2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wishto know from the Postmaster-General if the return ordered by the House some time ago, showing the revenue and expenditure of the Post and Telegraph Department of Queensland prior to and since Federation, is yet ready ?
– I hope that most of the information will be available to-day. I shall let the honorable member have it as soon as possible.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following paper : -
Return to an order of the House, dated 5th September, giving comparative values of articles imported in connexion with the proposed preferential duties on British goods.
– I wish to call the Postmaster-General’s attention to the following extract from the first annual report of the Public Service Commissioner: -
Under the law of some of the States long service leave might have been granted after a less period of service than twenty years; but in all cases (Western Australia alone excepted) the granting of it was purely discretionary, so that no other transferred officers carried with them to the Commonwealth any existing State right to long service leave ; also to the reply furnished by the Public Service Commissioner on nth September, relative to leave of absence due to Western Australian officers under State law as follows : -
The officers in Western Australia, in common with all Commonwealth officers, are, as regards long service leave, subject to section 71 of the Public Service Act, the State provisions herein having been superseded by the Commonwealth law - and to ask him, upon notice -
Seeing that the right of these officers to long service was admitted by the Commissioner in 1902, for what reason is it now stated that they have been deprived of that right bv the Act of 1901 ?
– The matter has been referred to the Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner for advice, and answers will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
I should like to add that in asking the honorable member to give notice of the questions, I had no desire to be discourteous; but I wished to know exactly what they were.
– , for Mr. Ronald, asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow’: -
In Committee of Ways and M earn :
Consideration resumed from 12th September (vide page 4494)1 on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That, in order to give effect to an agreement entered into between the Governments of the Colony of New Zealand and of the Commonwealth of Australia, with the object of promoting trade and intercourse between their respective countries as a means of closer union, in lieu of the duties of Customs imposed by the Customs Tariff 1902, there shall be imposed from the 30th day of August, 1906, at 4.30 p.m., Victorian time, duties of Customs in accordance with the Schedule attached hereto (vide page 3705)…..
– The endeavour to secure reciprocal and preferential trade between New Zealand and the Commonwealth must com mend itself to every honorable member, and every Government will, no doubt, try to bring it about. But while the proposition before us is ostensibly designed to promote closer union among the Colonies of Great Britain, the protective leanings of the present Governments of New Zealand and Australia are very noticeable when one comes to consider it. in detail. I am at issue with those who say that the two honorable gentlemen who conducted the negotiations did not know their business. A free-trader would admit all New Zealand goods free of duty, but the proposals in this treaty have a protective incidence. Those who framed it, however, forgot to take into consideration the uncertainty of human life. A gentleman, whose personalis is not so great as was that of the late Mr. .Seddon, and who is not so influential or acceptable to the people of New Zealand, is now Prime Minister of that Col on v, and its Parliament has told him that it is not prepared to indorse this arrangement until it knows what this Parliament will da Therefore, as our Prime Minister told us yesterday, the subject has been referred to a Committee, which is marking time’ until our opinions can be known, so that fresh proposals .may be submitted. Evidently it is intended to submit fresh proposals, because otherwise those contained in this agreement would have been accepted. Our Prime Minister has lost sight of the fact that he has not behind Kim a solid [protectionist following. He depends largely upon the support of a body of Socialists, some of whose members are free-traders, whilst “others are protectionists, and that body is divided on this question:, the free-traders being dissatisfied with the agreement, although the protectionists are willing to swallow it. This has placed the honorable and learned gentleman in ara awkward position, which, no doubt, accounts for his suggestion yesterday that we should accept the agreement in globo for a period of twelve months, to show our willingness to make reciprocal arrangements, a compromise to be effected later on the basis, of our proposed amendments.
– Are there no protectionists on the Opposition side of the Chamber ?
– Yes; but they are able to find good reasons for opposing the proposals of the Government, because of the incidence of the duties put forward. Good reasons can always be found bv an Opposition for opposing the proposals of a Government. Even if the fiscal policy of the country were settled, and protectionists and free-traders were not at issue, a number of protectionists would be found who were not satisfied with the incidence of the Tariff, believing that some industries which did not need protection were being protected, while others were suffering from the want of it.
– The honorable member gives the so-called Socialists credit for being: truer to their principles than are the protectionists on his side of the Chamber.
– The protectionist Socialists are in duty, bound to support the Government, and if the Prime Minister had brought forward this proposition at the beginning of the Parliament, they would not have dared to throw it out, knowing that if they took that step the Prime Minister would throw up the sponge and fight no longer. But as this is a moribund Parliament, the Ministerial supporters feel that they can take liberties with the Government. I, as a free-trader, mav naturally be supposed to be in favour of defeating this proposition bv every legiti-mate means in my power. Its defeat would be secured bv the alteration of any item of the schedule, because it would then not be the treaty to which the contracting parties had agreed. But while I may be in favour of putting aside this arrangement, in order to secure a .more acceptable ohe, ‘ I do not think that I should be justified, having failed to secure that object, in going to the length of casting aside a proposition which is better than the existing arrangement between New Zealand and the Commonwealth.
– This is not a treaty to secure reciprocity ; it is simply an excuse for piling up further burdens’ of taxation on Australian consumers, by increasing the protective duties.
– I think that that cannot be denied.
– The honorable member does not assert that that is the object of the proposal ?
– I believe that the Government are sincere in regard to the matter, but they are a protectionist Government, and I am opposed to their policy. It is proposed that, so far as imports from New Zealand are concerned, twelve of the items in the schedule shall be placed on the free-list, and that in regard to twenty-one items the duty shall be reduced. This step in the direction of freetrade is acceptable to us as an improvement on the present Tariff. It is a movement in the right direction, namely, of increasing the purchasing power of the wages ° of our workers. Unfortunately, however, whilst we are drawing closer to New Zealand, we are striking a direct blow at the mother country. With regard to quite -a large number of articles we say to Great Britain, “ We intend to place von upon the same footing as the foreigner. We shall increase the duties upon these articles which you have been supplying to us.” These increased duties, which are intended to afford further protection to local manufacturers, will be passed on to the consumer, and the purchasing power of wages will be reduced. The object of free-traders is to give the people an opportunity of obtaining as much as possible for their earnings, whereas protectionists urge that local industry should be encouraged, and that, although the local product may be inferior and cost more, it should be forced upon the community. It is wrong to coddle the manufacturer and enable him to make a considerable profit merely because he will be able to afford a little employment to our ‘ workers. I should like to specially refer to the items milk, oatmeal, and candles. The preserved milk which is introduced here from Great Britain is of the very finest quality, and is eminently suitable for young children. If the directions given on the tins are followed, milk equal to any procurable in Melbourne - which I consider as good as any I have tasted - can be made. I am told by those who use Nestles’ milk that it is cheaper than the ordinary milk obtained from dairymen. Nestles’ milk is used upon the gold-fields in Western Australia and other interior parts of the States; and if we increase the duty we shall add to the cost of the article, and impose a serious burden upon many of our poorest citizens. Not only so, but we shall force them to use a locally-produced condensed milk, which is composed chiefly of sugar. Our local manufacturers have not yet attained perfection in the condensation of milk.
– In Queensland we are producing condensed milk quite equal to Nestles’, and its competition with the imported article has brought down the price of that article.
– I am very glad to hear that we are producing good condensed milk in Australia. If it is as good as Nestles’ product it will be able to compete successfully with the imported article, because we have the raw material on the spot. The process of condensation is not an expensive one when once the industry has been established, but a good deal of expense has to be incurred before a business enterprise of that kind can be placed upon a satisfactory footing. We should not do away with all competition from abroad, or otherwise the consumer will be called upon to pay too high a price for his goods. I know that the honorable member for Coolgardie takes a great interest in this matter, and that he recognises that the manhood of the future will depend upon the nourishment given to the children of to-day. Nestles’ milk is the only reliable product available to many of our settlers in outlying parts where it is impossible to carry on dairying operations.
– Nestles’ milk is the onlyarticle that will keep good on the goldfields of Western Australia during the hot weather.
– But we are told that Queensland is now producing condensed milk equal to the imported article.
– The local manufacturers are selling their product at a lower price than the imported article.
– Even if that be so, I think it is well that they should be sub- jected to a little competition from abroad.
– They have increased their prices since the imposition of the additional duties.
– Manufacturers and importers are alike - the more they get, the more they want - and it is our business to see that no undue advantage is taken of the consumer. It is proposed to place prohibitive duties upon condensed milk, oatmeal, and candles, and I do not think that the differentiation against Great Britain is calculated to bring us into closer union with the mother country. Under the circumstances, all talk about closer union is so much cant. Under the proposed treaty we should inflict an injury on the people of Great Britain who are contributing 15s. to every is. paid by us towards the protection of our trade. We are proposing to exclude the goods of Great Britain, and are at the same time inviting the taxpayers of the motherland to continue their heavy contributions towards the protection of our oversea and coastal trade. Moreover, we are telling Canada that we will not take her products. Suda action will not tend to our closer union with the Dominion, but will have the opposite effect. It has been urged that we should have free-trade within the Empire. If that could be brought about, it would be a step in the right direction, but would not go far enough. In my view, we should have untrammelled trade in every direction. Then we should have no frauds at the Customs House, and no leakages, and the consumers would not have to pay for the waste that now goes on. Free-trade within the Empire is a subject to which the late Mr. Seddon gave a good deal of attention, but he evidently lost sight of the matter when he was negotiating with the Government. Perhaps he recognised that he was negotiating with protectionists, and thought that he would be doing a good stroke of business if he managed to place twelve articles on the free list, and reduce the duty upon twenty-one others. No treaty between ourselves and New Zealand would be satisfactory unless it provided for absolute freedom of trade between the two countries. I do not think it desirable that New Zealand should become a member of the Federation, because she has an important work to perform in the Pacific, and no doubt will become the principal member of another Federation in the future. Moreover, she is separated from us by 1,200 miles of ocean. She is even more distant from our eastern States than, is Western’ Australia, because the time will come when we shall be linked with the latter by means of railway communica tion. Under the agreement it is proposed to levy upon all goods imported from countries other than New Zealand an average duty of 30 per cent. In some instances the charges actually reach 150 per cent. These duties practically amount to prohibition. The proposals of the Government have given rise to a .protest by the French colonists in Sydney against preferential treatment being extended to Great Britain. They have pointed out that, whilst we take from them only ^500,000 worth of goods annually, they purchase from us £5,500,000 worth. But I need scarcely point out that France treats her colonies as members of the Republic. It admits the goods of those colonies duty free, and imposes an excessive duty upon the products of Great Britain and her colonies. Consequently, they cannot with any show of reason object to preferential treatment being extended by us to Great Britain, although they may reasonably object to the imposition of prohibitive duties. Last night the honorable and learned member for Parkes pleaded the cause of the French community, whom he thinks are being very badly treated. I do not agree with him. He declared for freetrade within the Empire, and protection against the outside world. He then proceeded to argue that from various parts of the Empire we should be able to supply all our requirements, so that we should be self-contained. That argument does not seem to support his contention that we are treating the French portion of our community very badly. What is trade? Is it not the exchange of goods for goods? The honorable and learned member affirmed that we are living in a fool’s paradise if we think that these people cannot do without our wool. I quite agree with him. Why, then, should we desire to be selfcontained, and to exclude the foreigner so as to provoke retaliation ? If we do that, most assuredly the French will withdraw their agencies from Australia, and instead of taking ^5,500,000 worth of our products annually they will take just the equivalent of what we purchase from them. Will not the effect of such action be- felt by our primary producers? If there be less demand for our commodities, will not a lower price be obtained for them ? Our trade with the foreigner direct aggregates £1.0,200,000 annually, and our exports to him through British ports represents £6,800,000, making’ a .grand total of £1 7,000,000 worth of exports annually. These figures are worthy of very serious consideration. Every department of commerce which contributes to the progress and development of the Empire is built up by our primary producers. They are the backbone of Australia. As soon as we refuse to take from the foreigner goods in exchange for the ,£17,000,000 worth which he now purchases from us - as soon as we raise artificial barriers against him - will he not adopt similar tactics, and purchase his wool from South America? The proper course for the Government to adopt would be to reduce the duties upon imports from Great Britain. By doing that they would extend a real .preference to1 the mother country. I contend that the agreement is based upon absolutely wrong lines. I do not think it is at all necessary to dwell upon the matter. To sum up, I say that as a protectionist proposal the agreement is no better than could have been expected from the Government, but that it constitutes a slight improvement upon the existing condition of affairs. Twelve articles ;are enumerated in the schedule which will be admitted absolutely free, and upon, twenty-one the duties have been materially reduced. That is an improvement upon the present position of affairs. But I object to the agreement upon the ground that it imposes increased rates of dutv to the point of prohibition upon the goods of Great Britain. That is not a patriotic course of action. In this regard, the agreement is selfish? and may justly be termed hypocritical legislation.
Mf. Lonsdale; - It does not make “ the bounds of freedom wider yet.”
– I think that the phrase “ wider yet” was not intended to apply to any conditions short of universal free-trade. Before the agreement is ratified, I think that we ought to insist upon its reconsideration, with a view to eliminate most of its objectionable features.
.- I am afraid that there is a great deal of sentiment associated with this treaty, and that the preferences -proposed to be granted under it to New Zealand products will prove of little practical value. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat has told us that he is in favour of preferential tia de within the Empire. Has he ever considered what -would be the effect of the free admission into Australia of the products of the cheap labour of India? Has hp ever thought of what would be the result if the products of the teeming millions of low paid coloured labourers in that part of the Empire were placed on an equal footing with those of Australian workmen ?
– They are tropical products. Will the honorable member mention those which he has in mind ?
– There are many that I could, if necessary, enumerate.
– I beg to call attention to the absence of a. quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– The speech delivered by the honorable member for Robertson was marked by many inconsistencies. He told us that he was in favour of a preference being given to Australian manufacturers of condensed milk, and thought that it was undesirable that the consumer should be left at the mercy of either the local manufacturer or the importers. He went on to say that he believed hi reasonable competition between the 1 two. I would point out, however, that under a scheme of preferential trade within the Empire no reasonable competition would take place. I have no hesitation in saying that if many of the products of the cheap labour of India were admitted free our manufacturers and producers would find it impossible to compete with them. It must be apparent to honorable members that the manufacturers of Australia talk largely about preferential trade, but are not prepared to do much to secure it. It is immaterial to them whether imports come from the United Kingdom or from Germany - if they seriously compete with local productions thev are regarded as objectionable. There is very little sentiment in business. We mav urge, on sentimental grounds the adoption of preferential trade proposals, but when something tangible is submitted for consideration, the protectionists of Australia will be found objecting to the competition of imports from England or elsewhere.
– Although British warships protect their trade.
– Exactly. The schedule now before us affords evidence in support of my contention. I should like the Prime Minister to explain why. with one or two exceptions, our primary industries are alone affected bv it. Was it a mere accident that no provision was made for a preference in regard to imports from New Zealand of such things as boats, tweeds, and woollens? I venture to say that if it were proposed to grant a preference in respect of such articles, there would not be so much enthusiasm in regard to this proposition.
– I think that we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– It is not my desire that my remarks should be interrupted by repeated calls for a quorum, but, at the same time, I think that the attendance of Ministerialists ought to be larger. The most remarkable speech made during this debate was that delivered yesterday by the honorable member for Moira. I was greatly interested in’ his references to the fact that the standard of living in New Zealand is as high as it is here, and his contention that the farmers of Australia have nothing to fear from the competition of the farmers of New Zealand, since the wage conditions there are on a. level with those prevailing in Australia. It is little more than a week since the honorable member urged that, notwithstanding that the wages paid in the manufacture of harvesters in Canada were equal to those paid in the trade in Australia, it was necessary to give the local manufacturer a protection exceeding the actual cost of the labour involved in making those machines. The honorable member was one of those who voted for the imposition of a duty amounting, with the natural protection, to over £30 in respect to a machine costing only ^38 to produce. If our farmers can successfully compete with the fanners of New Zealand in the open markets of the world, surely a duty sufficient to make good the difference between the cost of production here and on the American continent should he sufficient for the Australian manufacturers of harvesters. I recognise that it is impossible to amend a treaty of this kind unless a common understanding can be arrived at between the parties concerned; but I think that serious objection can be taken to some of the proposed duties. For instance I fail to see why Oregon should have been brought under this treaty. The increased dutv will be of no advantage to New Zealand, while it will certainly be a highly disadvantageous one to our great primary industries. During the Tariff debate some of the representatives of Victoria seemed to be under a misapprehension as to the class of timber best suited to the requirements of the Broken Hill mines. Speaking as a miner of some years’ experience, I say unhesitatingly that in this regard the Broken Hill mines are not to be compared with any other in Aus tralia. Hardwood may be suitable for mining purposes in many other parts of Australia, but it is altogether unsuitable for use in the Broken Hill mines. In the Proprietary mine, for instance, where there is a huge lode 400 ft. wide, the whole width of the workings has to be supported bv timber, and I venture to say that if hardwood were used the fatalities would be far more numerous than they are. As a matter of fact, hardwood snaps suddenly when the strain upon it becomes too g:eat, whereas Oregon creaks and groans for days, and thus gives the miners warning of impending danger. Oregon never collapses without giving warning, and in the Broken Hill mines timber can be seen which has ‘been almost pulped as the result of pressure where, had hardwood been used, it would have split or snapped, and an accident would have occurred immediately. It is therefore a serious thing to propose to prohibit the use of Oregon by the imposition of a high dutv.
– Would the Broken Hill mine proprietors cease to use Oregon if the dutv were increased?
– Then why should they not be called upon, to pay something to the revenue, instead of getting their tim-. ber free of duty?
– Only timber in the log is admitted free of duty. They pay 6d. per 100 super, feet for the timber which they import, and it is proposed to make them pay is. 6d.
– Under the present Tariff, regarded as a revenue Tariff, they get a very improper advantage. I think that thev should be made to pay more.
– At alf events, the raising of the duty is unnecessary in connexion with a treaty for reciprocity, because it would give New Zealand no advantage, since, although she can supply many kinds of timber, she cannot supply
Oregon. To be brief - because at this stage of the session we cannot indulge in long speeches - I shall vote against the whole scheme; but if it is adopted 1 shall, recognising that we cannot ‘alter it, and assuming that New -Zealand will accept it, vote for the re-opening of negotiations, with a view to excising the timber duties. I think, too, that further consideration should be given to the candle duties, since the rate proposed would1 practically exclude from Australia candles made elsewhere than in New Zealand.
– We can all congratulate the honorable member for Grey upon having said so much in so short a time. The fact that during his speech attention was called to the state of the Committee is not a reflection upon him. It seems to be characteristic of honorable members at the present time that, no matter how ably a speaker may be addressing himself to the subject under discussion, they cannot make it convenient, or do not find it necessary, to attend to the work which they are paid to do.
– Is the honorable member referring to the leader of the Opposition ?
– No; to the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– The country is paying £2,000 a year to the_ Minister of Trade and Customs, and yet’ he goes away electioneering.
– Where is the leader of the Opposition ?
– Where was the honorable member for Bland until the quorum bells were rung twice during the speech of one of his own supporters ?
– I thought that the honorable member was speaking.
– We ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– I indorse everything that the Prime Minister has said as to the desirability of drawing the different parts of the Empire more closely together, and agree with him that if we do not adopt wise means to secure that end they will drift more widely asunder. Therefore, I admit the urgency of wise measures for the consolidation of the Empire of which we are so proud to be a part, and from which we receive protection. But I cannot accept the proposals which have been put before us. I do not think that any member of the party within a party to which I have the honour to belong-
– Will the honorable member kindly explain his words ?
– -The party to which I belong is the free-trade party, and the antiSocialist party of Australia is the party within which that party is.
– Would it not be more correct to reverse the position, and say that the free-trade party has swallowed the antiSocialist party?
– The Prime Minister seems to be speaking in sepulchral tones from the very interior of the socialistic caucus. The party of eighteen which he leads depends on a party of twenty-five to form a quorum to take down the shutters when we meet here in the morning. I do not think that it is necessary for the free-trade party to give proof of the sincerity of dts desire to facilitate trade extension between the various portions of the Empire. We have always stood for freetrade throughout the Empire, and are prepared to admit here the products of other parts absolutely free. So far as the Prime Minister’s proposal gives greater facilities to trade, it will have the support of the free-trade party ; but the difference between his position and curs is, briefly, that, while we are prepared to make a free gift of the markets of Australia to the people, of other parts of the Empire, he wishes to haggle for advantages. We, on this side of the Chamber, are prepared to offer to our kith and kin beyond the seas the freedom of trade which we ourselves enjoy ; but he , is using the arts of the huckster to obtain advantages from them in return for the magnificently generous proposals which, are said to be contained in this agreement. Nobility of sentiment cannot be expected to illumine the sordid bargains made by hucksters ; and when statesmen fall to using similar methods, we find here the same dreary result. We are told that this treaty creates another bond of kinship, that it is another loveknot to bind more closely together the affections of the peoples of New Zealand and Australia. But analysis proves it to be nothing but a mean deception. It is unworthy to prostitute the Imperial sentiment of the masses of Australia for the benefit of a few manufacturers here, -and I am therefore not surprised that the proposition has been put before us so late in the ‘ session. The Government are hoping that, by introducing; it on the eve of . a general election, this sham will escape detection owing to the disinclination of the people at large to carefully examine such, proposals. If we pass, this treaty under the guise of “ preference to New Zealand.” we shall be legislating under a false label. We shall be deceiving the people of Australia just as grossly as used those food adulterators against whom we have only recently had occasion to legislate. Now, as [ am anxious to extend every possible trade facility to our cousins oversea, [ do not propose to examine the treaty as a bargain, but merely in order to ascertain what advantage it is proposed to confer upon New Zealand’s trade with this country. Tn the first place, it is proposed to admit certain New Zealand products free of duty, that is to say, it is proposed to remit the duties formerly levied on certain articles. In the next place it is proposed to lower the duties on certain imparts coming from New Zealand, and in the third place it is intended to give indirect preference to New Zealand by increasing the duties as against certain produces of other countries. Now, the honorable member for Robertson has evidently been deceived as to the extent of the proposal to admit certain articles free of dutv. anc if so careful a free-trader can be so blinded it is only fair to assume that the public will also be deceived. As the honorable member pointed out, no less than twelve articles «are to be admitted free.
– As a free-trader the honorable .member ought to vote for that portion of the proposal.
– I do not say that I am opposed to it ; I shall, however, point out that it is a sham, for it, in reality means nothing. For instance, we are going to throw open the markets of Australia to New Zealand raisins. How many raisins come from that Colony ? According to the official return, not Al worth of raisins was imported from New Zealand last vear.
– This is a reciprocal arrangement under which New Zealand gives us a free market for our raisins.
– Then there are two shams.
– The production of raisins is an important industry with us.
– It is also proposed to admit New Zealand currants free of duty, and yet not £1 worth of currants has been imported from New Zealand up to the present time. Flour has also been placed on the free list, and yet not £i of that commodity comes to us from New Zealand.
– I am afraid that the honorable member has not studied the question. The Queensland Chamber of Commerce have made a special protest against the free admission of New Zealand flour, and view this proposal with great alarm.
I assume that they know their business, and what the prospects are.
– If the Prime Minister would only follow their opinions more frequently I should not so often quarrel with him ! At present I am quoting from the Government return to show the imports from New Zealand during 1905.
– That is, with the dutv on?
– Exactly. We did not import £1 worth of flour from New Zealand with the duty on, but we imported’ from other countries .£10,079 worth. So that, in spite of the duty, we received flour from other, countries, but not from New Zealand. Is that why we now propose to so generously offer New Zealand the Australian market? Linseed meal and linseed cake are also to be placed on the free list, although last year we did not receive one cent’s worth from New Zealand ! Olive oil and posts and rails are also to be placed on the free list, although every one ‘knows that we do not import these articles from New Zealand ! I am glad to see that - to quote another proposed free item - of fresh fish we actually imported £2 worth last year. This is one of the few items on the free list which truly indicate the magnificence of our generosity ; and it would certainly be inappropriate to leave fish, out of this transaction ! If a miserable sham like this can deceive a free-trader like the honorable member for Robertson, it is obvious that the public will be hoodwinked unless they have time to examine the details of the scheme. That surely must be the reason why it has been introduced so late in the session. Now, it is also proposed to give indirect preference to New Zealand by allowing the present duties to stand in respect to certain articles imported from New Zealand, whilst raising them against similar imports from other parts of the world. Under this system honorable members who were elected to give effect to a, proper system of Imperial preferential trade are asked to shut out large quantities of goods from the United Kingdom, in order to admit smaller quantities of similar goods from New Zealand. What are the figures? I intend to show the value of the imports “From New Zealand upon which duties are proposed to be taken off Or lowered, and also the value of imports from the United Kingdom upon which duties are to Be increased, and I will then leave honorable members to make their own deductions. The table of New Zea land imports upon which it is proposed to lower the duty is as follows : -
In other words, whilst agreeing under this miserable sham of preference to slightly advantage £61,732 worth of goods from New Zealand, it is proposed to almost prohibit imports from the United Kingdom valued at more than double that amount. This is what is called preferential trade !
– Is it not called reciprocity ?
– It was under the name of preferential trade that the Prime Minis ter beat the Imperial drum on every platform in Australia at the last general election. Words fail me to express my contempt for the political dishonesty that is now being displayed by those who are prostituting the undoubtedly Imperial sentiment of the Australian people merely for the purpose of obtaining surreptitiously increased protection for a few manufacturers who can very well afford to do without it.
– “ Prostituting “ is a very strong term for a young man to use.
– It is not too strong to express my feeling. The proposed treaty will throw additional obstacles in the way of the trade of the people of the old country, to whom we owe infinitely more than to the people of New Zealand. I yield to no man in my admiration and affection for the people of that Colony, to whom I am prepared to throw absolutely open the markets of Australia. But it is idle to say that they have the same claim upon us as have the people of the old country, whose protection has enabled us to devote our selves to the development of our resources without paying any special regard to the protection of our trade or of our homes. This sham is falsely labelled with the intention of blinding the people of Australia to the way in which their ideals are being tampered with. The figures relating to the imports from abroad - exclusive of those from New Zealand and the United Kingdom - in respect to which it is proposed to increase the duty, are set out in the following table: -
Now there we have what this preference means ! Instead of a preference such as it is proposed to accord to New Zealand - which, I remind honorable members, is on a trade valued only at ,£61,732 - we are asked to prohibit trade from the United Kingdom to the value of .£130,767, and from abroad to the value of ^1,012,877 ! Surely we shall have reached about the limit of political deception if we agree to a proposal of that character. Patriotism was once described - wrongly I think - as the last refuge df the scoundrel. Obviously, preferential trade is the last refuge of that disinterested patriot who desires increased protection at the hands of the consumers of Australia, but who dares not appear before the Tariff Commission to establish his case, and to s’ecure that increased protection in the open light of day. Let me instance a few of the items on which it is proposed to grant a so-called preference. According to the official return, candles are at present subject to a duty of id. per lb. Under the proposed treaty, candles from New Zealand will still bear the same rate of duty, but candles from other countries will be subjected to a duty of 2d. per lb. There is no reason, whatever, for this preference, because at the present time not a single cent’s worth of candles is imported from New Zealand. Upon the other hand, no less than .£55,14° worth of candles, which are imported from abroad, will have to bear the 100 per cent, increase of duty. True preferential traders will be alarmed to note that candles imported from the United Kingdom to the value of ,£4,000 annually will also be subjected to this iniquitous impost. I would further point out that, at the present time, candles are protected to the extent of 50 per cent., if we take into consideration, not only the present duty, but also the freights to and from Australia of the raw material and the finished product. These freights work out roughly at about 25 per cent, of the f.o.b. price during the past ten years. In 1899 the price of candles varied from 3fd. to 4id. per lb., and from 1900 to 1906 it ranged from 4 1/4 d. to 4j*6d. per lb.
– The honorable member means per packet.
– No. These figures have been extracted from the evidence which was given before the Tariff Commission. Australia exports large quantities of tallow, which is the raw material for stearine. It costs 4- I 6ths of a penny per lb. to send tallow from the principal ports of Australia to those of Europe, and it costs 13-16ths of a penny per lb. to send candles, which represent the finished product, from the principal ports of Europe to Australia. In other words the total cost Of the freight upon, the raw material and upon the finished article to and from Australia is 1 1-16gh of a penny per lb., which is about 25 per cent, of the average f.o.b. price of candles during the last ten years. That, added to the duty levied upon candles, which, on the same average price, works out at 25 per cent., makes the natural protection which is enjoyed by the local manufacturer, 50 per cent. Now, the largest local manufacturer of candles is Messrs. J. Kitchen and Sons, of the Apollo works. The reports of that firm show that the price of candles is governed by the cost of tallow locally and by outside competition. In support of that contention I propose to quote a few figures. In New South Wales prior to Federation there was no duty upon candles. At that time the prices of stearine candles, according to brand, ranged from 5id. to 5 3/4 d. per lb. In Victoria, where there was a duty of id. per lb. operative, the prices ranged from 6Jd. to 6d. per lb. - exactly the difference represented by the duty. In Queensland, where there was a duty of 2d. per lb. levied, the prices ranged from 7 1/4 d. to 7§d. per lb. - exactly the difference of the duty. A similar state of things obtained in South Australia, where the duty was 2d. per lb., and the prices of stearine candles ranged from 7id. to 7f d. per lb.
– The prices of what stearine candles?
– I am sneaking of the general average price.
– I think the honorable member will find that, whilst his figures may be correct as applied to imported candles, they are not correct as applied to locally-manufactured candles.
– The figures which I have submitted have been extracted from the evidence which was given before the Tariff Commission.
– I scarcely think that they are reliable as applied to the whole range of candles.
– I think that they are. There have been occasions upon which the local manufacturers have undercut the importer.
– They have to do that in order to get a chance.
– Of course. That is the usual course of competition ! The local manufacturers have undercut the importers in connexion with quite a number of contracts at Broken Hill. Curiously enough, the price at which an Adelaide firm tendered prior to Federation for certain contracts in a free-trade State was less than that at which free-trade firms from abroad could compete. I have already shown the measure of protection which is now enjoyed by stearine candles. But, as honorable members know, other candles are being imported into Australia. At the present time the only danger to the local manufacturers arises from the competition of paraffine candles, which are imported from India and the United States. If we intend to give an increased measure of protection to the local candle manufacturer under the guise of extending a preference to our cousins over sea, by all means let us carry out the sham in a common-sense way by differentiating between the various types of candles. In 1900 there were no paraffine candles imported from India, but in 1904 there were 589,751 lbs. Again, in 1900 there were 280,381 lbs. of candles, mostly paraffine, imported from the United States, and in 1904, 750,529 lbs. - an enormous increase. Now, the raw product of these candles is not exported from the Commonwealth. In 1900 the importations of continental candles - I am now dealing with stearine candles - aggregated 3,725,028 lbs., but in 1904 they had decreased to 1,933,374 lbs. In 1904 there were direct shipments of tallow from the Commonwealth to the continent aggregating 15,973 cwts. Honorable members will notice that we are practically reimporting our tallow back from Europe in the form of stearine candles. But in the case of paraffine candles we are importing not only the finished product, but the raw material of other countries. If honorable members intend to make use of this preferential trade pretence, why not do it intelligently by differentiating between the various types of candles in the way that I have suggested? Unless they are going to stultify themselves they must certainly do so. I fail entirely to* understand why this item has been included in the treaty. We have absolutely no imports of candles from New Zealand. The largest manufacturers in Australia have,i as their balance-sheets show, a considerable interest in the candle manufacturing interest in New Zealand, and no trade in candles is done between the two countries. Obviously there must have been some purpose in view in including this item in the schedule. One is naturally led to inquire whether it was ‘the fact that evidence given recently before the Tariff Commission was of so damaging a character to the existence of a duty at all that the Commission could not be expected to agree to the requisition of local candle manufacturers for an increased duty. What other motive can be suggested? The proposal has nothing to do with preference to New Zealand manufacturers, and it should have been left in abeyance until the Commission had reported on candles. This item shows very clearly the sort of swindle that is proposed to be perpetrated under the guise of preferential trade. I propose to take another instance in support of my contention. Under this treaty the duty of Jd. per lb. on oatmeal will remain as against imparts from New Zealand, but so far as imports from the rest of the world are concerned, it will be increased to ijd. per lb. The imports from New Zealand last year were of the stupendous value of .£74 > and since no reduction in the duty has been made under this treaty there is not likely to be an increased importation from that quarter. On the other hand, the imports from the rest of the world last year were of the value of ,£9,779, those from the United Kingdom - the country to whose products we are all anxious to grant a preference - being of the value of ,£2,163. The increase in the duty against practically the whole of that trade is one of 300 per cent. I ami credibly informed that the oatmeal industry to which it is proposed to grant this enormous increase of protection, not for the benefit of New Zealand, but to the detriment of the mother country, is one of the most flourishing concerns in, Australia.
– The duty is practically equal to .£14 a ton?
– Is that so? Last night the honorable member for Mernda repudiated the suggestion that any duty so high as 70 per cent, obtained under the Commonwealth Tariff. I direct his attention to this item. According to the commercial column of the Argus last Saturday, the present price of oatmeal unbagged is £17 per ton. That works out at 1 23-28d. per lb. On that value a dutv of i£d. per lb. will mean something more than 70 per cent. The honorable member for Mernda,, as I have said, told us last night that there was no such duty operating in Australia, and, judging from the manner in which he made that assertion, he evidently thought that there should be no such duty. May I ask why it is proposed to impose this heavy impost? Why is the duty to be raised to the extent of 300 percent. ? The increase will not benefit the New Zealand manufacturer or the Australian consumer; it is obviously designed to benefit the local manufacturer, already, I am glad to say, so prosperous. Why should the generous sentiments of the people of Australia in regard to preferential trade be used for such base purposes? I think that in politics, as in other matters, there is a game which we should play according to rules, and I do say that in this regard we are not playing that game. This matter ought to have ‘been left for the decision of the Tariff Commission, which was appointed to investigate the necessity for increased duties. If the people concerned in this industry desired a special d,itr. thev ought to have gone before the Tariff Commission - thev may have doi:e so - “iven their evidence, and awaited its finding. Surely the Committee does not wish to stultify itself by pretending that this is “Preferential Trade”; and surely those engaged1 in this thriving industry have no desire to subject themselves to an imputation of .securing protection, not in the ordinary way, but, for some unexplained reason, under the guise of a trade treaty ? I have selected in a haphazard way a few of the items in the schedule, and there are others to which I might refer in support of mv contention. I would point out. for instance, that it is proposed that the dutv of 6s. per cental on malt shall stand as against New Zealand imports,. but that it shall be raised to 7s. per centalin respect of importations from other countries. Last year the imports of malt from New Zealand were only of the value of £333> whilst the value of those from the rest of the world - which will now be subject to an. additional duty - was .£53,000. The imports of malt from the mother country alone were of the value of ,£51,889. We are going to grant a “ preference “ to one of the products of the United Kingdom by practically taxing it off the market ! What is the object of this increase of duty? It is of no advantage to New Zealand, for New Zealand sends us nothing, and the duty as against her will remain the same - and is in direct opposition to the idea of Imperial preference. Then, again, the duty of 3d. per lb. on soap, perfumed, is to remain unaltered, so far as imports from New Zealand are concerned, but is to be increased to 6d. per lb. in respect of imports from> the rest of the world. As a matter of fact, not a bar of soap came from New Zealand last year, but the imports ‘from the rest of the world were of the value of £62,620, those coming from the United Kingdom alone being of the value of £27.931. In other words, it is proposed to shut out annual imports of soap of the value of -£27,931 from the United Kingdom without giving any benefit to New Zealand manufacturers. Does this indicate a desire to secure Imperial preference? As another instance of the absence of business-like methods in - the drawing up of this arrangement, I might refer to the timber duties, but, as I am satisfied from the remarks which have been made during the debate that the Committee has seen the necessity of amending those duties, I shall not weary honorable members by dealing with them. I would, in conclusion, remind the Committee that the proposed free list in respect of New Zealand products relates to goods which, for the most part, are not produced in that Colony. Duties are lowered upon goods which New Zealand has not been exportin* to Australia of recent years, whilst thev are increased largely in respect of goods which are coming from the mother country, to which we owe so much. This so-called preferential treaty is a sham, which no preferential trader . who honours his creed can indorse. Honorable members of the Opposition are as anxious as are any others to weld more closely together the sentiments of the people of these two young countries ; but I am strongly opposed to this treaty, because I believe it to be a sham, because I believe that sentiments cannot be welded together on sham. And since I also believe that if we endeavour to unite the affections of “the people of New Zealand and those of Australia on a basis of fraud and deceit, our efforts will not only be resultless but will have an effect dangerous to the very consolidation we are all anxious to secure, I shall oppose this treaty to the utmost.
.- I feel some difficulty in approaching the consideration of this proposal. I believe that the whole House is desirous of seeing some reciprocal arrangement entered into which will promote trade between the Commonwealth and New Zealand as a means of promoting closer union, and I regret that the proposal emanating from the Government is drawn on such restricted lines. One might reasonably have expected that as the result of the deliberations of the Prime Minister and the late distinguished statesman, Mr. Seddon, we should have had submitted to us a comprehensive scheme on broad lines, which, while granting a preference to New Zealand products, would not interfere with our object of ultimately securing Imperial preferential trade conditions. Every honorable member must admit that the breaking down of the trade barriers which existed between the States prior to Federation Have been advantageous to all the members of the Union, and that even freetrade New South Wales must have been benefited by the altered trade arrangements due to the establishment of the Commonwealth. It must also be admitted that parts of Australia, more remote from the Seat of Government than is New Zealand
– Western Australia, for instance.
– Portions of Western Australia are more remote from the eastern States than is New Zealand. There is no reason why any one who favoured the breaking down of the trade barriers between the Australian States should not also heartily approve of the breaking down of the barriers between Australia and a Colony which I hope, before many years have passed, will be brought into the Federation. The .more the proposition is examined the more must it be felt that the grocer, the timber merchant, and the grain merchant are practically the onlypersons affected. The Prime Minister, in introducing it, said that it must be regarded as an instalment, and, if it were likely to lead up to ultimate free-trade between Australia and New Zealand, it would meet with less opposition than is now being’ offered to it. The last speaker indicated two or three items in regard to which it is proposed to increase rates of duty without apparent reciprocal advantage. We should not be asked to raise our duties in this way. No doubt many of the items in the Tariff require adjustment and amendment, but straightforward proposals should be made in regard to them. The New Zealand Parliament has adopted a proper course in referring this agreement to its Committee of Finance and Trade. If we had a similar body, time would be saved in dealing with the various matters brought before us, and honorable members would have more accurate information upon which to base their conclusions. I suggest that we might take similar action with a view to ascertaining if we cannot bring about free-trade between Australia and New Zealand, such as exists between the States of the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister may say that that is impracticable, but having had a conversation with one or two members of the Tariff Commission, I think that a scale of duties could be worked out which would assimilate the Tariffs of the two countries. Had the Prime Minister and the late Mr. Seddon had that object in view, instead of considering mere isolated items, they would probably have determined upon a proposal which would have forwarded the scheme of Imperial Federation. I trust that the objective of all our Parliaments will be free-trade throughout the Empire, and as big a wall as you like against the outer world.
– This is lovely freetrade !
– Whatever may have been our fiscal beliefs in the past, the conditions under which nations which have sprung into prominence during the last ten 01 twenty years are now manufacturing must have modified many of our views and doctrines. In Australia we have adopted the new protection, whose object is to secure to the people proper wages and reasonable conditions. When I speak of free-trade within the Empire, I do not forget that it 5s peopled bv various races, and contains communities whose condition’s are quite dissimilar, and I recognise that there can be free-trade only between communities whose conditions are alike. Therefore, there must be a differentiation against communities whose conditions differ from our own. It is not without having given the subject some consideration that I. make the suggestion that the Prime Minister should try to bring about free-trade between New Zealand and Australia by an assimilation of the Tariffs of the two countries. The Chairman of the Tariff Commission has told me that he could frame an adjustment of Tariff differences which would allow this scheme to be brought into operation. Surely if it is a good thing to have free-trade between the States of the Commonwealth; it would be a good thing to have free-trade with New Zealand as well. We hope that before long that country will send representatives to this Parliament, and her entrance into the union would be facilitated by the adoption of the course which I suggest. The machinery necessary to bring this about need not be very complicated. Many of the present proposals are inconsistent, and, if adopted, will interfere seriously with the achievement of the great objective which I am sure the Prime Minister has as much at heart as has any other statesman in Australia. The agreement is a step in the wrong direction, tending to division bv differentiating between New Zealand and Great Britain, and placing the latter in substantially the same position as that of Germany, France, or any other foreign country. After all the, talk which we have heard here, and from the platform, why should we not take the first step towards securing freedom of trade throughout the Empire, by remitting this proposition to, say, the Tariff Commission, and asking its members to ascertain whether it is not possible to procure free-trade be tween New Zealand and Australia?
– I do not think that there was any man who more thoroughly represented New Zealand opinion than did the late Right Honorable Richard Seddon ; but he declined to even consider that proposition.
– His successor has thrown cold water on this agreement, and the New Zealand Parliament, instead of accepting it, has remitted it to a Committee for investigation.
– If they object to this proposal, they will do so because they think that it extends too far - not that it falls short of requirements.
– I understand that they are objecting to it, because they think that New Zealand is giving away too much. I ask honorable members to consider whether we should be justified, for the sake of the small advantage that we may gain under this agreement in placing ourselves in a false position towards Great Britain and the other nations of the world. We are told that this proposal is an instalment of Imperial free-trade ; but I think that the Prime Minister might have taken a broader view of the situation. I thought that when the late Premier of New Zealand entered into negotiations with the Government, the first step would be taken towards the establishment of free-trade between New Zealand and the Commonwealth. But I have been disappointed with the result. There are two items in the schedule to which I wish to specially refer. I do not suggest that the Government have deliberately lent their ears to certain manufacturers who desire more protection ; but certainly their proposals have been so shaped as to lay Ministers open to that suspicion. I am in a position to speak with authority with regard to the probable effects of the increase in the duties upon Oregon and other timbers. If the treaty is adopted, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company alone will be involved in an additional outlay of £4,000 per annum for timber. If the imposition of this duty would have the effect of conferring any special advantage upon New Zealand, some reasons might be urged in favour of it, but there is not the slightest prospect thatoregon will be displaced by New Zealand timber. I desire to mention, for the information of honorable members, some of the advantages that attach to the use of Oregon, as compared with other timbers, for mining purposes. Oregon is about half the weight of Australian hardwood.
– But it is not half as strong.
– I am speaking from personal knowledge of this matter, and I know something of the disadvantages which attach to the use of hardwood for mining purposes at such a place as Broken Hill. The mines are situated a considerable distance inland, and the cost of haulage is very heavy. Hardwood, being double the weight of Oregon, costs double the amount for haulage, and this, in itself, is a very serious consideration. Moreover, when the hardwood reaches a mine, it is more difficult to handle than is the lighter timber. In the old days, when Tasmanian hardwood was used, many serious accidents occurred owing to the excessive weight of the timber, and the difficulty which the two men working together experienced in placing it in position. It is of great advantage to use timber capable of being handled with comparative ease, as is the case with Oregon.
– Did not the company formerly use hardwood sawn to the same size as the Oregon timber now employed ?
– Then the baulks were from two to three times as strong as those now used ?
– The hardwood was unsuitable in other ways.
– What timber is used in the mines at Cobar?
– The mining companies are about to use oregon - they have altered their method of timbering.
-. - Is there any hardwood timber obtainable in the neighbourhood of Broken Hill?
– No; when we used hardwood we had to import it from Tasmania. We were very anxious to use our native timbers as far as possible, but the disadvantages attached to employing hardwood caused us to substitute Oregon. The fibre of the oregon timber is such that when it is subjected to a heavy strain it gives ample warning before the breaking point is reached. Hardwood, on the other hand, does not do so, but snaps clean off. This in itself is of the greatest advantage in mining operations, and enables the officials to observe precautions against accidents. I wish to speak of another matter, namely, the proposed increase of the duty upon candles. It has come within my personal knowledge quite lately that the local manufacturers of candles are having a very hard struggle owing to the competition of imported Rangoon wax candles. I should be quite prepared at the proper time, and in the proper manner, to extend to these manufacturers further protection, but I do not think that we should attempt to give them relief in the way now proposed. Candles constitute a very important mining requisite in the larger companies such as that with which I am most intimately connected. I would appeal to honorable members to give their serious consideration to the proposed treaty. We are told that we must accept or reject it as a whole, but that any suggestions we may make will be taken into consideration. I think that we are thus placed in a most unfortunate position, although, probably, that was inevitable under the circumstances. .The whole question of reciprocal trade with New Zealand and other parts of the Empire might very well be .remitted to the Tariff Commission or some other similar body for investigation. If the present scheme is pressed, many honorable members will be placed in a most embarrassing position, because, while they may sincerely desire that the Commonwealth should be brought into closer union with New Zealand, they cannot approve of the details of the proposed agreement involving higher duties. It will be better to defer the consideration! of the matter for the present, in order to allow time for further consideration by the people of both the Commonwealth and New Zealand.
Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed
That all the words, after the word “ That “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ while affirming the desirability of a commercial treaty with New Zealand, this House requests the Prime Minister to endeavour to negotiate a treaty covering a wider range of duties and to confine the preference to a mutual reduction of existing duties.”
Sitting suspended from i to 2.30 p.m.
– I think, sir, that we should have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– I should like to say at once that I do not attach any party significance to the amendment which I have submitted. I have no desire to make the consideration of this question a party one in any degree whatever. I have moved the amendment merely for the purpose of indicating my view of the tendency which should control the future trading relations between the Commonwealth and the Colony of New Zealand. The. more I look into this matter the more it seems to me that the proposed treaty ought to approximate to free-trade and not partake of the character of an instrument under which further protection can be extended to the manufacturers of the Commonwealth. If there be any two countries between which free-trade ought to exist surely it is between Australia and New Zealand, seeing that their racial characteristics are similar ; that their social ideals are the same; that their institutions are very much alike; and that their lines of development do not diverge in any particular. It appears to me that no man has played a more patriotic part in welding the Empire together than has the late Mr. Seddon, who was responsible for one side of this treaty. How he could have refused overtures which the Prime Minister has assured us were made to him in the direction of securing freer intercourse between the trade of the Commonwealth and of New Zealand passes my understanding. However, we have the assurance of the Prime Minister that such overtures were made and rejected’.
– Perhaps the honorable member will permit me to explain the position.
– Most certainly.
– The late Prime Minister of New Zealand and myself naturally commenced the consideration of this question by asking, “Is it possible for us to make an agreement of a general character, or must we consider particular proposals ? “ The late Mr. Seddon was quite clear in his own mind that it would not be practicable to propose an agreement of a general character, and that we must consider particular proposals and group them together. We doubted whether it was possible to enter into a simple arrangement of a general character either for a specific reduction of duties or for. an all-round reduction. The late Prime Minister of New Zealand stated that the only proposals which it was practicable for us to consider were those which dealt with specific items. Consequently, we took both the Commonwealth and New Zealand Tariffs, examining the various items in them, and’ the proposals now under consideration represent the items upon which it was ultimately found possible to agree. All the other items were mentioned but set aside.
Mi. JOSEPH COOK.- I take it from the statement of the Prime Minister that he himself is quite in accord with the paragraph of my amendment which provides for the negotiation of a treaty covering a wider range of duties.
– Hear, hear; with the widest possible range.
– I take it that practically the restrictions in that direction emanated from the late Prime Minister of New Zealand. It is quite clear that Mr. Seddon did not represent the feeling of his Colony in regard to all the items enumerated in the schedule. At the present time a good deal of discussion cencerning them is proceeding in New Zealand, and the opinion seems to prevail that the treaty will not be accepted by the Legislature of that country. That being so, we need not pay too much attention to the fact that the late Mr. Seddon directed this treaty from the New Zealand stand-point. Several times during the course of this debate the Prime Minister has asked whether honorable members do not consider that Mr. Seddon was a true representative of New Zealand. Nobody questions his representative character. So representative was he that he had actually become a kind of New Zealand dictator, and was able to direct its policy along lines which no other individual could have pretended to do. A man in that position is not always a safe guide to follow in matters which intimately concern the bulk of the trading community. The fact that he; was able to force his will upon the people of New Zealand is not necessarily a tribute to his infallibility, but merely to his influence, and that influence may just as readily be exercised sometimes in a wrong as in a. right direction.
– Does not the honorable member think that a person occupying that position usually endeavours ito ascertain what is the will of the community ?
– I admit that to the full in the case of the late Mr. Seddon. That was his qualification above any other. He did ascertain the will of the people. He studied the political currents, and set his sails accordingly. But a man who has done that for many years ultimately establishes himself in a position in which he is able to direct those currents. That is what had happened in, the case of Mr. Seddon. He had acquired the position of a political dictator, and was thus enabled to exercise an influence over his countrymen which no other individual in New Zealand has done. When the honorable member for Kooyong was urging that this agreement did not go far enough, and that it was likely to be defeated in New Zealand, the Prime Minister interjected that if it were defeated there it would be because it went too far. That does not follow at all. It may be defeated in New Zealand because it does not go far enough.
– The objections which have been urged against the treaty there have been directed to those portions of it which make for the free interchange of our products with New Zealand - such as flour and sugar.
– That may be so, and yet the New Zealand Parliament mav just as readily reject the treaty because it does not go far enough as because it goes too far. It may consider that one or two items to which it objects might very well be replaced by others. In other words, we may criticise items in the schedule, and yet in the main decide that the treaty does not go far enough. It occurs to me that as there is such a close relationship in all that makes for national ideals between New Zealand and the Commonwealth, we ought not to consider limitations upon trade between the two countries, but should, by every possible means, endeavour to foster an extended trade. We have been assured by the supporters of the agreement that it represents merely the beginning of a wider scheme of preferential trade. The Prime Minister has not claimed that it represents more than that. He attaches very little importance to the items specified in the schedule. He does not pretend that the adoption of that schedule will make any appreciable difference either to the trade or prosperity of Australia or New Zealand.
– What about sugar?
– If New Zealand took all her sugar from us it would not increase the posperity of Australia verymuch. One of my objections to both these arrangements is that they are absurdly inadequate, and do not represent a substantial privilege either for Australia or New Zealand. In effect, they are mere empty placards. The proposal now before us does not represent even a remote approach to the time when a substantial concession shall either be received from or granted to other countries outside New Zealand itself. We are told that this is a beginning. I think that the honorable member for Moira last night summed up the situation by remarking that this treaty represented something rather than nothing. I am not quite sure that it is wise to accept a paltry proposal of this kind, and to expect it to develop later on to something more substantial. May not the acceptance of such an unsatisfactory proposal block the way to something better later on? We cannot hope to develop if we adopt wrong lines. In setting out upon this effort to secure commercial union within the Empire - an effort which is ultimately destined, so we are told, to embrace the whole Empire - it is of the utmost consequence that we should begin upon right lines. These proposals are wrong in principle. They are paltry and inadequate, and fail to meet the demand on the part of Australia for some closer union with the various units of the Empire. The experience of all countries shows [hat a treaty entered into upon wrong lines is not likely to develop trade until right lines are adopted. If it is set upon the wrong track it is difficult afterwards to shunt on to the right one. It usually comes to a dead end, and nothing . more eventuates. It may be that that is the reason why in the world to-day we have not one treaty which is the success that could be desired. We were told last night by the honorable member for Moira that the treaty ought to be patched up, that it would be far better to patch up a scheme like this than to have none at all. I take exception to that suggestion. It is far more desirable that we should endeavour to make it a good one before we accept it. It would Nbe much better to do that than to consciously adopt a treaty which we know to be wrong, and then to endeavour to remedy its defects. We ought riot to enter into a treaty- conscious that the schedule to it is not a good one, but hoping that some turn of political fortune will enable us later on to remedy the defects which we know to be inherent in it. Now is the time for us to take action. In this matter, as in relation to all other Tariff proposals brought before the present Parliament, the Government has treated the Tariff Commission with scant courtesy and consideration. If there was ever a proposal which should have been inquired into by such a body it is this. We are told that the New Zealand Legislature has referred this treaty to a Committee, which will inquire into it before it is adopted. There the necessity of independent inquiry and fuller consideration, in order that Parliament, before it proceeds to consider it, may be fully informed of its effect, is clearly recognised. I should like to point out also that the Premier of New Zealand has treated the local Parliament in a way far different from that in which we have been dealt with in connexion with this proposal. When the treaty was submitted to the New Zealand
Parliament the schedule of duties also contained a detailed description of the importations affected by them, the countries of origin, and the volume and value of the goods involved. We had to wait until yesterday for any details of the kind, and even then they were laid on the table of the House only whilst the debate was proceeding. Throughout this discussion, we have received scant consideration from the Government. I do not pause to make any reference to the absence of the Minister in charge of this motion. The honorable gentleman threw the schedule upon the table of the House, and then, just as he has done in connexion with every other proposal of which he has been in charge, he rushed away to his constituents.
– From the first, I was personally in charge of this matter.
– It was introduced by the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– I presented the treaty, and the Minister of Trade and Customs . subsequently brought in the schedule.
– Is the Prime Minister in charge of this business?
– That being so, the Minister of Trade and Customs should not take any part in it.
– He submitted the schedule to give effect to the agreement which I had made.
– That being so, this treaty essentially relates to the .Department of Trade and Customs. In New Zealand the Minister of Trade and Customs has charge of it, just as the Minister of Trade and Customs in Canada takes charge of similar proposals. It is ‘the peculiar function of such a Minister to take charge of matters of this kind when they are submitted to Parliament. The Minister of Trade and Customs, in this case, however, is conspicuous by his absence whenever such proposals are being debated. I hope that he is having an interesting time in his’ electorate. I have never known a Minister to treat the House so cavalierly, and to be tolerated, as he is by his friends in the Ministerial corner, who are supposed, at any rate, to see that honorable members remain here to do that which they are handsomely paid to do.
– We cannot force the right honorable member for East Sydney to stay here.
– I am afraid that the honorable member for Bland, because of what he regards as a dereliction of duty on the part of the leader of the Opposition, is prepared to tolerate any sort of conduct on the part of .any other honorable member. He is to be congratulated upon succumbing to the influence of the right honorable member for East Sydney to such an extent that he is prepared to justify anything that takes place on the ground that it is on a par with something done by the right honorable member.
– Treat them all alike.
– Then why should we not have the same salary as the Minister receives ?
– The Minister of Trade and Customs is a Socialist, but while he does not mind socializing his work, he certainly objects to socialize his salary. I repeat that he ought to be present to conduct this business through’ the Committee, and that throughout these proceedings we have been treated with scant consideration. I was pointing out when interrupted that the Government generally have treated the Tariff Commission with scant consideration in connexion with these proposals. I believe that if the Commission had discussed the treaty before it was finally concluded, they would have found an easy way of assimilating the Tariffs of the two countries without interfering with the volume of trade now carried on between them, and with every prospect of largely increasing it to the advantage of both peoples. As it is, we have put before us a proposal characterized by want of care - to use no stronger expression - a proposal that is altogether inadequate to meet the feelings which exist among the people of these two countries, and which does not represent anything, like a material contribution to the spirit which is abroad, and which aims at the commercial unity of the Empire. The Tariff Commission should by this time be accustomed to the treatment meted out to it by the Government. It was remarked last night by the honorable member for Echuca that equality of sacrifice is the true basis of preference. Equality of sacrifice - but sacrifice first of all - should be an essential quality in any proposal for the closer union of the integral parts of the Empire. It is true in relation to material matters as it is true in a far higher sense that sacrifice is the basis of all that is best in human life. If we are to have a lasting union between the component parts of the Empire, a spirit of self-sacrifice must characterize its initiation.
– I thought this treaty was to be mutually advantageous.
– Advantages worth having are nearly always obtained in human life along the way of sacrifice. I venture to say that a little sacrifice in connexion with these commercial considerations would bring us infinite advantage later on, and contribute in the best sense to the benefit of those who make it. There is no evidence of sacrifice worthy of the name in connexion with this treaty. A spirit of sacrifice may be apparent in relation to individual items, but, viewing the whole proposal in its broadest outlines, one sees no trace of it. The honorable member for Echuca went on to say that the difference in seasons and in natural conditions generally afforded a natural argument for preferences. That is true. Trade should always be preferred between countries which differ in those respects, but that is an argument for freeing trade as much as possible^ in those directions, instead of fettering if by the limitations of Tariffs. We should encourage it upon those broad lines. The best results ensue in connexion with .all human effort when we harness the forces of nature and make them- help us, whilst we put our own faculties and endeavours to the best possible use. But while in connexion with a higher and fuller scheme of Imperial commercial Federation, we can proceed only along the lines of compromise, there is no need for compromise between New Zealand and the Commonwealth. I am of opinion that the bolder we make our proposals in this respect, the more likelihood is there of their cordial, frank, and free acceptance. The true relationship of New Zealand and Australia seems to have been lost sight of. This matter has been discussed rather as friendly neighbours would discuss it. each willing to make some concession in view of the good feeling displayed by the other, than as between those of the same kith and kin. In other words, the family idea which should dominate the arrangement has been lost sight of. But there is a great difference between the relationship of neighbours and that of members of the same stock. If the family idea were kept in the forefront, a bold stroke would carry us a long way in the direction of obtaining free-trade between New Zealand and Australia. The reciprocity provided- for in the treaty has been the result of bargaining. Bargaining must always mean the imposition of conditions which must create friction to a greater or lesser degree, and engender selfishness and national ambition. This is exactly what should have been avoided in discussing the future relations of two members of the same family. The matter of the treaty is set out in the schedule not quite ingenuously. Where a proposed increase is moderate, the percentage of the duty is stated, but where it is large, the percentage is not given. For instance, the increase in our duty on candles against the outside world amounts to 100 per cent., but as that would look ugly, the rate is put down merely as id. per lb. The duty on oatmeal has been increased from Jd. to Itd.. and, of course, the percentage in that case is not given. Neither is it given in connexion with timber, where it varies from 100 to 200, the actual rates only appearing. The percentage should have been given in connexion with all the items, or it should not have been given at all. Under cover of a proposal for bringing about closer union between Australia and New Zealand, we are going to double the duties of the porridge plate by increasing the price of oatmeal by 70 per cent.
– Most of the oats imported into Australia come from New Zealand, and the duty against New Zealand is low.
– Mv information is derived from persons in the trade.
– Quaker oats come from America.
– That is an article which is not imported in large quantities.
– What was said last night in regard to starch is to be taken with a grain of salt, because, although we were told that starch is not dearer now than it used to be, we were not informed of the extent to which the application of scientific methods has reduced the cost of its production. There is to be an increase in the duty on candles of 100 per cent. But, while our dutv against the outside world is 2d., that of New Zealand is only id. per lb. Why should there he this difference? Are not our candle manufacturers as well able, as those cf New Zealand to compete against foreign competitors? Surely if, as is alleged by interested persons, the importation of Rangoon candles will cripple our trade, it will cripple the trade of New Zealand. But the New Zealand people seem to think that they can fight that competition by means of a duty only one-half that which is asked for here. Then in regard to hops, the New Zealand duty is 6d., while our duty is is.
– Mr. Seddon evidently picked out particular items to suit his own Colony.
– We have been told by the Prime Minister with the utmost candour1 and frankness that Mr. Seddon would not agree to some proposals out of consideration for New Zealand industries. He would not give a preference in regard to oranges, lemons, and similar fruit, because a few. oranges are grown in the North Island. All through he seems to have had an eye to the protection of New Zealand rather than to the establishment of friendly relations between that Colony and the Commonwealth. In the duty on condensed milk there is an increase of 100 per cent., and in the duties on Canadian timber increases of from 100 per cent, to 200 per cent. A concession is also made in regard to fresh fish, of which our importations from New Zealand last year amounted to a value of £2, while the people of New Zealand took none at all from us.
– Does the term “ fresh fish “ include frozen fish ?
– Not under our Tariff.
– The preference does not apply to frozen fish. It applies only to fresh fish.
– In nearly every case fish sent from New Zealand without being frozen, dried, or canned, would arrive here stale.
– Yes. It is almost impossible to bring fresh fish from New Zealand to Australia and land it here in’ an edible condition. That is shown by the fact that the importation last year was valued at only £2. The distribution of £2 worth of fish among 4,000,000 people reminds one of the days of miracles, when two small fish were distributed amongst 5,000 people. We find two distinguished statesmen seriously considering and incorporating in an agreement a proposal like this.
– That is all that is left of the original item.
– Ha Having .been whittled down to that extent, it would have been better to leave it out altogether, instead of allowing it to mock us in this schedule. No doubt it was thought that as an item it would count, and that the number of the items in the schedule would divert attention from the smallness of the importation which they affect. The total importation into Australia of all the articles mentioned in the schedule amounted last year to £1,430,000 worth. Of this amount only £127,000 was represented by importations from New Zealand. The balance of £1,303,000 came from other parts of the British Empire or foreign countries. No consideration has been given to the Empire as a whole. The United Kingdom has been entirely ignored. Last year we imported Canadian timber to the value of £58,000, and yet we are deliberately increasing the duties upon the products of the Dominion to the extent of from too to 200 per cent. At the same time the Prime Minister is proposing to give preference to Great Britain as a prelude to the application of the same principle to the Empire as a whole.
– Canada has a good stiff T;;riff against us.
– No more than New Zealand has.
– But we are making a reciprocal arrangement with New Zealand.
– Canada has already passed a resolution declaring that she will make concessions to us as soon as we are ready to reciprocate.
– We are ready as scon as she is..
– We have asked for proposals, and we have not received them.
– And in this treaty we see the first attempt at reciprocity.
– How can we enter into a reciprocal arrangement with Canada if we increase our duties against her for three years ?
– Exactly. This is a fine way of beginning to reciprocate with Canada. If the Prime Minister had desired to feel his way towards Canada with a view to entering into closer trade relations, he would have studiously avoided imposing additional duties upon her products.
– As a matter of fact, we are meeting Canada’s offer by deliberately handicapping her products.
– She has received an official offer to which she has not replied.
– Is this treaty intended to punish her for having failed to reply ?
– It is the usual thing to reply to an offer if you have any desire to accept it.
– Canada communicated with us last year, and we replied at once stating that we were quite willing to entertain proposals. We asked them to suggest a definite way in which we could arrive at an agreement. I have not yet received a reply.
– Could not the Prime Minister have communicated with them specially in regard to this treaty ?
– I did not feel called upon to do so under those circumstances.
– Would not that have been the proper way to open up negotiations for a reciprocal arrangement?
– It would have been a proper way to postpone this treaty.
– Would that have been a very great evil?
– I think so.
– It would certainly have prevented the Minister from making use of the treaty at the next elections as he proposes - that is the only evil that I can think of. It is idle to say that there was no time to send a wire to Canada informing her of what was being done in connexion with the treaty. The Prime Minister’s statement will not hold water for one minute. If the Prime Minister had been sincere in his desire for reciprocity with Canada an opportunity was here presented to him to inform Canada that negotiations were proceeding with New Zealand, and that it was suggested that increased duties should be imposed upon Canadian timber. He might have invited them to come to some mutual arrangement by which the increased duties could have been dispensed with.
– The late Mr. Seddon was not a bad Empire man.
– I am not imputing anything to the contrary to the late Prime Minister of New Zealand. Why does the honorable member interject in that way ?
– Because the honorable member is indulging in a tirade against the late Mr. Seddon and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth.
– I am not indulging in any tirade. I made no reference to Mr. Seddon, except to say that I believed that he had done as much as any man for the Empire.
– And he was a party to this treaty.
– I know he was, and I am not impugning his relationship with the Empire. But I think that he and the Prime Minister missed an opportunity for entering into a reciprocal arrangement with Canada. They should have hesitated to increase the duties against Canada when a couple of days would have sufficed to ascertain’ whether thev could reciprocate with the Dominion. Mr. Fielding, the Minister of Finance of Canada, when delivering his Budget speech, was interrupted by Mr. Foster, who said -
Might I ask the Minister of Finance whether Australia does not manufacture wines of about the same strength, and, if so, is it the intention to discriminate in favour of one colony against another ?
Mr. Fielding replied
At the present time, yes, because Australia does not give us the benefit of any preference, South Africa does give us the benefit; therefore my honorable friend will agree with me that this is a proper discrimination. The Colony of New South Wales formerly had a preference with Canada, but after the Australian Colonies were united into a Commonwealth, of course their Tariff conditions changed and our preference ceased. I may say that we all appreciate the desirability of having preferential trade with our brethren in Australia, and we have taken steps to let them know that we are quite willing to make a preferential arrangement with them. If. they are willing to make such arrangements with us, the item of wines will be one of the matters within our offer. But for the present, inasmuch as Australia does not give us a preference, and as South Africa does, we propose to extend this benefit to the South African Colonies.
Under these conditions, it seems strange that there should have been no response to the cable which the Prime Minister declares that he despatched to the Canadian Government.
– I sent two letters, one by the same channel as that through which they communicated with us, namely, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and another, which was forwarded to them direct. That was eight months ago, and I have not yet received any reply.
– I understand that the Prime Minister suggested that the Canadian Government should make some offer - did he make any offer of preference himself ?
– There was no offer of preference on their part, but a proposal as to the means by. which we might meet and discuss preferences.
– There is a standing offer of preference so far as Canada is concerned in the printed paper which the Prime Minister has circulated.
– But they require, as also does South Africa, to be satisfied as to the equivalent that is to be offered.
– I am afraid that the Prime Minister did not go the right way about it, or he would have had a response.
– I was at least entitled to a response of some kind.
– In view of the standing offer of preference on the part of Canada, I think it was the duty of the Prime Minister to communicate with the Government of the Dominion when he was negotiating with New Zealand concerning duties to be imposed upon Canadian timber. This treaty involves the imposition of increased duties upon Canadian timber, of which we imported .?58,000 worth last year. We also imported from Canada last year flour to the value of ,?10,000, and it is now proposed to levy ai duty of 2s. 6d. per cental against Canada. I presume that that is another method of encouraging friendly relationship between the two countries. I am not blaming the Prime Minister any more than the late Premier of New Zealand, who, I think, stood out for these duties more than did the Prime Minister. At any rate, whoever is responsible, the duties are to be increased upon Canadian timber and flour. Of the articles mentioned in the schedule, I find that last year we imported .?150,000 worth from British Possessions, and that the imports from the same sources into New Zealand were valued at ,?60,000. Therefore, under the treaty nearly all these articles will be excluded. That is to say, over ?^200,000 worth of goods which last year were imported from British Possessions will be excluded. It is proposed later on to extend preference to Great Britain ; but I would point out that if the Government scheme were carried out we could not divert into British channels as much trade as that which’ it is now proposed to divert from such channels by this treaty. The goods mentioned in the schedule in which Great Britain is interested are aerated waters, bacon and hams, candles, cheese, oatmeal, hops, malt, soap, and preserved milk. The increased duties range, as I have said, from’ 25 to 100 and even to 200 per cent. Take the case of hops as an example. Last year we imported £13,000 worth of ‘hops from the United Kingdom. It is now proposed to raise the duty from 6d. to is. per
Jb., .both in the Commonwealth and New Zealand. The effect of these increased duties will be to exclude the importations of hops from Great Britain,.
– There is no harm in that.
– There is no harm in it, except that we are proposing to give preference to Great Britain by shutting out her hops. I admit that there are various ideas as to what constitutes preference, and apparently this expresses one of them. It means the exclusion of British hops from both New Zealand and Australia. Upon -sixteen lines specified in the schedule the annual imports into the Commonwealth from the United Kingdom aggregate a value of -£170,000, and of ^£70,000 in the case of New Zealand. The- greater part of these importations will lie excluded by the operation of the treaty which it is proposed to ratify with New Zealand. Comparing one schedule with another, it is quite clear that we are going to exclude more trade from the United Kingdom than we shall attract under these preference proposals. I assume that we can divert into British channels £150,000 worth of the £750,000 worth of foreign trade that we now carry on in respect of the articles enumerated in the schedule. I am convinced that we cannot do more than that, because my perusal of the schedule shows me that a great many of the articles which we import from other countries than the United Kingdom are specialties of one kind or another. Under this treaty, therefore, we shall be shutting, out £150,000 worth of trade from the United Kingdom. In addition, we shall exclude £150,000 worth of trade from British Possessions elsewhere. Consequently, although we ‘may hope by these preference proposals to divert £150,000 worth of ‘British trade to Australia, we shall, under the operation of the two treaties, exclude from the rest of the British Empire over £300,000 worth of trade. In that calculation I am leaving out of consideration the “ preference “ that we are giving to Great Britain and the rest of the Empire under Tariff duties which we recently imposed. I am informed that our spirit duties will exclude at least £100,000 worth of trade from Great Britain, that the impost upon harvesters will shut out £65,000 worth of trade from Canada, and that the ‘duties levied upon agricultural machinery will exclude another £25,000 worth from various parts of the Empire. Accepting the very lowest computation, the two proposals of the Government will exclude upon the balance nearly £350,000 worth of British trade from Australia. There is no preference about propositions of that character. What we are giving under one treaty we are taking away by the other. I cannot understand how such proposals can emanate from the Prime Minister, who professes to he sincerely desirous of fostering trade with the rest of the Empire. It seems to me that he ought to have taken hold of the nettles incident to the initiation of any such scheme in a bolder way than he has done. It may be that the proper sentiment is embodied in the agreement ; but- we ought to use that sentiment for practical ends. Either preferential trade has some practical bearing or it has not. and I fail to see why - while we are developing the Imperial sentiment among the various families of the Empire - we should not make preferential trade a reality, instead of the empty thing which I have” shown the Government would have it bv my brief analysis of these schedules. Here is a proposal which aims at giving the rest of the Empire something, but which, in reality, excludes more trade than we can divert into British channels. The only party to the whole arrangement which will derive any benefit from it will be Australia, which scores very solidly both under the New Zealand and under the British treaty in the direction of protection. That is the outstanding result of these treaty negotiations, and I submit that it does not represent a spirit of concession such as we ought to contemplate when entering into these closer relationships, and when endeavouring in a practical way to divert into British channels the trade which is now being done by foreign countries, since that is acknowledged to be one of the means by which we can foster the Empire sentiment, and bring about that consolidation of the union which is so much to be desired.
– As I have already addressed the Committee in regard to certain general features of these proposals, I do not intend to detain honorable members at any length. Of course, the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta puts a new complexion upon this discussion, inasmuch as it invites us to vote upon it before dealing with our scheme. The honorable member’s amendment affirms the desirability of a commercial treaty with New Zealand, but as it goes on to say that we should endeavour to negotiate a treaty - evidently means another treaty, and not that which is under discussion either in its present form or with amendments.
– I do not necessarily mean that. I do not mind if the present treaty is developed.
– The honorable member makes two conditions ; first he declares that the new treaty should cover a wider range of duties. So far as the expression of that hope is concerned, I am entirely in accord with him. But when he proceeds to add the words -
Confining the preference to a mutual reduction of existing duties, he introduces an entirely new element- He sets aside a large portion of the present treaty, and substitutes for it not only a new treaty, but a new treaty based upon a new principle, that is to say, with a new restriction. Under these circumstances the question raised by the amendment becomes a serious one. Its consequences would be fatal to the Government proposal. Nobody can take exception to the honorable member’s aspirations for a broader arrangement between the two contracting countries than that which as now before us. The late Prime Minister of New Zealand shared that desire. We commenced our deliberations with a very long schedule of duties - in fact, by analyzing the whole of the Tariffs of both the Commonwealth and New Zealand. Though the honorable member for Parramatta has alluded upon several occasions to the fact that this treaty is the product of what, by implication, he considers hasty and insufficient inquiry, as a matter of fact, our meetings with the late Mr. Seddon were frequent and prolonged. He postponed his departure from Australia in order that further meetings might take place, and not only during those meetings, but outside of them, in the examination of material and in informal discussions, this subject was constantly in his mind. We both commenced our investigations in the hope of being able to present a much longer list of mutual concessions than now appears before honorable members. There were, of course, a number of items which are not included in this agreement, which Mr. Seddon himself proposed and pressed, but they, were of such a character as to demand sacrifices that we believed this Parliament would not approve.
– Both Mr. Seddon and the Prime Minister himself were very determined to protect their own people, notwithstanding that the two countries produce practically the same commodiies
– I will deal with that point in a moment. We took up a very similar attitude. My colleague and myself pressed a large number of other duties upon the attention of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and endeavoured to arrive at an arrangement in respect to them, but without success. He resisted them, believing thar they would not favour the development of New Zealand. The honorable member for North Sydnev is ‘perfectly correct when he says that each of us was charged with the duty of making a careful forecast of the effects of these proposals upon our respective countries, and that each of us1 desired to retain for our people the protection which was necessary to enable them to successfully conduct their operations.
– The products of the two countries are very similar.
– I recognise that, and when introducing these proposals, pointed out that this was one of the obstacles which confronted us at every turn. Necessarily, the scope of our negotiations was limited by geographical and climatic conditions. When the honorable member for Parramatta advises us to put aside our agreement for some undiscovered and .undefined proposal, embracing some of the very propositions so recently considered bv the late Prime Minister of New Zealand and ourselves, but which were abandoned after careful inquiry, I say that he is merely holding up an illusory promise of an impossible agreement. Judged both by what the late Mr.. Seddon said and bv what the New Zealand press declares, complete reciprocity is, unfortunately, distant. I should be only too glad to see the area of the agreement enlarged, and believe that one of the consequences of its acceptance and trial will be that a great many appre- hensions will be dissipated. We shall discover that the course of trade need not be interfered with so much as is generally supposed, and that mutual advances to each other will result in mutual profit. But, at the present time, there is evidently a feeling of anxiety, apparently reflected in New Zealand, and, to some extent, in this country. In any reciprocal agreement there must necessarily be sacrifices made by each party, and those sacrifices will always appear to touch particular classes more than they do other classes. Those who appear to be affected by them will naturally object. That is an inevitable concomitant of every reciprocity treaty.
– Only one class in this community will suffer under this treaty.
– And that is the’ class which does not understand and take advantage of it.
– There are many who do not understand it.
– They are not represented on this side of the House.
– The apple growers are not going to suffer.
– The New Zealand market is worth nothing to them.
– I am in a position to say, from direct information received from Tasmanian representatives, and also from those concerned in the fruit trade of that State, that they think a great deal of this concession.
– As a representative ot Tasmania, I tell the Prime Minister that he is making a great mistake.
– I wish the Committee to understand clearly that if they put aside this agreement, which was not lightly or easily arrived at, but was the result of prolonged consideration - if, quite apart from the special restrictions intended to be imposed by the amendment, they set our work aside it is plain that they will Have no prospect of arriving at any wider agreement. On the contrary, if this be cast aside, we may bid good-bye to the prospect of any reciprocal agreement with New Zealand for some considerable time.
– If we could not secure a treaty it would be because the people of New Zealand did not desire to enter into one. .
– “There is a tide in the affairs of men.”
– I was about to reply in words similar to those used by the honor able member for Wide Bay. If the late Prime Minister of New Zealand, who visited Australia, closely studied the schedule of duties of both countries, and had the advantage of learning our views upon the subject, were alive to-day to explain this treaty - if he were alive to present it tothe Parliament of New Zealand, and to explain the necessary limitations of any such agreement at the present time, having regard to the policy of the Governments of the two countries - there would be room for little doubt as to the reception it would receive.
– I doubt whether the late Mr. Seddon would have been able to explain it better than Sir Joseph Ward, who was Treasurer for New Zealand for some years before taking office as Prime Minister.
– I am aware that Sir Joseph Ward <is an eminent Treasurer, and has a full knowledge of all the facts and figures that can be collected. But the advantage which Mr. Seddon derived in recently visiting this country was that he was enabled to become acquainted with our views, interests, and industries. With this information - obtained bv the very careful inquiries of a vigilant man - he would have spoken with’ a knowledge of Australia that would have carried more weight.
– On the other hand, the Prime Minister will admit that Sir Joseph Ward is an experienced business man.
– I assert it. But Sir Joseph Ward has not had the advantage of a recent visit to Australia. He has not had an opportunity to study the question in the light of Australian views and circumstances. That is why, if we still had behind this treaty the advocacy of Mr. Seddon, I should have very little apprehension as to its adoption. We are now invited to undo what has been done - to tear up a treaty representing, so to speak, the residuum of a protracted and careful examination of both our Tariffs. Tt covers the only items upon which an agreement was possible. The item of fish, to which the honorable member for Parramatta has alluded, remains in the schedule, for the reason that, even when Mr. Seddon entered the train for Sydney a few details remained for further consideration. My colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs engaged with the right honorable gentleman in a final examination of some of these items on the journey to Sydney. Their time was occupied in this way until two or three hours after thev left, Albury. Under the heading of “ fish “ we had originally included a proposal that would have enabled us to exchange all kinds of dried and frozen fish, as well as fish preserved by other means. We had a mutual proposal of that kind, which hung in the balance until the last moment. It is because we had to allow our schedule to leave here imperfect in these particulars, and had Wo opportunity to finally revise it before it was signed that the item remains in the schedule to-day only as a token of one of the divisions on which a difference of opinion prevented a final settlement. The Committee should remember that these duties represent the result of prolonged consideration and careful examination, and that nothing better was to be Obtained. In these circumstances, to put aside an actual treaty in the vague hope and general anticipation that something much better might be obtained would surely be unwise. The better course to pursue is to take the treaty as it stands. We should take it for what it is worth. It is worth a great deal more than the honorable member for Parramatta is prepared to admit. We should’ accept it, and use it as a means of familiarizing the public with this method of mutually adjusting the Tariffs of our two countries, and of satisfying those who it present entertain exaggerated fears of what is likely to follow from such an agreement. Our experience of this practical proposal, if it be adopted, will give us a much better b:,sis to secure ultimately that enlargement of the schedule which the honorable member for Parramatta desires now. If we adopt this treaty, we shall have a much better chance of securing that enlargement than we should have if we reject it. Moreover, the honorable member proposes that the new treaty, to be drawn up some time, somewhere, and somehow, and which is to include we know not what, shall be so limited that all the preferences granted under it will be secured by mutual reductions of existing duties. In imposing that condition the honorable member knows perfectly well that he is making a proposition which could not receive the assent of any protectionist in the House.
– The protectionists of New Zealand have assented to the principle.
– I am not aware that they have.
– 1They have assented to it in connexion with the preferences to Great Britain.
– But first of all they increased their duties, and then reduced them in favour of Great Britain. When we have raised our own Tariff to the height it ought to reach, I have no doubt that the protectionists will be prepared to consider proposed reductions in favour of the mother country.
– The New Zealand preference to Great Britain is in the nature of a surcharge against foreign countries.
– It amounts to that, although in one schedule there may be one or two instances to the contrary.
– But that is the general principle of the preference.
– It is. The course followed was the same in the preferences granted by Canada and South Africa to Great Britain. In both cases the existing duties were raised before the preferences were granted. But the proposal put before us by the honorable member for Parramatta is one for which no protectionist could vote. It imposes a condition which would lead to our proceeding to negotiate with our hands absolutely tied.
– Did they raise their Tariffs for the sole purpose of giving Great Britain a preference?
– Certainly. THey never destroyed their local interests. I am perfectly free to admit that we forgot at no time what we conceived to be the Australian interests affected by this proposal.
– The manufacturers.
– Not the manufacturers alone. Would the honorable member describe bacon and hams as manufactured articles ?
– Would he so describe oatmeal and malt?
– Is cheese a manufactured article? In view of the replies given bv the honorable member to my queries, it is evident that many farmers are manufacturers whom he has in mind. They make cheese and cure hams.
– The farmers produce the raw material, and the manufacturer works them up.
– Quite so; but in Australia, and also, I believe, in Tasmania, farmers who do not carry on operations upon a large scale are extending the practice of establishing co-operative factories for the production of these commodities, just as co-operative butter factories and creameries have been established. The cooperative movement is” being fostered, and is worthy of expansion. Honorable members will find in the schedule a long list of what may be termed manufactured articles, which are the products of farmers, and are often manufactured under their superintendence.
– But if these duties are imposed they will shut out our butter and cheese.
– An exchange takes place even under the existing duties.
– Of bacon and hams ?
– I was thinking of cheese.
– But the honorable gentleman spoke of bacon and hams.
-I did whenI was replying to the interjection. Cheese, dried fish, and several other articles subject to our duties are still imported from New Zealand.
– But our butter and cheese will not go to New Zealand.
– The products I have named will continue to come in to some extent.
– Will the Prime Minister explain why; it !was decided that flour should come in free, and that a duty should remain on wheat?
– That was considered to be one of the items in which an exchange could take place without injury to either country. The honorable member knows better than I do that New Zealand wheat differs in some respects from that grown in Australia. Wheat is not grown so extensively there, although both countries largely export it. The New Zealand product is required by our millers for mixing purposes in connexion with the production of flour for certain classes of bread and confectionery.
– If we had to import one or the other, it would be better for us to import the wheat, and so find more employment for our millers.
– Both countries are on the same footing. Flour is free to each, and wheat is dutiable to each.
– The preference is not the same.
– No. So far as we could do so, we felt obliged to take the existing duties. If honorable members look down the list they will find some fifteen or sixteen items relating to manufactured products, and they will also discover that nearly two-thirds of the proposals involve reductions of existing duties as between the two contracting parties. In bringing about this agreement an endeavour has been made to secure reductions of duties, whilst in a number of cases no increases have been made between them. Finally, let me emphasize the point that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Parramatta means that we must tear up this treatv. trusting to the unknown future for some kind of an agreement at some undefined time. Next, let us recall the fact that the amendment involves the acceptance of a fiscal limitation upon ali future treaties that I believe would be injurious, and would in itself operate so as to mar the prospect of any other agreement being arrived at.
– I have from the first believed that we should endeavour to secure better trading relations with New Zealand, and I see no reason to depart from that view. The standard of living in New Zealand - the rates of wages and conditions of employment - are the same as prevail in Australia, and therefore I fail to see why my protectionist friends should object to preferential trade with that country. Their objection to imports are usually based on the ground that they are produced under cheap labour conditions, but that objection cannot apply to goods arriving from New Zealand. If any complaint is to be made on that score, it should be made by New Zealand. Within recent years New Zealand has had to absorb a large number of unemployed who have gone there from Australia, but this country has not been called upon to act in the same way in regard to unemployed from that Colony to anything like the same extent, indicating that the advantages are on the New Zealand side. I should like to see all the duties on our Tariff which operate against that Colony removed, so that it might be on the same footing as the various States. There was a time when Tariffs separated State from State, as New Zealand is separated from the Commonwealth, and it was feared by some that their removal would be disastrous. Those fears have been shown to be groundless. Whatever disadvantage may have been suffered in some directions by the removal of Customs barriers has been compensated by thf advantages consequent upon an extension of the market, and the same thing would happen again if the restrictions on trade between Australia and New Zealand were abolished. But, judging from the utterances of some of the protectionists, which seem to have been indorsed by the Prime Minister, the intention of the present arrangement is, not to make trade’ freer between New Zealand and Australia, but to retain the Tariff wall which keeps out that Colony’s products, giving her a so-called preference by raising a higher wall against England, and a still higher wall against the foreigner. I cannot support a proposal of that kind. If preference is a good thing, let us have it, instead of resorting to a bogus arrangement. I am in no way hostile to reciprocal trade arrangements with New Zealand, and I hope that the day will come when that Colony and the Commonwealth will be under the one Government. When Federation was first seriously discussed, New Zealand sent representatives to assist in the framing of a Constitution, but afterwards she declined to enter the Union, for grounds which were reasonable, but which I hope will some day be removed. The best way to induce New Zealand to enter’ the union is to cultivate friendly trade relations with her, while the way to prevent her from doing so is to raise fiscal barriers to keep out her productions. Although the proposal before us is spoken of as an attempt to improve the trade relations of the two countries, what is really happening is that the existing rates are being allowed to continue so far as New Zealand is concerned, higher rates being levied against other parts of the world. It is rather strange that many of the items thus affected cover products upon which practically prohibitive duties were proposed when the Tariff was first considered. For instance, we are asked to increase the duties on butter, cheese, and candles against the outside world, leaving them as they stand so far as New Zealand is concerned. Similarly, there is to be an increase against other countries in the duties on grain, except in regard to importations from New Zealand, while flour may be imported from New Zealand free of duty, the old rate continuing with regard to the outer world. The duty on oregon dressed, 12 ft. x 6 in. and over, has been increased from 6d. to is. 6d. per 100 super, feet, no doubt in the interest of the New Zealand timber industry. Generally, however, we are asked to consider, not proposals for the reduction of duties in respect to New Zealand, but proposals for the raising of duties in respect to the other parts of the world. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that these duties affect mostly importations from other parts of the Empire. The arrangement, instead of being described as intended to secure reciprocal trade between New Zealand and the Commonwealth, would be more properly described as intended to increase the Commonwealth Tariff.
– Is the honorable member going to support it?
– I do not propose to do so. Last night reference was made to the effect that these proposals will have upon the farmers and primary producers, and I was pleased to note what seemed a considerable change of view in regard to the subject on the part of some honorable gentlemen. Two or three years ago, when the lowering or abolition of the fodder duties was suggested, not in the interests of New Zealand, or of other parts of the Empire, but of our own people, to minimize the terrible effects of the then prevailing drought, it was urged that these duties did not operate in ordinary seasons, but only when conditions were abnormal, and the Commonwealth could not supply its own requirements. The honorable member for Gippsland accused those who, with myself, asked for the suspension of only the fodder duties, of attempting to sneak in a modicum of free-trade, and the honorable member for Moira spoke of the farmers as squealing for assistance which they did not deserve, because they should have made provision in good seasons for the bad times bv reason of which they were suffering. Both these gentlemen now admit that the duties operate only under abnormal conditions, though they have not quite gone back upon their original position. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo said last night that he is not prepared to lower these rates, because they afford a certain amount of protection to the farmers, and he said very pertinently that the farmers could not be expected to sup- port protection if they never received any benefit from it. The honorable member for Gippsland intimated that farming operations in the Commonwealth hardly, give a profit in good seasons, and that those engaged in agricultural occupations must be afforded the opportunity to recoup themselves in dry seasons when, because of their fortunate situation, they may be able to profit by the misfortunes of others. I am a farmer myself, and I know that the farmers of the Commonwealth do not wish it to be supposed that they rely upon making profit out of the afflictions of their fellow citizens. When the production of wheat within the Commonwealth was more than sufficient to supply all our requirements, prices went down, and the producers fared very badly. But conditions have since been improved to some extent, because the farmers in my electorate and elsewhere have formed co-operative societies, with a view to opening up fresh markets, and have succeeded in developing a very extensive export trade. Instead of .having, as in the old days, to accept any prices that might be’ offered by grain dealers, they have an assurance of a settled market. It is true that they have to compete with the products of low-paid labour in India and Russia, and other wheat-producing countries, and that they have to pay protective duties upon manyarticles which they require. The duties upon agricultural machinery have recently been increased, and the farmers are being called upon to assist in fostering industries which have not reached the stage of supplying all the requirements of the home market. Verv few farmers derived any benefit from the increased prices which ruled during the latter part of the drought of :i 903-4. A few agriculturists in the more favoured districts of Victoria mav have derived some advantage, but the farmers as a class sustained heavy losses owing to the drought. In the earlier part of the drought period many farmers sold their grain for what was considered to be a fair price, and .after the wheat had been stacked at the railway stations for two or three months were compelled to buy it back from speculators at double the price they had received, in order to save their starving stock. The only persons who made anything out of the national calamity were the speculators of Sussex-street, in Sydney, and of other big commercial centres, who took advantage of the scarcity to make a Targe profit. The Tariff, instead of help ing the farmer, upon that occasion was used bv speculators as a means of bringing about a corner in wheat, and of compelling the consumers to pay exorbitant prices. Now, I wish to show how the proposed increased duties would affect the community as a whole. From the Budget papers I find that in 1903, which covered the severest of the drought period, the imports of wheat into the Commonwealth exceeded the exports by 10,675,297 bushels, representing a value of ;£2>237>423- This enormous quantity of wheat was not introduced with a view to swamping our markets, but was urgently needed to meet the requirements of the community. The duty of is. 6d. per cental upon the wheat then imported represented a total of ,£597,000, and during the next year duty to the extent of ,£265,000 was paid upon imported wheat. Therefore, as the direct outcome of the drought conditions the community had to contribute £862,000 to the Treasury. If this amount had remained in the pockets of the farmers and others who were manfully fighting against adverse conditions, it would have materially assisted them to overcome their difficulties. In 1903 something like 64°,5X7>%2° lbs. of wheat were imported, and if duty had to be paid upon this quantity at the increased rate now proposed, the community would be called upon to contribute £^632,131. During the same year, our imports of wheat from New Zealand were valued at .£18,275. Assuming that that grain was worth 5s. per bushel, the quantity represented would be 73,100 bushels, upon which the duty of is. per cental proposed to be levied under the treaty would be .£2,192. I do not see that there is anything in the proposal now before us te recommend it to the farming community. Instead of the treaty tending to encourage trade between New Zealand and the Commonwealth, I think that it will operate in the opposite direction. If New Zealand is able to supply our needs in time of drought, why should we impose a duty of is. per bushel upon her wheat? Why should we not admit it free of duty ? It is only under abnormal conditions, such as obtained in 1903, that any considerable imports of wheat would take place in the Commonwealth. The Government might as reasonably pretend that a duty of id. per lb. on wheat would benefit the farmer who was a wool-grower, as try to persuade farmers who are wheat-growers that the treaty will confer any benefit upon them. I object to any pretence of that kind. Whilst I desire to enter into the most friendly relations with New Zealand and the rest of the Empire, I fail to see that anything substantial would be gained by us under the proposed treaty. As a matter of fact, it may be used as a means for preventing us from extending the principle of reciprocity to other parts of the Empire. The increased duties are not aimed at foreign countries so much as at the rest of the Empire. If, after the treaty were adopted, any further proposal were brought forward for preferential trade, we should be told that we had entered into an arrangement with New Zealand, and could not negotiate with other parts of the Empire without first consulting that Colony.
– Does not the honorable member think that there are special reasons why we should be in close touch with New Zealand?
– Yes; and I trust that the time will come when New Zealand will join the Federation. This agreement, however, is hedged around with difficulties which, from my stand-point, will operate in the direction of preventing a proper understanding being arrived at between the Commonwealth and that Colony.
– It is the only scheme which has been put before us.
– I am quite aware of that. I yield to none in my admiration for the late Prime Minister of New Zealand ; but I do not regard him as infallible. It appears to me that the good feeling of the Commonwealth towards New Zealand is very inadequately reflected in this schedule. I believe that as the people of the Commonwealth and of New Zealand begin to understand each other, it will be possible to arrive at a much better arrangement. I am very much disappointed with the proposals submitted, because they contemplate the raising of fiscal barriers against other parts of the Empire to which I belong, and whose interests I am desirous of considering equally with those of New Zealand. That being the case, I shall vote against a number of these items, particularly against the grain duties, and against the proposed increase of duty upon candles. The same remark is applicable to Oregon timber, the use of which is so necessary in connexion with our mining ventures in Broken Hill and Cobar. I need hardly remind honor able members that oregon is specially adapted for stoping in mines. In these places there is always an element of risk, and the use of oregon is particularly valuable in that it provides warning of any impending danger, and thus allows life to be saved. I shall vote against the inclusion of the items which I have indicated. As a matter of fact, I do not think that any harm would result if consideration of the agreement were deferred until next Parliament. I hope that as the result of this discussion, we shall, within a very short period, secure a better understanding between the Commonwealth and New Zealand.
– I very much regret that there should be such a confusion of parties at the present juncture, when, more than at any other time, perhaps, the necessity exists for a leader to stand forth with clear ideas upon this matter. I look around me, and upon all sides I behold a hopeless confusion of parties. I see gentlemen with whom I have had the honour of being associated’ fiscally, sitting cheek-by-jowl with others whom I have fiscally opposed. I have heard one honorable member after another make the most interesting remarks concerning the beauties or the defects of the Government scheme, but none apparently have the courage either to denounce or approve of it in a whole-souled fashion. I think that the blame for this state of affairs rests upon the shoulders of one man, namely, the right honorable member for East Sydney. To-day, I find myself in this position : that there is nobody to whom I can look for leadership. I am looking for light, and I am face to face with the darkness of the Cimmerian desert. I listened with very great interest to the statements made by free-trade members of the Committee, who, no doubt, do not regard this agreement with much favour. But I find them sitting alongside gentlemen who are pledged protectionists.
– That is exactly the position which the honorable and learned gentleman himself occupies.
– No. It is one of the virtues of the Vice-President of the Executive Council that he has never been a violent, advocate of any fiscal creed. Uponseveral occasions he has seen his way tobury (fiscalism in a most opportune way, and what he did years ago honorable members opposite are doing to-day. But the- party to which I have the honour to belong set an example many years ago - they were vehemently denounced for their action all over Australia - by declaring that the fiscal issue was by no means an important one, and, compared with social reform, was not worth considering. From that position we have never deviated, and tardily the other parties in the Commonwealth are following in our footsteps. I have never yet had reason to doubt that the fiscal policy to which I have always leaned has most to be said in its favour. However, I can never be accused of having placed fiscal ism first. I have always considered it a bad last. But in respect to another matter, too, I am in a singular position. The party to which I belong is the only party with which I have ever been associated, arid that is a virtue which is becoming rarer amongst politicians every day. There are honorable members i ni this Committee who have belonged to no less than three parties, to my own knowledge. 03ut. the members of the Labour Party occupy an exactly similar position to my own.. Last evening the honorable and learned member for Parkes, who is always interesting, and generally philosophical, contrived to introduce into this debate the names of two very great men - namely those of Herbert Spencer and Buckle. I may therefore be permitted, without any apology, to introduce the name of Confucius. I think it was Confucius who said - at any rate, he is not here to deny it - that there is one word ‘more than another which may serve at once as a guide and religion to men. That word is Reciprocity, a word more blessed than Mesopotamia, and more effective than any shibboleth yet invented. On general principles, therefore, I am in favour of any movement towards reciprocity. But the reciprocity proposed by the Government is only a very lame duckling at the best. As a free-trader, I find nothing in the proposals under consideration to commend them to me. In what particular do they make for freedom of trade? Certainly, upon twelve items there is to be freedom of trade between the Commonwealth and New Zealand. But in respect of the greater number of them it is obvious that that freedom will be more of a name than a reality ; and in nearly every case freedom of trade with New Zealand is purchased at the expense of further restriction of trade with all other countries, including Great Britain. As to imposing higher duties upon the goods of other countries, I should like to say that I am no apologist for other countries. At the last election, when I was asked whether I was in favour of preferential trade, I said that I should wait till a scheme had been put forward, because everything would depend upon its details. But I added that, so far as Mr. Balfour’s scheme, as opposed to Mr. Chamberlain’s scheme, was concerned, I was most . emphatically in favour of retaliation in cases where! retaliation might! bring a foreign nation to a better consideration of the position from a business stand-point. In these proposals I find no attempt made upon either a scientific or sentimental basis to achieve any such happy end. I am aware that the honorable member for Parramatta has submitted an amendment affirming the desirability of negotiating a treaty which shall cover a wider range of duties, and confine the preferences to a mutual reduction of existing duties. I really do not know what is in his mind. No doubt it is some sort of treaty more comprehensive and effective than that under consideration. But I would point out that his amendment will not carry us any further. It will not obviate the responsibility of voting, either for or against the Government proposal. If the amendment be lost, I take it that the honorable member for Parramatta intends to vote against the treaty ?
– I propose to substitute my amendment for the Prime Min:ister’s resolution.
– The question which I put has nothing to do with the Prime Minister. The honorable member is a free man1, and I desire to know whether in the event of the amendment being defeated he will vote for or against the motion ?
– I shall vote against it unless the schedule can be very much altered.
– One could conceive of the schedule being so altered that no one would know it. I assume that if the schedule remains substantially unaltered, the honorable member will vote against the treaty. That being so, we are no further forward than before. We shall either vote against the motion without offering any other reasons than thos” set forth in our speeches, or we shall vote against it by supporting the honorable member’s’ amendment. I do not like this schedule of duties, for one thing because it does not go as far as I think it ought to do. I fail to see why, from the stand-point of either a free-trader or a protectionist, there should not be complete freedom of trade between Australia and New Zealand. I have heard again and again the arguments advanced in favour of protection, and it appears to me that they could not be urged in opposition to freedom of trade between these two countries. The conditions obtaining in New Zealand are at least as good as those prevailing here. The wages paid there are as high as those ruling in the Commonwealth; industries there are carried on under the awards of Arbitration Courts, or the decisions of Wages Boards. During the last year or two the people of New Zealand have enjoyed great prosperity, and are perhaps as well off as are those of any other part of the world. They speak the language that we speak, and their habits and aspirations are as our own. The only reason, indeed. they did not enter the Union is that 1,000 miles of ocean sweep between us. That, however, is no reason why trade, which annihilates distance, should not be free between the two countries. I regret that although the people of the Commonwealth and New Zealand have spent many years in an endeavour to know each other better, this treaty is the only definite attempt to break down trade barriers.’ We are making a lame and halting effort to take each other by the hand. The schedule of this treaty heralding freedom of trade increases the amount of taxation by something like £100,000 per annum. That is one of its most objectionable features. The burdens of the people in the matter of Customs taxation are already grievous and heavy, and yet it is proposed to add to them, not to obtain more revenue, not to encourage native industry, but under cover of greater freedom of trade. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and others, have been engaged for a long time in inquiring into a proposed amendment of the Tariff in a commonsense and business-like way. They have accumulated a mass of evidence, and upon it thev have framed reports which we must believe are more worthy of consideration than the mere *if se dixit of manufacturers or importers, or other interested parties. Their reports, however, are set aside, and we have put before us simply an arrangement arrived at by the Prime Minister of Australia and the late Mr. Seddon. Mr. Seddon was a very great man, but, as the honorable and learned member for Parkes said last night, he had no business experience. The same perhaps may be said of the Prime Minister. This schedule of duties has not been framed as the result of evidence given by witnesses who were examined and cross-examined. In short, it is not a business-like proposition, and under it, as I have said, the burden of taxation borne by the people will be increased by ,£100,000 per annum, more or less. If. this additional impost were proposed in order to establish new industries in Australia, the position would be different. Times without number we have heard it said that the fiscal issue is to be set aside for a season. That season may be long or short. Everything will depend on the convenience of those who are seeking to gain office. The leader of tine Opposition has declared over and over again, however, that the fiscal issue must be set aside, and he is asking every elector in the Commonwealth to join hands with him in fighting the great fight of fiscal peace. His followers in this House are bewailing the fact that the Government have introduced a proposal involving increased ‘Customs taxation, and assert that those who vote for it will depart from some compact. As a matter of fact, those honorable members who have allied themselves with the party which proposes now to sink the fiscal issue are to blame for the introduction of this schedule of duties. The Government would not have dreamt of bringing it forward had there been a strong free-trade party ready to pounce upon them.; but when they saw the free-traders ready to bow the knee to Baal!, they did not hesitate to submit it.
– Is the honorable and learned member supporting or opposing the treaty ?
– I have given the honorable and learned member no reason to doubt mv intention. Having listened last night to his speech on the evils of protection and the benefits of free-trade, I feel impelled to inquire what he proposes to do at the next election. Does he intend to follow blindly and without question the man who puts at the forefront of his programme the cry of “ Down with the fiscal issue ‘ ‘ ? There is no answer to my inquiry.
– I intend to get in.
– The statement is unnecessary. That intention on the part of the honorable and learned member is a.Obvious as he is. He is a political Vicar of Bray, who has been, and will be, world without end. I do not know whether it is necessary to add the word “ Amen.” I delight in hearing from him a lecture on freetrade or physics or radium, or any similar subject, but since the honorable and learned member, after delivering an address in which he contrived, as I have said, to introduce the names of those illustrious men, now happily gathered to their fathers - Mr. Spencer and Mr. Buckle - purposes practically to annihilate and desecrate the sacred principles upon which they rested, it would appear that he is more fit for the public platform than for the halls of legislature. Consistency, which is a jewel, is becoming rarer .than radium in this assembly, and the honorable and learned member is doing nothing to remove that cause of complaint. When he interrupted me, however, T was about to point out that I greatly deplore the defection of honorable members opposite, because it will involve the country, more particularly the poorer sections of the community, in the payment of materially increased duties. That is always lamentable. The honorable and learned member for Parkes last night delivered an excellent address on the virtues of free-trade and the evils of a protectionist Tariff. I should like to hear him lecture on the evils of a proposal to add another id. in the £1 to the income tax. or a tax on unimproved land values. It would be interesting to compare his utterances in that connexion with his pale and ineffectual fire when he complains that an increase of Customs taxation to the extent of ,£100,000 per annum will press heavily upon the poor. Then, indeed, we should hear him to advantage. The honorable member for Kooyong, who generally contrives by a judicious silence to live up to a reputation which somehow he has achieved, and which it is not always easy for him to maintain, should also be prepared to deliver an impassioned oration on that subject. But, so far as they are concerned, the position is different when the poorer classes of this country are asked to pay increased duties on every tin of condensed milk or fish that they use.
Even soap has not escaped the iconoclastic hand of the Government. When the Labour Party propose a progressive land tax, we hear from one end of the country to the other a wild shriek that confiscation is contemplated. If the proposals of the Labour Party in regard to land taxation were put into force, the revenue from them would hardly exceed that which is to be secured under the increased duties outlined in this schedule. Yet, on the one hand, it is said that a land tax would mean confiscation and robbery, whilst, on the other, it is urged that these increased duties, pressing heavily on the poorer section of the community, would mean simply nothing. Last evening, the honorable and learned member for Parkes spoke of the advantages to be derived from free-trade within the Empire. No doubt those advantages are very considerable. Unfortunately, he proceeded to point out what would be the effect on other countries - such, for instance, as France - of any differentiation on the part of the Commonwealth and New Zealand. It is obvious that if we annoyed France or any other country, and caused her to retaliate because we differentiated between her and New Zealand, the effect would be the same if we differentiated between her and the whole of the British Empire.
– If the whole of the Empire took action, we should then be able to make a treaty.
– The honorable member’s idea of preferential trade is highly amusing. If preferential trade is based on anything, it is based on sentiment. It was on this ‘ question that Chamberlain swept the country.
– Did he sweep it?
– He did more to change the views of the people of England than any one man had done, perhaps, since the time of Cobden. The honorable and learned member had a lot to say last night about Bannerman’s victory at the last general election in Great Britain ; but he forgot to quote the figures. Here they are: Bannerman polled 2,818,000 votes; whilst Balfour polled 2,333,000. There was not” a difference of 600,000 votes between the two parties, and yet, owing to the manner in which those votes were allocated, the one leader secured the return of 396 members, whilst the other won only 129 seats. Had there been an equitable system of voting,.
Bannerman would not have swept England. Chamberlain’s campaign was based upon Imperialistic sentiment. He wished to encourage trade between the various parts of the Empire, a very proper desire, and to bind these parts more closely together by this means. Mr. Balfour, on .the other hand, advocated a Tariff in order to retaliate against those who would not give Great Britain fair treatment. The honorable and learned member for Parkes contends that if there were free-trade within the Empire we could enforce-
– I said treat.
– We could treat with other countries. So we could ; but what then would become of the Imperial idea?
– I want to go beyond that, to universal free-trade.
– If England says to Australia, or to New Zealand, “ We shall allow your butter to enter our market at lower rates than will be imposed on Danish or Russian butter, because our peoples are kith and kin,” the splendid underlying sentiment will be readily understood; but if the British manufacturers who must have a market for their goods on the one hand, and the Danish ‘ and Russian producers who would otherwise be ruined on the other, compelled their respective Governments to enter into a mutually suitable arrangement, the Imperialist idea would be shattered. I do not, however, wish to say more on that aspect of the subject just now. But there* are one or two items in the schedule which call for special mention. I shall certainly vote against the proposed increase of the duties on timber. Those who are aware how extensively oregon is used in this country know that we cannot secure under the treaty any advantage which will make up for the loss which we shall suffer under this proposal.
– And. on the other hand, New Zealand will not benefit.
– New Zealand does not produce timber which could take the place of Oregon.
– Oregon, is imported into that Colony.
– Perhaps oregon could be .crown there, but the timber would take probably twenty years to mature. It is also proposed to increase the dutv on preserved milk bv 100 per cent. That is. in my opinion, outrageous. It is only quite recently that we agreed to give a bounty for the production of preserved milk, and now it is proposed to increase the duty by ioc per cent. At this rate the industry will soon become as profitable as that of arranging for improvement leases is in New South Wales. There is one other point which I should like to bring under the notice of the Committee, because it illustrates the hardships which are involved by sudden alterations of duties. I am informed that a merchant was importing ninety pockets of helps, and, while vet they were on the water, the duty on hops was raised 100 per cent., which increased what he had- to pay. by £400. To a man in a small way of business such an occurrence means absolute ruin, because the profit to be expected on the sale of the hops would not anything like cover the increase.
– I know the case. The hops are now being sent back to England.
– The dealers in hops and similar commodities might well consider the Tariff a fixed quantity. No doubt merchants must be prepared to take risks, but they should not be subjected to vexatious alterations of duties, which, if too frequent, would render trade impossible. Men must be able to look a month or two ahead. There was no likelihood of any change in the Tariff. The Ministerial proposals were a bolt from the blue. Under the circumstances, it would be only fair to refund the money collected under them between now and the end of the year, or, at all events, to exempt from their operation goods on the water at the time of the imposition of the duties. When ordinary 1 alterations of Tariffs take place, merchants are made aware of the likelihood of proposed changes, although, of course, not of their exact nature, and, therefore can avoid heavy, losses. In the case to which T refer, a man has been practically ruined through no fault of his own. I hope that the Government will consent to modify the schedule, to make it more in harmony with the desires of the people. I am sorry that they have not seen their way to ‘obtain at least an instalment of free-trade between Australia and New Zealand. It is a grave reflection upon our civilization that we cannot have free-trade between two peoples whose conditions are practically identical. The reasons advanced for excluding the cheaplymade goods of Europe do not obtain here. T.n mv opinion, a better treaty could have been made. These proposals are not beneficial to us. I do not know whether the
New Zealand Parliament will ratify the agreement, though I was informed this afternoon upon good authority that it may nor do so. It certainly did not receive it with open arms. No doubt the influence of the late Prime Minister of that Colony will have great weight, and may induce the New Zealand Parliament to ratify the treaty ; but I do not think that it would be accepted on its merits. I have not made up my mind to vote against the whole schedule; but there are a large number of items in it against which I shall vote. Of course I have no objection to raise against the proposals for admitting New Zealand produce duty free.
– -Is the honorable and learned member in, favour of raising the rales of dutv in some instances?
– No. I think that what is proposed in that respect is, if not discreditable, at least evasive. The people of Australia do not realize that we are being asked to agree, not to the lowering of rates in favour of New Zealand, but to the raising of the duties upon, articles of daily consumption against all other parts of the world. I have no doubt that if the Government had proposed these increases directly, the Committee would not have supported them, nor would they be supported by a majority outside. The quid pro quo which we are to receive under this arrangement is quite inadequate, the disadvantages not being compensated for by the advantages. I shall say nothing now about the preferential agreement with Great Britain, because that must be dealt with upon its merits. No doubt the principle of reciprocity is admirable, and no one would take exception to it ; but in a matter of this kind details are everything. There might be a reciprocal treaty to which no one could object, while, on the other hand, there might be one which, if accepted, would be fatal to the industries of this country, and to the welfare and prosperity of our people. Therefore, I shall con,sider each item of the treaty separately, and shall vote against a number of them, especially those which I have specified.
Mr. SPENCE (Darling) [5.14]. - I have listened with interest to the addresses of many of the critics of this proposal. The Government have somewhat upset the equilibrium of the Opposition, from whom, we r,re hearing a growl, though it does not appear clear that there will be a solid, vote against the treaty. Although it has been objected to on the ground that the schedule does not include a sufficient number of items, we have been told, almost in the same breath, that its proposals are injurious to England and to Canada, and, if accepted, will interfere with the extension of preferential trade throughout the Empire. Those statements are contradictory. Then, although the honorable member for Wentworth heaped ridicule on the proposal to admit fresh fish duty free, because only £2 worth was imported last year, the honorable member for Gippsland pleaded pathetically that the Government might not be allowed to endanger the interests of the Australian fishermen. It is rather puzzling to determine how to reconcile arguments such as these. The members of the Opposition should have a caucus to decide upon their line of action. The schedule is not a very extensive one, and therefore leaves more room for the application of the principle of preferential trade to the old country. I do not see very well how we could omit or alter any of the items. The proposed treaty represents the result of a conference which took place between the late Premier of New Zealand, who was a very able statesman, and the Prime Minister, and those who are in favour of the principle of reciprocity with New Zealand should be prepared to swallow the whole of the items. There is no necessity* to raise serious objections in regard to matters of detail. We might well adopt the treaty, and, at the same time, make it clear to New Zealand that if it is not acceptable to them, we are prepared to enter into further negotiations with a view to arriving at a working agreement. The point mentioned by the honorable and learned member for West Sydneyshould receive some consideration. Protective duties are imposed with a view to safeguard the local manufacturer against the unfair competition of goods produced in countries where low wages prevail. So far as New Zealand is concerned, however, the standard of living among the working classes is, if anything, higher than that which obtains here. Therefore our manufacturers should be at Least upon an equality with “those of New Zealand with regard to working conditions. I think that we might very well push negotiations still further than they have been carried up to the present, with a view to ascertaining if it is not possible to place New Zealand upon the same footing as the States which now belong to. the Federal union. When Federation was entered upon, it was wellknown that protection would probably become the policv of the- Commonwealth. The people of New South Wales were perfectly well aware of this before they entered the Federation, and since that time their representatives have to a very large extent abandoned their free-trade principles. They advocate thiem in an abstract way upon an occasion such as this, but as a party they are content to sink the fiscal issue.
– The honorable member must not believe that.
– We are bound to accept the statements of the leaders of the party. The ideas of honorable members who hold free-trade views have undergone a considerable change since the Tariff has been used as an instrument, not merely for the purpose of protecting local manufacturers, but for securing better conditions for the workers. In connexion with the sugar industry, we have declared that the work must be carried on ‘by white labour, and that reasonable wages must be paid. In connexion with the duties upon agricultural machinery, which were recently under discussion, it is intended to make provision that the selling price of the machines shla.ll not exceed a certain figure, and that the manufacturers shall carry on their operations under reasonable conditions so far as their employes are concerned. Then, again, in connexion with the Commerce Act and the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, we have taken power to interfere in the management of business concerns to the extent of insisting that reasonable conditions shall obtain. I do not think that the freetraders can complain of the action of the Government in adhering to protectionist principles. It was quite natural that the Prime Minister and the late Premier of New Zealand’, who also was a protectionist^ when they met to frame a schedule of preferential duties, should increase the duties as against the outside world. Personally, I think that we might extend the principle of free-trade as between the Commonwealth and New Zealand a great deal further, because we have nothing to fear from her manufacturers or producers. We broke clown the barriers between the States, because we thought that it would be a good thing for the Commonwealth, and we should be going only a small step if we included New Zealand in the Federal commercial compact. No doubt New Zealand will in time enter the Federation ; but we have to deal with matters as they stand, As I have stated, the views of many honorable members have undergone very important modifications quite recently. The honorable and learned member for Parkes last night declared that he was in favour of free-trade within the Empire and protection against the world. That is the policy of the Federation. We are now proposing to enter into reciprocal relations with New Zealand, and I trust that we shall soon be in a position to extend the principle still further. The commercial war between the nations is being carried on with the utmost vigour. In the same way that individuals are struggling against each other for the mere means of subsistence, competition is going on between groups -of individuals, whether in small communities, colonies, States or nations. Only one nation is adhering to the principle of freetrade, namely, the motherland ; and possibly the readiest way of bringing about universal free-trade is to bring about a commercial union, which will permit of freetrade between the various portions of the Empire, and provide for protection against the rest of the world. I do not believe that either protection or free-trade would, in itself, insure our social salvation ; but I am willing to use the former policy as a lever to secure better conditions -for the workers. The free-traders apparently dare not vote in favour of unrestricted importations from abroad, because they recognise that, in the event of the Customs House being done away with, it would be necessary to levy direct taxation. Even the present proposal is being viewed with favour by some .members who hold free-trade principles, because they think that it will result in an increase of revenue, and thus reduce the chance of direct taxation being resorted to. I have previously expressed myself in favour of entering into preferential trade relations with the other portions of the Empire, and I think, that by way of a beginning, we might impose duties as against the foreigner upon all the articles on our free list, and to that extent give a preference to the motherland and her dependencies. I do not approve of the schedule as it stands, but for the sake of the principle underlying it, I am prepared to accept it. It is just possible that the people of New Zealand may not regard the treaty with favour; but there is no reason why we should not adopt it, and thus give some earnest of our willingness to enter into reciprocal relations. 1 have yet to learn what would satisfy some members of the Opposition. It seems to me that the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Parramatta would practically result in the shelving of the agreement. Another member of the Opposition has suggested that the question should be referred to the Tariff Commission for consideration. Why that course should be adopted is anything but obvious, seeing that the matter is one for negotiation between the two contracting countries. When the Tariff was before us during the first session of the first Parliament, I supported the honorable member for Barrier in his endeavour to secure the admission of Oregon timber, which is used extensively in the Broken Hill mines, and in those at Cobar, free of duty. Upon that occasion it was pointed out that there is no timber which is so suitable for mining purposes as is Oregon. Its chief virtue consists in the fact that whereas hard timbers such as we produce in Australia snap under a heavy strain, Oregon is gradually crushed, and thus gives timely warning of any impending danger. Honorable members are aware that neither New Zealand nor Australia grows that class of timber. Consequently, it seems to me that if the item in question were omitted from the schedule, it would not in any way impair the efficiency of the agreement. It has been urged that as the Broken Hill mining companies pay very large dividends they should contribute more to the revenue. Honorable members appear to forget that there are mines in Broken Hill which do not pay, just as there are. unremunerative mining ventures elsewhere.
– But New Zealand may import Oregon, cut it up, send it to Australia, and only pay duty at the rate of 6d. per 100 super, feet upon it.
– In reply to the honor able member, I would point out that the timber for the Broken Hill mines is sent out in sailing ships direct to Port Pirie. From there, it is taken to the Barrier, where it is cut into the required sizes bv special machinery upon the mines. T-t mv own knowledge, the New Zealand timbers could not take the place of Oregon, and to impose a further tax upon it is tantamount to levying an additional handicap upon the mining industry. The proper way in which to get at the Broken Hill shareholders who draw large dividends is by means of the income tax. I think that the Government might make a better, bargain with New Zealand in respect of that particular timber. It seems to me that if the item were entirely eliminated from the schedule, the adoption of the agreement would be in no way jeopardized.
– Oregon is used in industries other than the mining industry.
– I quite recognise that. It is a timber that we mus t use, and we cannot grow one which will replace it. It is a light timber, and, as I remarked previously, is specially suitable for mining work, because of the warning it affords of threatened danger. If I ventured to dis. cuss the other items in the schedule, it is quite possible that I might indulge in criticism similar to that which has already been offered. I can understand a certain amount of timidity ‘being entertained by the Prime Minister in allowing oats and grain from New Zealand to be admitted into the Commonwealth free, because that country is specially adapted for the growth of cereals. But, after all, one State of the Commonwealth does not fear the competition of another State, and it seems to me that as New Zealand does not possess a very large area of wheatgrowing land, there is no reason why a duty should be imposed upon grain imported from that country. Possibly the Government were afraid of what the farmer would say if they placed cereals upon the free list ; and consequently thev have merely extended to New Zealand a slight advantage over other portions of the Empire. I shall support the agreement for the sake of the principle which is involved. I do not think that the Commonwealth should be the first- to refuse to ratify it merely because it is not entirely satisfactory to honorable members. I think that we had better approve of it, and rel v upon the future to effect improvements. Personally I am of opinion that it will be five Tears before Great Britain is prepared to enter into a reciprocal arrangement with us. Canada does not seem to exhibit a desire for haste in that direction. Probably three years will elapse before the advantages of reciprocity between the various parts of the Empire will be full v appreciated. T confess that at first I was disposed to think that we were moving too fast. It might be thought that we are facing big
Empire issues, when the Commonwealth has been only, a very brief period in existence. But upon reflection I am of opinion that we ought to look forward to entering into reciprocal arrangements which shall extend far be) end the limits of New Zealand. I believe that in the near future we shall have to reconsider our fiscal relations with Fiji, Papua, and various islands in the Pacific. Had England done her duty in the past, all those islands would to-day have been under an Australian Government.
– Has the honorable member seen the statement of what Canada has already done?
– Yes. But I repeat that Canada has not exhibited a disposition to hurry herself in the matter of entering into reciprocal arrangements wilh other parts of the Empire. After all, three years is a very brief period in the life of a nation, and I think that that time will elapse before these proposals are fully understood. I understand from the Prime Minister that honorable members must either accept or reject the agreement in its entirety. It is from that stand-point that I have discussed the matter. I have studiously avoided debating its details. It is evident that this treaty represents a compromise. We mayrest assured that the late Mr. Seddon fully understood the feelings of the people of New Zealand, and felt satisfied that this proposal would meet with their approval. Approaching this matter from the standpoint adopted by the Prime Minister, I think that we ought to say “ Yes “ to New Zealand. When the people of that country learn of the way in which the treaty has been criticised during this debate, they may be prepared to agree to the schedule being amended. During the next year or two the negotiations proceeding between the Commonwealth and South Africa and Canada in regard to trade reciprocity will ripen, and when we are entering into treaties with those countries we shall be in a better position to determine whether we ought to re-enact this agreement. No doubt as the result of political changes the attitude of the New Zealand Government in regard to this proposal will undergo a considerable alteration, and we may yet be able to secure various alterations. If the schedule cannot be amended without endangering the whole agreement, I am prepared to accept it as it stands. I should not like New Zealand to be in a position to say that the Commonwealth, which, as the larger country, should be prepared, if necessary, to make any slight concessions, refused to enter into a reciprocal trade agreement with it. For these reasons I shall vote for the motion.
– The honorable member for Darling concluded his speech by a remarkable statement.
– I think we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– The honorable member for Darling took up a most extraordinary attitude when he said that, although he had not considered the items in the schedule, he was in favour of some sort of reciprocal agreement with New Zealand, and was willing to accept this treaty without any consideration of the duties covered bv it.
– Rather than endanger the principle.
– Our position as a Legislature would indeed Have sunk to the lowest depths if the House generally were prepared to accept the dictum laid down by the honorable member, and to agree to a proposed treaty without any consideration of what its effect was likely to be. However anxious we may be to secure trade reciprocity with New Zealand, or with any other part of the Empire^ we should be careful to scrutinize the terms and conditions of any proposed agreement before deciding to give.it our support. I should like the Prime Minister to inform the Committee whether the preference which New Zealand has given to Great Britain is to be abrogated in so far as it is affected by the items appearing in the schedule of this agreement.
– Yes. This is reciprocity, a preference for a preference; the other, like that proposed to be given by us to Great Britain, is made without return.
– That means then that the preference now given by New Zealand to such imports from Great Britain as candles and hops will cease.
– I would not say that. The preference can be re-adjusted so as not to conflict with this treaty.
– The new duties set forth in the paper which has been circulated amongst honorable members will be applied by New Zealand to the products of Great Britain, as well as those of other countries.
– Yes, but it will be competent for New Zealand to re-adjust those duties by increasing them against foreign countries.
– Under the New Zealand preference to Britain the duty on candles entering New Zealand from ether countries will be1½d. per lb., whilst under this treaty they will be dutiable at 2d. per lb.
– If the Prime Minister is correct, the preference granted by New Zealand to Great Britain will disappear. The duty which New Zealand imposes on candles from Great Britain will be 2d. per lb., the same as those coming from other parts of the world.
– Except that she will probably increase the duty as against the foreigner, so as to retain her preference to Great Britain.
– Then the list of duties circulated does not represent the duties which may be imposed by New Zealand against the products of the rest of the world.
– It rests with New Zealand, if she chooses to increase duties against the products of other countries. If she did it would not involve any breach of this agreement.
– I wish to obtain a clear statement on that point, because if the preferential trade legislation passed by New Zealand in regard to imports fromGreat Britain were to stand further complications would arise. If it is not to stand, then the figures which have been circulated may substantially represent what is likely to take place. I have been waiting for the Prime Minister to indicate the course he intends to pursue in regard to this treaty. He has had clearly placed before him the, views of a number of honorable members. An amendment, which may or may not be carried, has been moved, and he must recognise that, whilst honorable members generally are in favour of the principle of reciprocity, there are many objections to the schedule as it. stands. I am at one with him in the belief that it would be well for us to have trade reciprocity with the sister Colony of New Zealand, and I would go so far as to say that it is desirable that we should have reciprocity with other parts of the British Empire. I recognise at the same time the difficulty which he has had to face in seeking to provide for effective reciprocity between New Zealand and Australia. The two countries are to a large extent in the same latitude, and their products are very similar. That being so, our position is different from that of a country which can give reciprocity in respect of articles which it cannot produce in return for reciprocity on articles which the other party to the agreement cannot produce. In this respect an advantage is gained by Australia. Portion of our continent lies much further north than is the latitude of the north island of New Zealand. We have tropical products which cannot be grown in New Zealand, and on which that Colony could grant a preference without interfering with her own people. Generally speaking, however, the productions of the two countries are alike. The only instances in the agreement in which duties have been removed in order to secure reciprocity are the admission of New Zealand timber into the Commonwealth, and of Australian sugar into New Zealand free of dutv.
– What about wine?
– I do not think that that alteration will have much effect, because it is so small. The remaining items are in the nature of preferential rather than of reciprocal arrangements. Of course, it is open for the Governments of two countries like New Zealand and Australia to say, “ Our people are kith and kin, and are not opposed to each other in the ordinary sense of the word. Let us come to an arrangement whereby there mav be a mutual reduction of duties, with a view to greater freedom of trade between us.” That would, be a preferential arrangement of which I should approve. In that case there would be a recognition of kinship and of similarity of conditions of living, and an acknowledgment of the common flag and blood. But the Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Australia, in meeting together as protectionists met, not with a view to seek opportunities to give real preferences, but to protect their own markets as absolutely as before, one against the other, and were thus not actuated by the feelings which should actuate kinsmen. As the acting leader of the Opposition has pointed out, the number of items in the schedule is exceedingly small, and he has moved an amendment to remedy that defect. In many cases no real preference is given, what is proposed being the continuance of the existing, rates of duty so far as New Zealand is concerned, and the levying of higher rates against other countries, with the exceptions I have mentioned in> regard to timber and sugar. While professing to recognise New Zealanders as fellow subjects, and members of the same Empire, we are imposing the same penalties on the people of Great Britain and Canada as we are imposing on those of foreign countries. Surely this is not a: step towards the Empire preference in which the Prime Minister believes. It is rather a step in the other direction, and likely to increase the restrictions upon trade between Australia, the mother country, and other dependencies. Surely Great Britain should receive the same treatment that is given to New Zealand in regard to the articles enumerated in the schedule; and, although Canada has not replied to the overtures of the Prime Minister, her offer should be considered. I regret that we are absolutely failing to recognise our kinship with the mother country, and that, in respect to some articles, we have given a preference to New Zealanders over Britishers. A large number of items in the schedule provide for higher rates of duty upon articles in respect to which- no additional protection is needed, or for increases which must hamper industry. For instance, no additional protection is needed in connexion with the production of bacon and ham., butter and cheese, or candles, the latter so largely used by miners. The production of oatmeal, wheatmeal, and rolled oats is also amply protected, as is the production of hops and malt; yet the duties on the articles enumerated are being increased. So, too, there is an increased duty on preserved milk, although the success of the local manufacture shows that further protection is not required. This increase will press heavily upon some of the poorest members of the community, especially upon persons living in the back-blocks, where fresh milk is not always obtainable. The proposed duty on Oregon will be a heavy burden upon those who use that timber, and. as honorable members know, oregon is used extensively in many industries. Its place cannot be taken by New Zealand timber. That is shown by the fact that, although New Zealand timber is now admitted duty free, there are large imports of oregon.
– And we cannot use the local hardwoods in place of oregon.
– But we have soft woods.
– My point is that the proposed increase of the duty upon oregon will not benefit the - people of New Zealand, because Oregon is imported largely at the present time under a duty of 6d., whereas New Zealand timber comes in free, and that it will be a heavy burden upon those who have to use oregon, and who will be compelled to continue its importation under much higher rates of duty. From the protectionist point of view, it is economically unsound to impose heavyduties on materials used by manufacturing industries; but- the letters which have been written to the newspapers show how the proposed increase in the duty upon timber will injure one industry and another. While it is proposed to increase the duty on Oregon, the duty on doors is to remain as it stands.
– There is plenty of good timber for door-making in Australia. Most of the doors made in Melbourne are made of American red pine, and we should insist upon the use of Australian timber.
– The American timber is brought here because of its special qualities, which make it more suitable than any other for certain uses, and its importation will be continued notwithstanding the large increase in the duty. But the New Zealand timber industry will not be benefited by the increase, although our own people will be injured. The total value of the goods mentioned in the schedule imported from Great Britain and other countries last year, excluding New Zealand, is £1,281,000, and the total value of the goods to which I have just been referring is over £1,000,000. So that all but about £280,000 worth of the imports come under the headings I have given. Although the Prime Minister and the late Prime Minister of New Zealand considered the question of the New Hebrides, and raised objection to their annexation by France, and although we ought to adopt means to establish closer relations between those islands and the Commonwealth, it is now proposed to take action which will have the effect of more effectively than ever separating the islands from us. It is proposed to increase the duty upon maize by 33 J per cent.
– I have requested the New Zealand Government to ask their Parliamentary Committee to favorably consider a special remission in favour of the New Hebrides.
– I am very glad to hear that. The fact that the matter was overlooked at the time that the treaty was drawn up shows the necessity of looking closely into the items of the schedule. Whilst, on the one hand, we are trying to draw the islands into closer relationship with us, we are, on the other hand, taking steps to drive them further away. France does not treat the islands in that way. She gives them special concessions in regard to the goods produced by them, whereas we are proposing to raise the barriers which tend to keep their products out of our markets, and to assist in increasing French influence in the islands. The way in which the preferences have been arranged affords evidence of haste in the preparation of the schedule. I do not wonder at this, because I do not consider that nearly sufficient time was devoted to the treaty. Only two items of the schedule have received what I may call reciprocal treatment, namely, the timber of New Zealand and the sugar of Australia, both of which are to be admitted free into the respective importing countries. All the rest of the. items are the subject of preferences, the value of which, of course, depends upon the amount of the preference on each side. If New Zealand gives us a preference of 3d. upon a particular article, and the Commonwealth grants is. preference upon the same item, the preference given by the Commonwealth will be much greater than that extended by New Zealand. There should be some equality of preference, whereas I find that there are the greatest inequalities. For instance, in respect to bacon and hams, the Commonwealth gives a preference of id. per lb., whereas New Zealand grants to the Commonwealth an advantage of 2d. There is a difference of 100 per cent. In regard to some of the other items, it is difficult to make a comparison, because in New Zealand percentages have been substituted for the fixed duties adopted here, and, therefore, the preference in the former country will vary according to the prices of the article. In regard to fresh fish, we give a preference of id. per lb. to New Zealand, whereas New Zealand grants us nothing. I do not suppose that will matter very much. In regard to oysters, also, New
Zealand gives us nothing, whereas we concede to her a 2s. preference. Upon raisins we give New Zealand a preference of 3d. per lb., whereas she grants to us an advantage of only id. per lb. Upon currants we give a preference of 2d., and receive only id. In regard to barley, we concede 9d., and receive only 6d. Upon maize we concede is., and receive only 9d. Upon flour - and this is a very important item - we concede to New Zealand 2s. 6d. per cental, and receive in return only is. An extraordinary reversal of this order is to be found in the case of wheat, because, whereas we concede only is. per cental, we receive is. 3d. I cannot understand why this disparity should occur in regard to allied articles like wheat and flour. With regard to oatmeal, wheaten meal, and rolled oats, New Zealand receives a preference of only id. per lb. ; whilst the Commonwealth is granted 1 3/8 d Upon linseed, New Zealand obtains a preference of 2$. ; and the Commonwealth, is. Upon linseed meal - and this is an extraordinary difference - New Zealand receives a preference of 4s. ; whereas we get none. In regard to linseed cake, we concede is., and receive no preference. Upon malt, New Zealand obtains a preference of is. ; and the Commonwealth receives 2s. In regard to olive oil. New Zealand receives a preference of is. 4d. ; whereas the Commonwealth has to be content with 6d. Upon posts and rails. New Zealand receives preferences of is. and is. 6d. ; whereas the Commonwealth obtains no advantage; and this in spite of the fact that, if interchanged at all, posts and rails are more likely to be exported from Australia to New Zealand than to be imported by us. Then, upon Oregon timber, New Zealand receives a preference of is. 6d. ; whereas we obtain a preference of only is. Upon other timber of less than 12 x 6 inches, New Zealand obtains a preference of is. 6d., and the Commonwealth is. These variations show to my mind that sufficient consideration has not been given to the preferences granted on the one hand and received on the other. I can find no reason for these great variations. I should like to point out. in passing, that frequently, when proposals of this kind are introduced, honorable members are not furnished with sufficient information. It is true that information of a valuable character is now before us, but it should have been furnished when the proposals were laid on the table. I allude to this matter more particularly with a view to bringing about an improvement in connexion with the proposals for extending preference to Great Britain.
– The information desired with regard to those proposals has already been furnished to honorable members.
– I am very pleased to hear it. Honorable members are at a great disadvantage when the information which has guided members of the Government and others in arriving at a decision is not readily forthcoming. I should be very glad indeed to support any proposal for a reciprocal arrangement with New Zealand that did not contain defects -such as I have indicated. I* hope that the Prime Minister, even if the amendment be not carried, will pause at a certain stage. I think that if we began to handle the schedule, and knock it about, we should only impose difficulties in the way of arriving at an understanding with New Zealand. The Government of that Colony have referred the treaty to a Committee, which is to present its report by the 20th inst., and I think it would be far better if we knew something as to the conclusions arrived at by that body before we suggested any alterations. If the two parties set to work to make suggestions concurrently, we shall never reach any finality. The proper course to adopt is for one side to put forward suggestions, to submit them to the other side for consideration, and to then reconsider the whole matter, and, if necessary, to make further suggestions. For this reason, I quite agree with the amendment of the deputy leader of the Opposition. In any case, I think that, in the interests of any amended proposal, we should await the result of the inquiry now going on in New Zealand before proceeding any further with the consideration of the present scheme. As I have already explained, I oppose some of the items in the schedule on the ground that the proposed increases of duty would give further protection where it is not needed; whilst I object to others because they would handicap some of the industries of the Commonwealth.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m.
.- Be-, fore I proceed, I think that we should have a quorum. [Quorum formed.”] I have always regarded the protectionists of Australia as an utterly selfish class - as a body of men who are desirous of benefiting themselves at the expense of the rest of the community. But, like Lot in. the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, I find that amongst their number there is one righteous person - I allude to the honorable member for Moira. I was specially struck by the speech which he delivered last evening. We all know that he is a protectionist, and we recollect that only a few evenings ago he supported the imposition of increased duties upon the tools of trade of the farming class, of which he is a member. I think that any honorable member who can adopt such a self-sacrificing attitude is worthy of the highest commendation. Last night, he further informed us that he intends to vote for this reciprocal Tariff agreement with New Zealand, which, so far as I can judge, is aimed directly at the farming community. My difficulty, therefore, is to reconcile his present attitude with that which he took up some four years ago. We all remember that when the Tariff was submitted to this House by the right honorable member for Adelaide, the honorable member supported the imposition of the very duties which he now desires to reduce. Moreover, when a cry was raised throughout the droughtstricken regions of Australia, and particularly of New South Wales and Queensland, in favour of a remission of the fodder duties, in order that starving stock might be fed, he vigorously opposed that remission. Consequently, I cannot understand his present position, unless he imagines that Australia has entered upon a cycle of good seasons, and that those duties will cease to be operative until another dry spell is experienced. Last week he supported a proposal to increase taxation upon the tools of trade of the farmer from 10 to 12J per cent., and yet we now find him advocating a reduction of certain duties. To me his attitude is incomprehensible. As the representative of a State which is peculiarly interested in agriculture, I think it is only fair that I should lay before the Committee certain reasons which induced Tasmania to enter the Federation. I mav tell honorable members that I strongly opposed her entrance into the Union. But the leaders of the Federal movement explained to the electors of Tasmania that, in accordance with the celebrated Maitland manifesto-
– Order ! Does the honorable member intend to connect his remarks with the question which is before the Chair?
– Most undoubtedly.
– The Maitland speech was delivered after Federation had been accomplished.
– That is so. But it is well known that throughout Tasmania it was openly declared by the leaders of the Federal movement that- the people of Australia were to have the benefit of moderate protective duties as against the outside world, and free-trade amongst themselves. As Tasmania is chiefly dependent upon her primary industries, she was naturally deeply interested in securing the free admission of her products to the mainland. She cast a large vote in favour of joining the Federation, in the belief that by so doing she would be afforded free access to the Australian market and protection against her great competitor, New Zealand. Now, however, we find the Prime Minister asking honorable members to sanction an agreement with New Zealand which deals practically with only primary products, commencing with bacon- and hams, and concluding with sugar and wine. I am emphatically a revenue tariffist - that is, a free-trader as far as possible. I recognise that with our limited population it would be absolutely impossible to carry on the Government of the country without resort to -Customs taxation. I am also aware that, incidentally, protection must be afforded to certain industries which have been established in our midst. I have not the slightest desire to see Customs duties imposed, except for revenue purposes. Under the Government proposals, I would point out that the duty upon certain articles produced by our farmers will lae remitted, despite the fact that quite recently the imposts upon agricultural implements were increased. To my mind, such a course of action is eminently unfair. It is unjust that our agriculturists, who are practically at the mercy of the elements should, without securing anything in the nature of compensation, be taxed for the purpose of bolstering up the manufactories which have sprung up in our midst. The people of the agricultural districts of Tasmania recognise in New Zealand their greatest competitor. That country possesses a large area of very fine land, it is blessed with a regular rain fall, and it produces relatively more than does either Tasmania or Victoria. In these circumstances, the proposal of the Prime Minister appears to me to be most unfair. If, with this contemplated remission of duties in favour of New Zealand, a reduction of the duties on agricultural implements had been proposed, I should have been strongly inclined to favour this treaty. But I do not think it is fair that only one class of the community should be called upon to make a sacrifice. The primary producers alone are called upon to play a sacrificial part. The first item in the schedule that attracted my attention was that relating to hay and chaff. I understand that those products are in future to be allowed to come in duty free from New Zealand, whilst a preference is to be given to New Zealand oats. A reduction of the duty on potatoes is also to be made. I need hardly point out that the agriculturists of Australia do not rely solely upon the production of potatoes, but that they are very largely interested in the retention of the existing duties on hay, chaff, and oats. What does the Prime Minister propose to give the farmers of Tasmania as compensation for the remission or reduction of those duties?
– They will be benefited by the arrangement in regard to hops.
– I am thankful to say that the people of Tasmania are extremely temperate. Hops which are largely used for brewing purposes are grown there to only a limited extent; but the Treasurer has the cool assurance to tell us that the proposal to grant a preference to New Zealand in the matter of hops will be beneficial to Tasmania. In what way will the hop-growers of Tasmania be benefited by this alteration. The interjection made by the Treasurer is an indication of the lamentable ignorance of the Ministry in regard to these matters. I should advise the right honorable gentleman to carefully compare with the present Tariff the schedule of duties attached to this treaty. Had he said that Tasmania might benefit to a slight extent by the arrangement made in regard to the admission of pears and apples into New Zealand, he would have been on sounder ground. In this respect some little advantage mav be derived by Tasmania. But those who have been trading m those commodities with New Zealand have found that it provides a most uncertain and unsatisfactory market. I fail to see how the farmers of Tasmania will be compensated f jr the alteration in the duties on hay, oats, and chaff by the free admission of pears and apples into New Zealand. What she will gain in one way she will lose in another.
– The position of the hopgrower will be improved.
– It will not. I should like the honorable member to endeavour to prove his assertion I have always understood that those who enjoy a monopoly of a trade generally reap a greater benefit than do those who are exposed to competition. If that be not so, why did the ‘Government recently call upon the House to increase the duties on certain implements? The honorable member does not know what he is talking about.. Viewing this question from the stand-point of a free-trader, I may say at once that I should be prepared to agree to a treaty with New Zealand, provided that it would not deter us from entering into reciprocal trade arrangements with other countries. But if this treaty is to prevent us from making such agreements with South Africa or Canada, it would be unwise for us to bind ourselves down to it for the next three years. The proposed bargain is distinctly unfair. Why should the Ministry ask the farmers of Australia to allow themselves to be the sacrificial lamb, whilst the lives of other lambs are spared ? In other words, why are the primary producers alone selected to bear the brunt of this experiment? I should like the Prime Minister to say why the farmers alone should be sacrificed. Will the honorable and learned gentleman tell us what we have done?
– Nothing that I know of.
– And the Government wish us in future to bear this burden. As an indication of the spirit animating the Ministry in putting forward this proposal, I would point to the fact that it relates only to the primary producers, and the miners of Australia. They alone are to sacrifice themselves in order that the Government may pursue an idle dream. The Ministry have piled up the Tariff until it has almost reached the breaking point. Thev have compelled the people of Australia to agree to the manufacturers reaping enormous profits, whilst- at the same time thev have injured the agriculists. Within the last few days they have done injury to the farmers bv increasing the duties on the very implements which have enabled our producers to raise Australia to its present prosperity. Thev now* go a step further, and say, “ We wish to try the effect of a reciprocity agreement with New Zealand, and we select the primary producers to ola.v the part of the sacrificial lamb.” I feel very strongly upon this subject. The people of Tasmania were induced by certain promises to enter the Federation.
– It was a. lucky day for them when they did.
– It was a rather unlucky day. They and they alone of the people of Australia have suffered since the inception of Federation.
– By growing wealthier
– It is easy to make such an assertion ; it is somewhat difficult to substantiate it. Prior to Federation, Tasmania was in a highly prosperous condition. Its revenue was more than sufficient for its needs, but it has since been living, so to speak, from hand to mouth. It has had to cast about in every direction to secure the revenue necessary to carry on the government of the country. It has become stagnated ; and its roads are falling into disrepair for want of money. It has been suffering to the tune of something like ,£200,000 per annum for the benefit more particularly of the protectionists of Victoria, and now the Minister of Trade and Customs, with that cool assurance for which he is notorious, declares that its people were never more prosperous.
– I never knew Tasmania to be more prosperous.
– Such a statement is absolutely incorrect.
– The honorable member was never so wealthy as he is at the present time.
– I have already contradicted that statement. It is true that Tasmania’s mines ha.ve developed, and that during the last two years the prices of some Of her staple commodities have increased. The price of wool and minerals has certainly gone up. and to that and that alone any prosperity that Tasmania enjoys is “to be attributed. Her intercourse with Australia has been disastrous in the extreme. Any little prosperity that she may. enjoy certainly does not come from the bad legislation. - I was going to say the “ infamous “ legislation, but perhaps that is not a parliamentary expression - foisted upon her by the protectionist Ministry of the Commonwealth. Had we derived so much benefit from the Union as the Minister of Trade and Customs would have us believe, is it likely that a feeling of such intense dissatisfaction with the Federation would have arisen in the State, and that we would have a desire, if possible, to secede from the Union?
– Such a statement usually comes from Western Australia; but now the Treasurer laughs at it.
– Western Australia, at all events, is a little bit of a big State.
– Western Australia embraces a large area of country, but if its mines were to collapse, it would probably be a very small State financially. I have said that Tasmania has already suffered considerably by reason of Federation, and if the present proposals of the Government are agreed to, will suffer still more, because of the increased competition which her producers will have to face. Abler speakers than I am have dealt with the items of the schedule in detail, and I do not propose to quote again the figures which they have used. I fail to see, however, that any benefit can accrue to New Zealand by the reduction of the duty on candles in favour of that Colony, and the increasing of it against the rest of the world. What will surely happen is that the Australian manufacturers of candles will increase their prices against the local consumers. I think that the proposals in regard to both candles and oatmeal should be eliminated. I was very much struck by the noble declaration of the honorable member for Moira that the farmers of Australia do not fear the competition of the farmers of New Zealand. Why did he not adopt the same attitude a few years ago, when the remission of the fodder duties was sought in order to help the pastoralists who were suffering from the drought? Is it because he is a follower of the Government that he cannot stand bv. his original position? Under the circumstances, he would have done better to have refrained from speaking, if he does not intend to refrain, from voting, because his speech last night was not in consonance with the position which he took up four years ago. I am quite prepared to vote for a treaty with New Zealand, but it must be a treaty based upon fair principles, and if sacrifices are called for, they should be such as will be borne, not by one particular class, but by the whole community. If a loss is to be suffered, the manufacturers of Australia should be involved as much as the people at large. In the interests of fair play, I must oppose any treaty which will not affect all sections of the community alike. The object of the Government is to burden particular classes, and that will always have my strongest opposition. I am astonished, and, I may say, disgusted, at the action of the Government in asking the Committee to agree to these proposals. The Prime Minister has told us that we must accept or reject them as a whole, but I am prepared to vote against them both as a whole and in detail. If, next session, the Ministry in power bring down fair and square proposals, under which all classes will suffer alike, if losses are to be entailed-
– Benefit alike.
– No benefits are conferred by the present treaty. I have not known this Government to bring down proposals likely to benefit the people as a whole, though I have seen them bring forward proposals calculated to benefit the manufacturers of the large cities at the expense of that section of the community which deserves the greatest consideration, but is invariably left out in the cold. No class deserves more, and receives less, consideration than does the agricultural class. The farmers and those whom they employ, are compelled to toil in the open, wet or fine, and the labours of a year may be lost by a flood, a drought, a frost, or any similar occurrence. The aim of this Administration, however, has been to bolster up the rotten little industries in the towns, to the disadvantage of the people as a whole, and such action will always receive my strongest condemnation and firmest resistance.
.- I desire to sav a few words on this subject, but it is not my intention, seeing that a great deal of time has already been spent on its consideration, to prolong a debate which might well have been terminated some time since. The arguments used against the Government proposals are the same old arguments that have been used here ever since the first Parliament met, and are closely related to those which have been used in all British assemblies for many years past by those holding the opinions which have been enunciated by the members of the Opposition.
The only thing that is new about them is their application. During the whole of this Parliament, the Government have been twitted with their failure to make any tangible proposition in regard to preferential trade within the Empire ; but those who have been loudest in their denunciation of the Ministerial inaction are now most prolific in reasons why no steps should be taken at this juncture. Reforms are always inopportune for those who are opposed to them. It is useless to expect from honorable members opposite anything but these statements, which I have referred to as arguments simply out of respect, because they are entitled to veneration on account of their antiquity, though they have been worn so threadbare that their authors, if summoned from the depths, would fail to recognise them.
– Why not say heights?
– We should not be justified in expecting that peace which we all hope eventually to attain if we thought that those- who have disturbed us so dreadfully here below would find a place in the realms above. We have been told that the proposals of the Government go too far, that this item should be eliminated, another dropped, and another not proceeded with. I do not think that there is an item the omission of which has not been suggested by at least one honorable member. No doubt a discussion such as we have had was inevitable, seeing the far-reaching nature of the proposals ; but, even if they were inequitable, and raised obstacles ‘ which it would be difficult to overcome, honorable members should be disposed to amend them, rather than to put them on one side. According to some critics, the proposals are too meagre, and should have been of an Imperial character. They want to cover the whole Empire, and are not prepared to consider any. smaller scheme of preference. The honorable and learned member for Parkes went so far as to say that he believes in universal free-trade. That, however, would not give a preference to the people of Australia. I shall not discuss the proposals in detail, because I think that that has been done sufficiently. They must be looked upon as an instalment of what most of us desire to see accomplished, and from that point of view are to be regarded as somewhat meagre and incomplete.
– They are a foretaste of better things to come.
– I think so; and that, if carried, they will prove such a pronounced success that we shall have very little difficulty in extending the area of preference. Some honorable members have given notice of amendment. If every honorable member” seeks to amend the schedule merely because he thinks that some of those whose interests he specially represents may Le prejudicially affected, we shall have nothing but the heading of the proposal left. As in the the case of the White Australia policy, some sections of the community will have to bear ait added burden in order to confer benefit upon the whole Continent. It is not to be expected that we can bring about closer commercial relations between the various parts of the Empire without paying something for the advantages that will accrue to us. Every section of the community should be prepared to make some sacrifices in order to secure a great national benefit. The Prime Minister has indicated that after the treaty has been adopted, it will be possible to make certain recommendations with regard to it, and I hope that honorable members will approach the question in. a broad and national spirit, and free their minds of any narrow-minded or parochial considerations. I trust that they will remember that we, as members of the national Parliament, are here to legislate, not for the benefit of any special section of the community, but for the good of the Commonwealth as a whole, and that it is our duty also to study the interests of the Empire. The term “ preference “ has been used by some honorable members opposite under what seems to me to be a misapprehension as to the meaning of the term.
– We mean real preference.
– In the first place, I cannot understand how a .free-trader could consistently give any preference to even his nearest neighbour.
– He could do so as a compromise, with a view to extending the scope of free-trade.
– If the honorable and learned member did that, ‘ he would infringe the verv principle which he claims to be most vital.
– No, he would be endeavouring to extend it.
– I cannot follow the honorable and learned member along the sophistical path in which he is endeavouring to lead me.
– The honorable member followed that path when he supported Federation. The same principle was involved in that case, and we are now endeavouring to extend it.
– The honorable and learned member is talking about an entirely different matter. I cannot understand how any consistent free-trader could” propose to give preference to any one. He must oppose duties of all kinds, even for the purposes of retaliation. If he did not do so he would at once lose all right to be called a free-trader, and would become a limited protectionist.
– The honorable member should rejoice at our fall from grace.
– I am delighted at it, but I should like to see honorable members who believe in free-trade principles go a little further, and show their readiness to help our own people before extending assistance to others. They should do what thev can to encourage those who are endeavouring to build the Commonwealth into a nation.
– The honorable member is endeavouring to make it a charitable institution.
– The honorable and learned member is apparently prepared to forego his great free-trade principles in order to obtain some benefits.
– Exactly. That is merely “throwing a sprat to catch a mackerel.”
– I should like to see the honorable and learned member forego his principles to the extent necessary to enable him to assist our local manufacturers. Honorable members opposite are opposed to any preference that would entail an increase of duties.
– That is a contradiction of terms - to grant a preference by increasing duties.
– That is taking a preference instead of granting it.
– I do not care how honorable members put it. They are apparently prepared to give preference by lowering the present duties, but they are not prepared to raise duties against the foreigner, and leave them as they stand so far as our own kith and kin are concerned.
– Under this very proposal, it is intended to raise the duties against Great Britain in order to give a preference to New Zealand.
– That is in perfect accord with the policy of the Commonwealth, because we now levy duties upon the products of Great Britain in order to advance the interests of our own people in Australia. »
– The honorable member is struggling with a paradox.
– I recognise that it would be impossible to shake in any degree the settled convictions of the honorable and learned member. In. view of the fact that the treaty has been drawn up by two of the most patriotic men that. Australasia has ever known, I think that we should be perfectly safe in approving of it. The late Premier of New Zealand could not, bv any means, be called a “ little Englander.” He was a man of great ability, and had a perfectly Imperialistic outlook; whilst in the Prime Minister we have an Imperialist who has, over and over again, given proof of his strong attachment to the Empire, and his desire to see it progress. These two statesmen devoted a considerable time to the careful study of an intricate question, and considered it, not only from the point of view of Australia, but also from the stand-point of our cousins in New Zealand.
– Our brothers in New Zealand.
– Yes; that term might more appropriately be employed. No State has contributed more to the population of New Zealand than has Victoria. In fact, Victorians Have been the pioneers of most of the other States in the Union. I think that the proposal should be adopted. I admit that sacrifices will be involved, but what possible advancement can we expect to make unless we are prepared to forego some advantages? You cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs.
– I can see the egg being broken, but I cannot see the omelette.
– If the honorable and learned member will only leave matters in the hands of the Government, the omelette will have a very fine flavour, and provide a satisfying meal. I recognise that it is the duty of honorable members .of the Opposition to oppose and criticise, and that they have discharged that function excellently on this occasion. I ask them, however, *b realize that honorable members sitting on this side of the Chamber are under an obligation to carry out the pledges given to their constituents. Although this., may be a belated proposal, it is never too late to mend, and the very fact that the schedule is so small should commend it to those honorable members who are dubious as to the benefits likely to accrue from the treaty. If the whole thing is wrong, no great harm can result. No doubt a considerable number of the electors in my constituency will regard the treaty as likely to prove prejudicial to their interests, but I have sufficient faith in their patriotism to believe that, upon fully considering the matter, they will realize that the advantages to be gained will outweigh any disadvantages under which they may be placed. I hope that they will look upon this proposal as the beginning of a great movement, which will result in uniting the scattered portions of the Empire in a closer commercial relationship. If the treaty is successful, and I believe it will be, it will afford us the greatest incentive to extend the principle of preference, and, perhaps, after we have brought all parts of the Empire under one preferential agreement, the members of the Opposition may be justified in looking forward to the ultimate establishment of universal free-trade.
.- The hon.orable member for Laanecoorie has in the most generous spirit admitted that the Opposition have a duty to perform. He has also reminded us that honorable members who are associated with other parties in this House have a duty to discharge in carrying out the pledges which they gave to their constituents. His opening remark was that he had listened to the same old arguments. Let me tell him that Christianity itself is 1900 years old. It is the same old argument.
– I never heard it called an argument before.
– China, which is 4,000 years old, is still a protectionist country. I suppose that is the same old argument. What is wrong with the same old argu-ments ? Mv point is that arguments which were sound six years ago are equally sound tc-day. The Prime Minister has thrown upon the table proposals embodying what he chooses to describe as a reciprocal Tariff agreement between the Commonwealth and New Zealand - a treaty which was drafted by the late Mr. Seddon and himself. During the course of this debate, however, the honorable and learned gentleman admitted that when in conference with Mr. Seddon he had endeavoured to secure the inclusion of many other items in the schedule, but had failed in his purpose. Consequently we are to understand that this agreement is one which has been framed by the late Mr. Seddon, alone. That gentleman endeavoured to secure on behalf of New Zealand, not a reciprocal Tariff agreement, but an arrangement under which there would be a distinct gain to New Zealand in its trade relations with the Commonwealth.
– He wanted to get just what would Suit New Zealand.
– That is the spirit which, I believe, underlies this agreement. The Prime Minister did not get the agreement which he desired, but the one that ‘ Mr. Seddon required. To my mind, it represents a cute business arrangement which was arrived at by Mr. Seddon on behalf of New Zealand. What a contrast to the attitude which that gentleman took up at a dinner in London, where he has since come to be regarded as one of the noblest sons of the Empire. In speaking upon that occasion, he used, in. a similar connexion, the words “ in the spirit and desire to give, and not in the desire to take.” That was the spirit of the preferential agreement which was entered into between New Zealand and the mother country. But the agreement under consideration partakes purely of a bargaining character. It springs not from a desire to give, but from a desire to take. During the course of this discussion, I have frequently heard the term “ closer union “ used. May I remind honorable members that only last evening the honorable and learned member for Parkes pointed out the dangers presented by this agreement in that it will not assist, but will rather tend to retard, a closer union between the various parts of the Empire. Whilst I do not contend that we can secure absolute freedom of trade between Australia and New Zealand, I do hold that we can obtain a freer trade than exists at present. I think that is an important point which we should do well to remember. The agreement under consideration extends concessions to New Zealand in certain cases, but in all cases it increases the duties operative against the goods of Great Britain and of British dependencies. I honestly believe that imme- diately it is ratified jealousy and animosity will be engendered in Canada and in other portions of the British dominions.
– Great Britain has no duties which she can reduce in order to secure the terms which we are offering to New Zealand.
– To the infinite credit of Great Britain, be it said, she has no duties to reduce. She treats all her children equally well. The interjection of the honorable member for North Sydney reminds me of the utterance of one of the Empire’)! statesmen, whose ability and perception I cannot refrain from acknowledging - I refer to Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
– Outside of England he is one of the biggest men in the Empire.
– I think that he is one of the ablest statesmen outside of Great Britain. When Sir Wilfrid Laurier desired to express his idea of a preference to Great Britain he used these words, which I hope will burn into the minds of honorable members -
We looked carefully round the world, and we found England to be the only country which receives our products freely. We desire to show to England our gratitude.
The last sentence exhibits no huckstering spirit - no desire such as is entertained by a Dutch auctioneer to place the price of attachment at a certain figure. What a contrast to the attitude taken up by the Prime Minister, who, after submitting these resolutions, informed the Committee that he would not insist upon them, and that honorable members were at liberty to vote either for or against the general principle of ratifying a treaty with New Zealand. If such an abstract question were submitted, I venture to say that there would be no division called for in this House, lt is because of the conditions which are attached to the agreement that it is being so keenly debated. Only to-day the best that a powerful Melbourne newspaper - I refer to the Age - could say for it was that “it is mildly useful.” I do not know whether the writer of that article was Mr. Benjamin Hoare, who published a work upon preferential trade, and who, in order that there should be no mistake about it, added “ in its esoteric sense.” The meaning of the term “mildly useful “ is so obscure that no man can divine it. I am not here to do anything “mildly useful” either for New Zealand or the Commonwealth. I wish to do something which will be effective.
– Are we going to initiate a practice of referring to writers in the press by their name?
– I merely remarked that I did not know whether the article which appeared in this morning’s Age was written by the famous journalist to whom I refer. To my mind, this agreement is the most elevating theme which has yet claimed the attention of honorable members. In all other parts of the world, such proposals are usually explained and defended by the Minister of Trade and Customs. Upon the present occasion we have not heard the Minister’ of Trade and Customs expound his views upon this question. The task has been undertaken by the Prime Minister. I believe in reciprocal trade with New Zealand, and, as a free-trader, I not only believe in it, but I practice it. For many years in New South Wales I had the privilege of sitting with a political party who opened the doors of that State, not only to the goods of New Zealand, but to those of all the States of Australia, without asking for anything by way of return. Again I say to the honorable member for Laanecoorie that the same old representatives who then offered the hand of fellowship to New Zealand now desire to extend to her the hand of friendship, but riot in a huckstering spirit. This agreement, which grants a preference to New Zealand against Other parts of the British Dominions and the rest of the world, must be read in conjunction with the motion relating to preferences to Great Britain, which is next to be dealt with. When we errant a preference to the products of Great Britain this agreement will practically go for nought. That being so. it is so much make-believe and humbug. I wish to see a full and complete system of preferential trade adopted. Honorable members of the Opposition are certainly in favour of the principle. It is because of his love of the Empire, and not from any sordid motive, that the honorable member for Parramatta has moved an amendment. He desires that the principle of preferential trade with the rest of the Empire shall be carried out in its entirety. Last night the honorable and learned member for Parkes touched on a question to which I have previously referred. I was a free-trader long before the Federation was established, but I have not failed to notice that we have many Ishmaelites in this House. Every honorable member seems to be fighting for his own hand, and I, too, feel that I am a veritable Ishmaelite. The hands of all honorable members are against me, and mine are against them. I find that for some time back I have been simply howling in the wilderness, so far as the question of freetrade is concerned, and I am led in this connexion to quote the words of Macaulay, “ If these things do not teach us wisdom we are past all teaching.” If the actions of honorable members in this House teach me nothing, then indeed I am past all teaching. The longer they remain here the greater is the inclination of the representatives of the various States to fight for their own hands - for their own States. We have further evidence in the treaty now before us of the way in which some honorable members are prepared to consider only the interests of the State which they represent. One cannot fail also to observe that as long as they are not likely to prejudicially affect the State in which thev are published, certain newspapers are prepared to agree to proposals in opposition to the principles they profess. As a member of the Parliament of New South Wales, I said that those States who entered the Union would have to abandon the policy of free-trade for the benefits of Federation. Like the honorable and learned member for Parkes, I have always been a strong Imperialist, and I share with him the view that we should have absolute freetrade within the British Empire,, and protection against the outside world.
– The honorable member is slipping.
– The honorable member has talked very glibly about “ the dear old mother country.” He appeared just now to be so earnest in his desire that we should assist the mother land that I really believed for the moment that he meant what he said. To what extent will his love for the mother land allow him to go? ls he prepared to go so far as to impose 20 per cent, duties against the products of Great Britain, or is he prepared, ort the other hand, to say that imports from “ the dear old mother land,” which he loves so well, should be allowed to come in free? The Opposition are so sincere in the attitude which they take up rn regard to the mother land that thev are prepared to agree to the free admission of her products. We know that one of the greatest personalities in Great
Britain at the present time is the Right Honorable Joseph Chamberlain, and in the course of his preferential campaign he suggested that Australia and other portions of the British Dominions should practically cease the development of their manufacturing interests. Baldly stated, that was the effect of the proposal he then made. Addressing the people of Great Britain he said, in effect, “ If you agree to the free admission of the foodstuffs exported by your Colonies, and are prepared to tax those sent from other countries, the Colonies, in return, will stop the development of their manufacturing interests by removing their protective duties against British manufactures.”
– Mr. Balfour said the same thing.
– Exactly. As compared with those proposals, the preference which honorable members opposite now suggest should be given to the products of Great Britain amounts to nothing. I wish to emphasize the point that I am so strong a believer in the principle of preferential trade that, like the honorable and learned member for Parkes, I am prepared to support absolute free-trade within the British Empire, and protection against the outside world. I can quite understand, from an economic point of view, the demand made for revenue duties- Such duties, if accompanied with Excise duties, would be permissible against the products of Great Britain; but if what are really protective duties are imposed, under the guise of revenue duties, on the products of the mother country, there can be no serious intention of granting a preference to them. We are told that we must not microscopically examine the schedule to this treaty. No honorable member has a greater capacity for phrasing than has the Prime Minister. I often consider it remarkable that he has not a greater majority behind him than he has at the present time, for he has a wonderful capacity for appealing to the sentiments of the people. The powerful speeches which he delivered during the Federal campaign were largely responsible for the acceptance of the Constitution Bill. We have evidence in this treaty of his clever phrasing. The proposals for preferential trade with New Zealand are highsounding, but when thev are dissected, their weakness is at once apparent. The honorable member for Laanecoorie wisely refrained from carefully examining the sche- dule. You, Mr. Chairman, will admit that it embraces many items which will press heavily upon the people in the far north. The Prime Minister has himself told us that if it be carried it will increase the burden of Customs taxation to the extent of ,£100,000 per annum, but he pleads that it will make good the losses of revenue that will be occasioned by the reduction of the spirit duties. The honorable and learned gentleman appears to be quite gleeful at the prospect of this treaty enabling the Treasurer to gather in another £100,000 per annum from the pockets of the people. I propose now to refer briefly to one or two of the items. In the first place, I would point out that the increased duty on candles will fall heavily not upon those living in well-appointed, wellregulated cities, but upon the miners and others living in remote parts of the Commonwealth, where such illuminants as electric light and gas are unknown. It is only fair, however, that I should point out that whilst the Prime Minister is prepared to impose this higher dutv on candles coming from Great Britain, Germany, or any country other than New Zealand, he is reach to allow aerated waters from New Zealand to come in free. We shall be able to secure our ginger beer free of dutv from New Zealand, but we shall have to pay a duty of 2d. per lb. on candles coming from other countries. The arguments advanced Jong years ago are repeated in support of this proposal. I dare say that the Prime Minister, who, in his student days, doubtless got nearer to free-trade than he has ever been since, will remember reading, in one of Bastiat’s works, of the imaginary petition in favour of a protectionist duty which was addressed to the French Parliament. The prayer of that petition was that a protectionist duty should be applied to the sun, and that sunshine should be excluded from the houses of the people. It pointed out that this would benefit the agriculturist since it would lead to an increased demand for wax; that the iron industry would also be benefited, because more candlesticks would be required, and that the coal industry would, in turn, be advantaged, inasmuch as there would be a greater demand for coal on the part of the ironfounders. That argument is to-day repeated in favour of the proposal now before us. The protectionists say. in effect, that, if we agree to this increased duty on candles coming from other coun tries than New Zealand, we shall assist our agriculturists - that if we tax the sunshine out of the houses, we shall benefit the ironworkers of Australia. It does seem that, whilst the late Mr. Seddon got the better of the Prime Minister in respect of some of the items, the deft hand of the Minister of Trade arid Customs can be traced in connexion with the item of candles. I can well imagine that he had in mind the Sydney Soap and Candle Company, and the works of Messrs. Kitchen and Company when he was discussing this item. He is astute enough to have an eye on the Sydney Soap and Candle Company on the eve of a general election. I would also direct the attention of the Committee to the increased duty on preserved milk.
– Which class will that touch?
– It will fall most seriously on those far removed from centres of civilisation. People do not rush to trie condensed milk tin when fresh milk is available. The users of condensed milk are, for the most part, those who, like the miners of Western Australia, are struggling with the forces of nature in the remote parts of the Commonwealth. Thev are the men to be taxed. I also invite attention to the proposals in regard to olive oil. A week or two ago we were invited to agree to the payment of a handsome bounty on the production of olive oil, although that industry, as was pointed out by the Opposition, is already flourishing ‘ in Australia. Having granted a bounty to the olive-oil industry, the Government are now proposing to give a preference to New Zealand in regard to the importation of olive oil. Another item in the schedule is perfumed soap, on which the original rate of duty was 3d. per lb. It is proposed to continue that duty in regard to New Zealand, and to make the rate against the outside world 6d. per lb. That, no doubt, is done *n the interest of the “ Johnnies “ of Australia, who, if they choose to use Australian or New Zealand perfumed soap, will be able to effect a saving pf 3d. per lb.
– It is a mere excuse for raising the duty against the outside world.
– Exactly. The desire is not to protect industries which are Australian in character.
– Is not soap-making an Australian industry?
– I do not know that the making of scented soap is an Australian industry. In New South Wales, we are content to manufacture wholesome, plain soap. The free-traders do not require perfumery. Then it is proposed to raise the duty on oregon from 6d. to is. 6d. per 100 superficial feet; an increase of from i o to 30 per cent. Oregon, however, possesses qualities which fit it for v.ses for which other timbers are not suitable. It is especially useful for joists and beams, and for mining supports. Indeed, it is the best wood obtainable for the last-named purpose, and even our hardwoods cannot compete with it in that respect. New Zealand white pine was admitted duty free under the original Tariff, and last year we imported 26,000,000 feet of it. It is used chiefly for butter-boxes, being cheap, light, and odourless. For this purpose, no other timber does as well.
– What about Queensland pine ?
– That has been tested, and found not to be so good.
– Nothing else is used in connexion with the export of butter from Queensland.
– That may be because the local timber is cheaper than the New Zealand timber. In the export of butter, the smallest increase in expense takes from the profits of the exporters. Why should we impose a duty on timber of which we must use large quantities, thereby increasing its cost, when no benefit will accrue to New Zealand by the arrangement? The Prime Minister told us last night that he has received telegrams from New Zealand saying that this agreement has been submitted by the local Parliament to a Committee, and I suggested at the time that we should take similar action, by referring it to the Tariff Commission. He has admitted that if any alterations are made in the schedule, the treaty will be null and void ; but evidently the New Zealand Parliament does not propose to accept it, as it stands. If the honorable and learned gentleman wishes to know whether we are in favour of a reciprocal arrangement between the two countries, he can obtain an affirmative vote without even going to a division ; but he knows that there are a large number of members who feel that the schedule must be amended. I am in favour of reciprocity. I wish to see our national life broadened, and desire that there shall be closer union with our kith and kin beyond the seas. But we should not accept a make-believe arrangement when it is possible to get a good one. I am in favour of free-trade throughout the Empire, and would be willing to make a step in that direction by voting for free-trade with New Zealand. I am opposed to the granting of preference against Great Britain and Canada, because the result must be to create jealousy, irritation, and animosity. If we must have revenue from Customs duties, let us impose our taxation upon the foreigner. Indeed, I should be prepared to vote for a Tariff against foreign countries if thereby free-trade within the Em pi re could be secured. The honorable member for Laanecoorie tried to ridicule the position of the Opposition, by speaking of our well-worn arguments. I refer him to the famous Australian economist, Mr. Cole, of the Book Arcade, in Bourkestreet. The honorable member tries to crush the simple-minded free-traders, because we occasionally have a word to say in favour of the policy which we support. We, however, right, not in the interests of New South Wales alone, but to extend to our brethren at the other end of the world the advantages which they bestow upon us. Great Britain keeps open her markets for the products of Australia, and protectionists are always making every effort to push the sale of their wares there. They do not tei 1 the people of England that they are foolish in adopting free-trade; but thev will not give their own race the same treatment as they get from them. We have been told that the Prime Minister has given us something mildly useful; but we are not here to fool the people of New Zealand and Australia. 1 hope to see New Zealand enter the Federation. That she did not do so in the first instance is. no doubt, due to the fact that many of her people are Scotch, or of Scotch descent, and wished to see how the new Constitution would work. Having seen how New South Wales - the largest State in the Union - has been treated, they, no doubt, are not desirous at the present time of putting their Colony in the same position. I hope, however, that things will alter. It cannot be said that the representatives of the State from which I come ask for concessions at the expense of the people of Australia. We do not ask for assistance to special industries. In my opinion, the people of New Zealand will not be so foolish as to accept the proposals of the Government, and I hope that, when reciprocity is arranged, it will not be at the expense of the mother country, or on the basis of an agreement arrived at in a bargaining and huckstering spirit.
– In the course of this long and interesting debate, a good many remarks have been made which would tempt me to add largely to what I have already said, had I not determined to confine mv observations to two or three points to which I find it necessary to refer in order to complete what I wish to say on the subject. The Prime Minister, in the course of his second speech, told the Committee that, on meeting Mr. Seddon, he tried to arrange for a broad and generous scheme, which, instead of covering only a few duties, would apply an effective! percentage reduction to the Tariffs of the two countries.
– I said that we went through the whole Tariff.
– The honorable and learned gentleman gave us to understand that he had approached the Prime Minister of New Zealand in a broad and generous spirit, and that they had gone through the whole Tariff together, showing that he was ready to deal with any part of it in regard to which an agreement could be come to with Mr. Seddon. This schedule has been put before us as a compromise between the two parties, ‘ but the concessions were on one side only, because, although the honorable and learned gentleman approached -the Prime Minister of New Zealand in a broad and generous spirit, Mr. Seddon^ instead of reciprocating, picked and chose particular commodities to suit the interests of his own Colony.
– He was at least as gene.ous as I was.
– That is for the Committee to determine. To what extent did the Prime Minister of New Zealand respond to the broad and generous approaches of the honorable and learned gentleman? Those who know anything about the trade of that Colony must see that he picked and chose the commodities which suited its interests. Far from exhibiting that broad spirit which would “ give everything, and take nothing,” as he is reported to have said he would do in dealing with the principle of preference, lie has taken everything and given nothing.
– Then why did not the New Zealand Parliament seize the opportunity with avidity?
– I propose now to refer to what has been done by the New Zealand Parliament. What I have described was done by the late Mr. Seddon. He has been succeeded by a man who apparently does not entertain the same so-called broad, generous principles. His successor has expressed considerable doubt as to whether the Parliament of New Zealand will accept the treaty, and it has been authoritatively stated, since this debate began; that the New Zealand Parliament has broken the compact by referring the proposed treaty to a Select Committee. That means that whilst the late Premier of New Zealand and the Prime Minister agreed that the two Parliaments should deal with the question simultaneously, in order that neither should know what the feelings of the other were, when debating it themselves, the New Zealand Parliament has been wise in its generation, and has quietly referred the matter to a Select Committee.
– What kind of wisdom has the New Zealand Parliament displayed ?
– The wisdom- of the serpent. In the meantime, the New Zealand Parliament will have an opportunity of reading the expressions of opinion that Have been forthcoming from honorable members here, and will, no doubt, act accordingly. If the news which we have received is true, there is no other course open to this Parliament, if. it is going to keep in step with New Zealand, but to refer the proposed treaty to some outside body for consideration. We happen to have a suitable body in existence in the shape of a Tariff Commission, which, I will undertake to Sar, is second to none in the history of Australia in point of ability and thoroughness.
– And for half-and-half reports.
– The honorable member showed no more respect for the unanimous report of the Commission than he did for the so-called half-and-half reports. When the unanimous report of the Commission was placed before this House, the honorable member was as keen and cutting as any one in his criticism.
– - The honorable and learned member is speaking without knowledge - I did not open my mouth.
– I wish the honorable member would not do so now. His observations are not relevant to the matter with which I am dealing. He started out last night to show that a number of New South Wales manufacturers had been whining for protection, and he found proof of two in a community of one and a half millions
– The honorable and learned member said there were none.
– I do not wish to break the continuity of my speech. We have in the Tariff Commission a body which is specially qualified to take evidence upon a question of this kind. It has power to put witnesses under oath, and the proceedings of the Commission have taught us that it is necessary to take that course with some manufacturers, who, whilst fully prepare3 to make ex parte statements at any great length, grumbled when they were subjected to keen crossexamination, and complained that they were being bullied. The Commission could supply us with a report as to the way “in which the proposed treaty would economically affect the people of Australia. At present, we have only the ex parte statement of the Government with regard to a proposal which has been sprung upon us late in the day, when we have little opportunity to look into the data which form its basis. No better plan could be proposed than that the Tariff Commission should report upon the whole matter. If that course had been proposed before we knew of the action of the New Zealand Parliament, I should have said that it would be a statesmanlike course to adopt. But now that New Zealand has broken her compact, by not deciding it at once im her Parliament, we shall only be keeping step with her if we do as she has done. Much has been said with regard to Mr. Chamberlain and his late campaign in England. I should like to remind honorable members of the declared object which Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Balfour had in view in the course of the great campaign. If honorable members will look at the files of the Times they will see that Mr. Balfour stated that he favoured preference to the Colonies, because it would have the effect - and I am using almost his identical words - of discouraging the growth and development of vested interests in Colonial industries, and of thus leading to a greater consumption of British goods. The same thing was said by Mr. Chamberlain ; and it was so fully recognised that these two gentlemen had made a strategical blunder so far as the preferential scheme was concerned, that they recalled their statements, and, ostrich,- like, imagined that they had’ overcome the difficulty. The object of Mr. Chamberlain was frequently stated in a broad, statesmanlike way. He said that he wanted to bring about better relations between Great Britain and her Colonies. Mr. Balfour, however, stated that one of the advantages, if not the object of the scheme, was to stop the development of Colonial industries and lead to a greater consumption of British goods. A good deal of by-play has been carried on during this discussion with reference to my candid statement that I shall be prepared at any time to assist in bringing about a great scheme of Imperial preference. I say it again. ‘ I am an out-and-out free-trader, and I should like to see the whole world open its ports. When Federation was proposed, I saw what every one saw, the danger of Australia adopting a protective Tariff, and so throwing upon New South Wales burdens of taxation which the people had experienced previously for only a vear or two, and had got rid of, as they thought, once and for all. But my desire for Federation was so strong, and I was so hopeful for free-trade, that I was quite prepared to take the chance of protection against the outside world, in order to rid Australia of her six conflicting States Tariffs. Exactly on the same principle, I should be prepared to-morrow to see the principle of free-trade extended throughout the Empire. I should act on the principle of throwing a sprat to catch a mackerel. We have brought about free-trade within the States, and we still hope some day to reduce the Tariff to a revenue basis. Honorable members are mistaken if they imagine that in New South Wales the feeling in favour of free-trade is dead. It is rampant at the present time, and if it were not for considerations of a temporary character in connexion with the finances of the States, the free-traders of New South Wales would be up in arms, and the protectionists of Victoria would have to fight hard for the existing Tariff. Imperial preference would really be an extension’ of free-trade. At present we impose duties on the goods of the mother country, but Imperial preference would give us free ports in Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand/ and South Africa, and open our ports to the products of other parts of the Empire. If honorable members think that this would not be an advance in the direction of free-trade, as compared with present conditions, their power of discernment is different from mine. It is not to be supposed that, having expressed my willingness to take part in such a movement, I also agree to stay my hand. I think I see clearly that if the British Empire had protection against the outside world, the menace to other nations would be so great that we could dictate our own terms. We should be absolutely independent of the outside world, because we know that the Empire contains all that is necessary to meet its own requirements.
– If that is free-trade, I am done.
– Then the honorable and learned member is done. I thought that he was done long ago. But he is done now by his own admission.
– Not by my own admission, but by the honorable and learned member’s emission.
– After bringing about free-trade within the Empire, I should not relax my humble efforts to bring about an even wider application of the great principle of commercial freedom. I am content, however, to proceed step by step. We have brought about free-trade within Australia, and I shall be glad to see the same principle extended to the whole Empire.
– With, protection against the outside world?
– Then the honorable and learned member would give protection to free-trade England?
– Certainly, for the time being ; because if the Empire were joined together in- one solid commercial union, it would be so strong and so self-contained that it would be able to dictate terms to every other country. We should be in a stronger position and stand upon a higher step on our - way towards the great consummation of universal free-trade. Since I spoke pre viously, the honorable member for Parramatta has moved an amendment which is quite consonant with the views I expressed on the former occasion. If we are to give preference to New Zealand, we should do so without slapping other countries in the face. If our object is simply to favour New Zealand in return for advantages conferred by her upon us, there should be no necessity to administer a fiscal blow to other countries. The amendment would merely involve a reduction of the existing duties in favour of New Zealand in return for__her reduction of duties in our favour. So long as the scheme of preference involves the raising of duties, its opponents are afforded occasion for saying that its primary purpose is not to help New Zealand, but to extend further protcetion to some of our industries. The honorable member for Laanecoorie appeared to have taken great pains to reduce this question to a figure of speech in regard to the relationship of the different bodiespolitic making up the Empire; and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, assisted him by suggesting that, in supporting this agreement, he might contend that we were merely helping our- brother. Such figures of speech are dangerous ; and if we are going to institute the analogy of relationship, I would remind him that, if the extension of preference to New Zealand is the granting of a favour to our brother, he will be granting it in this proposal bv administering a slap in the face to his mother.
– I think that we might have a. quorum. [Quorum formed.]
.- I recognise that the proposal which we are now discussing represents practically the beginning of a movement which is intended to be a very far-reaching one. It may, therefore, very well form the basis of a discussion upon the wisdom or otherwise of the adoption by Australia of a system of preferential trade with the rest of the Empire. I was very much interested in the arguments which were employed by the honorable and learned member for Parkes. Last night he told us that he had come over from Sydney for the purpose of delivering an address upon preferential trade. I maytell him that, to my own knowledge, that same address has been delivered no less than fourteen or fifteen times, and in practically the same language. Whilst I credit the honorable and learned member with a desire to be consistent upon this question, I think that everybody must have recognised that there was a vital defect in his logic. He went back in history in order to throw at honorable members chunks of logic culled from Herbert Spencer, whose statements he is always quoting in his own language, as if he were giving expression to original ideas. Last night he built up an argument which was based upon the statement that Buckle, whoever he was - I suppose the honorable member referred to the historian - had stated years ago that the first half of the last century was occupied in reversing the experimental legislation which had been enacted during the preceding century. His evident intention was to imply that at the close of the 20th century, this Parliament would be occupied in correcting the legislation which we are now enacting. With all his knowledge of history, he fails to recognise that the changing kaleidoscope of industrial and commercial life necessarily demands from each succeeding generation a revision of the acts which were passed for the purpose of governing the people years previously. His remarks in this connexion, therefore, merely indicate that he does not appreciate the principle underlying economic evolution. The honorable and learned member at all times poses as an individual who understands all questions, and who cannot possibly be regarded as other than a very eminent authority upon matters of economic moment. He actually had the audacity to refer to the Prime Minister as one who was acting hypocritically in attempting to establish a system of preferential trade between the Commonwealth and one of the adjacent Colonies of the British Empire. He also charged Sir Edmund Barton with having ‘ been equally hypocritical in this connexion. But he said, in effect, <: I trust that I can still be regarded as the honest politician, as the consistent man who has ever stood for principle even when his own party has forsaken him.” This gentleman, who has been, one of the giltedged members of the Cobden school, has the temerity to tell us that he is consistent, although he advocated Federation in the hope of securing one step in the direction of free-trade, and by so doing was thrusting upon other States a policy which he was practically sworn to oppose. I understand that he aspires to be the leader of a gi eat party in Australia. I do not know wha’t sort of party it will be. So far, the party with which he has been associated consists of only one member. He does not regard the members of any other party as being, worthy of any consideration. it is true that last night he did extol the honorable member for Lang as a very diligent searcher after information, and that he al se credited the honorable member for North Sydney with having thrown a flood of light upon the discussion of this question. But he never gave a single word of credit to the honorable member for Parramatta for his contributions to this and to other debates. I hold that the deputy leader of the Opposition can discuss matters of this kind just as tersely and logically as can the honorable and learned member for Parkes. But, according to the dictum of the latter, there is only one person in the world who is qualified to express an opinion upon these proposals. When that honorable gentleman referred to the Prime Minister as being a person who was unfit to champion a cause of this character upon the ground that he had no knowledge of the labyrinth of commercial ramifications he offered a direct insult to him, as he did to others whom he declared were destitute of commercial experience. His statements in this connexion constituted a piece of arrogance of which no other honorable member would have been guilty. T have watched the attitude of the Prime Minister ever since the Federation was established, and I can honestly ov that there has been no more consistent and determined advocate of preferential trade than he has been. Yet the honorable and learned member for Parkes - this gilt-edged edition of the Cobden Club, who is always delivering lectures in this House, which have been delivered time and again before organizations such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the members of which he is endeavouring to attract to his side so as to give him a standing in politics-
– And he has also lectured before the British Empire League.
– Yes ; and that league, so far as New South Wales is concerned, is largely composed of the same element as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. When he is discussing a question, of - this kind the honorable and learned member forgets that in speaking as he did of Mr. Chamberlain, who is one of England’s ablest statesmen, he merely indicated that ha was prepared to stand upon the corpse of any opponent, so long as he could raise himself a little in the estimation of those whom he is addressing. The honorable member argued that the people of England, by securing the repeal of the corn laws, did something essential to the advancement of the Empire. I agree that the repeal of those laws at the time in question was advantageous to England. As a matter of fact, however, the leaders in the agitation for their abolition were not actuated by a desire to achieve what actually followed. They were largely influenced by the desire to procure cheap food for the masses, believing that they would thus be able to obtain labour at a low rate of pay. As the result of this cheap labour, however, the manufacturers were able to lay down the foundations of England’s industrial progress, and to enable her to take her place among the nations as a great commercial, as well as maritime power. The process of evolution is going on dav by clay, and as the result of her free-trade policy England now finds that she is faced with keen competition of foreign manufacturers, who challenge her commercial and manufacturing supremacy. What was essential to the development of her industries in the early part of the last century is in no sense applicable to present-day conditions. The honorable and learned member for Parkes warned the Committee that, if we adopted this treaty, and persevered in ‘the policy of granting preferences to the products of other parts of the British Empire, we might give rise to international difficulties. Whilst it may be true that our action in this regard may cause some irritation on the part of other nations, the fact remains that we have to choose the lesser of two evils. We must either be prepared to see the manufacturers of Great Britain superseded in their own markets by those of other countries or run the risk of causing some irritation to other nations by granting a preference to British products. The Prime Minister, in arranging this treaty, has done what any statesman would have done, but because it does not go as far as the honorable and learned member for Parkes thinks it ought to do, we are urged to reject it. It is said that the last general election in Great Britain sounded the death-knell of Mr. Chamberlain’s preferential trade proposals. As a matter of fact, the election turned not wholly upon the question of preferential trade, but largely upon the Education Bill.
The Government of the day had been in office for many years, and, like all Administrations, had eventually to come to an end. The people were anxious for a change, and the overthrow of the Balfour Government is certainly not to be attributed entirely to their antagonism to Mr. Chamberlain’s policy. I venture to predict that within the next decade England will adopt that policy as unanimously as it is said to have rejected it at the last election. I do not intend to deal fully with the question under consideration, and since I am suffering from a cold it would be idle for me to attempt to do justice to it. But I have no desire to appear as one who is ready to trim on any question, and is not prepared to adopt in its entirety the policy of preferential trade. The views which I hold on the question of preferential trade are the result of a very careful study which I have made of the proposal from every possible stand-point, I should have liked to deal more trenchantly with some of the arguments which have been raised, but as the hour is late I shall content myself with the statement that I intend to support the motion as a step in the direction of the adoption of a policv that is absolutely essential to the welfare of the Empire.
– I ask leave to alter my amendment, since I understand that if it were put as first proposed bv me it would shut out another amendment which an honorable member desires to move. With the permission of the Committee, instead of moving the omission of all the words after the word “That,” with a view to the insertion of other words, I move -
That after the word “That,” line1, the following words be inserted : - “ While affirming the desirability of a commercial treaty with New Zealand this House requests the Prime Minister to endeavour to negotiate a treaty covering a wider range of duties and confining the preference to a mutual reduction of existing duties.”
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
– I regret very much that the honorable and learned member for Parkes should have done Mr. Chamberlain a verv great injustice. I heard that gentleman speak in England, and desire to read an extract from the report of a speech delivered by him at Tynemouth, in October, 1903, in order to show that there is no justification for the statement made by the honorable and learned member that his desire is that the Colonies should stay the development of their industries. At that meeting Mr. Chamberlain said -
I have just seen a manifesto issued by the National Liberal Federation, and signed by Mr. Augustine Birrell, whose f acetiousness in other walks of life has given us all so much amusement. But in this political manifesto he says : hat my proposal is that the Colonies are to enter into a self-denying ordinance never at any time and in any circumstance to extend the number of their manufactures, or to conquer new fields of commerce in competition with Great Britain. Now, facetiousness is all very well; but it goes too far when it gives effect to such a gross misrepresentation as that. Qf course, the object us perfectly clear. It is to induce the Colonies to believe that I am blind to their natural conditions, to their own necessities, and that i am prepared to stop their progress, close it down absolutely and arbitrarily, in order to secure certain advantages for this country. I have never said anything of the bind, but it is printed as though it were a paraphrase of what I have said. I have said nothingof the kind, and nothing of the kind would be possible if 1 had said it. No, sir, the colonists, I think, know me. They know that under no circumstances do I want to interfere with their commercial freedom any more than I should like them to interfere with our commercial freedom. We have given them full power to decide for themselves as to what their fiscal policy should be. When we come together in negotiation we shall see how far we can arrange our fiscal policies to suit mutual interests. Neither has the right to say to the other, “You shall do this or you shall do that; or von shall be blamed if you do not do it.” And in the second place, they know that I would be the last man to propose to stereotype their progress.
This shows that a trreat injustice has been done to Mr. Chamberlain. I have read many of his speeches on the subject of preferential trade, and know that his desire has merely been that, consistent with the conservation of their own industries, the Colonies should do all that they can to assist the mother country.
– I should like the Prime Minister to say before we proceed to a division whether he adheres to the attitude he took up at the outset that the original proposal must be either accepted or rejected. I wish to know whether or not there is any possibility of amending the schedule in one or two respects, or, at all events, of making suggestions which would enable a modification of it to be arrived at.
– My proposal is that the treaty should be approved as it stands. I hold that it cannot be altered, but after that if any items, in the judgment of the Committee, can be improved upon, either by emendations or additions, they should be made the basis of further negotiation for additions to the present treaty.
– The treaty consists really of the items.
– I am referring to fresh items.
– As a matter of fact, the whole of these proposals have been referred by the Parliament of New Zealand ‘to a Standing Committee, which is to report on the 20th instant. That report will then have to be considered, and, if even one alteration be made in the treaty it must be referred back to the Governments concerned for further consideration. In these circumstances, therefore, I would ask whether there is the slightest possibility of our being able to deal with the treaty during the present session ?
– That is another question with which we shall deal presently.
– I have never heard or read of a treaty having been negotiated and altered on submission to Parliament. An alteration of any of the items in the schedule will necessarily mean the recasting of the treaty by both countries.
– I said so.
– At that moment I should say the duties, which are the basis of this treaty, ought to cease to be collected.
– We shall reach that point presently.
– That appears to me to be a correct statement of the position.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 21
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That after the words “ attached hereto,” the following proviso be inserted : - “ Provided that on imports the product of the United Kingdom there shall be collected no additional duty to that required to be collected by the Customs Tariff Act of 1902.”
The object of my amendment is to carry into effect the professions of amity and good-will to the people of the mother country, and of our intention1 to admit her products at an advantage compared with those of other countries, which at the last general election were uttered on every platform in Australia. As honorable members know, the Colony of New Zealand has arranged a system of preferences whereby the products of Great Britain are, to a certain extent, benefited; and, unless my amendment is passed, the small advantage they reap there will be wiped out by the disadvantage they will have to bear in Australia under this new treaty. Under the preference which it is here sought to accord to New Zealand, while , £61,732 worth of trade from that Colony to Australia will be beneficially affected, more than £130,000 worth from the United Kingdom will be prejudiced. The object of my amendment is to secure that, in benefiting the people of
New Zealand, we shall not prove recreant to our duty and protestations in regard to the mother country. Great Britain is the heart, head, and strong right arm of the Empire, the various portions of which are, and must for years to come be largely, if not wholly, dependent upon her for their safety. Therefore her weakness would be our danger. Consequently in my amendment I am contending for a principle that means more than a mere side-wind of protection, more than the welfare of a few small factories : it means the integrity of the Empire, the safety of the 4,000,000 people committed to our charge, and their continued enjoyment of this great Imperial heritage, which depends so largely upon the vitality of the motherland. Her life blood flows along the arteries of her trade. Throw impediments in the way of her commerce, and you not only injure her people, but strike a blow at the Imperial security which we enjoy. Interfere with the free intercourse of British products throughout the Empire, and you ringbark the great Imperial tree under whose shade we are sheltering from the heat of the world’s enmity. We have all recently spoken, and shall soon speak again, on the platform, of our duty and our gratitude to the mother country ; but if there is a spark of recognition in this national Parliament of our obligations to the people from which we have sprung, and with whom we must stand or fall, we must see that no step is taken which will further penalize the trade of Great Britain. If my amendment fails, let us write up in letters of brass, where all may read, the falsity of the preferential trade professions made by the Prime Minister and others, at the last general election, professions which, no doubt, will soon be repeated. I have moved the amendment in order to give to all who have any true regard for the mother country an opportunity to prove it.
– They will have the chance to do so when the next proposal of the Government is brought forward.
– Why should we wait for the next proposal, when we have the chance now?
– Why block the next proposal ?
– How can we block it when it is not before us? The honorable and learned gentleman has beaten the preferential trade drum on everyplatform in the Commonwealth, and I am now giving him a chance to prove whether he wishes that the mother country’s trade with the Commonwealth shallflourish, or whether his platform protestations are so much cant and hypocrisy.
– My proposals already tabled will show that.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I would ask that the paragraphs introductory to the schedule should be put in the first instance, so that we may affirm the principle of the treaty. apart from the consideration of the schedule.
Paragraphs agreed to.
– I now move -
That progress be reported.
The course which is being pursued in New Zealand is perfectly consistent with the adoption of this treaty, and in no sense indicates a departure from it, or even, as I understand, any special action on the part of the Legislature. The Committee is one to which all questions of this kind are automatically referred, and the treaty has of necessity been remitted to it. The Committee has to report on the 20th inst., upon which date we shall have an opportunity of ascertaining by cable what items, if any, have been challenged. If there be any challenges it will be of advantage to the Committee to be made aware of them from New” Zealand. It appears to me that if we postpone the consideration of the schedule, we shall, in the light of our knowledge of the proposals recommended by the New Zealand Parliamentary Committee possibly be able to limit our debate upon the same items. It is possible that the New Zealand Parliament may recommend some course similar to that which I have already suggested, namely, that we should adopt the whole treaty without any alteration by addition or omission. Afterwards their Committee may, if it so desires, suggest alterations by way of addition or omission, which can be submitted for our approval by New Zealand. By this means we could secure the adoption of the treaty as a whole by both Parliaments. We should convey the wishes of this Parliament to the New Zealand Parliament. We could also deal with any suggestions of theirs hereafter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee: (Consideration of Senate’s amendments.)
Clause 6. (Unfair competition.)
Senate’s amendment. - That the following new paragraph be added : - ” (d) If the defendant, with respect to any goods or services which are the subject of the competition, gives, offers, or promises to any person any rebate, refund, discount, or reward upon condition that that person deals, or in consideration of that person having dealt, with the defendant to the exclusion of other persons dealing in similar goods or services.”
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I should like to know whether this paragraph is directed at the rebates allowed by the shipping ring?
– I cannot say whether it was inserted for that purpose, but I think that it would enable us to put a stop to the practice.
– What does the Attorney-General think about the matter ?
– I could not say definitely, without being made aware of the facts.
– I am referring to rebates given by certain companies on condition that shippers do not forward any goods by other lines of steamers.
– I should think it very likely that the provision would apply to such cases.
– I have no objection to a provision that would abolish the present system of rebates. In fact, I have already signed a report condemning the practice. 1 am very doubtful whether the proposed provision would effect the object in view, but I am willing to accept it for what it is worth.
– I hope that this provision will apply to discriminating rebates, against which I think that we should steadily set our faces and direct our legislation. There is nothing I know of that leads to so much mischief as the system of discriminating rebates. I cordially support the amendment.
.- If the provision does not go far enough, why should we not make it absolutely effective ?
– So far as I can judge it will have the effect that is desired, and the Attorney-General is of the same opinion.
Motion agreed to.
Further amendments in clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 18 -
For the purposes of this Part of this Act, competition shall be deemed to be unfair if -
In the following cases the competition shall be deemed unfair unless the contrary is proved : -
In determining whether the competition is unfair, regard shall be had to the efficiency of the management, the processes, the plant, and the machinery employed or adopted in the Australian industry affected bv the competition.
Senate’s Amendments. - After “ unfair,” line 2, insert “unless the contrary is proved,” and leave out - “ 2. In the following cases the competition shall be deemed unfair unless the contrary is proved “ -
Leave out “ If “ at the commencement of paragraphs abc and d of sub-clause 2, and insert “or” at end of paragraphb of sub-clause 1,and paragraphs a b and e of sub-clause 2, being consequentialon amendments in the clause.
And leave out “ the efficiency of,” sub-clause 3, and al end of sub-clause add “ being reasonably efficient, effective, and up-to-date.”
– These amendments do not seem to injure the Bill in any way. After consultation between the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral, it does not appear to me that they will have an injurious effect, and I prefer to accept them rather than have the Bill returned to the Senate at this stage of the session. I, therefore, move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Amendments in clauses 24 and 26 agreed to..
Reported that the Committee had agreed to the Senate’s amendments; report adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) agreed to-
That the amendments be taken into consideration forthwith.
Sir JOHN FORREST (SwanTreasurer) [10.34). - The Senate has made two amendments in clause 6 of this measure. In the form in which it left this House that provision read -
Section thirty-four of the principal Act is amended - [a) by ‘inserting, at the end of sub-section I, and as part of that sub-section, the words “ Provided that the Treasurer may permit the payment of any account before it has been certified, if he is satisfied that ‘undue delay in the payment of the account would be caused if it had to be certified before payment”; and
by inserting at the end of sub-section 6 and as part of that sub-section the words “unless otherwise directed by the Treasurer.”
The Senate has inserted after the word “ certified,” the words “ if the same has been checked by a responsible officer and.” The other amendment is to strike out the words “ at the end of,” in paragraph’ *, and insert, “after the word ‘always’ in.” Both amendments are of a verbal character. I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to say that to-morrow we shall, as announced, proceed with our proposal to extend a preference to British goods in British ships.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.39 P-m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 September 1906, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060913_reps_2_34/>.