engaged in similar enterprises here. But, away and beyond that, it is still possible so to manipulate the measure as to prevent importations from any outside agency whatever. It seems that the older our Parliament becomes the more implicitly we seem to believe in the efficacy of Acts of Parliament. Of course, I am aware that this legislation represents a swing away from the condition of things which has obtained during the last 150 years, just as that period itself was characterized by a gradual swing away from the conditions which we are setting up and enacting under this measure. We are moving in cycles, it seems to me, and every one of the conditions which we are setting up - conditions which fetter, limit, and interfere with the ordinary industrial occupations of the people - is a condition which obtained several hundred years ago in every part of the civilized world. What we know to-day as the trend of civilization represents a swing away from that system of espionage, of regulation, of control, and direction to one of individual effort, individual initiative, and individual freedom, so far as the trading operations <5f the community are concerned. Here, at the beginning of the twentieth century, we are taking a “ header “ back into many of those evil conditions from which, at great cost and suffering, we have been steadily emerging during the past 100 years or so. We propose in this Bill to attempt to match the machinations and depredations of foreign trusts - trusts the structure of which we cannot control at all, as to the formation of which we have no voice, and from the effects of which we can only protect ourselves. We propose to match ourselves against the skill and ingenuity which operate and manipulate these trusts to-day. So far as I can see, when it is all over, we n re very likely to fall into the same ditch into which others have fallen before us. Time and again, legislative assemblies have sought to interfere in these directions. As surely as they have attempted to do so, so surely have they failed, and it remains to be seen whether we in Australia, with no experience of the actual operations of trusts, and suffering from none of their depredations, so far as is disclosed by the figures, can achieve what has been unsuccessfully attempted in the older countries of the world, where these trusts reign and are supreme to-day. This Bill is only a clumsy and amateur attempt to. do so. We seem gradually, in our young Australia, to be drawing round ourselves a cordo.ni of legislative enactments. After all that was done last session, and all we are proposing to do this session, there seems to be only one thing necessary, for the purposes of the next general election, and that is to unearth by some means or other a good, round Customs scandal or two. Nothing would tend more to smooth down the course of a Bill of this kind, so far as the people are concerned, than would a scandal or two such as I have indicated. Nearly all these Customs scandals come to light whilst Parliament is in session; hardly any occur during recess. Maybe, that is because the machinery to facilitate their discovery is more upon the spot whilst we are in session. I do not know what is the reason, but the fact remains that we have had Ministers bringing forward these scandals, in a most heroic and theatrical way, and making personal and political capital out of them. It needs only another exhibition of the kind in connexion with this Bill - just on the eve of an election - to insure a steady and safe course for such legislation as this. The outstanding feature of this Parliament, so far has been the enacting and consideration of measures which have no tittle of urgency, and the deliberate setting aside of all matters that are urgent. Who will say that there is any urgent demand for this Bill? Who- will say that there was any urgent demand for the union label clauses of the Trade Marks Bill? None of these proposals have been asked for by the constituencies. They have made no demand for them upon this Parliament, either in connexion with pledges made at the last general election, or by way of representations to the House itself.- Where is the demand for this measure? The Minister has been challenged time and again to produce a tittle of proof that dumping is proceeding in Australia, but up to the present all the figures which he has been able to supply have shown that nothing more than ordinary normal competition is occurring. And so, with most of the legislation that has characterized this Parliament, and will stand to its credit or discredit when its close shall come; not one of these measures has been shown to be of an urgent character. On the other hand, matters of urgency and of supreme importance, in their broadest aspect, to Australia, have been quietly shelved, and put back to ‘be dealt with at some more convenient season. In this national Parliament we seem to have swung away from our true legislative orbit. It was thought that when we reached’ what the honorable and learned member for Parkes described as the “ rarer atmosphere of Federation,” we should have a better political perspective than we had had during the government of the States as independent Colonies. It was said that our horizon would be broadened - that our perspective would not be so awry as it was; but somehow or other, instead of the curing of evils which Federation, with its brighter outlook, was supposed to have in contemplation, the very reverse has taken place. To-day, whilst we have these measures for which no one asks - for which there is no urgent demand - the great outstanding requirements of the Federal compact are yet unfulfilled. Our functions are yet undeveloped, and we are betaking ourselves to this constant tinkering with matters which might well have been left to the States to determine for themselves, and for which we have no peculiar mandate in the Constitution of Australia. We seem.to be constantly upon the border-line between the powers of the Commonwealth and of the States, engaged in what cannot be better described than as a tug-of-war to decide whether we shall filch, “from the States functions which they claim to possess - whether we have a right to monopolize, order, and determine certain processes of legislation, or whether they have a right to do so. Meanwhile, matters written down for us in the ‘ Constitution are allowed to go by the board; they are still problems to be dealt with when we find ourselves free and fit to deal with them. Meantime, I repeat, we are engaged in occupations which would be far better left alone until the need to enter upon them has been proved, and their urgency shown. In our national legislation we are reversing the old order of things under which it was declared that Parliament should be responsible for giving effect to the matured wishes and the opinions of the people deliberately expressed through the medium of the ballot-box. We are engaged in dealing with, matters which have not at any time been submitted to the people of Australia. On the merits of such legislation they have never been asked to pronounce. Ignoring their wishes - treating them with contumely, if not with absolute contempt - we are dealing with, legislation of a class, character - legislation intended for class purposes, and which has more regard for purposes of political propagandism outside than to the high and ultimate ends of Australian statesmanship within. The strangest feature of all is that the party who claim to have come here with a specific and well-defined mandate from the people to enact legislation on the conception, maturing, and framing of which thev have spent many anxious months, are voting solidly upon matters which find no place in their platform, arid which have no place, so far as we know, in their propaganda. So far as I can see, they are doing this for political purposes ; they are adopting this course in order that they may pass safely through the troublous times that are ahead in connexion with the arbitrament to which we must all speedily submit ourselves. At any rate, one would think that with their Federal platform before them, they would insist upon exercising the powers they possess, to push forward some of those projects on their platform which have not yet been realized. But they apparently have thrown their own platform away - sunk it out of sight- and are following mildly the behests of the Ministry in regard to proposals which have absolutely nothing to do with their platform, and which have never yet been submitted for the decision of the people outside. Then, again - and this is the last thing I want to say about the Bill-
– Hear, hear.
– The little, selfsatisfied honorable member from Western Australia says “Hear, hear.” About the only word we ever hear the honorable member say in this Chamber is an occasional ironical “ Hear, hear.”
– I am more than satisfied.
– I do not object’ to the honorable member having a good opinion of himself. However, as I said the other day, we are, for the first time in our Imperial development, taking^ a course which aims a blow at the Empire, particularly at the old country, harder and more severe than that aimed at any of the foreign nations which the Bill purports to affect. The people who will be hit hardest bv the Bill are not foreigners, but our own kith and kin. We are indicting Britisher and foreigner alike, and assuming that, if they had the opportunity, they would work their depredations on us, with intent to injure and destroy Australian enterprises. If we legislatively make an assumption like that, why cannot we, as I asked last week, exempt the old country, which makes no such assumption against us? In the framing of their legislation the British people do not treat us as if we were depredators engaged in a vendetta against their enterprises and their industrial occupations. They invite us to send them anything we can, and to be unified with them in the greatest possible freedom of intercourse arid of industrial enterprise. Now, for the first time, I think, in any Colonial Legislature in the Empire, this national Parliament of Australia is assuming an unworthy attitude on the part of Great Britain, and is legislating as if Great Britain were our deadly industrial enemy, instead of the lifelong friend she has proved herself to be. I shall say no more, beyond appealing once again to the Ministry to submit this Bill to the people of Australia, and get their imprimatur, before it finds a place on our statute-book - to ask the people if they are prepared to make this legislative assumption against Great Britain. If that issue were clearly placed before the people of Australia, I venture to predict that the Bill would find short shrift in that respect, and would meet with the unqualified condemnation of the electors.
– It is almost too much to hope, perhaps, that the long series of empty, declamatory speeches, to which we have listened during the last week or two, is about to come to an end.
– Not listened to.
– I say “listened to” advisedly, because I have on several occasions forced myself into this Chamber in order to ascertain whether the utterances of honorable members on the other side were I have worth listening to. Again and again I have had to leave with feelings of disgust, because those who were claiming to criticise the measure were simply indulging in dreary, droning speeches in which there was nothing whatever worth hearing. We have just listened to one of many of that class of speeches. From the very introduction of the Bill, I have watched with keen interest the attitude adopted by honorable members on the other side. At first it appeared that there was to be little or no opposition. It is quite true that the political wire-pullers, to whom honorable members opposite pay so much heed, had not then said anything, about the Bill, and honorable members opposite did not know exactly “ where they were.” Although all through the secondreading debate their speeches showed, at least, a veryestion veiled antagonism, when it came to a who had of voting, those honorable members who had been loudest in their denunciations did npt dare to raise a voice in opposition.
– Was there not a majority of seventeen in favour of the second reading?
– There was no division on the second reading; honorable members on the Opposition side had not the courage to call for a division. Since then, however, the wire-pullers outside to whom I have referred have drafted a resolution, and had it carried by obedient branches of their organization at meetings of three, four, and five men, who knew nothing at all about the provisions of the measure. This so-called resolution was reported in the Conservative press ; and since then the Opposition within this Chamber has been considerably strengthened, and speeches have become more and more antagonistic. There were many divisions in Committee, and I should not be much surprised if there were a division on the motion for the third reading.
– The honorable- member forgets the many amendments which were moved by the Government, and which utterly changed the Bill.
– I am speaking of the attitude of honorable members on the other side of the House.
– The honorable member for Fremantle has not forgotten the amendments by the Government - he knows nothing about them.
– Honorable members opposite find their courage increasing as resolutions of the kind to which I refer appear in the press. Their opposition has become a little more intense; and we have had them claiming that they have made drastic amendments in the Bill in Committee. I desire to ask the honorable member for Parramatta to what drastic amendments he refers? With the exception of a proposal which was submitted by the honorable member for North Svdney, and to which I readily agreed - to which, indeed, I believe the Government assented - there has not been a single useful amendment made at the instance of honorable members opposite. Their opposition has been simply a process of electioneering declamation from beginning to end, with the anti-climax ththat they had not the courage - to record a vote against the principle of the measure. Then we had the honorable member for Parkes breaking a silence of some two months.
Mr.hnson. - We have not yet been in session two months.
– I do not want to do the honorable member for Parkes an injustice; but I think his average attendance is about once in two months, when he rises in his place and lectures honorable members because - so he says - they do not deliberate sufficiently on the legislation submitted.
– It is not deliberation at all.
– It is a piece of impertinence for an honorable member to come here, after neglecting his own parliamentary work week after week, and lecture those who have tried to do the business for which they were sent here. Probably the honorable member finds it much easier to deliberate in the comfort of his own home, whilst other members of this House have to neglect their homes and to come here day after day and night after night to do the work which they were elected to do. The honorable member lectures us because he says we are not a deliberative Assembly.
– I said that the House is not deliberative at all ; that is my statement.
– The honorable member may say just what he likes.
– The honorable member’s caucus binds him as with handcuffs.
– The honorable member’s attendance in this House is deliberative enough. Indeed, it is a deliberate insult to the constituency which he induced to elect him, to stay away as he has done month after month. Then we have had the acting leader of the Opposition
– Before the honorable member launches his diatribes against me,I should like him to have a quorum of his own friends present. [Quorum formed.]
– The acting leader of the Opposition has twitted other sections of the House with their absence from the Chamber, while he and his colleagues have been talking. I say, sir, that if the people outside the Houseknew what an infliction it was to sit here hour after hour and listen to the empty talk that comes from honorable members opposite, they would think that we were justified in absenting ourselves from the Chamber when such a senseless waste of time was taking place. We are told by the honorable member for Parramatta that the Labour corner in particular has sinned in this regard. He challenges us for voting for a measure to which he says we were not pledged at the last general election. The inference from his speech is that, because we did not pledge ourselves to vote tor an Anti-Trust Bill, therefore we are doing something very wrong in supporting the Government in their proposals in this measure. The honorable member has been one of the loudest of those who, at various, times, have denounced the Labour Party, because, as he says, we come here pledged to a policy, bound down to a programme, and because, as he alleges, we have sacrificed our individuality. We have been told we have no liberty either of speech or of vote. Yet when we support a measure which is not on our programme, the honorable member denounces us for voting for a Bill about which we have given no pledges. It is impossible to please the honorable member. Whip high or whip low, he is equally dissatisfied. If we vote for something to which we are pledged, he denounces us for pledging ourselves. If we vote for something to which we are not pledged, he denounces us the more. When this sort of empty talk is going on, it is no wonder that honorable members leave the Chamber. Not only the members in the Labour corner, but even the members of the Opposition - the supporters of the honorable member for Parramatta - desert him, and leave him to pour out his soft nothings to empty benches. The honorable member has also denounced and twitted members of the Labour Party who happen to hold free-trade views for running away from their principles in supporting this measure. I do not know how far the Bill may be regarded by some honorable members as being of a fiscal character, but my answer to the honorable member is that it is not connected with fiscalism at all. The Bill is going to do for Australian industries a great deal that cannot be done by means of the Tariff. I am aware that some honorable members upon the Opposition side have come to this House with their heads replete with the thoughts of other men. They have filled their minds with dry-as-dust theories from political text-books, and they find that this measure cuts right across some of the theories which they hold most dear.
– The honorable member has never read them.
– I have read and forgotten them. The honorable member has read, and cannot get away from them.
– Because they are too convincing.
– The honorable member talks like a school boy. He comes to this House and gives us a rehash of the theories of early political economists as though they were entirely applicable to our modern conditions. Honorable members opposite find that this Bill cuts right across the theories which they hold most dear, and so they pretend that the Government, in introducing the measure, is running away from some sort of pledge, given or implied, that there should be no interference with Tariff questions this session. I say that there is no necessary connexion between this Bill and the fiscal question. It is a Bill for the preservation of Australian industries, without reference to the Tariff in the least degree.
– It is a Bill for establishing prohibitive protection.
– Honorable members opposite are only too well aware that there is something like an industrial revival going on, and that it is supported by the public sentiment of Australia. The people of this country are awakening, and have come to a firm resolution that they will protect their own industries at all costs against the outside monopolists who are seeking .to capture our market. And it is because honorable members opposite know that the people of Australia have this determination that, though they may rave as they like against this Bill, they have not dared to vote against its principle, and have not had the courage to go outside this House and say, “ Here is a ‘Bill brought in to preserve Australian industries against monopolies, and we will vote against it.”
– Because it would be a lie if thev did.
– The honorable member for Lang knows as well as any one that what I say is true. He knows that he would have his work cut out to justify himself if he went on to a platform and denounced this Bill. What honorable members opposite call the fiscal question is being put in the back-ground to-day. The people are beginning to realize that the preservation of our industries is of far greater importance than the upholding of wild political theories for which our fathers were content to fight many years ago. We have also been told’ by the honorable member for Parramatta that we have no monopolies in Australia. Where has the honorable member been? Is it possible that we can have here a person claiming to be a public man in Australia who can get up in this deliberative assembly - I beg the honorable member for Parkes’ pardon - and say that we have no monopolies in Australia - that we are simply frightening ourselves because of certain things which have been done in America? I had the satisfaction of making a slight addition to this Bill, to cover the case of a combination or trust, which to-day is bleeding the people of Australia by means of high shipping rates and charges, and has been doing so for some time past, a combine which, I say, speaking with full knowledge, is watching with great anxiety the passage of this Bill. It is asking very anxiously,” How much are you going to put into that Bill? How far are you going with it ? To what extent are you going to put your hands upon us?” Vet we are told that we have no monopolies in Australia ! We have the tobacco combine, and surely the honorable member must have heard cf it. I am aware that those comprising that combination have been clever and cunning enough to leave out two or three s:,ia manufacturers whom they can crush at any time they like by raising their little finger Because they wish to be able to say that they are net a complete combination, because they wish to be able to throw dust in the eyes of the public by saying that there are other manufacturers in Australia besides themselves, they are graciously pleased to allow these two or three small manufacturers to continue to exist.
– The honorable member must be in their confidence.
– I know more about them than perhaps the honorable member thinks. They have sufficient control over the Australian tobacco trade to be able to fix prices, and to be able <o bleed the poor fellows in New South Wales who are seeking to get a living by growing tobacco leaf. Honorable members may not be aware that as a result of the sittings of the Tobacco Commission, the tobacco combine had to send up a few pounds to square the poor .growers for something of which thev had robbed them during the previous season.
– At Tumut.
– Yes. at Tumut. When the Tobacco Commission went there, and threatened to make revelations as to what the combine had been doin~ to the Tumut growers, in order to save themselves, the combine sent up a round sum. of money to bs distributed -amongst the tobacco-growers. They knew the growers should receive this money, because it fairly belonged to them. Yet the honorable member for Parramatta says that there is no combine in Australia.
– It was to bring the prices up to what the combine promised, but did not pay.
– Where is the proof of that statement?
– It was given in evidence.
– Knowing what we do of trusts and combines, we may depend that unless the tobacco combine had a very good reason for doing it, they would never have sent that money to Tumut for distribution amongst the tobacco-growers there. I do not know whether this Bill will accomplish all that some of its supporters desire. It is quite possible that it will not. We have no reason to suppose that our first attempt in Australia at legislation of this kind is going to be wholly successful. We know from our experience of what has taken place in the United States that it has taken the people of that country some years to bring their anti-trust measures to such a state of perfection as to produce the desired result. The honorable member for Parramatta told us just now that with all their legislation the people of the United States had not been- able to touch the combines there. But only two or three weeks ago we saw that they have been imprisoning some, and fining others, and that certain gentlemen in one State have at least taken the precaution’ to get across the borders of their State into the next, in order to escape prosecution for what they have been doing. Seeing the way in which they have been grappling with the problem we can rest assured that they will persevere until they have been successful. American literature to-day - magazines and newspapers - is full of this fight of the people against the combinations. What the people have suffered irc America we wish to prevent in Australia. Why should we wait, as the honorable member for Parramatta has suggested that we should, until the combines have acquired strength, and become dangerous, until we have felt the pinch of their evils, before- we set to work to combat them? We shall be doing our duty to our constituents if, seeing what has been done in other countries, what may be done here and what is threatening’ us, we say that we will take the precaution of passing this measure. The Government are deserving of all credit for taking time by the forelock in submitting this Bill as a first attempt, which, I hope, may be successful, to prevent in Australia anything like the evils from combinations and trusts to which the people of America have been subjected for so many years. I hope that the result of this legislation will be not to prevent combinations - that I know is impossible - but to enable us to put our hands on the combines, and say - “We do not seek to prevent you from eliminating all unnecessary competition, or from doing everything you may be able to do to cheapen processes, and thus give us cheap . products, but when your action becomes inimical to the public interests, we step in on behalf of the people to put a stop to your machinations.” It is because I believe that this Bill will have that effect that I have very much pleasure in supporting the third reading.
.- We have cause for congratulation in the fact that even at this late hour what appears to have been something in the nature of a conspiracy of silence amongst direct Government supporters and the majority of the Labour Party has been broken up by the speech to which we have just listened.
– What nonsense ! A number of us have spoken on the measure, and the honorable member knows it.
– Very few honorable members on the Ministerial side have spoken- upon this Bill. Indeed, very few of them have been in the chamber at any time while the Bill has been under discussion. Even when the Minister of Trade and Customs was explaining the) provisions of the Bill, the Ministerial and Labour benches were empty, and the ‘honorable gentleman had to be content with an audience made up of members of the Opposition. That does away with the statement that it is because they do not desire to listen to speeches of members of the Opposition that Ministerial supported leave the chamber. When the Minister professed to explain the provisions of the Bill - and the more the honorable gentleman tried to do so, the more plainly he showed that he knew very little about them - nearly the whole of the honorable members present were members of the Opposition. We know that Labour members as well as direct Government supporters were conspicuous by their absence.
– Where was the honorable member’s leader?
– During the discussion of this most important measure, which is calculated to affect the lives or liberties of a very large section of the people, they were conspicuous by their absence from the chamber. During the discussion of this measure, there has, at times, been only one lay member present on the Ministerial side, and he has been asleep. It therefore ill becomes the honorable member for Fremantle at this late stage of the proceedings, when he has always been one of those most conspicuous by his absence, to get up as he has done, and deliver a diatribe upon the utterances of the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and twit him with his frequent absences from the Chamber.
Sin William Lyne. - It was a very good speech. Where has the honorable member’s leader been all the time?
– My leader is not idling away his time in amusements, like Ministerial supporters, but is doing some excellent work for the benefit of this country in another place. At any rate, he is not engaged in following his own pleasure in other portions of this building when he should be attending fo his public duties here or in the country. Honorable members on the Ministerial side cannot urge the same valid excuse for their absence from the Chamber. Thev are not engaged in the work of explaining to the country the pernicious character of the legislation proposed to be put on the statute-book of the Commonwealth, a” sample of which is before this Parliament at the present time.
– The right honorable gentleman has never mentioned it.
– The right honorable gentleman is not game to mention it.
– Honorable members opposite are not engaged in work of that kind or there would be some excuse for them. They are engaged, as we know, in pursuits of a very different character.
– Will the honorable member discuss the Bill?
– I propose to discuss the Bill, but I was drawn a little off the track by the Minister’s interjection. The honorable member for Fremantle, in his diatribe, said that, in the beginning, the Opposition approached the consideration of this measure in a half-hearted fashion. From the time I saw the Bill in its original form last session I expressed my opposi tion to its enactment. Al that time I was just as strongly in opposition to it as were the members of the Labour Party, including the honorable member for Fremantle. At no time have I attempted to hide my opposition to the Bill, or to temporize with it.
– What about the honorable member for Perth, the most bitter opponent of the Bill?
– Last session all the members of the Labour Party were bitterly opposed to the Bill ; but now they are supporting almost to a man a measure which is admittedly more drastic than the one introduced here last session, and which thev then opposed.
– The Minister himself said it was more drastic when he introduced the Bill. I would remind the honorable member for Fremantle that so clumsy, so imperfect, so full of objectionable features was the Bill as it was introduced last session, that it was not pressed in its then existing form. During the recess the Ministers had time in which to consult one another, and to carefully consider and redraft its original provisions. It was brought in this session by the Minister of Trade and Customs as the perfection of the united wisdom of the Cabinet : but it had not been before the House for three days before the Opposition succeeded in convincing even Ministers themselves that it was necessary to bring down a whole sheaf of amendments.
– What does- the honorable, member know about it ?
– Honorable members have only to use their eyes to see upon the table the sheaf of amendments which the honorable gentleman brought down, and which practically made a new measure of his pet Bill.
– Not at all.
– How can the honorable gentleman sit there calmly and say, “ Not at all,” when copies of the amendments are lying upon the table for any one to see? He will deny anything in the face of the most glaring evidence of the futility of his denial. Will he say that this is anything like the Bill which he introduced this session ? Has it not undergone amendment in almost every clause, if not in almost every line? It has no claim to be regarded as the same Bill as that which the honorable gentleman originally introduced.
– The only remaining part of the original Bill is the title.
– The title is a misnomer. Instead of being entitled -
A Bill for. the preservation of Australian industries, and for the repression of destructive monopolies - it should be called -
A Bill for the purpose of promoting Australian monopolies, and the repression of commercial enterprise.
When the honorable member for Fremantle says that we, as an Opposition, have come here for the purpose of opposing an AntiTrust Bill, he makes a charge which is not in accordance with facts. If it were an Anti-Trust Bill, and its purpose were really to prevent the creation of monopolies, and to destroy monopolies, I am perfectly certain that the Minister would have received cordial support from all those who have been so strenuously opposing its passage. But it is an anti-trade Bill pure and simple, as he knows perfectly well.
– The honorable member is not representing the views of his constituents.
– I wish the honorable gentleman would put his assertion to the test of an appeal to them. My constituents are perfectly in accord with me on this point. I have no fear as to what their verdict will be when I explain to them the provisions of the Bill.
– When the honorable member called a meeting the other day, he got only ten persons to attend.
– Tt so happens that I did not call a meeting the other clay.
– When the honorable member was at a meeting the other day, there were only ten persons present.
– I was not at a meeting the other daw
– Well, six weeks or two months ago.
– Evidently, some person has been Dulling the Minister’s leg. I have no knowledge of any such meeting. I oppose the third reading of the Bill because, from beginning to end. it i* a lie, a sham, a fraud. It simply imposes upon public credulity bv pretending to be one thing when it is quite another thing. Under the guise of being an anti-trust Bill, it is simply a Bill for the purpose of brinkin”in prohibitive protection behind the back of Parliament. Expressed in a few words, that is its character. It is only for that purpose that it was in troduced. The existence of trusts, in America - because no trusts have been shown to exist in Australia - has been put forward as a flimsy and very transparent excuse for bringing forward this legislation. What I complain of is that it is dishonest on its face, that it pretends to aim at monopolies when its clauses make for the creation of monopolies, and the destruction of trade. Let us glance for a moment at Part II. of the Bill once more. If we refer to clause 4 we see that paragraph a of sub-clause r purports to deal with persons who try to restrain trade or commerce to the detriment of the public, and that paragraph b makes it an offence for persons who try, not to restrain trade or commerce, but to promote trade and commerce. Here, at the beginning of the Bill, we are confronted with two diametrically opposite sets of offences. Clause 4 applies to those who restrain or promote trade internally, clause 5 makes the same offence apply to foreign corporations who try to restrain or promote trade. Whichever way persons proceed, thev will commit an offence. Whether they try to restrain or to promote trade, that will be an ‘ offence. The clauses are absolutely ridiculous,. Here we have ordinary processes of commercial enterprise pounced upon through the agency of a measure of this kind, and persons engaged in trade and commerce treated as if they were criminals, dangerous to the peace and well-being of the community. The cause for this legislation is an alleged desire to suppress trusts which have not been shown to exist in Australia. There has not been a single effort on the other side of the Chamber to show that such a thing as a trust exists in Australia. The only semblance of a trust here is ‘what has been spoken of as the tobacco trust, and even the honorable member for Fremantle had to admit that there is no complete tobacco trust in Australia, because the combination does not embrace all connected with the tobacco industry.
– Where is the honorable member for Fremantle now?
– He is, as usual, out of the Chamber, and probably will not speak for a month or two, when, perhaps, he will again feel it necessary to put in an appearance and lecture honorable members on this side of the Chamber upon the iniquity of criticising Government measures. The other day the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, appealed to the Minister to defer the consideration of this measure until the reports of the Tariff Commission were before us. He pointed out that the reason given for the introduction of the Bill was the allegation that Australian industries are suffering by reason of the dumping which is taking place, but the Commission has not been able to obtain any evidence of the fact that dumping is occurring in Australia. The Minister has not yet given us a single instance of dumping.
– The honorable member has already said that about six times.
– I think it necessary to repeat it, and to ask the Minister, if he knows of an instance, to acquaint the House with it, even at this late hour.
– Who will be injured by the passing of the Bill, if there is no dumping ?
– Where is the necessity for the measure if dumping does not exist?.
– The Bill will prevent dumping.
– Does the honorable member think it necessary to pass legislation to prevent a continuance of something which is not occurring, and of the probable occurrence of which there is no sign i
– It is a Bill for stumping, not for dumping - stumping the electorates.
– No doubt it was introduced purely for electioneering purposes.
– I have heard these statements so often that the utterance of them is beginning to affect my hearing.
– The Minister does not like to hear the truth, but it must be spoken, nevertheless. When he told us that the Bill was being introduced to pre- 1 vent the injury, and even destruction, of Australian industries by reason of the dumping operations of foreign trusts, he should have given us specific instances of the abuses to which he referred.
– If I had done so, the honorable member would have said that my statements were wrong
– The Minister did not bring forward even a colourable imitation of a case of dumping, though, had such a case existed’, he would no doubt have seized upon it with avidity, with a view to showing the need for a Bill of this character. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has pointed out the unfairness of proceeding with the measure before honor able members have been able to inform themselves as to the true condition of industrial affairs here, by means of the evidence attached to the reports of the Tariff Commission. As the Minister has not been able to bring forward one instance of dumping, delay in consideration of the measure would not matter. In any case, the reports of the Tariff Commission will be available within three or four weeks, and, when they have been presented, we shall be able to see what foundation, if any, there is for the allegations as to the strangling of industrial industries by foreign competitors. I curtailed my speech on the motion for the second reading of the measure, in deference to the wishes of the Minister.
– Will not the honorable member curtail this speech, too?
– I am continuallymaking concessions to the Minister; but there are times when it is not right to make them. When the motion for the second reading of the Bill was before the House, we were told that it would be advisable to confine the debate within certain limits, because the Bill could be dealt with fully in Committee, when its clauses could be discussed in detail. But in Committee the Minister again displayed anxiety to avoid criticism. The cry then was, “You had a full opportunity to criticise the .principles of the measure when speaking on the motion for the second reading. Why go into these matters now ? “ On the motion for the third reading, the honorable gentleman is once more desirous - as he has been at previous stages - that there shall be no criticism. The measure, however, is so dangerous and pernicious that, in the interests of the producers, manufacturers, and the public at large, it should be subjected to the most complete criticism. The Bill which it is proposed to read a third time is a verv different measure from that first submitted to us. But, although the efforts of the Opposition have removed many objectionable features, its provisions are still a most serious danger to the interests of the public.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m.
– Ministers have chosen a singularly unfortunate time at which to introduce a measure of this character. Our newspapers and our statisticians are at considerable pains to show us that the country is enjoying a time of exceptional prosperity, and “Ministers have so far acknowledged the correctness of their representations that at the opening of the session they placed in the mouth of His Excellency the Governor-General the following words : -
I have called you together, I rejoice to say, in a season of general prosperity throughout the Commonwealth, production having increased, prices being favorable, while both trade and finance afford most encouraging evidence of the soundness of business.
Therefore, the excuse for the urgency, or even the need, of such a measure as this put forward by Ministers stands condemned out of their own mouths. We find in the Governor-General’s speech a flat contradiction of Ministers’ assertions with regard to the slackness of trade, and the discouragement and strangulation of our industries, which they have put forward in justification of their action in introducing this measure. We have been told by legal experts that even if there existed amongst us trusts whose operations were injurious and tended to the strangulation of our industries, the measure would not militate against them. They point out, however, that the Bill would seriously interfere with the ordinary trade, commerce, and industry of the country. I have previously pointed out that, whereas Part II. of the Bill is ostensibly aimed at the repression of monopolies, Part III. will tend to destroy all competition, and thus foster monopolies within the Commonwealth. The measure gives into the hands of those who desire to establish local manufacturing industries, the power to prevent any one from coming into competition with them, either by producing locally, or by importing. I submit that the less we interfere with trade and commerce, the better it will be for all concerned, because as soon as we attempt to check imports, we must injure our export trade. If we are to build up a great nation under the Southern Cross, we must, for many years to come, devote our energies principally to the cultivation and encouragement of the primary industries natural to the country, which do not need legislative interference for their protection or encouragement. In order to attain this end, we must develop our export trade in every possible way, so that we may obtain in exchange the best of manufactured goods from the countries beyond seas with which we trade. If we limit our imports, we must reduce the volume of our exports, because other nations will not trade with us upon any such onesided plan as is apparently contemplated by the framers of the Bill. It must be remembered that imports and exports pay for each other. It is a noteworthy fact that the Bill is aimed principally at those of our own kith and kin. Two-thirds of our import trade is transacted with British Possessions, and, therefore, the Bill would operate mainly against those of our own flesh and blood who speak our own language. The provisions of the Bill are framed upon the supposition that even those who spring from the same stock as ourSelves have evil designs upon us, that they desire to crush us and to destroy our trade and commerce. But, despite all these assumptions, not one tittle of evidence has been brought forward to sustain any such imputation. The Bill is of a most insulting character, in that it seeks to treat the people of our own race in a scurvy manner - a manner that we ourselves would be the first to resent if the people of the British nation were to legislate upon similar lines for the exclusion of Australian products from/ their markets. To enact legislation of this! description based upon an imputation of that character, betrays a most unpatriotic spirit. If we intend to prevent trade and commerce with our own kith and kin, we might accomplish our object much more effectively by other means. For instance, if we think it is desirable that we should live isolated, that we should keep Australia for the Australians, and make everything that we require by Australian labour, we might achieve our end much more effectively, and at much less expense by building walls across the mouths of our harbors and rivers, by blocking up the channels, and thus absolutely preventing any ships- from coming to our ports. If trade is a bad thing, by all means let us stop it. At the same time, let us stop it effectively, and thus avoid the expense of maintaining an army of Customs and other officials, whom the taxpayers are called upon to support.
– Would the honorable member do away with all’ the Customs officers ?
– If we are to legislate in the direction indicated, they might W employed in some of our local industries, if any were left to survive the experiment of this logical application of a principle indorsed by the Labour Party.
– We should then have to fall back upon direct taxation.
– I have no objection to direct taxation for the purposes of revenue. That, however, is a little outside the scope of the present discussion, and I do not pro- pose to be side-tracked by the honorable member. If trade is a bad thing, let us dispense with it, but if it is a good thing let us have all that we can get of it. As a free-trader, I maintain that all trade is good. Free-trade is natural trade, and I object to this Bill, because it prevents that freedom of trade which I hold to be absolutely necessary to the well-being of any nation. Free-trade, I repeat, is natural trade, and for the purpose of enabling countries to exchange their commodities one with another, nature has provided us with harbors, ports, and rivers, which we, in our blind ignorance, render practically useless by the imposition of artificial restrictions. I have already shown that two-thirds of our import trade is done with British Possessions. About ,£7,000,000 worth of that trade consists of metals and machinery chief! v of British origin. In moving the second reading of- the Bill, the Minister referred to the practice of dumping. He quoted a list of articles, in regard to which he did not prove that the practice existed. Amongst these were sewing machines and harvesters. He said that the value of the harvesters annually imported into the Commonwealth was £85.000. That is quite true. But I would point out that the value of the harvesters’ of local manufacture amounted in the same year to £250,000, and further, that the value of the machines exported to other countries was £30,000. In connexion with the allegation Qf dumping, it is a scathing satire on ourselves that the harvesters which are exported from Australia are sold in foreign countries at a lower price than that at which they can be purchased in the home market by our own farmers. If the sale of these machines in foreign countries at a lower price than that at which they can be purchased locally, constitutes dumping, it is undeniable that the Australian harvester manufacturers are guilty of dumping - the verv practice of which thev so bitterly complain and a sympathetic Minister so indignantly condemns, when an outside company is alleged to practise it in Australia. I wonder what we should say if the people of foreign countries were to pass similar legislation to that which is contained in this Bill for the purpose of shutting out Australian goods from their markets. We should regard it as an unfriendly act. Yet we are doing the very thing that we condemn, when it is practised by others. If Australian harvesters can be sold in foreign countries - in the Argentine and elsewhere - -at less than they can be purchased locally, we may reasonably assume that they are not sold at a loss. They are not exported by the manufacturers merely for the pleasure of exporting them. The McKay Harvester Company make a profit out of their export trade. If the value of the Australian-made harvester is the price which the foreigner is charged for it after payment of insurance, freight, . and transport charges, then the price which the Australian farmer has to pay in excess of that amount is surplus profit, and is an unfair impost. I desire to know how the Minister proposes to protect the consumer, who is one of those mentioned in the Bill as being the special subject of paternal regard at the hands of the Government. We have knowledge of the fact that the Australian farmer here is charged an immensely higher price for the Australianmade article than the farmer outside has to pay for the same machine. That being so, the local consumer has a right to be considered. What provision is there in the Bill to protect his interests? None whatever. When an effort was made by the Opposition to amend the Bill, in order to give him some measure of protection against unfairly high charges, the Ministry, and those allied with them, opposed the proposition, and vet I suppose that they will have the unblushing audacity to go before the country and claim to have legislated in the interests of the consumers. I should like to know what the farming constituents of the Minister of Trade and Customs will think of his action when they understand its true significance. He may rest assured that they will not be kept in ignorance of it between now and the next general election. The action of Australian manufacturers of harvesters, in selling their goods abroad at a lower price than they charge in the local market is typical of what all protected manufacturers do. The practice is not peculiar to manufacturers of harvesters. In connexion with all local industries, the home consumer is charged the highest price that the Tariff will permit; and we may be sure that advantage will be taken of any measure of this kind for the same purpose, whilst the price obtained outside is always regulated by the competition with which they meet. We know that it is not the practice of Australian manufacturers any more than it is that of manufacturers abroad to carry on their work year in and year out solely to sell at a loss. When they sell abroad at a lower price than they do at home, it is sometimes because of a desire to get rid of accumulated surplus stock. In such circumstances it may happen occasionally that they sell, perhaps, at a trifling loss, or at all events, at a. very small margin of profit. Speaking generally, exporters aim at making a fair profit out of their trade; otherwise it would not be worth their while to continue in it. And yet we find that the practice prevails amongst manufacturers, both here and elsewhere, of charging a much higher price in the local market than is charged outside in respect of the same goods. This Bill seeks to exclude imports, among other grounds, on the score of their cheapness. The effect of the measure will be to prevent goods coming in here which can be sold at less than the locallymanufactured articles. Whence come many of these articles, the cheapness of which is the subject of complaint? Generally speaking, the article made bv low-priced or pauper labour come from continental protected countries. Here we have evidence of the fact that the imported cheap goods are Hie product of heavily-protected labour. That labour may be protected, not by means of legislation of the kind now before us, but by legislation which has for its object a similar aim - the shutting out of imports, and the encouragement in that wa of the local producer. It is singular that this low-priced labour, which is so often condemned in the House, is invariably very highly protected. That shows clearly that the effect of restrictions upon trade, whatever their effect may be on the profits of the manufacturers., is not to raise but to lower the wages of labour. This Bill has received the condemnation of all the public bodies representative of the producing and commercial classes that have given it consideration. I have not yet seen a report of a. meeting of an association of importers, manufacturers, or farmers at which it has not been condemned. I propose now to refer to a meeting of the Yannathan branch of the Farmers, Property Owners, and Producers’ Association held on the 6th inst., at which a condemnatory resolution was passed showing that a great many of the primary industries of Australia Will materially suffer from the operation of this Bill. The resolution, which was reported in the Argus, was as follows: - “ That this branch of the Farmers’, Propertyowners’, and Producers’ Association is of opinion that the Australian Preservation of Industries and Repression of Destructive Mono- polies Bill now before the House of Representatives will be injurious to the best interests of the public, more especially the producers, as the prohibition put on certain imports, the restraint on trade, and the restriction of the rights of traders to purchase their goods in the cheapest and best markets, must result in enhancing the price of commodities ; that necessaries like wool-packs, cornsacks, manures, implements, &c.,, absolutely necessary to producers will be only purchasable at excess prices, and therefore greatly increase the cost of production, whereas the products from the soil will still have to be sold in the markets of the world in competition with sellers not hampered with such restrictions; that producers are entirely opposed to destructive monopolies, and in favour of local industries, but do not consider a bill of this nature will facilitate either one or the other, the reverse being more likely to fake place, viz., the destruction of industries and the encouragement of local monopolies.” That resolution was passed by a branch of an association which is very influential, and which cannot be accused of not knowing where its own interests lie. The branch having met and considered this measure, which its authors assert is intended to assist the farming and producing, in common with other industries, has not a good word to say for its provisions, but, on the contrary, condemns it in very severe terms, and points out that it will greatly enhance the prices of a number of articles, the obtaining of which at a cheap rate is an essential factor in the success of the primary producing industries. Yet even an appeal of this character from an association of farmers, whom the Minister of Trade and Customs is supposed to largely represent, seems to carry absolutely no weight with the honorable gentleman. Notwithstanding that farmers’ associations have condemned the Bill all round, we find the Minister impervious to any suggestions or criticisms, even when the provisions to which exception is taken affect that particular section of the electors who form so large a portion of his constituents. I venture to say that the Minister of Trade and Customs, when before the electors, will have to answer a great number of questions, but no doubt, with his usual adroitness, he will be able to fence some of the points raised, and to throw dust in the eyes of the farmers as to the real character of the measure. I find that meetings of the association were also held at Gormandale. Hamilton, and Geelong, amongst other places, and that similar resolutions to that which J have already read were there carried. Wherever meetings have been held throughout Australia for the purpose of considering the matter, the Bill has been absolutely condemned ; and it must be evident to the Minister of Trade and Customs that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction, even amongst the people in whose interests the measure is supposed to have been framed. To show that there is no urgency for a Bill of the kind, on the ground of slackness of trade or injury to our industries, I have only to quote some official statistical information recently placed at our command by the authorities. The total value of the imports into Australia for the year 1905 was ^38.346,73’. of which ^25,524,802, or about 66.5 per cent., represented imports from British Possessions. It will thus be seen that the operation of the Bill will mainly affect British imports; and I have already pointed out that about £7,000,000 worth of our imports represents metal and machinery imported from Great Britain. During the past three years, there has not been any great increase in the imports ; and although the protectionist section of the community seem to regard any increase as a very great evil, I view the matter in a very different light. The value, of the imports for 1904 and 1905 was less than the value of the imports for 1903. The imports for 1903 amounted in value to £38,835,682 ; and the difference between the value of the imports for that year and the value of the imports for 1905 is represented by nearly half-a-million. or, to give the exact figures, £488,951. Let us now look for a moment at the exports for the same period. The exports from Australia for 1903 amounted in value to £[49,809,998, while the exports for 1905 amounted in value to .£56,841,035, showing an increase for the latter year of £7,031,037. As I have already shown, the total imports for 1905 were valued at £38,346,731 ; on the other hand, the total exports were valued at £56,841,035, showing an increase of exports over imports of £18,494,304. From -the point of view of those who favour restriction of trade, and who place a good deal of value on the excess of our export trade over our import trade, these figures are very encouraging.. I do not pretend to regard these figures with unmixed satisfaction myself, but protectionists should find them gratifying. In regard to the increased export trade, the statistics so far furnished indicate a record.
– Does the honorable member think that that has anything to do with the Bill?
– Yes, Mr. Speaker. The main reason advanced for introducing the Bill is that our trade and1 industries are languishing, and being ruined by the importation of goods from oversea. It is contended that the local export trade is being ruined from the same cause; and the object of the Bill is to place restrictions in the way of oversea trade, and in the way of oversea competition with our existing industries. The Bill in its operation will affect both our imports and our exports ; and my object is to point out that our trade from imports has not shown any abnormal development, but, on the contrary, has diminished, while our export trade, far from being injured, is really in a more flourishing condition than it has been for a long time past, and that, therefore, the principal reason alleged for the introduction of the Bill is not founded on fact - is non-existent. However, Mr. Speaker, if you think it undesirable that I should not go into figures, it is not absolutely necessary for my purpose that I shall do so; and I shall content myself with simply relating the facts as they are. Without going into details, I may state that there has been a great increase in our exports of gold as compared with previous years. Our wool exports have increased, and the value of wool has largely increased.
– Those details have nothing to do with the Bill.
– I shall not pursue them. Generally speaking, they prove that our industries are in a flourishing condition. At any rate, I may be allowed to refer to the value of the productions of our manufacturing industries, which have to do with this Bill, and I shall do that very briefly. I shall not refer to the statistics for Victoria, as I dealt with them recently. Some figures which have come to hand show that the value of the productions of the manufacturing industries of New South Wales - that is, the value added to the cost of the raw materials in the process of manufacture - amounted last year to ,£10,580,000, op £7 3s. id. per head of the population. The increase was general in all branches of industry, but chiefly in the metals and smelting industries. Last year more factories were being worked than in the previous year, and the number of men employed was 4,139 more than in the previous year. These figures go to showthat, instead of our industries being in a declining condition, and requiring to be bolstered up by legislation of this character, they are more prosperous to-day than they have been for a considerable time past. I will leave that phase of the subject, and proceed to another, lt will be remembered that a certain section of this House, known as the Labour Part)’, strenuously opposed this Bill when it was first introduced. It was on account of the opposition of that party that the Bill was dropped last year.
– I do not think that is so.
– If the Minister will look up Hansard he will see that strenuous opposition was threatened to this Bill at that time, and it was not proceeded with. It has been brought up in the present session in an amended, and admittedly a more drastic, form. Yet we find that the very same section which last session was so strongly antipathetic to it, now almost to a man supports it. Nevertheless, the most influential organ of the Labour Party in Queensland, The Worker, refers to the Bill in terms of anything but approbation. Perhaps I may be permitted to quote an extract from an article which appeared in the Queensland Worker of 30th June in regard to the anti-trust legislation of this Parliament. The article describes it as useless, and then goes on to say -
They have a drastic law on the subject in America, and the trusts wax fat and laugh at it. Its one effect has been to elevate evasion into a science, and make politics a synonym for bribery and corruption. The greatest trust in the- world is the Beef Trust, and it has grown up under the shadow of anti-trust legislation ! America groans under its extortions, yet so cunningly is it done that in law the Trust has actually no existence. It levies tribute upon every American home, yet you may hunt the States up and down, and turn a lantern into every hole and corner, and find no trace of a Beef Trust to convince a Judge or jury. It has no offices, no books, no board of directors. Legal evidence that such a thing exists there is absolutely none. Yet it holds the great American Republic at its mercy, and reduces to a comic song its Declaration of Independence. It is more powerful than Parliaments and Presidents. It is superior to the Constitution. It makes a mock of justice, and under its baneful influence public life has degenerated into the vilest form of prostitution. Injunctions have at various times been taken out against its component firms, but for some mysterious reason they are never enforced. The law becomes afflicted with corns on its feet, and cannot move. It mislays its glasses, and cannot see. The “ strong arm “ that grips the petty thief and flings him into gaol is seized suddenly wilh paralysis, and the Trust continues to do with impunity the thing which it has been “ prohibited “ from doing.
That is a most scathing denunciation of this legislation ; and it shows that, .whilst the members of the Labour Party in this House are almost to a man supporters of the Bill, the most influential official organ of their party in Australia, speaks of all such legislation in terms of the strongest condemnation and ridicule. Of course, I know that criticism, no matter whence it comes, falls upon deaf ears so far as this Ministry is concerned. I have very little hope that anything that I can say will induce the Minister of Trade and Customs to see the error of his ways. But if he thinks that he has the people behind him ; if he thinks that the electors will indorse this legislation, and that they resent the criticism which has been levelled at it by the Opposition, surely we may ask him to put his professions to a practical test. Let him for the moment refrain from proceeding further with the Bill. Let him wait until we have the reports df the Tariff Commission before us, so that we can see what the evidence is, and what the recommendations of the Commission disclose. If the Minister has so much confidence in the necessity for the Bill, and in the existence of the. conditions which he alleges do exist, and if he is really sincere in his professions, he cannot have much reasonable objection to delay the passage of the measure for a few short weeks. If he believes that the Bill is really one which will commend itself to the constituencies, the best’ thing for him to do, seeing that it has met with so much hostile criticism at the hands of the Opposition, is to submit it to the electors for their approval. If the Minister really believed that they would approve of it, T have not the slightest doubt that he would not hesitate for a single moment to adopt that course. But I feel as sure as that I am standing here that the Minister knows perfectly well that the concensus of public opinion is with the Opposition. Public opinion certainly condemns the Bill so far as any expression of public opinion has been given in the newspapers and elsewhere. We have not seen one single word in its praise. From quotations which I have giver., and from a number of others which. I might have given, had it been necessary, it is quite evident that wherever the Bill has been considered, wherever meetings have been held for the purpose of discussing; it, only terms of the strongest condemnation have been applied to it. If the Minister is really sincere in his protestations, let him submit the Bill to the country for the approval of the electors. I have no’ fear of their verdict, because I am satisfied that it will show, so far as this measure is concerned, ample justification for the attitude which the Opposition have taken up in, regard to it.
.- I do not intend to say more than a few words, but I cannot allow the third reading of the Bill to pass without expressing my regret that the Minister and the Government have not agreed to allow it to be postponed for a week or a fortnight, in order that in» its amended form it might be submitted to public criticism and comment. I ventured, when speaking on the second reading, to express the opinion that the measure would be torn to pieces during its passage through Committee, and that has so far been proved to be the case that I do not suppose any honorable member who gave close attention to it in its original form would recognise it now. I, therefore, think that the Ministry would be dealing more fairly with the large interests involved if, instead of proceeding with the third reading, at the present time, they allowed the Bill, as amended, to be circulated, in order that public consideration might be given to it. In common with other honorable members, I received a copy of the Bill as reported from Committee, only this morning.
– It has been altered since.
– As the honorable and learned member interjects, it has been altered even since that time. .But I have been referring rather to the large number of amendments made during the Committee stage.
– Only one important amendment was made to-day.
– I do not say much as to the verbal amendments which may have been made to-da’y, but there have been some very important amendments made in the Bill as originally introduced. I must admit that thev have considerably improved it, being all in the direction of making it less drastic. I have risen not to make any analytical criticism of the measure at this stage, but because I feel that I should be failing in my duty as a member of this. (House if I did not enter mv protest against what I regard as an attempt to rush this very important measure through. I again repeat that the Attorney-General, in his illuminating speech on the second reading, in which he gave us a considerable grasp of its purposes, indicated very clearly that he regarded this Bill as one dealing with extraordinary conditions. That justified our expectation that the Government and Par liament would have the advantage of public criticism of the measure before it was allowed to pass from the control of this House. I, therefore, consider that it was only a reasonable request to make to the Minister that the third reading of the Bill should be postponed until a copy of it as amended in Committee could reach Sydney, Adelaide, or even the more distant parts of the Commonwealth.
– It has to go through the Senate yet.
– Whatever the Senate may do, I am concerned with our obligations in this House. I suppose that no other measure introduced here has become so transformed in its language and construction as this Bill has, and I therefore think that the Minister of Trade and Customs might, in fairness to all the large interests concerned, have postponed the third reading to some later stage, when the Government would have the benefit and advantage of the public criticism, which would certainly be brought to bear upon it.
.- When it was proposed that this Bill should be read a third time to-day, I objected to it, because, in the first place, I do not believe that such legislation is so immediately necessary that the forms of the House should be suspended to permit its being passed more expeditiously. Agreeable to a promise which it appears the acting leader of the Opposition gave, I withdrew my objection to the third reading being taken to-day ; but I quite agree with the honorable member for Kooyong when he says that a plain copy of the Bill, as amended, was presented to us only this morning, and we are therefore not quite in a position to indicate all our objections to the measure as now framed. My objection to it begins with the very title, which, in my opinion, is utterly and entirely a misnomer. We call this a Bill for the preservation of Australian industries, and yet we have never once defined what an Australian industry is.
– The lawyers. ,
– Quite so; an industry that has to live on other people. This is certainly a Bill to preserve industries that must live on other people. My definition of an industry is any work in which people are engaged, and in which the result of their labours is a greater benefit than is caused by the expenditure of their own work. If the product of their work is not equal to the expenditure upon it, it cannot be an industry, otherwise we might as well say that the people who, in some of our pauper institutions, by growing vegetables, contribute 10 per cent. or 20 per cent. of the cost of their keep, are engaged in an industry, although the balance of 80 per cent. has to be made up by contributions taken from the pockets of other people. So far as this Bill goes, the industries with which it attempts to deal are what are called the secondary industries.It is true that the great bulk of our secondary industries do not rely upon other people. Only a. very small section of them do; but that small section seems to be unable to get along without extraneous help - that is to say, without being allowed by law to collect something from other people. The employers who are engaged in these socalled industries are chiefly the class of people whom this Bill is framed to assist. So that clearly it is entirely what I call sectional legislation. In fact, it is so entirely framed in the interests of a few persons that it might be called - I really forget what title the Government have given the Bill ; Iam sure that they do not know, and I doubt if any one else does.
– A Bill for the Preservation of Australian Industries.
– That is the nominal title, but the true title is a Bill for the Creation of Trusts, because, if it is anything at all, it is a measure for the creation of trusts in certain lines.
– No; it is a Bill to milk the public for the benefit of tha workers and the manufacturers.
– It is a Bill for the benefit of the manufacturers.
– It is a Bill to milk the consumers.
– It is a Bill to milk the consumers, and for the benefit of a section of the manufacturers. When it was proposed to put in a clause for the benefit of workers only, providing for fixing the price of an article at such a rate that the manufacturer should not be able to sell above it, the members of the Ministry, even although they had the Labour Party at their backs, refused to support it. It is true that certain members of the Labour Party did come across and vote for the proposal, because they saw that if a monopoly was to be granted, at least the benefit should, as far as possible, be extended over a large section of the workmen engaged in the production of that particular line of goods. Of course, to my mind, that would only have minimized the evil. As it would have been purely sectional and in the interests of a particular class only as against the interests of the great mass of the people, I could not accord it any direct support, except on the ground mentioned, because I hold that we, as parliamentarians, if we properly understand our duties, are only in the light of trustees for beneficiaries. It ought to be our duty to take care that no one set of beneficiaries - who are the public citizens - get any rights at the expense of the other beneficiaries. But we are departing entirely from that principle, and in measures of this sort we seem to be advocating the idea that he is the beneficiary mostly to be favoured who can make his representations in the most powerful manner to the Ministerial ear. If in fact, a man is able to interview the Minister, and is of such standing in the manufacturing world that his representations are likely to be attended to, then, and then only, can the provisions of this Bill be put in force, because for him only could they be so used that benefit would accrue. Under these circumstances, it is only right and proper that those of us who take that view should oppose the Bill as we have done. Where are the industries that are threatened ? So long ago as November last, when the Bill was first introduced, we asked the Minister to name them. A period of seven or eight months has elapsed, and he now comes forward and tells us that the manufacturers of sewing machines are threatened. Of course, we know that he did not want to mention the real name, and therefore he said that the manufacturers of sewing machines are threatened. I find that in Australia there is only one man who practically holds himself out as a manufacturer of sewing machines. So that when the Minister said that a great industry was being threatened, he meant that one manufacturer was threatened with competition - a competition which I am thankful to say still exists, and whichI hope will long continue to exist. He meant further that this manufacturer might not be able to get quite the same rate of profit as he had previously been enioving, and that if the Bill were passed in its entirety he, himself, knowing that manufacturer, would be able to put an end to all competition, and to allow him to raise the price of his machines at his own sweet will.
– And what proportion’ of the parts does he import?
– I believe that he imports the bulk of the parts.
– He is a joiner, not a manufacturer.
– -Exactly. I do not wish to deal with that aspect, but to point out that the provisions of the Bill are so framed that they would apply to that particular individual only, that while he might be able to get the whole of the benefit which would result from the Tariff being made practically prohibitive, as, of course, it would be in that case, not one atom of the benefit would be allowed to accrue to any of the workmen, and that the Ministry also voted against such a clause being introduced when some of us, prompted by a desire to seek to minimise the evils that must result from its operation, determined that at all events the manufacturer would not have altogether his own way. i know of no other country in which, when it has been sought to put down trusts, Parliament has not always determined that the Tariff should be lowered, and not increased. Under those circumstances, why do we not seek to provide for lowering the duty on an article whenever a local trust is likely to be formed ? I would remind honorable members that in any previous Bill it has always been sought to lower the duties. Surely the first Minister of Trade and Customs, the right honorable member for Adelaide, was a sincere opponent of trusts ! If there was a man who was strict and earnest in his endeavours to db away with trusts, it was he. In the first session of the first Parliament he introduced a Bill, but so far from seeking to make the duties prohibitive, as this Bill does, it contained a clause to the effect that Parliament might sweep them away. That was an attempt to grapple with the evil; and a recognition of what has caused trusts in America - the Tariff. I think that it was Mr. Havemeyer, the president of the Sugar Trust, who, when examined before the Tariff Commission, said - “ The Tariff is the mother of trust’s. It is the Government that plunders the people with the Tariff, and the trusts are merely the machinery which enables the people to be plundered.” These were very wise and uncommonly true statements. Because we see that in every country where very high duties exist, especially where they have become practi cally prohibitive - and in this case they could become absolutely prohibitive - trusts always flourish to an extent unknown in other lands. It was a recognition of that fact which caused the right honorable member for Adelaide, when he brought in his Bill for prohibiting trusts, to adopt a policy exactly opposite to that suggested here. His policy was to lower the duties to vanishing point, so that competition could be brought- in, and it was reserved for the present Minister of Trade and Customs to bring in a Bill to make the duties absolutely prohibitive; in fact, to prohibit the importation of the goods, and then to turn round and say, “ Still, my Bill is an Anti-Trust Bill.” One or other of them must be absolutely wrong. The Minister of Trade and Customs has the boldness - I will not use a stronger word - to term this an anti-Trust Bill, but those who have studied it know that its effect will be to create trusts. That knowledge must be in the minds of most of the members of the Labour Party, because, with the exception of a few who are opposed to the measure, they have carefully absented themselves from these debates, so that they may not have to listen to speeches against provisions which, in their inmost hearts, they know to be opposed to the interests of the class which they represent. What I have said of that part of the Bill which deals with dumping applies equally to that part which deals with the repression of monopolies. The measure is really one to create monopolies, because its effect will be to destroy competition, and only in the absence of competition can there be monopolies. It is a wonderful thing that the House should agree to legislation of this kind, and pass a Bill, ostensibly to do one thing, which it is known will accomplish . the contrary. This is an age when there is a mania for legislating, it being, thought that everything can be done or remedied bv . the mere passing of Acts of Parliament. Itis time that a halt was called’. If we go on piling up Statute’s, the people will insist upon an alteration of the Constitution, and we shall have imposed upon us a restriction similar to that in vogue in America, where the Parliaments of thirty-nine out of the forty-five States of the Union are allowed to sit once only every two ears thirty-seven of them being allowed a maximum session of ninety days, or about three months, the minimum session being forty days, or about six weeks.
– They would not do much work if they had many members like the honorable and learned gentleman.
– There would be fewer interfering measures on the statute-book - less legislative interference and less taxa-tion, two very good principles on which to appeal to the electors. I am sure that the honorable member would support at least the second. We should recognise the signs of the times, and cease from our continual interference. The effect of a meddlesome Act is that other meddlesome Acts have to be passed to remedy the evils which it creates. Every interfering measure leads, in the nature of things, to subsequent legislation of the same kind. It is only by ceasing from interference, and by trusting as much as possible to the spirit of freedom prevailing among our people, that we shall make true progress. The whole wisdom of the community is not embodied in its parliamentary representatives. Many members of Parliament, indeed, are not competent to manage properly their own affairs. Why, then, should the Legislature attempt to lay down rules for the conduct of every branch of business? The less we interfere in these matters the better it will be for the Commonwealth. We have too much the idea that we are heaven-born legislators. But even if we had the necessary knowledge - and the bulk of us have not - we have not the time to properly regulate all human transactions, and the people have not the inclination to comply with our conditions. By adding to the bulk of the Statutes we are creating a contempt for law. Every new Act increases the cost of administration, and subsequently leads to the imposition of fresh taxation. As we all know, the taxes are paid by the productive members of the community, because the unproductive members cannot contribute, and to the extent to which we decrease the wealth of the people we lessen their capacity to employ others. If we continue as we are doing, a section of the community will be taxed to support another section almost as large, engaged in supervision rendered necessary by our meddlesome legislation. We are coddling the people, and are preventing the growth of that spirit of independence which alone can create a nation. It is not by continual interference that we can make our people a nation worthy of the name. In private life it is often seen when a man of very strong character never allows his children to have a voice in the determination of affairs, that they grow to manhood not worth a rap. Their wills never having been called into play, they readily succumb to temptations which the children of less strong-willed and less interfering fathers often escape. Very often a man who is regarded as very wise has sons who turn out no good. The. man may be very big, but not wise enough, because he has prevented his children from exercising their will-power whilst in his presence, and has prevented the growth of that spirit of independence, the exercise of which alone can insure success in the battle of life. By .measures of this kind we are seeking to destroy that spirit. Above all things, we should aim at the formation of character, and we cannot build up character in the nation when by repeated acts of interference we seek to destroy it. The Bill has been assented to by a very unwilling House. I am sure that if the majority of honorable members had been free to express their views, and if time had permitted of the formation of another Ministry, without the fear of bringing about a dissolution, the Labour Party would have withheld their support from the Government. The measure has been pushed through solely owing to the tenacity of the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon whom all the blame attaching to such legislation should fall.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that the Minister has hypnotized us?
– I do not say that. Honorable members in the Labour corner are not alone in regarding it as very undesirable that there should be an immediate dissolution. In any case it would be very difficult to hold a general election before the middle of November, because the rolls are not prepared. Consequently; the Government must be permitted to carry on in some way or other. It is unfortunate, however, that Ministers should have taken advantage of the situation to force through a Bill of this kind!, because I do not think that it will redound to the credit of any of those who have supported it. I would ask honorable members to look at clause 2t, which members of the Opposition desired to have recommitted. Under that clause a man mav give information which mav cause the whole course of trade to be interrupted, and mav put a competitor to a great deal of expense, and yet, though he mav have made a wilfully false statement, no punishment beyond the infliction of a fine of £100 is to be meted out to him. The Minister seemed to be very anxious with regard to this matter, possibly because he may intend to act on the declaration of some manufacturer whom he knows. If a wilfully false statement were made by a manufacturer no penalty other than a fine of £100 would be inflicted merely because the statement had not been made on oath. Possibly, he would be willing to pay such an amount in order to put a rival to an expense of perhaps £1,000. The Minister evidently thinks that some one he knows may swear an information, and be able to protect himself under a provision of this kind by saying, “ Even if I have sworn an information, what has that to do with it. The penalty provided for is £roo, and that is all the punishment that can be inflicted upon me.” I thought at first that a mistake had been made, and that the Minister would have allowed the clause to ‘be recommitted. But now that he has refused to adopt that course, honorable members are entitled te predict the very worse consequences from such legislation. If a mistake had been made it could easily have been corrected. If a man merely makes a false statement that is misleading in any particular, a penalty of ,£100 fine may be sufficient, but if he wilfully makes ai false statement he should be much more heavily punished. The fine of £100 would be a mere fleabite compared with the heavy expense to which the informant might put a competitor, and we are justified in saying that it appears very much as if some informant was likely to come forward who would be unwilling to make a statement on oath, and who would still be able to induce the Minister to exercise all the terrible powers granted to him by the Bill. No other measure that has been brought forward has proposed to intrust so much power to the Minister. When we were dealing with importers who might be trying to sell goods cheaply because they had bought them cheaply, we were told that a second offence should render the offender liable to a punishment of twelve months’ imprisonment. Afterwards, however, when the case of manufacturers came before us, it was urged ‘that, even though a man might make a wilfully false statement, he should not receive more than nominal punishment. The AttorneyGeneral actually told us that, so long as a man did not make a statement on oath, no matter how he might mislead the Minister or Comptroller, or how much expense and trouble he might cause. to others, or how much he might abuse the forms of the Court, he should not be treated as a guilty person. We ought to have insisted that the declarations of informants under clause 21 should be made on oath, and ought to , have made it clear that, if a manufacturer desired his information to be acted upon he should at least take the full responsibility attaching to a sworn declaration; This provision, in conjunction with others in the. Bill which are absolutely tyrannical, and are framed solely in the interests, of certain individuals, affords proof to me that this Parliament has practically outlived its usefulness. Whilst the electors send here such men as they do, we should do our best to insure that Parliament should not meet more than once in two years, and then only for five or six weeks at a time, so that its opportunities for working mischief to the community might be restricted. It is terrible to contemplate that the time may come when a measure of that sort will be regarded with approval by the large mass of our citizens. But we are steadily drifting in that direction by reason of our meddlesome legislation. We are destroying the confidence of all citizens in sound and honest administration by perpetually handing over, under Bills of this character, power to the Minister to do just what he pleases. By thus acting we must inevitably bring about, not only the corruption of the Minister to whom such powers are intrusted, but the corruption of Parliament itself. If proof of my statement be needed, it is only necessary to recollect that it was by reason of the extraordinary powers vested in the Minister of Lands in New South Wales that a corrupt Minister arose. The Department became corrupt, and it is asserted that a large section of the officials became corrupt. At any rate, it is manifest that there ‘were some individuals who - whether they were corrupt or not - did not properly discharge their duties, and it is everywhere declared that the Ministers themselves became corrupt. As a matter of fact, before any charges were brought forward, one Minister absolutely resigned his office and left the’ State, and there is another ex-Minister against whom charges are now pending. These charges would never have been made had it not been for the fact that the extensive powers vested in the hands of the Minister o’f the dai under various Acts enabled him to do corrupt things. Parliament placed him above the law, and, having done so, a Minister was soon found who was prepared to improperly exercise the power reposed in him. I maintain that by vesting in the Minister the extraordinary powers contained in this Bill, the temptation to do wrong will be too great. We are bound to see an evil result flow from our action in the near future. When I was glancing hurriedly through the Bill this afternoon, I did not notice that in clause11 a sub-clause has been inserted, which provides that no person shall be excused from answering any question upon the ground that the answer may criminate, or tend to criminate, him. That is a bad plan to adopt, and it is one which is contrary tothe law in regard to all other matters. The clausegoes further, and declares that his answer shall not be admissible against him in any criminal proceedings other than a prosecution for perjury. Let honorable members think of what the effect of that may be. In New South Wales the Legislature hastily passed a clause of the very same description, and, subsequently, because of evidence which was given before a Royal Commission, that very provision permitted a man who, upon this testimony, could have been proved guilty, to escape. That fact serves to illustrate the effect of hasty legislation. In this connexion, I specially refer to sub-clause 2 of clause 11, and to clause 21. No full or proper consideration has been given to the Bill, with the result that at the third-reading stage I am able to point out its absolutely imperfect nature. Even if the measure, in other respects, had been correctly drawn, even if it had been so framed that it would have accomplished the purpose which if has in view in its title, I should not have been able to support it. because of the provisions to which I have referred. But, seeing that those clauses constitute a danger, that they represent a departure from sound legislation, and that the Bill itself is an absolute travesty upon what it purports to be, it will be my dutv to vote against its third reading. I regret that the opponents of the measure have not sufficient numbers to accomplish their purpose, but I shall include the honorable member for Melbourne, amongst those who, in the near future, will realize the truth of my predictions.
– I believe in Australia ; I am not against Australia.
– But unfortunately the honorable member in voting for this Bill is for an individual. I am not aware that anybody has ever questioned thesincerity of the honorable member’s motives.
– Let the honorable and learned member insist upon a division, and we shall then see who are the antiAustralians.
– Apparently the honorable member supposes that he is the only Australian, and that he represents all the wisdom of Australia. That is a matter upon which I so entirely differ from him that I do not intend to argue it. He must indeed be a very happy man if he is conscious of occupying that position. I must confess that when I was a boy of fifteen or sixteen years of age, I did think that i possessed all the wisdom of the world. Since then, however, I have learned a little more, and I regret that the honorable member has not similarly progressed.
.- The honorable and learned member for Werriwa expressed regret that the Opposition had not sufficient numbers to successfully oppose the third reading of the Bill. I presume that if we had the requisite numbers this measure, which will not affect the purpose at which it aims, would be destroyed. Usually, the motion for the third reading of a Bill is regarded as a purely formal matter, and, consequently, there must be some reason for the debate which is now proceeding.
– I am not departing from the usual custom at all, it is honorable members opposite.
– The Minister should be the last to object to the attitude assumed by members of the Opposition. Undoubtedly this Bill has been improved during its progress through Committee, as the result of their efforts.
– The honorable member knows that we could have defeated every amendment that was submitted if we had chosen to do so, though I accepted a great many of them.
– Then either every amendment which was carried at the instance of members of the Opposition was good, or else the Minister neglected his duty by accepting them simply because he did not desire to resist them.
– I accepted them because I did not think they could do any harm
– Then the Minister admits that they were good amendments, and that he has received valuable assistance from the members of the Opposition. However, I have no desire to place the honorable gentleman under more torture. During the present session, I have had the pleasure of addressing the House as the honorable member for Dalley. But before the departure from our shores of another honorable member who has been obliged to visit England on account of his health, he did me the honour to appoint me his deputy, and, consequently, I am now speaking in the capacity of the honorable member for South Sydney, That honorable member is able to bring to bear on commercial questions one of the best trained intellects in this House - an intellect in keeping with that of the honorable member for North Sydney, who has been instrumental in introducing in this measure many amendments of a far-reaching character. I am sure that if the honorable member for South Sydney had been present he would have helped to clarify the Bill. It remains for us to emphasize the peculiar history of the Bill since the motion for the second reading was submitted. With the exception of the Minister of Trade and Customs and the Attorney-General, not two honorable members heartily supported it. The leader of the Labour Party gave it his support in a most apologetic manner, and others who spoke in favour of it said that it had a very attractive title, but they did not believe it would effect the object for which it had been launched. It seems to me that the Ministry and others are satisfied as long as thev can put before the people a Bill possessing an attractive title. This measure has certainly an attractive title, but a man engaged in trade would be disgusted and irritated on examining it. The subjects with which it deals should have been embodied in two separate Bills. The repression of monopolies is one matter, and the” preservation of Australian industries is another. No honorable member would give the Ministry more support than I should do in the repression of monopolies of a destructive character, but in the second part of the Bill, which deals with dumping, free-traders find provisions the object of which is to get round the Tariff. Instead of endeavouring to raise the Tariff issue in a way that would allow of a straight-out fight, the Ministry will be able by exercising these provisions, to secure the same results as would be possible by the passing of an amending
Tariff Bill. The dumping provisions are intended only for “stumping” purposes. Ministers will go to the electors and declare that they have carried a Bill which will prevent the existence of destructive monopolies such as are known in America; but whilst those who have read up this question must agree that sooner or later Australia will have to deal with destructive monopolies, we have no information on the subject from the Minister of Trade and Customs. The honorable gentleman has simply said, in effect. “ If there are destructive monopolies they ought to be repressed.” We have asked for evidence as to the existence of such monopolies here, but he has given us nothing more than a general statement. I moved that the second reading of the Bill be deferred until the Minister had supplied us with information, either as to alleged cases of dumping, or as to the existence of destructive monopolies, but no such information has yet been supplied. Two members of the Tariff Commission - the honorable member for Perth, and the honorable and learned member for Illawarra - as well as the Chairman of the Commission, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, a straight-out Ministerial supporter, pleaded that the passing of the Bill should be delayed, pending the presentation of the Tariff Commission’s reports, which would give us the necessary information as to dumping. The objections of these honorable members, however, were overruled by the Government. I have no wish to beat the air, but I certainly regret that the honorable member for South Svdney, who has varied industries in his electorate, is unable to be present. The Attorney-General says that the Government have considered, not only the consumers, but the workers. Apparently no consideration has been given to the consumer, although the employer, in the shane of the manufacturer, has been considered, and also, in certain respects, the employe. Those who interject, “We shall soon see who are the Australians and who are the anti-Australians.” are uttering an absurdity. The candidate who is foolish enough, when before the electors, to endeavour to discuss a measure, seldom receives much credit for his effort. The electors are a busy people, and do not wish candidates to be drawn into a discussion of details. I suppose that the literary knowledge of the Prime Minister came to the assistance of the Ministry in the choice of a title for this Bill. Such a reader has doubtless taken to heart the lesson of Isaac Disraeli, who said that if a politician desired to carry a measure he should give it a seductive title, or, failing that, should brand the Opposition for the time being with a good nickname. This advice df something like eighty years ago holds good’ in Australian politics to-day. It is due, not to the Minister of Trade and Customs, who has blundered through with it, but rather to the acumen and keenness of the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister that the -Bill has reached its present stage. Doubtless the Minister of Trade and Customs will take credit for having been in charge of one of the most intricate pieces of legislation that has ever been passed ; but I wish to emphasize what will become an historical fact that as soon as the motion for the second reading had been passed the Minister brought forward six pages of printed amendments. He practically threw aside the Bill, the second reading of which had been agreed to, and, adhering only to the title, introduced many amendments which were amended in turn on the motion of the Opposition, who also introduced other amendments. The result is that we now have a Bill that would puzzle a Philadelphia lawyer. Instead of being a Bill for the preservation of Australian industries, it is a Bill for the preservation of one industry, namely, that of the legal fraternity. If ever that fraternity had a present, they have one now in the guise of radical and democratic legislation - thrown out to them, like a bone for dogs to quarrel over. The commercial classes will naturally try to protect their own interests; and the manufacturers are just as keen for the main chance as are importers. Neither class requires assistance at the hands of this Parliament in order to obtain twenty shillings in the/j : but both will fight with the Department over the provisions of this Bill, which, certainly, is as fine a Christmas box as ever Parliament presented to the lawyers. The legal gentlemen, we know, have a monopoly which it is not sought to repress; and, in view of this legislation, they must be in a very happy frame of mind. We have found the legal members of the Chamber differing as to the interpretation of the clauses, and lay members with commercial training have been similarly engaged, and the two combined have succeeded in riddling and scarifying the measure. Those who do not believe in the Bill need have no fear that it will injure the importers, who can look after themselves, and the manufacturers will endeavour to secure what ought to have been obtained by a Tariff measure. I could understand a robust protectionist, who came to this House with a mandate for increased duties, contending that the Tariff had been evaded by dumping ; and, although I am a free-trader, and did what I could to weaken the Tariff, I should be the first, if a concrete case of. Customs evasion could be shown, to see that the Tariff Act was respected. But I do not wish to be led blindfold, simply because a specious cry has been raised. My contention is that this legislation should have been introduced in two sections, the first being directed to the repression of monopolies. I trust sincerely that I shall always adhere to my radical instincts, which lead me to support legislation for the benefit of the weakest members of the community. I admit that in many cases the people are over legislated for ; but any one who has read the work, Bossism and Capitalism, and who knows the history of trusts in the United States, naturally turns his attention, to a consideration of the necessity for measures of this character. Although I think the first portion of the Bill really anticipates evils, I can readily support it ; but I decline to be dragooned, on a cry of dumping to take a ‘volte face in fiscalism. I have already admitted that the public are in many directions over legislated for - that the amount of legislation in the Federal and States Parliaments is likely to break the backs of the people - but if the Ministry declared that this Bill was introduced for the purpose of preventing the nationalization of industries, I could understand the position. If the Prime Minister, in an esoteric manner!, were, by means of this Bill, withstanding the advance of the socialistic section of the Labour Party, I could appreciate the motive underlying the introduction of the Bill. Here we have an admission that Parliament can control and regulate monopolies, or can interfere in certain matters as between the individual elector and the community at large. I cannot, however, understand why the Labour Party accept this Bill, and lose sight of what is in the forefront of their programme, namely, the nationalization of monopolies.
– We cannot get the nationalization of monopolies.
– A - And nationalization never will be attained if this Bill is effective, because, then, acording to the Prime
Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs, the evils of monopolies will be reduced to a minimum. This Bill is intended to repress and take the sting out of destructive monopolies ; and if that intention be carried out, the Labour Party will never be successful in their cry for nationalization, seeing that the destructive character of monopolies will no longer exist. I cannot understand the attitude of the Labour Party, unless their protectionist proclivities are stronger than their desire for the nationalization of monopolies. If that be the position, then let it be known to the public that the Labour Party, while proclaiming
– We can defend ourselves ; the honorable member need not worry.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh does not like these facts to be emphasized. One month the Labour Party declare for the nationalization of monopolies, and the next month they vote for the repression of monopolies by means of legislation of this kind.
– To-morrow the Labour Party will be firing off socialistic blank cartridges at the shipping monopolies.
– It will be a sham fight.
– Is it true that the honorable member is going to move that the mail ships shall be built in Australia?
– I do not desire to anticipate the discussion on the mail contract. I only hope that I shall be able to get the Ministry into trouble overthat matter ; but one little squabble at a time is sufficient. In the past I have publicly advocated the control and regulation of monopolies ; and because I did so the leader of the Labour Party attempted to ridicule me on the public platform. Yet six weeks afterwards he votes for the very process of regulation and control which I advocated.
– And at the same time says that the legislation is no good.
– If this legislation is no good, let the Labour Party join with the Opposition in an attempt to throw the Bill under the table. The Bill is only useful as a splendid present to the lawyers of Australia, whose industry will never flag so long as we continue to pass measures of this kind. If ever there was a measure that was calculated to cause litigation it is this. I have no particular concern for the interests of the commercial classes, whether manufacturers, merchant princes, or plutocrats of any description. I have no cause to fight their battles.But I have no desire to go before the public and say that I have taken part in passing a measure which has no good features apart from its title. This afternoon the honorable member for Fremantle addressed1 a lecture to the House concerning the sins of the Opposition in relation to this Bill. The brilliant intellect of the honorable member has been displayed to such an extent in thisParliament that he has never ventured to try to improve a Bill in Committee. The Opposition has paid great attention to the measure throughout, and the honorable member’s own colleague, the honorable member for Perth, has done his best to make it perfect. Why should the honorable member criticise the Opposition as he did, seeing that the Minister in charge, as soon as he got the second reading through, tabled six pages of amendments? The honorable member for Perth has been one of the most powerful opponents of the Bill.
– The honorable member for Fremantle has tried to improve it in common with some of us.
– I got an amendment in.
– Yes, the honorable member secured an amendment for the benefit of Fremantle, which is a shipping port. He has such broad, Federal ideas that, so long as he can secure amendments benefiting his own constituency, he thinks that the Bill is good for the whole Commonwealth. But it does not lie in his mouth to take to task the members of the Opposition, seeing that the most powerful critic of the Bill in Committee has been the honorable member for North Sydney, whose commercial knowledge and experience are beyond the criticism of any member in this Chamber.
– I complimented him.
– And he deserved the honorable member’s compliment. The acting leader of the Opposition came from the same walk of life as did the honorable member for Fremantle, but instead of admiring the ability which has conducted him to the position which he now occupies, the honorable member has done as much as possible to cry him down. Fortunately, however, the acting Leader of the Opposition is well able to defend himself; and where he cannot do so I am very pleased to lend a hand in defending him. Although the honorable member for Fremantle has supported this Bill, he professes to be in favour of the nationalization of monopolies. What does he believe in now ?
– But if this Bill be effective there will be no room for “nationalization of monopolies “ as a plank in the labour platform. If the policy of nationalizing monopolies is in the interests of workers and consumers this Bill is not in their interests, because it makes that policy impossible. I wish the honorable member for South Sydney were present to take part in this debate. Unfortunately, he has had to go to the motherland on account of illhealth, and he has done me the honour of appointing me as his representative in his absence. I can imagine the eloquent manner in which he would have discussed this Bill. He would have simply scarified the Labour members who support it.
– He would have supported the Bill.
– I believe that he would have tried to make it effectual for the suppression of monopolies, because he is a robust radical ; but he would not have supported the measure in its present form. The Minister of Trade and Customs will no doubt claim the credit of putting the Bill upon the statute-book, but it will be of no use to any one. I did hope, when this Parliament came into existence, that it would pass legislation that would be an example to our States Parliaments. But, instead of doing that, we rush Bills through that are not of the slightest use to the country. No one knows whether this and cognate measures are constitutional or not. Some dav we shall find that such a Bill will go before the High Court, and be ruled unconstitutional. Then we shall be in the miserable position of having to back down. I do not oppose the Bill merely because I sit in Opposition. I should willingly support a useful Bill introduced by the Government. I have no personal grudge against the Minister, nor do I object to his occupying his present position - except that he occupies it so continuously ! But I do urge upon him that we ought not to pass Bills which will simplv be a cause of litigation. Instead pf passing a large number of imperfect measures, which will have to be improved in succeeding sessions, I would sooner see this Parliament pass one or two good measures in a. session. I am satisfied that before this Bill can carry out the intentions of the Government, it will have to be further amended.
– There has not been trouble over the measures which we have passed previously.
– But they have never been put into operation. If we take the Arbitration Act, we shall find that no one has registered under it yet.
– Yes, they have.
– So it is with other measures. If there is an ardent protectionist in Australia. I suppose it is the Minister of Trade and Customs, and I am a little sceptical as to the statement that the third part of this Bill has not been introduced for the purpose of securing more prohibitive protection than could be obtained in any other way.
– I am not artful.
– The honorable gentleman is at least too artful to admit that he is artful. We who have had a long experience of the honorable gentleman are aware that, in a political sense, there is no foxier old chap that he is. I believe that his idea in introducing the dumping clauses of the Bill has been to obtain a prohibitive protection, which he could not have secured in a straight-out fight on the public platform or in this House. For the reasons I have given, if the third reading of the measure should go to a division, I shall not vote against it. I say that openly. I defended the repression of destructive monopolies on the second reading of the Bill, and I defend that course now ; but I sav that this measure will not carry out what Ministers desire, and is only so much waste paper. Still, I am not prepared in connexion with it to vote in such a way that it might be said that I am in favour of the preservation of monopolies. I do not believe in destructive monopolies. I believe in controlling them in the public interest, but that control should be for the benefit, not of either the manufacturer or the importer, but for the benefit alike of worker, consumer, manufacturer, and importer. I am further utterly opposed to the nationalization of industries, and would prefer a measure of this character to that. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who, like myself, is a strong radical, read a lecture to the Labour Party upon this very measure. No one questions the honorable and learned gentleman’s desire to repress destructive monopolies, but he several times expressed a doubt as to the efficacy of this measure. When a strong supporter of the Government like the honorable and learned gentleman, not from New South Wales, but from Victoria, has spoken in such a way it is not unreasonable that we should occupy some little time in emphasizing the blemishes of the measure which it is now sought to pass through the House.
– No, no.
– I am aware that the Minister is naturally attracted to his own bantling. I never heard of any decent father who would disown his own child, and the Minister cannot be expected to disown this bantling, for it is only a bantling, from the legislative point of view, and later on will have to be amended. I believe that in dealing with such measures the proper course for the Opposition to pursue would be to vote on the second reading, and to refrain from speaking on it at all in Committee. The Ministry should be allowed to take all the responsibility for it, and it should go to the public with all its imperfections and blemishes, in order that the public might feel its real sting, and might exercise their powers in dealing with the Ministry. Here, however, honorable members in Opposition talk on the second reading of a measure ; they show that it will be hurtful and inimical to the public interests, and then they start to work like Trojans to improve it in Committee. Who takes the credit for the improvement? Not the Opposition. We find honorable members like the honorable member for Fremantle saying that the Opposition have been wasting time - that the Labour Party and Ministerialists have between them passed this beautiful measure for the benefit of the people of Australia - though we know that the members of the Opposition have devoted their talents and their energies to the improvement of the measure. I think that the proper tactics for the Opposition to adopt in such a case is to assist in the despatch of such a measure through Parliament, with a.ll its imperfections, and then on the public platform to denounce it, and show its imperfections, which are due to the slovenly, if not ignorant, work of the Ministry of the day. I have no desire to cast any aspersion upon the Minister of Trade and Customs. He could not have expected to pass a measure such as this, full of legal intricacies, had it not been for the excellent work, from his point of view, of the Attorney-General. The Bill has required the careful nursing of two Ministers for a fortnight, and the assistance of the legal acumen of the Attorney-General. I hope that in dealing with any such measure in the future the Opposition will adopt the course which I have suggested, and refrain from exercising their talents in its improvement, when they know that they must receive more cuffs than ha’pence for their work.
– I get all the cuffs.
– The honorable gentleman gets aM the ha’pence also, and I do not begrudge them to him. I do not wish the public to suppose that this measure has been opposed by the Opposition for opposition’s sake only. Some honorable members on this side believe in the principles of the Bill and some do not. That is the case also with honorable members opposite, but we on this side are at one in the view that the Bill will not do what is claimed for it.
– I shall not detain the House many minutes, nor shall I reply to all the statements made during this debate. There is no doubt that the Bill has been amended in several particulars. Some suggestions from the Opposition have been accepted, and honorable members opposite should not complain of that. Perhaps the Bill has been improved by the amendments made, and I think that in some respects it has. The amendments have certainly not made it more stringent. There are only one or two matters to which I wish to refer, because, at this hour, it is not necessary to detain the House long. Statements have been made in reference to the various monopolies that exist in other parts of the world, and to-night one honorable member stated that we had nothing to do with the American trusts. I say that we have everything to do with the American trusts, because their offshoots are very likely to affect us.
– We have nothing to do with them, except in respect to their effects upon our industry, and those should be susceptible of proof. That is what I said.
– That is the whole thing. There is the Tobacco Trust, for instance. I have not seen the statement myself, but I have been informed to-night that the Supreme Court of the United States has ordered an investigation of the books and accounts of the Tobacco Trust, the causes of its gigantic strides, and the effect it has had in monopolizing all the smaller industries of the kind in the United States. That is a very serious action on the part of the Supreme Court. A statement was made by the honorable member for Fremantle to-night in reference to the evidence given before our Commission on the Tobacco industry at Tumut, where certain arrangements made with the growers of tobacco had not been ( fulfilled. It was stated that in consequence of what took place, the representative of the Australian branch of this particular trust sent up money to quieten the authors of the allegations made. I say unhesitatingly that in that part of Australia, with which I am well acquainted as it is in my own electorate, the action of the trust up to the present time has been practically to destroy the industry of tobacco-growing. That I regard as a very serious injury.
– Did they not bring out men specially from America to teach the local growers how to grow then* leaf ?
– I do not know whether they did or not ; but I can speak as to what the effect has been, and that is all I am concerned about. I was a little astonished at the honorable and learned member for Parkes interjecting this evening that this Bill is in the interests of the workers and the manufacturers. I agree with him, though he might have gone further, and said that it is in the interests of the whole community. It is intended to be in the interests of the workers as well as the manufacturers and the consumers. The honorable and learned gentleman generally takes the very opposite view to that I hold, and the Bill must be very marked in its principles when he makes such a statement as that to which I have referred. There is one other matter which I think should be referred to, because it has been harped upon a great deal to-night, and that is paragraph d of subclause 2 of clause 14. It has been stated over and over again to-night that once this Bill had been passed, no person could go and buy in another part of the world a cheap line of goods, bring them here and sell them. Previously I have referred to this contention. If honorable members will read the sub-clause, they will see what its real purpose is. When the Bill was introduced it was not worded as it is now. It reads -
If the imported goods have been purchased abroad by or for the importer from the manufacturer or some person acting for or in com bination with him or accounting to him, at prices greatly below their ordinary cost of production where produced or market price where purchased - the competition shall be deemed unfair unless the contrary is proved. If a person went abroad and purchased from a manufacturer a cheap line of goods, the Act would not interfere with him, unless he had a deliberate intention to sell below the ordinary market price to the injury of the local manufacturer, and of the workers. It must be remembered that in every case arising under the Act intent must be proved. That, to my mind, is a very material principle of this legislation.
– How can intent be proved ?
– Never mind. That has been argued so fully that I only wish now to emphasize to the public the fact that underlying the whole scheme of the Bill is the necessity to prove intent. Iri consequence of what some honorable members have said, a few importers and business men have got frightened; but when they come to understand the measure thoroughly there will be no fear entertained. I venture to say that it will do a great deal of good in our business relations with trusts, either inside or outside Australia. Stress has been laid upon: clause 21, in which it was proposed this afternoon to introduce an amendment providing for imprisonment, as well as for the imposition of a fine and costs.. As the Bill was introduced, it did not contain the provision referred to. But, after consultation with the Attorney-General, we thought it wise that it should be inserted, with a view to checking the possibility of some irresponsible person going to the ComptrollerGeneral in a bogus way to make statements which he could not prove. I believe that the penalty will act as a great deterrent.
– Does the Minister only intend to hear complaints from the manufacturers - that is. persons of substance?
– The departmental working of the provision will not be confined to any particular channel, and the surrounding circumstances will always be taken into consideration.
– If a man of straw made a false and malicious statement, which com,pelled the Minister to take action, no remedy could be had against him.
– The honorable member will not forget that in such a case there is a provision for referring the complaint to the individual concerned before any serious action is taken, so that he may be able to give his version. It must not be supposed for a moment that the Department would take action unless it thought that there was a very clear case, and if an individual made an improper representation, an attempt would be made to punish him. We have substituted a Justice of the High Court fo.- the Board, and, moreover, T have accepted an amendment to enable the Justice, if he so desired, at any stage of the inquiry to refer the matter to the Full Court. I have done - and so has the AttorneyGeneral - all I possibly could in a reasonable way, to meet the objections which have been raised to the Bill.
– That is what made us hope that the Minister would, perhaps, accept the amendment to provide for a penalty, because it is an extremely good one.
– I do not think that the amendment is necessary. At this late hour, I do not intend to detain honorable members longer. As there is no fresh business to be taken to-night, I shall refrain from going into details, because, if necessary, I can refer to them at some future time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
House adjourned at 9.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 July 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060717_reps_2_32/>.