2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m. and read prayers.
– I notice that it has been decided to make a call of the Senate for the 18th inst., presumably in order to allow the general elections, to take place at the latter end of November. Next Tuesday is the 18th, and the Bill to which the call applies is not yet passed. Moreover, the Government have two other measures for the amendment of the Constitution. I should like to know what the Prime Minister proposes to do in connexion with them. Can the call apply to. them?
– I regret that the call was expressly limited to the measure before the Senate, although the representatives of the Government endeavoured to make it embrace the Bills on our notice-paper. Our intention is to dispose on Tuesday of the measures to which the honorable member refers, which can then go on to the Senate. I think that the House has made up its mind in. regard to them.
– Pass both Bills on one day ! There is no hope of that being done.
– I do not think that any one opposes the measure for the granting of power to a future Parliament to -make arrangements for the taking over of the whole of the debts of the States.
– It was deemed important enough to warrant a Premiers’ Conference.
– That was as to the terms on which the debts will be taken over, and liabilities distributed, not the question of taking over the whole of the debts. I think that on Tuesday next we ought to be able to dispose of the two measures to which I have referred, ‘and that the Standing Order of another place preventing their immediate consideration should not be insisted on, in which case they will be so dealt with.
Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman), agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Post and Telegraph Kates Act of 1902.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Mr. Austin Chapman) read a first time. Later -
Bill passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if an article in this morning’s Age, headed “ Australia seen by English officials; the immigration handbooks,” has come under his notice? These handbooks seem to contain misleading statements in regard to the conditions of life and climate in Australia.
– Especially in Queensland.
– Will the honorable and learned gentleman endeavour to pr event the re-appearance of the statements in future publications?
– I have read the article referred to, and notice with regret the apparent imperviousness of the Immigration Office in London to the latest information which, according to the AgentsGeneral, has been supplied to them. The Commonwealth has no official representation in London.
– When is the Government going to proceed with the High Commissioner Bill?
– Had not the honorable and learned Minister better go himself to London and shake them up.
– A brilliant appointment.
– Such a trip could not be regarded with entire satisfaction unless I could take the honorable member for Parramatta with me. If the proposal! on the Estimates is assented to, we shall assist the Agents-General in the work they are doing so admirably, and also endeavour to concentrate the efforts which are made, supervising information in such a way as will prevent f uture misunderstandings.
– Cannot these misstatements be corrected from here?
– I must see the official report before giving a definite answer.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers ‘to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The land referred to is not connected in any way with the Victoria Barracks reserve.
asked the Prime Minis ter, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– On the 6th September, the honorable member for Parramatta asked the following questions: -
An interim reply was furnished at the time, and I am now supplied with these answers : -
– Yesterday, the honorable member for Fremantle called attention to a passage in the first annual report of the Public Service Commissioner, and asked for certain information. The Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following statement in regard to the matter : -
The extract quoted from the Commissioner’s first report must be read in conjunction with the passages preceding and following it, from which it will be seen that the Commissioner only purported to enunciate the conditions affecting long service leave under the States laws as they existed at the actual date of transfer of the Department to the Commonwealth. Since that date, the Federal Parliament has legislated in the matter (section 71 of the Public Service Act 1902), the effect of which is that the State law regarding long service leave is superseded by that “of the Commonwealth.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
General postal regulations, prepayment of postage, telegraphic regulations, destruction of undelivered telegrams, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 62.
Telephone regulations, private telephone lines in country districts, Statutory Rules igo6, No. 69.
Amended Public Service regulations, No. 102, salary of an officer upon transfer, general division; No. 104, grading of line repairers; No. 149, travelling allowances; Statutory Rules 1906, No. 72.
Report by the Inspector-General of the ‘Commonwealth Military Forces, dated rst September.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from 30’th August (vide page 3713)., on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That in lieu of the duties of Customs imposed by the Customs Tariff 1902 on the items shown in the attached schedule, duties of Customs shall from the 30th day of August, 1906, at 4.30 p.m., Victorian time, be imposed as follows : - (vide page 3709.)
– This is the initial step towards the attainment of a great principle.
– It is a very small beginning.
– No doubt a million or two does not seem much to the honorable member. The action which the Government ask the Committee to take will be very far reaching in its effects. A little reflection will show how greatly, if adopted, it will strengthen the Empire. Although we do not ask for reciprocal treatment from Great Britain, I hope that’ it will not be long before there will be complete reciprocity be tween the mother country and all her dependencies, as well as between the colonies themselves. Last night we discussed an agreement for reciprocal trade between the Commonwealth and New Zealand, and I hope very shortly to make a similar proposition in regard to another British dependency. These steps are directed to the achievement of a great principle, the recognition of which will “draw the Britishspeaking people closer together, and protect their trade against those who are injuring it.
– These proposals are only an excuse for increasing the duties in favour of Australian manufacturers.
– I believe that the establishment of. reciprocal relations between Great Britain and her colonies will cause a great influx of British white persons into Australia. We do not wish to see here a mixing of races like those in South America, and, to my mind, nothing will do more to keep our population white than a reciprocity agreement which will bring the various parts of the Empire into closer relationship. The honorable member for Lang, says that we are raising our duties in favour of Australian manufacturers. It will be early enough to protest against that when the duties approximate the rates in force in other countries. I am opposed to any reduction of rates, which are as low as assumed protectionist rates can be, because I am not in favour of a revenue Tariff. We do not want to bring into existence again a state of affairs similar to that in New South Wales prior to Federation. The improvement in the condition of the mother State, and especi- ally of Sydney, by reason of the increase in manufacturing brought about by the Federal Tariff, is very noticeable. I do not want to go back to the old cheapness and poverty.
– Things have never been so good in New South Wales since as they were prior to Federation.
– LYNE. - They were good only because of the borrowed money that was being spent.
– The honorable member was the great borrower.
– What I borrowed was spent to good purpose. I do not believe in false economy, resulting in the non-development of the country. This proposal does not go so far . as I should like, but at the same time it will confer appreciable benefits, and will give British manufacturers a good margin to work upon. Our imports from foreign countries of articles affected by the proposed increases’ of duty in 1905 were valued at , £961,848, and under the preferential arrangement the people of Great Britain should be able to considerably increase their exports to Australia.
– If the proposal does not go as far as the Minister would like, why does he not enlarge its scope ?
– Because I do not consider that there would be the slightest prospect of passing a comprehensive preferential trade scheme through Parliament at this stage of the session. I propose to take a vote upon the resolutions with regard to extending preference to the old country, before dealing with the schedule, in order that we may ascertain the feeling of honorable members with regard to the principle involved. If the proposed concessions are made, they will indicate to the British people that Australia is prepared to reciprocate with the mother country. Up to the present we have had no reciprocal proposal from “Great Britain, but I feel satisfied that if the proposed arrangement is carried into effect, negotiations will be opened up with a view to the exchange of products and manufactures under conditions of mutual advantage.
– The ports of Great Britain are free to us - what more does the Minister want? Does he want Great Britain to offer us abonus ?
– The ports of Great Britain are not absolutely free. A great many of our products are subject to duty. Take wine, for instance.
– That is onlyone item.
– And it is one of our principal items of export. I have had something to do with endeavouring to obtain a reduction of the British wine duties, and I know something about the subject.
– Great Britain does not impose duties upon any goods except narcotics and stimulants.
– Some honorable members entertain ideas very different from those I hold with regard to preferential interchanges. Some of them would take down our Customs barriers altogether, not only as against Great Britain, but the rest of the world. I should not do anything of the kind.
– The honorable and learned member for Parkes said that he would open our doors to every portion of the British Empire.
– And also to some countries outside of the Empire. That is not my idea. In view of the fact that our Tariff is not nearly so high as that of the United States, or Canada, or, in some respects, as that of South Africa, we cannot afford to reduce our duties. We can, however, give preference to the old country , by raising our Tariff as against the outside world.
– The Minister fears that if the duties were reduced British goods would be imported in larger quantities.
– There will be ample room for an increase of British imports under the preferential arrangement proposed. The preference given to British goods over foreign products ranges from 5 per cent, to 10 per cent.
– Does a preference of jo’ per cent, to British manufacturers fully express the patriotism of the honorable member so far as the old’ country is concerned ?
– My patriotism does not depend for its expression! upon Tariff preferences. The Chairman of the Tariff Commission took exception to our dealing with this question before the Commission had brought in its reports upon the itemis affected.
Mr.Johnson. - Quite right too.
– It was not intended to put any affront upon the Tariff
Commission. Although I never approved of the appointment of that Commission, I have paid due regard to its recommendations. If we wish to indicate to the people of England that we desire to enter into preferential trade relations with them, we cannot wak an indefinite rime. Moreover, I would point out that these proposals will not seriously affect any matters that may be reported upon by the Tariff Commission. We indicate the margin of preference, and the duties will rise and fall in accordance with that margin if they are altered upon the recommendation of the Tariff Commission. Therefore, I do not see what objection can be taken to our acting at the present time. As the average increase of duty against foreign goods is up to 10 per cent., and as for the last three years the average value of imports of articles mentioned in the schedule from countries other than the United Kingdom has been about £850,000, the transfer of, say. 25 per cent, of the foreign trade to the United Kingdom would result in an increase of revenue amounting to about £64,000. This increase would help us considerably, although- these proposals are not introduced in Order to swell the revenue. The revenue would fall in proportion, as the preference led to the greater displacement of foreign goods by British products. Of course, this calculation is based ora the assumption that no material displacement of imports by local manufactures will result from the readjustment of duties. Our total imports from all sources, exclusive of bullion, are valued at about £37,000,000, of which British imports represent £23,000,000.
– Does that include spirits?
– Yes, but not bullion and specie; stimulants and narcotics represent a value of ,£1,843, 942. The following table will prove interesting to honorable members : -
Total foodstuffs imported into United Kingdom, £166,000,000.
Percentage supplied by Australia, 4i per cent.
Honorable members will see that the total importations of foodstuffs into the United Kingdom are valued at £166,000,000, of which Australian imports represent a value of £6,918,675, or the ridiculously low proportion of 4^ per cent.
– Great ‘Britain could take all the foodstuffs we could send her.
– No doubt, but we cannot compete upon even terms with the United States and other countries which grow such quantities and have special facilities for transporting grain in bulk to the great markets of. the world. Unless we can obtain some preference that will induce our farmers to carry on their operations on a larger scale, arid lead to the adoption of improved methods of transportation such as are in use in other parts of the world, we cannot expect to develop our export trade to the point necessary to enable us to contribute as we should do towards meeting the requirements of the old country. Until that time arrives, we shall have to content ourselves by occupying the humiliating position of being able to supply only per cent, of the requirements of the old country in foodstuffs. I contend that we may reasonably look to Great Britain to afford us a market for our produce.
– The Minister is not much concerned for the British farmer.
– The British farmer should protect himself. Even if he did so, he could not grow anything like sufficient to supply home requirements. To whom could Great Britain more fittingly look for her food supplies than to Australia and Canada?
– Does not the Minister know that if his suggestions were carried out, the price of food to the British people would be increased?
– On the contrary, I know that nothing of the kind would take place, as we should supply without a British duty. Protection does not increase the price of foodstuffs or manufactures when protective duties bring about internal competition. It is only when duties are improperly imposed, or are placed on the wrong articles, that they bring about an increase of prices to the consumers. The duties on primary products have not increased the prices in our markets.
– That is not the point.
– It is the point. Our farmers have had our home market secured to them, and properly so. If you leave the home market open to the foreigner you hit your own producers below the belt.
– I was speaking of the British market.
– If we could grow wheat upon a more extensive scale, and our transport arrangements were of the most efficient and up-to-date character, we should probably be able to sell our produce at cheaper rates than at present, and thereby confer benefit upon the consumers of Great Britain. There arc some items in this schedule which I do not wish to discuss in detail at the present moment. It has been pointed out to me that their inclusion may not be advantageous. One can only ascertain after very careful investigation whether they are used by our own people practically as raw material. I shall deal with that aspect of the question at a later stage, and I shall then be prepared to strike out any item which can be shown to be objectionable. I may mention that applications have also been made to me toinsert in the schedule a number of articles of a manufactured or partially manufactured character, but until we are in a position to supply our own requirements in the matter of iron they will continue to represent the raw material of our local manufacturers. One must be very careful indeed of interfering to prevent the admission of semi-raw material unless we can supply it locally. I have no desire to labour this question.I recognise that we have very little time at our disposal. This is an important matter, and I hope that honorable members will be able to conclude the discussion upon it to-day. It must be recollected that it has practically been under considera tion for two or three days past. Last evening, in listening to the debate upon the reciprocal Tariff agreement with New Zealand, I almost imagined that it was the discussion upon the proposal which I am now submitting.
– We have the Minister’s three pamphlets to reply to.
– I have no desire to burke discussion, but I do ask honorable members to exercise a reasonable restraint, and. not to prolong debate upon this matter, in view of the fact that a large number of other subjects yet remain to be dealt’ with.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [11.3.)- - The Minister has delivered a very short speech upon a very great subject. There is, I admit, some excuse for my honorable friend. Latterly he has not had very, much time in which to prepare speeches upon the business before Parliament. He seems to have been engaged in more easy and popular duties elsewhere.
– Like the right honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Macquarie.
– No doubt that has curtailed the time which would otherwise have been available to him, and which would have enabled him to prepare a speech adequate to the subject in hand, and one which would do credit to the Australian Parliament. I say that the more readily because I confess that I am in the same predicament myself. Here we are rushing through the House pell-mell a proposal affecting the whole of the relations of the Empire, and we are asked to dispose of it between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
– Honorable members have been practically discussing it for a week.
– One has merely to attempt to detach oneself from the surroundings of this Chamber to realize how ludicrous that statement is. However, we have to make the best of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. The Government must accept responsibility for initiating this proposal in the closing hours of a session and of a Parliament. One cannot resist the temptation to say that the object of all these preferential proposals is veryobvious. It is not intended that; they shall furnish an opportunity for a thorough discussion of preferential trade as such, but only that they shall enable the Ministry to put forward another political placard, which will do duty during the coming elections. One can imagine, for instance, how even a mere empty placard such as this will scintillate in the hands of a capable rhetorician like the Prime Minister. No doubt that is the primary object underlying the introduction of this proposal at so’ late an hour of the session. We have been told by the Minister that it represents the initiation of a great principle, which is to extend as far as the Empire. So far as the principle and its application to the Empire are concerned, I think that all sections of- the House will find themselves upon absolutely common ground. There is no desire, so far as I am aware, to do anything contrary to, or in derogation of, any movement which has for its object the binding together of the constituent parts of the great Empire to which we belong. Therefore, we all echo the wish of the Minister that something shall be done in this direction.
– Order ! I must ask honorable members not to converse in such loud tones.
– I am sure that the Committee is in a mood to discuss a subject of this magnitude, judging by the way in which honorable members do not pay attention to what is going on. However, I propose to make a few remarks. I shall not occupy very long, and I shall not indulge in merely a few puerilities and generalities, such as we heard from the Minister in his apology for a speech.
– Will the honorable member discuss the question, and leave me alone?
– I am not touching the Minister. I am merely pointing out that his speech was a very inadequate one.
– He has been called the “ bullock “ of the Ministry.
– The favorite method of the Minister is to “bullock” through the House the work which he has in hand. When the Prime -Minister is in charge of a Bill he condescends to afford honorable members a reasonable explanation of its provisions, and, no doubt, exhausts his physical and mental energies in the effort to do so. But it is left to the working “ bullock “ of the team to get certain measures through without very much consideration and discussion.
– The honorable member helps me to do so very often.
– The Minister was never more correctly described than as the working “ bullock “ of the team. His methods of forcing business through the House - while it must be admitted that they are effective - are certainly not such as ought to be of universal application. If we were to apply them generally they would mean the speedy abolition of Parliament as a deliberative body. Of course, this Parliament has abrogated its deliberative functions for some time past, and there can be no clearer evidence of that than is afforded by the fact that we are discussing this important proposal when so few honorable members are in the Chamber.
– The honorable member himself has been talking for some time.
– I do not wish to do anything to disturb the Minister’s good temper. I am glad to see him in such an amiable mood. From the speech which he delivered this morning I gather that he looks forward to the time when there will be reciprocity between the Commonwealth and other portions of the Empire. Amongst other things, he hopes that as a result we shall secure an influx of white population. How in the world reciprocity - particularly upon the lines which have been sketched by the Minister himself - will lead to an influx of white population into the Commonwealth, I am at a loss to understand. I should think that the best way to induce an influx of white population is to remove some of the restrictions which the present Government have imposed upon the admission into Australia of the white immigrants from Europe and the United Kingdom. I do not mean to say that they should be permitted to come here and bring down our social conditions, or in any way to unfairly compete with our own people. But, nevertheless, there is room for the abolition of some of the enactments which now impede the ingress of a white population from the rest of the Empire and of Europe. If the Minister is sincerely desirous of peopling the northern parts of Australia with a white, contented, and happy population he cannot do better than remove the restrictions which have been imposed bv this Parliament and by this Government. There is another remark of the Minister to which I should like to advert, but there is so much confusion, reigning that I can scarcely hear my own voice, and, consequently, I think that we had better have a quorum. [Quorum formed.] The Minister has declared that the reason why our Tariff has been raised against foreign countries - in other words, why a preference has been extended to Great Britain by increasing the duties levied upon foreign goods is that our Tariff was below the level of the Tariffs of other countries. He said that when our Tariff had reached the level of the Tariffs of other countries we might consider the propriety of reducing our duties as against imports from the United Kingdom. I presume that he had in his mind chiefly the Dominion of Canada. It is quite true that Canada has a higher Tariff than has the Commonwealth.
– So has the United Slates.
– The Minister, I presume, was alluding to countries within the Empire.
– I was referring both to countries within the Empire and without it.
– The remarks of the Minister have no point unless they relate to countries within the Empire. I hold in my hand a statement showing the measure of the preference granted by Canada to the goods of the United Kingdom, and how it affects her trading relations with the mother country. The honorable gentleman says that if, for instance, we raised our duties to the level of those prevailing in Canada, we should be in a better position to grant reductions to the old land. What are the facts? The Canadian Tariff was increased, and the result is shown in figures supplied by Senator Pulsford, than whom I know of no more patient and careful investigator of these questions.
– I should not follow him.
– He is far too patient and accurate a man for the honorable gentleman to follow in any matter. What has been the effect of high duties on Canada?
– She is booming.
– She is; but the greater proportion of her imports come, not from Great Britain, but from foreign countries. To-day she “buys 24 per cent, of her imports from the United Kingdom, whilst New Zealand buys 61 per cent”, of her imports and Australia 60 per cent, of her imports from Great Britain. These figures show that if we raise our Tariff we shall not increase our trade with the United
Kingdom. I trust that if the result of an increase of our duties would be to place us in the same position as Canada, we shall not do anything so foolish. It seems to me that we should defeat the very object which the Ministry have in view in proposing to grant this preference to Great Britain.
– What is that object?
– To facilitate trade between Australia and the mother country.
– To increase trade.
– To facilitate or, if the honorable gentleman prefers the other term, to increase our trade with Great Britain.
– Is the honorable member sure that his statement that 60 per cent, of our imports come from Great Britain is correct? I think that the figures I gave just now do not bear it out.
– I am speaking of the total importations into Australia. We import goods to the value of £38,000,000, and of those importations £23,000,000 worth, or 60 per cent, of the total, come from Great Britain. The value of New Zealand’s annual imports is nearly £13,000,000, and the value of those which she obtains from the United Kingdom is nearly £8,000,000, or 61 per cent. The value of Canada’s imports is £50,000,000 per annum, and her imports from the United Kingdom! are of the value of only £12,000,000. Thus, in spite of her efforts to facilitate commercial intercourse with the mother country by means of a preference she has been able to direct the stream of .her imports in that direction to the extent of only £12,000,000 out of a total of £50,000,000.
– The honorable member must not forget that Canada adjoins the United States.
– I am aware of that, and these figures should warn us to be careful as to how far we copy her example. Comparisons are continually being made between Australia and Canada, but there is no greater similarity between their position than there is between that of the most diverse countries in the world. Canada’s contiguity to the United States triumphs over all fiscal efforts to ^divert her trade to Great Britain. She has granted a preference of 33^ per cent, to the products of that country, and yet she has succeeded in causing only 24 per cent, of her total imports to be drawn from that source.
This shows that we ought not to slavishly follow the Canadian method of increasing trade with the mother country.
– Does the honorable member believe that the trade between Canada and Great Britain would be greater if no preference existed?
– Senator Pulsford has published a pamphlet containing a very instructive table bearing on that point. After an investigation of the matter, this is what he says : -
It is natural that, when this policy of preference is put before Australia, inquiry should be made as to its results where it has already been tried. The information contained in the following table will be found very instructive and suggestive of the need of caution on the part of those who think preference a royal road to success.
He goes on to point out that the preference given by Canada to Great Britain began to operate in 1898, and that by 1900 her imports from the United States had increased by 31,000,000 dollars, or 40 per cent., whilst her imports from Great Britain had increased by only 12,000,000 dollars, or only 37½ per cent. That is to say, two years after Canada’s preference to Great Britain began to operate - she began with a preference of 25 per cent., which was subsequently increased to 331/3 per cent. - her imports from the United States had increased by 40 per cent., and her imports from the United Kingdom by only 37½ per cent. This return also shows the triumph of her geographical position over any fiscal arrangements that she has attempted to make. It shows the need to examine our own position.
– That is not quite an answer to my question. The point is whether Canada’s trade with Great Britain would have been greater or less if she had not granted a preference.
– No one can say what it would have been. All we can point to is the actual result - that therehaas been not a relative increase, butrather a decrease in her trade with Great Britain as compared with the extension of her trade with the United States. It may be that, in the absence of a preference, there would have been a smaller or a greater trade with the United States, but on that point I cannot express an opinion. I have quoted figures showing the effect of the preference, and we have to consider them in the light’ of the intention with which that preference was granted. They show that, what ever diversion of trade may have taken place in favour of the United Kingdom has been more than counterbalanced by the increase in the trade of the United States with Canada. I do not wish to push these figures to an unreasonable extent, but they show clearly that the Canadian preference has not been the success anticipated or desired.
– It may have been that, but for that preference, Canada by this time would have had no trade with Great Britain.
– She had a trade with England before the preference was granted.
– It may be that the granting of a preference to a community is detrimental to its trade.
– In 1897- before the preference was granted - the value of her imports from Great Britain was 29.412,188 dollars, as against 61,649,041 dollars in the case of her imports from the United States. In 1904 her imports from the United Kingdom were of the value of 61, 777, 574 dollars, whilst those obtained from the United States were of the value of 150.826,515 dollars. This shows that her effort to divert trade from the United States to Great Britain by means of a preference has not been attended with success. I give these figures for exactly what they are worth. They show that we need to exercise the greatest possible caution in accepting a system of preference. Senator Pulsford points out that -
The next table compares the imports of dutiable goods into Canada, in which table the operation of preference should be more clearly traceable than in the foregoing figures covering free and dutiable.
He then goes on to show that in 1901 goods to the value of 33,447,056 dollars were obtained by Canada from the British Empire, whilst her imports from foreign countries were of the value of 72,522.700 dollars. In 1904, her importations from the British Empire were of’ the value of 51,614,555 dollars, and those from other countries were valued at 97,295,021 dollars. Thus, having regard only to the dutiable goods on which the preference was intended to operate, the proportion of trade remained very much the same as before. The result of the preference to Great Britain has been to divert to her but little of the trade of her great competitor. The Minister suggests that we should increase our Tariff to the level of that of Canada, so that we may more readily reduce our duties in favour of Great Britain. If the result would be, as in the case of Canada, a corresponding diminution in our trade with the United Kingdom, and an increase in our trade with foreign countries, we ought not to do anything of the kind. I think that we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.] I should like to call the attention of honorable members to a few figures showing the bearing of the schedule, which has been submitted by the Government. I pointed out last night that when the two preferential proposals were read together, it would be seen that the trade with Great Britain and the rest of the Empire sustained more losses than gains - that the balance was against it, and that the preferences would prevent more trade with these countries than it was likely to facilitate. That fact becomes clear when we look into ‘these proposals. For one or two reasons, the volume of additional imports pf British goods will be very small. In the first place, the foreign goods to which the schedule applies consist very largely of specialties, and therefore the trade in ‘them cannot be diverted to any extent to Great Britain. The total imports of sixteen of these items amount, so far as I can ascertain, to an annual value ‘of £2,250,000, and only about £750,000 worth of these goods come from foreign countries and British possessions. These figures differ, but not to any great extent, from those submitted by the Minister. Senator Pulsford makes this point quite clear in his examination. He points out that the total volume of trade affected by the schedule amounts to £2,291,439, of which £i,473>189 comes from the United Kingdom, £20,531 from Canada, £6,274 from India,- and £838 from other British Possessions. Deducting the trade of the United Kingdom and other British Possessions from the total, a balance of £790,603 is left, of which £432,533 comes from the United States. Therefore, the foreign trade involved in these preference proposals, putting aside the £432,533 from the United States, is worth only £329,306. Honorable members will see that it is farcical to propose a preference in regard to £790,603 out of a total importation of £38,000,000. The values of some of the principal lines of imports involved, and the countries from which they come, are shown in the following table: -
Therefore, only 13 per cent, of the goods enumerated came from foreign countries, and, no doubt, were specialties or patented productions, which could not be manufactured in the United Kingdom. Great Britain also practically monopolizes the trade to a lesser degree in regard to most of the other items in the schedule. The proposals of the Government affect the wrong items to facilitate British trade to any great extent, articles being selected in regard to which she has already practically a monopoly. The Prime Minister laid great emphasis on the statement that it is to be stipulated that .goods upon which a preference is granted must be brought here in British bottoms; but let us examine that concession. Last year the total number of vessels bringing goods direct from the United Kingdom to Australia was 300, of which 289 were British, and n foreign.
– That is not a fair return. The foreign mail-boats numbered more than are mentioned there.
– They carry a very small quantity of British goods.
– Those figures refer only to ships starting from Great Britain; but scores of foreign vessels, which are not allowed for, call at British ports en route to Australia, and bring goods here.
– The preference is to apply only to direct importations.
– That is a very right provision.
– I have no objection to it. The figures which I have read, and which have been prepared .by Senator Pulsford, cover the shipping of last year which these proposals would have affected had thev been operative then. The quantity of British goods coming here in foreign vessels last year was only 15,000 tons, or 1 1/2 per cent, of the whole importations. Therefore, that concession practically amounts to nothing. Moreover, if the number of foreign bottoms is reduced, and the cargoes of British ships increased, there will Le a corresponding increase in British freights. That is an economic fact which cannot be questioned, related as it is to the law of supply and demand. This will countervail the preference to a largeextent. Another point which I wish to make is that a large number of articles which are grouped in the schedule are such as are manufactured in Australia. The object of raising the duties on them against the outside world is not to increase im portations from the United Kingdom; the intention is undoubtedly to facilitate production here. But if more protection is thought to be necessary, it should be asked for straightforwardly. There should not be this attempt to sneak it in under the pretence of making concessions to the Empire. Some time ago Mr. Seddon, speaking at Akaroa, in New Zealand, made no bones about declaring1 that his object was to give the people of that Colony further protection. This is from a report of his remarks appearing in a New Zealand newspaper : -
At the conference of Premiers in London it was proposed that a rebate of 10 per cent, should be made on British merchandise, but I proposed increasing the Tariff on goods from foreign nations. This latter course will not increase imports from the mother country, but will check the imports from alien nations.
That is a frank, full, and candid statement. He intended that it should result in increased protection to the people of New Zealand. He said that the latter course would not lead to an increase of imports from the mother country. Why should the Government pretend to give the mother country a preference in order that she may send more goods here, when their real object is to increase the protection to the local manufacturers ? It is not honest or straightforward to bring in, under cover of Imperial sentiment, protective duties that could not otherwise be imposed. The best judges agree that by means of these duties we cannot hope for the diversion of more than from £100,000 to £150,000 of trade from foreign countries to Great Britain.
– What will become of the balance?
– It will either remain with foreign countries or pass into the hands of Australian manufacturers.
– That is part of the protectionist policy.
– There can be no doubt about that; and it is not honest to impose further protection for the benefit of Australian industries under the cover of preference. If this proposal, be taken in conjunction with the New Zealand treaty it will be found that while from £100,000 to £150,000 of foreign trade may be diverted into British channels at least £350,000 worth of trade will be diverted from Great Britain and British possessions. There is no trade preference in proposals which will bring about such results. As a scheme of preference the proposals now before us are absolutely inadequate. If the Government had desired to divert trade into British channels they could have included a number of items in the schedule which would have had that effect. For instance, instead of selecting the articles now in the schedule, as to which the United Kingdom has a practical monopoly, they could have chosen articles in regard to which foreign countries are competing keenly with Great Britain. Take the division “manufactures of metals.’”’ There is the item of horseshoe nails. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports would probably say that the nails should be made here.
– That, however, does not affect the point. I presume that the honorable member would prefer that our horseshoe nails should come from Great Britain rather than from foreign countries.
– Our importations of horseshoe nails from Great Britain last year were valued at £3,150, whilst those from foreign countries were valued at £8,170. This is one of the items which should have been included in the schedule, if it had been desired to divert trade into British channels. Then, again, take the item of “ electrical materials.” I believe that the United Kingdom to-day produces as good and up-to-date electrical materials as any other Country. We receive these articles from Great Britain to the value of £138,000, whilst the imports from foreign countries are valued at £67,000. Why not try to divert this trade into British channels? Then there is the item nails and staples. Great Britain supplies us with £16,000 worth, whilst from foreign countries we receive £44,000 worth. Then in re- gard to wire, iron and steel, we receive from Great Britain £30,000 worth, and from foreign countries £296,000 worth. Why should we not give Great Britain a preference with regard to these articles, and afford her an opportunity to acquire a greater share of the trade?
– Is the honorable member slipping? There is a lot of Lithgow about that.
– The Minister has not the remotest idea of the point I am making. I am merely emphasizing the fact that we receive from foreign countries a much larger quantity of the goods I have described than are sent to us from Great Britain, and I am arguing that we should endeavour to afford Great Britain, an opportunity to acquire a larger share of the trade.
– I wanted to deal with that item by way. of bonus, so that we might make the articles here.
– that has nothing to do with the question.
– The honorable member will find that it has.
– What I am speaking of has nothing to do with the question of local production. The point is whether, until we do produce these articles for ourselves, we should obtain our supplies from foreign countries or from Great Britain. I am pointing out that if we wish Great Britain to secure an appreciable share of the trade now enjoyed by foreigners, such items as I have mentioned should be made the subject of preference to the old country. Wire-netting is in the same category. Of this, we receive £220,000 from the United Kingdom, and £11.5,000 worth from foreign countries. Of barbed wire, we receive £11,000 worth from the United Kingdom, and £60,000 worth from other countries. Of wire, n.e.i., £27,000 worth comes from the United Kingdom and £30,000 worth from foreign countries. Of the articles I have mentioned, we import from foreign countries £622,000 worth, which is almost as large a sum as that represented by our imports from foreign countries in respect of the articles mentioned in the schedule. The items I have indicated are such as should be made the subject of. preference to the mother country.
– Why. does not the honorable member make a proposal in that direction, instead of talking so much about it?
– That is the Minister’s business.
– As the right honorable member for East Sydney pointed out -recently in an interview in Sydney-
– Why did he not point it out in this House?
– Because he thought that the Minister would not be here to listen to him.
– I am never absent when he is here.
– The right honorable member pointed out - and the figures sustain him - that out of the total of £10,000,000 worth of foreign importations, we endeavour - and we shall not succeed in that - to divert less than if per cent, into British channels. He points out, further, that the Government proposals deal with only 4^ per cent, of our total imports from foreign countries and British possessions, and that the twenty-five items contained in -the schedule represent only one-nineteenth of the value of our imports, or about .£2,000,000 worth out of £38,000,000. Of this ,£z, 000, 000 worth, Great Britain already supplies us with 66 per cent. If the Government had been selecting items upon which they ought not to operate, they could not have compiled a better schedule. If their intention had been to choose items upon which preference would be ineffective, they could not have done better than they have. The reason is obvious. They have selected articles which are being manufactured here, so that by the simple method of putting up the duties as against the foreigner they would increase the protection, to local manufacturers, and at the same time retain the barriers that at present exist as against British goods. It has been- said that the proposal of the Government is comparable to the old fable of the mountain being, in labour and bringing forth a mouse. This is a preferential mouse with a vengeance, and it has been brought forth after a mountain of labour extending over three years. Is it to be imagined that the shrewd merchants and politicians of the mother country will not see through a shallow device of this kind?Thev will at once discover that we have selected as subjects for preference goods which are being manufactured here in large quantities, and that this is nothing more nor less thani a cunningly conceived contrivance for granting further protection to our own manufacturers. They will realize that it will not be of the slightest benefit to them. The Minister is anxious to see the time when we shall be able to reduce our duties as applied to the rest of the Empire.
– No ; I would leave them as they are with regard to the rest of the Empire and increase them as against outsiders.
– Is not the Minister prepared at any time to reduce duties so far as the other portions of the Empire are concerned?
– I am not prepared to do it now.
– The Minister said that he would prefer the proposal to go further, and I take it that his general objective is a reduction of duties as against other parts of the Empire.
– That may, or may not be.
– At any rate, the Prime Minister has stated that he hopes to see such a condition of affairs brought about in, time. If the object is to bind the Empire together upon a common trade basis, our duties will have to come down.
– That does not follow.
– It necessarily follows. We cannot come closer together in our trading relationships whilst we maintain our present fiscal barriers. Unless the object be to facilitate trade within the Empire, I fail to understand what it can be. At any rate, I think that the interjections of the Minister make his purpose quite clear. That purpose is to maintain for Australia as high a measure of protection as possible against every part of the Empire. We must recollect that the objective of Mr. Chamberlain is to negotiate reciprocal treaties with foreign countries. He has stated again and again that he desires to make use of a lever to enable him to reduce the duties of the rest of the world as against Great Britain. That is the declared object both of Mr Chamberlain and of Mr. Balfour. They say that they are not protectionists, but that they merely wish to use protective duties as ai lever against the rest of the world.
– Is the honorable member in favour of preferential trade by itself?
– I will tell the honorable member very plainly what I favour before I resume my seat. If that be the ultimate object of this preferential trade movement all over the Empire, how is it to be gained by the simple method of increasing duties against the rest of the world? This experiment has been tried again and again. It is an old proposal in a new garb. Ever since time began, these reciprocal treaties have been arranged, and in nearly every instance they have failed to accomplish their purpose. They have failed not because it was impossible to. make an arrangement which seemed to be theoretically fair, but because when that arrangement had been made human nature, allied to the great law of supply and demand which- operates upon such a large scale in relation to industrial matters, has constantly compelled them to fail. Everybody who has read Sir Thomas Farrer’s Fair Trade versus Free-trade will be familiar with the experience of Great ‘Britain in this respect. I have here a statement of the step which Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone took in the same direction many years ago. At that time the British, duties against the goods of foreign countries were at the highest possible point - much higher than that at which Mr. Chamberlain aims at putting them to-day. Both Mr. Gladstone and Sir Robert ‘ Peel, during the regime of the Peel Administration from 1841. to 1845 made strenuous efforts to conclude a reciprocal Tariff arrangement. They were men who, in commercial acumen and resource, were, at least, the equal of Mr. Chamberlain. I say that without any desire to underrate the latter. In some respects I regard Mr. Chamberlain as the biggest figure upon the political horizon today. But Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone were big men in their day - men of profound intellect and experience who were imbued with the desire to accomplish then what Mr. Chamberlain is seeking to accomplish now. What was the result ? In Bastable’s Commerce of Nations I find the following: -
Very strenuous efforts were made by the Peel Administration (1841-1845) to conclude commercial treaties on the basis of reciprocity, but the attempt was a complete failure. Mr. Gladstone, who, as Vice-President of- the Board of Trade, had charge of the negotiations, afterwards declared that “ In every case we failed. I am sorry to add my opinion that we did more than fail. The whole operation seemed to place us in a false position. Its tendency was to lead countries to regard with jealousy and suspicion, as boons to foreigners, alterations in their laws which, though doubtless of advantage to foreigners, would have been of far greater advantage to their own inhabitants.” The lesson thus received conduced to the change of view on the part both of Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone.
So that, after endeavouring to lever down foreign Tariffs, as Mr. Balfour and Mr. Chamberlain seek to do to-day, Mr. Gladstone and Sir Robert Peel were obliged to. confess to complete failure, and were driven back to their free-trade propaganda. But, admitting that the object aimed at is to secure the reduction of the duties levied under foreign Tariffs, are we to attain it by this method of increasing duties? The fact is writ large on the pages of history, that when we attempt to induce other countries to lower their Tariffs they invariably interpret our action as a sign of weakness. If these efforts are to succeed, even within the Empire, I think that we shall have to begin upon a very different basis indeed. We find very much the same influences as those to which I have referred operating to-day as between New Zealand and the Commonwealth. We hold that the treaty with New Zealand is not as liberal as it ought to be, and the people of that country regard it in precisely a similar light. Neither appear to be satisfied with the details of the schedule. Why? Because each has in mind the maintenance of its protection against the other. Why not make a proposal for free intercourse between the two countries and thusput the matter upon a different plane? Let us sayto them, “ We are people of the same race as yourselves.”
– Or let us have an all-round reduction of duties.
– That is always the cry of the free-trader.
– It is the cry of experience. It was the cry of Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone when they were protectionists, and it is not the cry of the free-trader at all. They were driven from the position which they had taken up by theLogio of events. We are attempting to do the same thing to-day, and the same human nature is already beginning to operate as between the people of the Commonwealth and’ of New Zealand. What is occurring in Canada? There the Prime Minister confesses that he cannot obtain an answer to his communication, so keen are the commercial jealousies between the various parts of the Empire.
– What is the use of the Commonwealth approaching Canada when we are doubling the duties levied upon the articles which she sells?
– Exactly. There is no inducement for Canada to conclude a preferential Tariff arrangement with’ us. Why do we wish to trade with her unless we are prepared to offer her some return? This paltry tinkering with the subject of preferential trade is the very way in which to defeat the ultimate object that we have in view. If we are to extend a preference to goods from various parts of the Empire, the bolder the scheme and the more sacrifices that it involves the better chance will it have of success.
– And the less chance will it have of acceptance in Australia.
– That can only be because these proposals are made by a man whose horizon is limited by the manufactures of his own country. It is because the honorable gentleman will not view the whole matter in its proper perspective that in his judgment a reasonable scheme has no chance of passing here. At any rate, these are the teachings of experience. But, apparently, they do not make some of our statesmen wise, and we shall have to learn again that we cannot achieve our object unless we follow the lines which experience dictates. Last night the honorable member for Laanecoorie stated that he could not understand how any free-trader could be in favour of a scheme of preferential trade. Of course, he had in his mind that idealistic, theorizing free-trader who never has existed, and who probably never will. -The honorable member lays down his own definition of the standpoint from which matters are viewed by a free-trader, just as the Government constantly do. He says that he cannot understand how a free-trader can be in favour of any sort of preference. It is just as well that the honorable member should know that free-traders are not to be mastered by the tyranny of any theories whatever, any more than is any other section of the community. Theories, like logic, are sometimes square pegs in round holes. They may be all right in their broad generalization, just as is the protectionist theory or any other theory. But they do not fit all the facts of our human life. Therefore, free-traders are not idealists, standing off and taking no cognisance of the sweep of the world’s practical relationships. They are practical men travelling in a given direction, because they believe that it will lead them towards the ideal of human happiness and completeness. In this respect, therefore, we have to make calculations as to whether a given policy will effect the object which it has in view. For instance, Federation involved a surrender of protective duties between the States. It meant an advanced measure of free-trade as between the States. The penalty paid for that advance, so far as one State is concerned, was the acceptance of a policy of protection against the outside world. But the result of Federation has been to increase the area within which free-trade operates. The same remark is applicable to the United States. They represent the greatest free-trade community to be found in any part of the world- A similar condition of things obtains in united Germany. Instead of each State being fettered with. Customs duties, as it used to be, the German States have swept away those duties, and now enjoy freetrade. In Canada the same conditions obtain. The actual area covered by free - trade has tremendously increased during recent years. That being so, the honorable member for Laanecoorie should readily see that even a free-trader may believe in preference, with a view to widening the ultimate area over which comparative freedom of trade mav operate. I do not wish, however, to further pursue that line of argument. I urge that even ultra-free-traders - such, for instance, as the honorable member for Lang and the honorable member for New England - may be, under given conditions, in favour of preference. How can we have a preference which would give us a wider and fuller glimpse of the ideal which we seek as an Empire if it does not carry with it a reduction in the duties now existing between the various parts of the Empire? That is the only kind of preference that is likely to be lasting. A preference upwards has always failed, and will continue to do so. The only successful preferences to-day are those which have been made between countries on the basis of a mutual reduction of duty, such as we proposed last; night in connexion with the treaty with New Zealand.
– Such as the honorable member did not carry. What is the use of making proposals that one cannot carry ?
– The last remark made by the honorable gentleman indicates the full extent of the political philosophy to which he has always subscribed. He cannot understand any man doing anything that will not bring him immediate and material success, and therefore he inquires, “ Why propose anything which you know you cannot carry out?” The honorable gentleman does not realize how self-revealing he was in making that interjection. It comprehends what has been his political philosophy ever since I have known him.
– And that of the honorable member.
– I suppose that the honorable gentleman believes that “ Nothing succeeds like success.” By this time his political philosophy is petrified.
– The honorable member, in a speech extending over an hour and a half, has not said as much as I did in half-an-hour.
– I could not hope to say as much as the honorable member has done; but my speech, at all events, has done good in having drawn from him’ an interjection which crystallizes the whole of his political philosophy. I have already said that Mr. Chamberlain’s object’ at the present time is, so far as I can ascertain, to lever down the duties of most other countries.
– He is going to lever up those of Great Britain.
– I ha.ve already said that he is seeking to do- so in order that he may use those duties as a lever to bring down those of other countries. Here is a statement made by Mr. Vince, secretary of the Imperial Tariff Committee, which Mr. Chamberlain appointed a year or two ago : -
The system of preferential Tariffs proposed by Mr. Chamberlain is the initial step towards Imperial free-trade.
Do the Government subscribe to that theory ?
– That is not a fair question.
– I am afraid that the honorable member was not present a few moments ago, when the Minister of Trade and Customs gave us, in one sen- tence, the whole of his political philosophy. He inquired, by way of interjection, “ Why make proposals that you cannot carry out?” When a man’s outlook is controlled by that kind of political philosophy, I can quite understand that he is not prepared to answer a simple question of this kind.
– Was not that, in effect, the
Suggestion made by the honorable member’s own leader ; that for a couple of years we should not introduce any contentious measure?
– I never heard any such suggestion made by him.
– That was his policy for one session.
– As a matter of fact, the right honorable gentleman initiated some contentious legislation when he was in office, and would have done more but for the bridge-builders opposite.
– We served our country.
– At all events, I should like to press this point. Ministers claimthat in the proposals they are now making, they are swinging into line with Chamberlain. This is what his secretary said as to his object -
It is a necessary step - a step which must be taken sooner or later if we are ever to move towards the goal.
In other words, preferential Tariffs are necessary, sooner or later, if we are to move towards the goal of Imperial free-trade.
– That was Chamberlain’s text throughout his campaign.
– And it is his objective to-day. All that he seeks now is, as far as I Iknow, to raise the duties of the United Kingdom for the purpose of levering down the duties of other countries, and facilitating freer intercourse between the motherland and the Colonies. At the 1902 Conference he put his position very plainly when he told the delegates that his object was to secure free interchange between the various parts of the Empire.
– An Imperial zollverein.
– Quite so. He said that he aimed at the abolition of the present protective duties between the various parts of the Empire - that there should be between them a Tariff upon only a revenue basis. The Minister told us to-day that that is not his objective. He is not prepared to take down the Tariffs between the various parts of the Empire.
– Not when, as at present, they are too low.
– The honorable gentleman is prepared only to raise the existing Tariff as against outsiders. That being so, this proposal on the part of the Government has nothing whatever in common with Mr. Chamberlain’s objective - the ultimate abrogation of the present Tariffs as between portions of the Empire and the placing of them upon a purely revenue basis. I am bound to say that in this matter of preference, the direction taken by Mr. Chamberlain is that which I am prepared to take, as far as the internal relations of the Empire are concerned. If we confine our attention to the Empire, we need not trouble so much about the nations outside. Let us secure free-trade, or an approximation to it, within the Empire, and then, so far as our trading and commercial prosperity is concerned, outside affairs will trouble us but little. I say frankly that I subscribe to the statement made last night by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, that I should welcome freetrade within the Empire even if it meant protection against the outside world. That would be an extension of the principle of reciprocity and neighbourly trading. It will thus be seen that the Opposition believe in a preference in a direction altogether contrary to that now proposed by the Minister of Trade and Customs. ‘Coming again to his political philosophy, of which I propose for the moment to take a slice, I recognise that to make even a beginning we, must be very moderate in our proposals. I should like to know whether swinging into line with Mr. Chamberlain, as the Prime Minister professes to be, in order ultimately to effect Imperial trade federation, the Government are prepared to make the smallest possible sacrifice? Not an atom of sacrifice on the part of Australia is shown in the schedule now before us. Not a duty is reduced in favour of Great Britain. All that the Government propose to do is to say to Great Britain, “ We shallkeep up the inner wall to prevent even a fractional increase in the volume of your goods entering Australia, but we shall build a still higher wall outside. Between those walls - in that outer court - we will conduct our family trade negotiations.” That is all that this proposal means. If we are to weld the Empire together in trading, commercial, defence, or any other relationship, we must start on the basis of self-sacrifice. There is no trace of anything of the kind in the schedule. I admit that the sacrifice on the part of the protectionists of Australia must be small. I recognise their position to that extent ; but I ask them whether, as a beginning in this direction, they will make no concession. I propose to suggest a direction in which we could give a guarantee of our bona fides, without interfering with the protective policy of Australia; a step which we could take to show the people of the old country that we are prepared to make concessions towards the common ideal which we profess to be seeking. -The basis of the valuation of goods for dutiable purposes is the market value, plus 10 per cent., and my suggestion is that, when assessing the duty payable on British goods, we should deduct that ro per cent, from our valuations. That would mean a reduction of about 2 per cent, on a 20 per cent, duty, about i£ per cent, on a 15 per cent, duty, and about 1 per cent, on a 10 per cent, duty. It would cover the whole range of ad valorem duties, and as a preference would be of infinitely greater value than the whole of the proposals contained in this schedule. Its direction would be downwards, in favour of the old country, instead of upwards, as the Minister is proposing. If we wish for Imperial Federation, let us give some evidence of our bona fides. This can be done only by reducing the duties upon the products of Great Britain. I propose to insert certain words, which will incorporate mv suggestion.
– I have a prior amendment. I move -
That the following words be inserted before the word “That”: - “ Resolved, with a view to giving preference to the United Kingdom.”
I wish to get a division upon the insertion of those words.
– It seems to me that if the amendment is carried we shall be confined to giving a preference to the United Kingdom. It will preclude the extension of preference to other British possessions.
– The amendment seems to me an absurd one. I understand that the Minister wishes to obtain a vote from the Committee, affirming that it is in favour of giving preference to the United Kingdom; but the words proposed to be inserted have no meaning in themselves, and the carry ing of them cannot be regarded as the affirmation of anything in particular.
– I wish it to be clearly understood that the amendment has been moved with a view to getting a vote on the question of giving preference to Great Britain. I am quite satisfied with the form of the amendment.
– The Minister might then just as well limit his amendment to’ the insertion of the word “Resolved.” I think that to effect his object he should move the insertion of some such words as these -
Resolved, that a Customs preference be given to the United Kingdom.
– The form of the amendment does not matter if the intention is plain.
– It seems to me that it would be absurd to vote against the amendment if the intention is to affirm the desirability of giving preference to the United Kingdom.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That after the word “ That “ the following words be inserted : - “ the words ‘ and a further addition of 10 per cent, upon such marketable value,’ in section 154 of the Customs Act, shall not apply to goods the product of and shipped to Australia from the United Kingdom.”
If that amendment is adopted we shall give a distinct, if small, concession to the United Kingdom in regard to dutiable articles sent here by the people of that country, amounting to a reduction of 2 per cent, where the duty is 20 per cent., of 1 1/2 per cent, where the duty is 15 per cent., and of 1 per cent, where the duty is 10 per cent., the whole range of ad valorem duties being covered. The people of England will find no evidence of sincerity in the proposals of the Government as they stand, inasmuch as they give no concession to Great Britain. Last night we finished with the Australian Industries Preservation Bill. That measure enacts that if British goods are sent here with intent to injure by means of unfair competition Australian trade, or whose importation will probably result in creating a substantial disorganization of Australian industry, their importation .mav be prohibited, while they may be liable to confiscation under certain conditions. Furthermore, if the competition of Great Britain would probably, or does, in fact, create substantial disorganization of Australian industry, or throw workers out of employment, her goods may be prevented from coming here. In determining whether there is substantial disorganization, consideration is. to be had to the remuneration paid in the old country, and if the workmen engaged in the manufacture of the imported goods are employed an hour, or even half-an-hour, a day longer than our workmen are employed, the selling of the goods here may be prohibited. In view of those restrictions, we must give some better proof than the proposals of the Government as they stand of our bona fides, and I think that the small concession which I suggest will be regarded by the British people as an attempt towards the realization of the Imperial idea outlined by Mr. Chamberlain, and supported so eloquently by the Prime Minister, which we all desire to see brought about. If the destiny of the Empire depends upon the keeping together of the various dependencies of Great Britain and the mother country, the closer we can make our trading relations the better it will be for all concerned. To my mind, the Empire can be held together only on the basis of common defence as well as of common trade. I am proposing an initial step which our conditions permit us to make, and which no protectionist should hesitate to agree to.
– I cannot accept the proposal made by the honorable member. Even if the amendment were embodied in the resolution the difference in the result would be so small that a magnifying glass would be required to discover it. In many cases the 10 per cent, is not added to the value of the article for the purposes of assessing the duty.
– It must be added.
– It is not always added.
– Then the Minister has been breaking the law.
– Nothing of the kind. Take the case of harvesters. The 10 per cent, was not added in the first instance when the valuation was fixed at £38.
– That was because the valuation was taken to include the 10 per cent. k
– It is provided in section 154 of the Customs Act that -
The value shall be taken to be the fair market value of the goods in the principal markets of the country whence the same were exported in the usual and ordinary commercial acceptation of the term, and free on board at the port of export in such country, and a further addition of ro per cent, on such market values.
Where there is any doubt with regard to the proper valuation’ to be placed upon the article the 10 per cent, is not compulsorily added. The difficulty experienced in ascertaining the exact value upon which the duty, should be assessed sometimes causes an immense amount of trouble.
– The 10 per cent, is always added, without any exception.
– I know that it is not always added.
– It is either included in the valuation, or added to the duty.
– The Auditor-General would not pass the Customs accounts if the 10 per cent, were not added.
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about. Under some circumstances the Minister can exercise his own discretion. The 10 per cent, was not added in the case of the harvesters.
– The Minister did not fix the valuation of £38 upon harvesters.
– I fixed the valuation of £65.
– I do not suppose that the Minister would have added 10 per cent, to that valuation.
– I think that the Minister stated in the House that the £65 included the 10 per cent.
– It is not mandatory upon the Minister to add the 10 per cent. He can do so if he likes.
– If the 10 per cent, is not added by the Minister he is deliberately breaking the law.
– I never break the law, if I can help it. The honorable member for North Svdney apparently does’ not know that the Minister can arbitrarily fix the valuation of goods when their true commercial value at the port of shipment cannot be ascertained. At present we are importing certain articles from America which cost 12s. 6d. to produce. They are being sold here from £7 7s. to £10 10s., and I am making them pay duty upon a valuation of £4 or £5.
– We are perfectly aware that the valuation includes the 10 per cent.
– What I say is that in those cases it is not necessary to add the 10 per cent.
– Will the Minister tell me this–
– I do not intend to answer any more questions. I cannot accept the proposed amendment.
– I think we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.-]
– When I submitted the resolutions I stated that all the preferences were to be granted conditionally upon the goods being carried in British ships. The amendment provides that the 10 per cent, shall not be added in respect of goods the produce of, and shipped from, the United Kingdom, but no stipulation, is made as to the vessels in which the goods shall be carried.
– I am prepared to add a provision that they shall be carried in British ships - I overlooked that point.
– In any case, I cannot accept the amendment. The honorable member for Parramatta had a great deal. to say upon the subject of our having refrained from reducing duties. The duties now levied are so ridiculously low that there is no room for reduction. A great many of the articles in regard to which preference is to be given are now admitted free of duty, but we propose to levy an impost of 10 per cent, upon such goods coming from foreign countries. The honorable member for Parramatta stated that Mr. Chamberlain’s object was to bring about universal free-trade. But I do not think so.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member said that Mr. Chamberlain wished to im.pose duties upon imports into Great Britain so as to strike a blow at countries which were imposing duties upon British goods, with the ultimate purpose of bringing about universal free-trade.
– I stated that he wished to impose duties with a view to levering down the Tariffs of other nations.
– According to the ideas of a free-trader that would mean the abolition of all duties. I would not consent to a reduction of any of the present duties, except, perhaps, in regard to some raw materials that might be required for manufacturing purposes within the Commonwealth.
– Such as ploughs.
– Ploughs are not raw materials. Our implement makers turn out some of the finest ploughs in the world, and it would do the honorable member good if he could visit some factories in Victoria or South Australia, and see the magnificent work they turn out.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 -p.m.
– T. venture to say that no member of this Committee, and no man outside of this Parliament, realizes more deeply than I do our obligations to Great Britain. I cannot fail to recall the way in which the mother country assisted and supported us in our early days, and How magnanimously she has behaved by endowing us with plenary powers of self-government. From every stand-point, she has done all that a mother could do for her child. When I contrast her treatment of her dependencies with that which has been meted out by other countries fo their colonies, I am lost in amazement. Take the case of France, Germany, and Spain a.; an illustration.
– They grant preferences to their dependencies, and receive preferences from them.
– I will deal with that point later on. In no instance save that of Great Britain, has any country endowed its dependencies with powers of selfgovernment.
– That is the source of Britain’s greatness.
– Nobody admits that more readily than I do. What was the nature of the treatment which Spain accorded to her possessions when they were nearly equal in importance to those of Great Britain? She used them for her own selfish purposes - for the advancement of her own favorites. The same remark is applicable to France and Germany. No country in the civilized world extends to its possessions the same considerate treatment which Great Britain accords to her dependencies. With the solitary exception of the United States, no dependency has ever attempted to throw off the yoke of the mother country, whereas the Spanish possessions - realizing the injustice under which they laboured, and recognising that they were merely being used to supply the needs of Spain - -have frequently risen in rebellion. Feeling as I do for Britain a gratitude which is almost too deep for words, I cannot fail to regard the proposal under discussion as one which is unworthy of Australia, and unworthy of the acceptance of the mother country. When I reflect upon the fact that she has afforded us the protection of her flag during all these years, I think it is incumbent upon us to make such a sacrifice as will indicate that we are not entirely ungrateful. We should not attempt to drive a bargain with England. We ought not to say, “ We are prepared to extend preferential treatment to you if you will impose duties upon the goods of other countries.” The exhibition of such a spirit is unworthy of us. On. the contrary, recognising our responsibilities, we ought to say, ““We are ready to offer you a concession in the matter of trade which will be worthy of your acceptance.” Instead of adonting that course, what do we find? The miserable! protectionist- party which are now in power come forward with this socalled offer of preference to British goods. A number of the articles named are already free under our Tariff, and, in effect, the Government say, “ We will continue to allow these goods - so long as they are of British origin and are brought here in British ships - to be admitted free, but we will levy a duty upon them as against the foreigner.” If the Government were capable of rising to a proper appreciation of their responsibilities, they would say to Great Britain, “ Whatever article you produce shall’ be allowed to enter the Commonwealth, if not absolutely free, at the lowest possible rate of duty.” In other words, her goods should be admitted at such a rate as would bestow upon her a real and substantial preference. I venture to say that ‘Great Britain produces articles which for workmanship and value cannot be excelled in any other part of the world. But upon studying the schedule under consideration. I find no mention of those articles. The proposal which has been submitted is alike unworthy of Australia and of the acceptance of Great Britain.
– The Government are incapable of grasping a big question like this in a statesman-like way.
– [ am very much afraid that they are hidebound by the protectionist spirit, which in this Chamber has developed with amazing rapidity during the last few months. There are two or three items which - if they had been included in the schedule - might have represented something in the nature of a concession to England. But I find there no mention of agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery, for which Great Britain has acquired a world-wide reputation. At the present time our imports of that description from the United Kingdom are valued at , £32,282, whereas those from other countries, including the United States and Canada, are valued at approximately £200,000. Under the Government” proposal no advantage has been conceded to Great Britain in respect of goods in which she does not possess practically a monopoly, but the duties upon those goods have been increased as against the outside world. Assuming that these articles continue to be imported from countries other than the United Kingdom, who will be called upon to pay the duties? Will it be the foreigner or the consumer ? I think that the Minister of Trade and Customs should be in his place when an important proposal1 of this character is under consideration.
– He is obtaining someinformation for me relating to another matter.
– I am very sorry that , the Prime Minister should regard the question under consideration as of so little importance that whilst the debate is in progress he is seeking to acquire information upon other subjects.
– The honorable member will not give me a preference?
– He did so upon one occasion, and has been sorry ever since.
– There is a tone of levity pervading the House which is not in keeping with the consideration of a question of this importance.
– The Government recognise that it is a farce.-
– If they do they should have enacted the farce outside. If, on ‘ the contrary, they are serious in the belief that they are offering a preference of any value to Great Britain, they should approach its consideration in a way that would convince the public. I am deeply disappointed with the attitude of the Government. I recognise all that England has done for us, and feel that we ought to be ready to do what little we can to assist her. If this schedule represents all that we can do for Great Britain, then the sooner it is consigned to the waste paper basket the better. It has been brought forward at a most inopportune time. Had the Government introduced a measure embodying a real preference to Great Britain, and then sought the views of the electors upon it, I venture to say that from one end of Australia to the other the people, recognising what we owe to the motherland, would have warmly supported it. Let us offer her something worthy of her acceptance, even if it should involve some sacrifice on our part. As a matter of fact this proposal will be of little benefit to” the mother country, but the Government hope, by means of it, to secure more protection against the outside world. Many of the items are already on the free-list, so that, so far as they are concerned, no advantage will be derived by Great Britain. Seeing that the motion as it stands does not embody a proposal to make any real sacrifice, I oppose it as a sham, but am prepared to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Parramatta in the hope that even if it confers no substantial benefit on Great Britain, it will show that at all, events a section of the House, and a large section of the people, desire, in the near future, to offer something worthy of acceptance.
– Then the honorable member says that Codlin, not Short, is the friend of the mother country.
– I know nothing about them in this connexion, but I do know that members of the Opposition are prepared to offer Great Britain something worthy of her acceptance, whilst on the other hand, the proposal submitted by the Government is a sham and a disgrace to those who support it.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs this morning indulged in some high-flown sentiments about the glorious ideal of British preference, and one would’ have thought, from his utterances, that the motion embodied a substantial trade concession to Great Britain, offered as an evidence of our desire to preserve the unity of the Empire, and to cement the bonds of kinship about which the Government have recently said so much. As a matter of fact, however, a cursory glance at the schedule is sufficient to show that the main principle underlying it is not so much an attempt to offer Great Britain any substantial advantage as to secure a substantial benefit for the limited circle of Australian manufacturers. That is the selfish, sordid motive which the Government appear to have in view. It is a proposal not so much for preferential trade as to go behind the back of Parliament to increase the burden of taxation borne by the people of Australia, and to increase it in the interests of the manufacturing section of the community, located for the most part in Victoria.
– And going behind the policy of fiscal peace which was adopted at the last election.
– I was about to say that it is in direct contravention of the programme which members of the present Ministry espoused at the last general election. They declared at that time that they were anxious to inaugurate an era of fiscal peace, coupled with preferential trade with Great Britain. Again and again members of the present Ministry emphasized the need for the maintenance of fiscal peace; but they now seem to think it suits their purpose better to proclaim the policy of fiscal war.
– The honorable member desired that the Tariff should be re-opened.
– I have never been an advocate of high duties ; I have always sought a reduction of duties, and am pointing out, in the light of present developments, the insincerity of the professions made at the last general election by several members of ‘the present Government.
– They have since seen the error of their ways.
– It is a curious attitude for the honorable member, as a freetrader, to offer excuses for the actions of the Ministry, in seeking to increase the Tariff in the face of their professions of fiscal peace.
– I have none to offer for them.
– I am seeking to point out the absolute hollowness, mockery, and insincerity of these proposals. The conditions to-day are the same as when Ministers preached the doctrine of fiscal peace, but nearly every action taken by them since assuming office has been in the direction of insidiously going behind the back of Parliament to raise Customs taxation. They knew that it would be idle to submit direct proposals for increased duties, and they have, to a large extent, succeeded by passing such measures as the Commerce Bill and the Australian Industries Preservation Bill in gaining increases by a side wind, and securing the power of absolute prohibition, which’ Parliament would never sanction on a straight-out Tariff issue. - It is with the same object in view that their proposals for preferential trade with New Zealand and Great Britain have been submitted. That fact cannot be too clearly exposed. The people ought to know that the Ministry is simply playing with a magnificent sentiment and perverting it to the sordid and selfish ends to which I have referred. This is a travesty upon the principle of preferential trade, and is a downright insult to the British nation. What preference will be secured by this muchvaunted scheme? When we examine it we find that the preference to be granted is virtually infinitesimal. There is not one item that means a concession to Great Britain’ in the shape of a reduction of duty. A considerable part of the schedule consists of items that are already on the free-list, whilst many of the others relate to imports the bulk of which already come from Great Britain. Upwards of 60 per cent, of the total trade in respect of many of these imports into Australia is held by Great Britain. The balance of the items will confer no advantage on the old country since they relate to specialties which do not come into serious competition with British imports, while some of them <lo not compete at all. Therefore, in proposing to increase the duties on these articles, no preference is given to Great Britain, the only result being to increase the protection afforded to local manufacturers, which, in my opinion, is the real intention of the Government. The Minister of Trade and Customs told us this morning that Great Britain imports annually £166,000,000 worth of foodstuffs, of which only ,£6,918,000 worth, or 4J per cent., come from Australia, a fact which he deplored. But he should know that Great Britain takes all the foodstuffs that we can send her, and that to secure a larger part of that trade, we must increase our population and our cultivated area.
– What is the use of talking like that, since our own people cannot get land ?
– Because they want it at upset prices.
– They want it at prices which will enable them to make a living.
– I admit that there is not that freedom of access to natural opportunities which should exist, but that does not alter the fact that we have a territory capable of maintaining, at a very low estimate, 100,000,000 people, whereas our present population is only a little more than 4,000,000.
– Bread is useless to those who cannot get it.
– The honorable member for Lang is opposed to a Federal land tax, and will not allow this Parliament to try and alter the present state of affairs.
– I do not think that the proposals of the Labour Party for superimposing a progressive land tax on a high Customs Tariff would alter it, though I should be out -of order if I turned aside to discuss that question now. My point is that we already have in Great Britain a market for all the foodstuffs that we send there, and cannot increase our exports to that country until we have a larger population and a larger surplus production. The Minister suggested that the British nation should give a preference to Australia on foodstuffs, but the only way in which that could be done would be by imposing duties upon foodstuffs sent from other countries, which would increase the cost of food in Great Britain. That is recognised b” the British people, and I draw attention to the unanimity of the labour organizations of that country on the point, when Mr. Chamberlain brought forward his proposal for preferential trade. He tried to make out that only a small increase in the price of food was involved ; but the adoption of his scheme would have meant a good deal of suffering to the poorer sections of the community.
– Does the honorable member say that Mr. Chamberlain admitted that there would be an increase in the cost of food?
– Certainly ; though he tried to make out that there would be compensating advantages.
– Only a temporary increase.
– Protective duties are always imposed temporarily, yet are always more or less permanent. The specious excuse is made that they are to last only until the temporarily protected industry has established itself; but we never hear it admitted that any industry so established is able to stand alone, and the manufacturers who once benefit by duties all strenuously oppose their reduction.
– We have an instance of that in the case of Victoria, where there was protection for forty years.
– Yes, and some of the countries of Europe have had centuries of protection. Similarly, bonuses are introduced nominally for a time only, but they are constantly renewed, and, even when ultimately abolished, are generally succeeded bv a duty. The British people have emphatically asserted that they are opposed to duties on foodstuffs. That was abundantly manifested by the result of the last British elections, and is further proved by the following .resolution, passed by the House of Commons, on the motion of Sir James Kitson, on the 13th March last: -
That this House, recognising that the people at the recent general election demonstrated their unqualified fidelity to the principle and practice of free-trade, records its determination to resist any proposal, whether by a tax on corn or a general tariff, to create in Great Britain a system of protection.
That resolution was carried by 474 votes to 98, a majority of 376 being in favour of it. Therefore, the Minister cannot reasonably expect that the present British Parliament will place duties .on foodstuffs. I find that of a total importation valued at £38,346,731, the proposed preferential treatment would affect only £2,291,439 worth. Of these goods, £r.,473>l89 worth come from the United Kingdom; £20,531 from Canada; £6,274 from India; and £838 from other British possessions. Against this total importation of £1,500.832 from Great Britain and British possessions, there are importations from Japan and China, valued at £28,765; from the United States of America, valued at ,£432>533j and from other foreign countries, valued at £329,306, a total of £79°>6o3- If will thus be seen that the greater part of the trade upon which preference is proposed to be given is already in British hands. A large portion of the balance is made up of special lines of goods which are not manufactured in Great Britain. The great bulk of these articles come from the United States, at which country we shall strike the heaviest blow by adopting these proposals. I wish to refer to two or three items which appear to be worthy of special notice. One of these is strawboard. This item was freely discussed, when the Tariff was under consideration, and was the subject of a great deal of misrepresentation. I have been in communication with a large manufacturer of cardboard boxes in Sydney “ who uses immense quantities of strawboards. He has a very extensive establishment, and he says that his industry will be very seriously handicapped if the duty is increased in the manner proposed. He points out that no strawboard is manufactured in the United Kingdom, and that, therefore, any proposal to give preference to Great Britain by increasing the duty against other countries must be a sham and a delusion.
– I have received a copy of the letter written by the gentleman referred to, and at the proper time I shall show how mistaken he is.
– His statement is that no strawboard is manufactured in Great Britain. Some millboards are made there, but they are used for a different purpose. Great Britain imports 100,000 tons of strawboard annually, nine-tenths of which quantity comes from Holland. Great Britain imports strawboard for the purposes of her own manufacturers,, and it is evident that any preference in regard to that raw material will not confer any ‘benefit upon the mother country.
– But the duty will be increased in favour of the local manufacturer.
– Exactly. It is ‘ proposed to increase the duty by 50 per cent., and this will confer considerable benefit upon the Broadford mills, near Melbourne.
– From the proprietors of which the Minister has probably obtained his information.
– In this, as in other instances, the Minister has doubtless_ been subjected to a good deal of lobbying by interested manufacturers. Locally-made strawboard is useful only for certain purposes. It is valueless except for use in the roughest kind of work, and no matter what dutv may be imposed, box manufacturers will still have to import strawboard. Mr. P. J. Firth, of Codrington-street Redfern, Sydney, who manufactures all kinds of cardboard boxes-
– He is an interested party.
– He is a manufacturer of strawboard boxes, and gives employment to a large number of workers. This fact, in itself, should induce the Minister to pause before he increases the duty upon the raw materials used in the industry. Mr. Firth says -
The quality of the Victorian strawboard is much inferior to that of Dutch make, and is not even equal to that manufactured in Japan. Victorian bookbinders, though a duty of 4s. per cwt. (at least 80 per cent.) had to be paid under the State Tariff, still imported Dutch strawboard, the Victorian make being too rough and brittle to use in their trades. Cardboard box makers also find it impossible to make small boxes or “good work” out of Victorian board. It can only be used for cheap boxes of a fairly large size.
Notwithstanding the duty of 80 per cent, under the Victorian Tariff, the bookbinders in that State found it absolutely necessary to import Dutch strawboard; it was of much better quality and more suitable for their work. Therefore, the Minister, in seeking to benefit one industry which employs very few hands, will inflict great injury upon another and much more important one. In 1902 the Broadford mill employed only five men and six boys, and incidentally provided work for half-a-dozen other men in carting firewood. In 1902, when the duty was reduced from 4s. to1s. per cwt., the plant was duplicated, and, although nothing is said as to any additional hands having been employed, it is fair to assume that the staff was increased. In any case, the proposed duty will benefit only one Victorian manufacturer, who employs a small number of hands; whilst, by increasing the price of strawboard, it will have a discouraging effect upon another important industry, employing a considerable number of hands.
– If the box-making industry referred to were transferred to Victoria, the Minister would shed tears over it.
– Perhaps so. Ministers have shed some crocodile tears over the Victorian farmers but they have not hesitated to impose higher duties, which have had the effect of increasing, the price of harvesters.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– It is absolutely correct. I have received three letters from farmers, who tellme that the price has been increased.
– Fully 100 farmers have told me that they have received a rebate this season.
– Another item to which I wish to refer is furniture. We know that Great Britain exports a very small quantity of furniture. Most of that imported into the Commonwealth comes from other countries, and a large quantity of the bent wood type from Austria. The bentwood furniture which is made in that country is extensively used by the poorer classes. If the duties are increased upon this class of furniture, the preference given to ‘Great Britain will confer no advantage upon her, but will impose an extra burden upon those who use bentwood furniture, for which no suitable substitute can be found. It is cheap, durable, and particularly suitable for use in the Australian climate.
– The South Australian furniture makers are knocking out even their Chinese competitors.
– They cannot find any substitute for Austrian bentwood furniture.
– They tell me that they are doing so.
– No timber is grown in Australia that can be used with the same advantage for furniture making as the Austrian product now used. Several materials have been tried, but rank and ghastlv failure has resulted. Austrian furniture is to be found in almost every house in the land, and even in this building. The effect of increasing the dutywould be to raise the price of Austrian bentwood furniture from 9d. to 2s. on each article.
– That would represent a great deal more than10 per cent, of their value.
– Those engaged in the furniture trade here tell me that that is what would happen. The importation of this furniture affords employment to a very large number of people in Australia, because it is imported in parts.
– Like Beale’s pianos.
– Exactly in the same way as are Beale’s pianos. The parts are put together here, and in that process a large number of Australians find profitable employment. Anything which will tend to diminish that employment is to be deprecated. I have no desire to criticise the schedule in detail at the present stage, but I propose to mention a few items which are not included in it, and upon . which a real and tangible preference might be given to Great Britain. The following figures show the respective values of imports into the Commonwealth from Great
Britain and foreign countries in relation to goods upon which, even under the present scheme, a real preference might have been given to Great Britain : - Horseshoe nails, British, £3,154; foreign, £8,1.70; nails, wire staples, &c, British, £16,455; foreign, £44.359 ; wire, iron and steel, British, £31,077; foreign, £296,387; wire netting, British, £220,083 > foreign, £.115,1.1:4; barbed wire, British, £11,139; foreign’, , £60,267; n.e.i., wire, British, £27,304; foreign. £30,085. The total of these imports is, British £^09,212, and foreign £554.389. It will be seen that in respect of these few items we could extend to Great Britain a real and substantial preference. But nothing of the kind is proposed. On the contrary, a number of articles have been selected which are already free, and it is proposed to levy a duty upon those articles when they are of other than British origin. A number of other items have been selected in respect of which Great Britain already enjoys a natural preference by reason of the fact that she possesses upwards of 60 per cent, of the trade. Of the remainder of the articles .specified in the schedule, a number are of a special character which do not enter into competition with British manufactures. Upon the face of it, the scheme stands self -condemned ; it is a mere make-shift and a pretence. So far from it extending a real preference to Great Britain, I regard it merely as another of those cunningly devised schemes with which we have lately become so familiar to increase duties in the interests of Australian and particularly of Victorian manufacturers. It is being used as a means to unworthily play upon a lofty national sentiment. If time permitted I could show that the proposal will inflict injury upon British trade to the extent of £130.000 or £150,000 a year. That is the kind of preference which we are asked to extend to her - a preference which will actually involve her in a monetaryloss. I shall certainly vote for the amendment submitted bv the honorable member for Parramatta, and should it be defeated I -will move -
That all the words after “ that “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ This House affirms the desirability of establishing a system of preferential trade with Great Britain, upon the basis of conceding a Tariff reduction upon all dutiable imports of British manufacture coming into the Common- wealth of Australia.”
.- In submitting this proposal, the Minister declared that it was intended to affirm a great principle. For my own part, I think that it is simply playing with a great principle, inasmuch as it will not bring the Commonwealth and Great Britain into trade relations any closer than those which already exist. I admit that to some extent it removes the competition of the foreigner, but from a preferential stand-point, it is nothing but a mockery. It was a surprise to me to hear the Minister declare that at the present time the Commonwealth has a freetrade Tariff.
– I did not say that; I said that our Tariff was ridiculously low.
– The Minister stated that the present duties are not protective in their incidence. He added that they were only useful for revenue purposes.
– I said that our Tariff is exceedingly low - that it is more of a revenue than a protective Tariff.
– The Minister asserted that our duties are not protective in their incidence. I hold that they are highly protective.
– I should like to frame a. protective Tariff for the honorable member.
– The Minister would frame a prohibitive Tariff. The honorable gentleman also stated that this proposal if adopted will be productive of good results. I contend that its effect will be to create a great deal of enmity between the Commonwealth and’ other nations.
– They impose heavy duties upon our goods, except they constitute their raw material.
– I should like to see this question) dealt with in a comprehensive way. Under the cloak of this treaty, the Minister desires to sneak in a further measure of protection. At the same time, he wishes the mother country to believe that he is extending a substantial preference to her goods. This morning he spoke of the £166,000,000 worth of foodstuffs which she annually consumes. Need .1 remind him that England takes all the foodstuffs that Australia can send her. Assuming that she were willing to enter, into a reciprocal treaty with us, and to impose a Tariff in our favour against the rest of the world, does the Minister imagine that other nations which are sup- plying her with foodstuffs would cease .to do so? Certainly not. Denmark, which annually sends to Great Britain £10,000,000 worth of dairy produce, would not send a pound’s worth less. The effect might be that the price of Danish produce might be reduced, but neither England nor Australia would derive any advantage. At the present time, Australia possesses an open market for her goods in England, and the latter can absorb ten times the quantity of foodstuffs that we export to her. The Minister also asked, “ How can we compete with America?” I would point out that we compete with that country in the matter of wheat and wool, and the day is not far distant when America will require to import produce from Australia. Her population is fast absorbing all her own surpluses, and as a result, she is now able to export very little produce to England’. But in respect of bulky goods, we shall always be at a disadvantage as compared with America, on account of the great difference between the cost of transit. The Minister has argued that protection does not increase the price of any article to the consumer. I think that he had better take a trip to England, and make the statement there. If he did so, the people of the old country would regard him as a proper subject to be locked up. If protection did not increase the price of goods to the consumer, Great Britain would have adopted a policy of preferential trade with us long ago.
– English political economists say that protection does not necessarily increase the price, of goods to the consumer.
– It is said that if another place agrees to the proposed duty .of £12 on harvesters, the price of those machines will be reduced to £75. As a matter of fact, manufacturers are advertising them at £70, and they could sell them at £50 and make a good profit.
– If the honorable member had had his way they would be selling them at £80 each.
– I hold that under this proposal we shall give no real preference to England. The Tariff is not to be reduced in her favour with the object of assisting her in her struggle against foreign competitors. I should have liked the Government to submit a motion offering a real preference to England, and calculated to bring her into closer trading relationship with the Commonwealth. In the course of his speech on the Address-in-Reply, the Prime Minister said that Australia was prepared to make a sacrifice, and when the leader of the Opposition interjected, “ That means lower duties,” he replied that he was prepared to make that sacrifice. I do not think that the Prime Minister has had anything to do with this proposal. It seems to me to be the work of the high priest of protection - the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– Does not the honorable member think that the Cabinet considered it before it was introduced ?
– Some members of the Cabinet must have been absent when it was considered. I do not think that the Treasurer had anything to do with the scheme.-
– He had.
– I feel sure that, as ai true Uri toro, he is prepared to give a read preference to Great Britain.
– When we cannot obtain all that we desire, we must fake what we can get as a first instalment.
– The Treasurer, like myself, feels that he cannot get all that he desires in this direction. Whilst I shall vote for the motion, for the reason that I am a thorough believer in the British Empire, and recognise that it will give England a slight advantage over the foreigner, I feel that we ought to do something more than this. When) we take into consideration the great sacrifices that England has made for us-
– This is a beginning.
– We should be prepared to make a small beginning by supporting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Parramatta. It would mean a little more preference to imports from Great Britain, and would show the people of the old world that we view this matter in a proper light. I believe that, as time goes on, we shall establish a true system of preferential trade which will draw us closer to the mother country - that the high Tariff now existing against her will be whittled away, and that the people of our own blood living in other parts of the Empire will be enabled to trade on. better terms than) at present with Australia. England is making, a great sacrifice in guarding our shores and protecting our trade on the high seas. She also takes our surplus products, and we should be prepared in return to make, at all events, a slight sacrifice on her behalf. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Parramatta means the insertion of the thinnest of wedges, and, if adopted, it will indicate that our sentiment is a living one. It will give the Minister of Trade and Customs an opportunity to show whether he is an honest believer in preferential trade, or whether he is simply seeking, under the guise of preferential trade, to raise a higher Tariff wall against the foreigner. In the course of the exhaustive speech in which he dealt with all phases of this question, the honorable member for Parramatta expressed the sentiments of the Opposition, and I should like the Minister to accept his amendment. The Opposition believe in preferential trade. The Minister should be prepared to accept the amendment, since he made the startling, statement to-day that, in assessing the ad valorem duties payable on certain goods, 10 per cent, is not added in all cases to the invoice prices.
– Under section 160 of the Customs Act 10 per cent, is not always added.
– The honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable member for Wide Bay, who have both held office as Minister of Trade and Customs, assure me that the honorable gentleman is under a misapprehension. No Minister should be in a position to grant favours.
– No favour is shown to any one.
– If 10 per cent, is added to the valuation of goods which I import, and only 7 per cent, is added to those imported by some one else, the. system is unfair.
– But the circumstances may not be the same.
– If 10 per cent, is not added in all cases, surely the Minister should be prepared to say that it shall not be added to the valuation of any imports from Great Britain If he would agree to the amendment, the debate would soon be brought to a close.
.The amendment moved by the honorable member for Parramatta is worthy of support. On several occasions, both in this House and outside of it, we have heard honorable members on the Ministerial side expressing a desire to bring the people of Great Britain into closer commercial union with Australia, and intimating their willing ness to make a sacrifice to achieve that end. At the last general election the high priest of the Protectionist Association, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, stated that his party would consent to a preference being granted to Great Britain by a reduction of the duties on pianos, cotton, and linen piece goods, cutlery, plated ware, and certain other goods imported from that country. On the . four lines to which I have specifically referred, a preference could be given to Great Britain by a reduction of duties without interfering with any one’s fiscal belief, since they do not touch to any extent the question of free-trade and protection in Australia. The duty on pianos of course affects Mr. Beale, and we should have to reduce it to only a slight extent so as not to interfere with the Minister of Trade and Customs’ friend. If the rhetorical statements made from time to timeby the Prime Minister and others as to the necessity of doing something to draw Great Britain and Australia into closer commercial intercourse have any backing, the Ministry should be prepared to do that which would be an earnest of their desire to place Great Britain on a. somewhat better footing in our markets than she holds at the present time. We shall not do that by simply raising the duties against the foreigner. There are many items the duties on which could be lowered in favour of Great Britain without injury to an Australian industry ; but we do not see in this schedule an attempt to make those reductions. The amendment is so modest as to be, in the words of the Prime Minister, “ only a seedling “ - so modest that it should be acceptable to any one having an honest desire to grant preferential trade to Great Britain. It would not prevent the Parliament raising duties for the protection of any industry in danger of being swamped by imports from Great Britain. Under it the reduction of duty in favour of Great Britain would amount to only one-tenth ; although the reduction granted by Canada amounts to onethird. It would mean that in respect of goods liable to an ad valorem duty of 30 per cent, the foreigner would pay 33 per cent., and the Britisher 30 per cent. ; on goods dutiable at 15 per cent., the foreigner’ would pay16½ per cent., and the British 15 per cent. ; and on those dutiable at 10 per cent., the foreigner would pay11 per cent., and the Britisher only 10 per cent. A man who is prepared to say that such a preference would endanger Australian industries must have a very vivid imagination. The Minister might well accept the proposal. If he did, we could then proceed to discuss the schedule. The amendment is not necessarily antagonistic to the motion. I should much prefer not to see duties raised as proposed against the foreigner. If it is desired to raise them in this way, the Tariff Commission which has been dealing with the whole question of Tariff reform, and has involved the country in considerable expense, should be asked first to submit recommendations on the subject. To bring in proposals relating to such items as timber, hops, candles, and others mentioned in the schedule is to cut into the work which the members of the Commission have done, and to deprive us of recommendations based on the evidence which they have ‘heard. I believe that these proposals are fragmentary, and to a great extent purely illusory, and that if this Parliament had twoyears instead of two or three weeks to run, they would not have been brought forward in their present form.
– They might have been brought forward in a far longer form.
– At page 8476 of Hansard, volume 24, will be found a resolution, moved in the first session of this Parliament by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. It is couched in flamboyant language, and it throws an interesting light on the difference between the words and acts of a rhetorician. These are the rhetorician’s words: -
Inasmuch as every increase in trade between the Mother Country and the Colonies or any of them would be of mutual advantage commercially, while collectively, by multiplying their production, profitable employment, population, and exchanges, such increases must enhance the unity and power of the Empire, this House resolves that -
The Prime Minister there uses the glowing language, the magniloquent phrases of the leader-writer who has a large amount of space to fill and very few ideas with which to fill it. He waves the flag in every line, until one is almost blinded. But what a contrast when we compare his glowing words with this precious schedule, and see how little practical sympathy, the Government propose to extend to the mother country.
– It is the mountain and the mouse over again.
– There are importations valued at over38,000,000, including spirits, narcotics, bullion, and specie, with which the schedule does not deal; but preference is to be given to imports of only a little over 2,000,000 worth. This preference, too, in many cases is almost illusory, and practically non-existent in most. What we on this side propose, though not very much, is a concession in regard to all British goods upon which ad valorem duties are levied, and, if adopted, will enable us to know at the end of two or three years whether we should continue this policy as likely to be mutually advantageous to the mother country and Australia. I am not one of those who declaim from every platform about the great services that we owe to the mother country, while taking care to vote always to keep British goodsout of Australia, and to hamper British trade as much as possible. Recognising our enormous obligations to the mother country, I regard the amendment as an earnest of our desire to assist her in a practical way. No doubt the amendment will be negatived, because the Government are using for party purposes the Imperial sentiment, which is cherished by a majority of Australians, while they do not wish to give Great Britain any real preference. I hold this view, notwithstanding the repeated declarations of the Prime Minister, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports,, and others, that there are certain items upon which they are prepared to reduce duties.
– When we get a comprehensive scheme. This is only the beginning.
– Will the honorable member carry out his pledges when the schedule comes under discussion? Will he vote then for a reduction of the duty on cutlery or plated ware?
– Honorable members opposite wish to begin by taking; the giving is to come later.
– Yes. When we get to the schedule, we shall find ourselves outvoted if we propose reductions in favour of Great Britain. The concession proposed by the honorable member for Parramatta is so slight that the giving of it would not seriously interfere with the fiscal policy of the country, while it would be an earnest of our desire to help the mother country.
– I ask the Minister whether it is worth while to go further this afternoon? Will he consent to agree to report progress, seeing that a number of honorable members desire to speak?
– They can speak afterwards. The honorable member for Lang has given notice of another amendment. I want to get the motion passed if possible.
– If that were reasonable, the Minister would have some right to ask for it ; but it is not reasonable. Am I to understand that he would be satisfied with a vote on the amendment now before the Committee?
– I do not say that.
– The treatment which this subject can receive at the present time, only a few weeks before the dissolution of Parliament, is not such as agreat Empire question deserves. That is shown by the manner in which the Minister of Trade and Customs introduced it. His frequent absences of late may have prevented him from studying the subject in a way which would have enabled hum to deal with it fully and lucidly. He has been attending some functions in the country - circuses, perhaps - and jumps into this arena with a sort of” here-we- are-again “ expression on his face, asking us in the most light and airy fashion todeal in a few hours with the whole question of preference between Great Britainand Australia. The Prime Minister would have opened the discussion in a very different manner. The Minister of Trade and Customs could not helpletting us see that he thinks all the time. of number one, and is determined that Australia shall have the full feast, the mother . country to receive only such crumbs as may fall from the table. His leader would have led off in glorious language, telling of what we owe to Great Britain, and indicating his sense of our debt of gratitude.
– Which he would not have proposed to pay.
– He would have dwelt upon the desirability of liquidating that debt, and in telling periods would have depicted the greatness of the Empire, and the interrelation of its parts, finally putting before us this proposition, which contains no practical concession to Great Britain at all. I should like to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs by how much the. revenue will, be increased if the schedule is agreed to.
-I also wish to know if dynamite is to be taken to include gelatine, gelignite, blasting gelatine, and other high explosives. If not, the preference in regard to dynamite will be worthless, because it is practically not used nowadays, the other substances which I have named having taken its place. Am I to understand that they will be included under the heading “dynamite”?
– Personally, I am only too ready to give 3 preference to Great Britain, but I . think it ought to be a real preference. There ought to be no sham about it. We ought to be prepared to reduce our duties as against Great Britain, instead of increasing them as against the foreigner.
– We ought to do both.
– I could more readily approve of a scheme that proposed to do both than a scheme which proposes merely to raise the duties against the foreigner. If we, first of all, impose such duties upon articles that we think we can manufacture! as will exclude British imports, we shall make no concession by increasing the imports against the foreigner. We can, however, give preference by reducing the duties upon British goods. The Minister anticipates that Great Britain will at some time impose duties upon her foodstuffs - the support of her poorer classes - in order that she may obtain from us, not a real concession, not, as Mr. Chamberlain has said, a great reduction on our protective duties, but an increase of duties against the foreigner. The Minister fell into the same fallacy as Mr. Chamberlain. Mr. Chamberlain, in the first portion of his Glasgow speech, argued that /the imposition of a duty upon foodstuffs would permit the products of the Colonies to displace the supplies now derived from foreign countries. He proposed a preference of only 3d. per bushel upon corn, but . he thought that would help largely in the direction indicated. In the second part of his speech - just as the Minister did in two sentences to-day - he argued that the foreigner would pay the increase of duty, and that the people of Great Britain would not suffer owing to any increase of prices.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– I am referring to what Mr. Chamberlain said,, and stating that the Minister expressed the same opinion.
– I stated that where duties were placed upon articles that could be produced and manufactured within the country, and internal competition was allowed to operate, the outsider would pay the duty.
– If the foreigner is the outsider, and pays the duty, there can be no preference to Australia in the British market. If the Australian is the outsider, and he pays the duty, he will lose any preference conferred by the duty. Nothing could be more clear; and I am surprised, not that the Minister fell into a mistake, but that Mr. Chamberlain, with his clear mind, should have put forward two such contradictory self -destructive arguments. If in return for seme trifling advantage, we ask the people of Great Britain to place upon their shoulders - already heavily weighted with the cares of Empire and the necessity of maintaining enormous military” and naval establishments - the extra burden of -a duty on foodstuffs, we need not pretend that we are endeavouring to extend any benefit to them. What we want in connexion with this question is more honesty. We should not try to get the best of each other, nor attempt to obtain something without giving a proper return. Only an honest attempt will succeed, because the leading men of Great Britain are not fools. We should put forward,^ proposals on lines that will be beneficial to both parties. It is the absence of honesty in connexion with this proposal that induces me to oppose it. Now, what is this magnificent effort at preference? Out of a total of £38,000,000 worth of imports, it is proposed to give Great Britain preference in regard to £2,500,000. Of this proportion, only £961,000 worth comes from foreign countries, and only a small part of the trade which these ‘imports represent can possibly be transferred to Great Britain. Probably not 10 per cent, of the foreign import trade in the articles mentioned in the schedule will be “diverted into British channels. Whilst we are making loud professions, which ring, not only from one end of Australia to the other, but from here to Great Britain, and through the United States and the Continent, we find when we come to business that a magnificent satire upon preference to the motherland is put before Parliament. A proposal that touches only £961,000 worth of foreign trade out of £38,000,000 worth of imports into Australia is all that we have to consider. It is astonishing that of the articles which are left untouched our imports from foreign countries are far larger in proportion than are our foreign imports of the articles, in respect to which it is proposed to give preference. Does this indicate sincerity ? I venture to say that, whilst these proposals may be quoted by those who support Mr. Chamberlain’s policy as affording evidence of the desire of Australia to enter into reciprocal relations, those persons who have hoped that Australia would really do something for the motherland will be bitterly disappointed. There are the most extraordinary variations in the preferences proposed to be given, and I should like to have some explanation in regard to them. New Zealand and Canada give the mother country a preference by reducing their duties by 33& Per cent. Instead of adopting that simple plan. Ministers propose to give a preference which varies widely in regard to a number of items. For instance, upon ammunition and cartridges it is proposed to give a preference of 10 per cent., whereas with regard to revolvers, pistols, &c, the preference is to be only 7^ per cent.
– The honorable member must recollect that ammunition and cartridges were free, and that the duty has been raised 10 per cent, against the foreigner, whereas, in regard to revolvers, &c, the duty was 15 per cent., and has been raised to 22J per cent.
– Then, again, in regard to rifles, n.e.i., and shot guns, the preference proposed is 5 per cent., whereas upon military rifles the preference is 10 per cent. In regard to a number of items, the duty is increased by 10 per cent.,, but upon paints and colours the preference to be given amounts to 25 per cent. What is the cause of these variations? Upon strawboard, an article used largely in manufacturing operations within the Commonwealth, cit is proposed to increase the duty by 50 per cent. Why should this extra protection be given to the Broadford mill? Instead of that establishment having been closed down bv the reduction of the duty when the Tariff was brought into operation, operations have been extended. Yet it is proposed to increase the duty on the foreign article by 50 per cent. I am informed that strawboard is not manufactured in Great Britain, and that, therefore, the preference proposed to be given can confer no benefit upon the mother country. Then an extra duty of 20 per cent, is imposed upon paper bags, whilst the preference in regard to pickles, sauces, &c, amounts to 25 per cent. Again, on starch, an article which needs no extra protection, an impost representing an increase of 25 per cent, is to be levied. All these variations tend to complicate matters, and, in conjunction with the other proposals with regard to preference for New Zealand, will convert our Tariff into a Chinese puzzle. We shall have one set of duties for New Zealand, and another set for Great Britain. Then the Tariff Commission is about to recommend a number of alterations, and we have higher protection threatened by the Ministry. We are being asked to deal in a most zig-zag, unequal fashion with the items in the Tariff. No reasons are given for these inequalities. We have preferences given bv means of increased duties in the case of Great Britain, and partly by reductions of dutv in the case of New Zealand. Our Tariff will very soon be a labyrinth which no one can thread, and as a
Legislature we shall become a laughing stock. The Minister has not offered a word in explanation of these variations of preference.
– I shall be quite prepared to do so when the schedule is reached.
– The plan which has been adopted by the Government marks such a departure from that which has been followed by other portions of the Empire, which extend a preference to the mother country by the simple expedient of reducing their duties to the extent of 33J per cent, upon British goods, that I expected the Minister would have assigned reasons for it when he submitted this proposal. In amy case, between the alterations which are threatened in the direction of increased protection and alterations which the Tariff Commission may recommend, what are we coming to? A state of confusion which is really absurd. Upon some items we give a preference of 15 per cent, to New Zealand, whilst upon the same items we extend a different preference to Great Britain. It is time that the Government faced the Tariff question from its beginning to its end, and submitted a scheme which would provide a simple method of giving effect to the ends which they have in view. Unless they do that, confusion must grow worse confounded. I feel sure that little or nothing in the direction desired will result from this proposal. Canada and New Zealand have granted a .much larger measure of preference to goods from the mother country than is here proposed; but, instead of developing British trade, there has been a decline of that trade proportionately to that done with other countries. What is the reason for this? In the first place, both New Zealand and Canada - and we are following their example - endeavoured so to protect their manufacturers against Britain itself, that when there was no concession made to British goods in respect of the duties levied under the ordinary Tariff, the higher duties imposed against the goods of other countries proved ineffective. What is it that controls the trade between countries? When one country oan produce an article better than can another - whether if be in the shape of raw material or of other products - it necessarily attracts from other countries a larger share of the trade in that article. When a country occupies that position, as Britain does in respect of some of her goods, no pre- ference is needed. It enjoys a natural advantage, which, after all, is better than any preference. But when one or two, or it may be several, countries can produce an article equally well, then any preference - unaccompanied by a previous exclusion of goods by means of protective duties - will operate in favour of the country to which that preference is extended. If a country cannot produce an article at anything like the cost at which it can be produced by other countries, any preference which may be given to it will be absolutely ineffective. That is the experience of the United States and of Canada. The latter extended a preference to the goods of Great Britain largely for the purpose of reducing the increasing imports from the United States. But the Dominion did what we are doing - she practically destroyed a great deal of the value of that preference by levying, such high duties upon a great many English manufactures that they could not get access to her market, even though there were higher duties operative against the foreigner.
– Surely that aided Britain !
– It did not result in a relatively larger consumption of manufactured goods from Great Britain than from other countries. The reason is not far to seek. It is to be found in the fact that in many articles the United States of America is in the position of having such natural advantages that she is able to compete even against the preference. In the other case in which Great Britain and the United States can compete upon an equality - the former may derive some advantage from the Canadian preference, but that advantage has not overcome the increasing quantity of other goods entering Canada.
– Would it not do something to counteract the. effect of the bonuses paid bv other countries’ to undermine British trade?
– As regards the trade of the United States, of America and Canada, I do not think that any bonuses affected it. I speak of the United States because the great object of Canada in making a concession to Great Britain was to check the largely increasing portion of her trade with the United States. A large proportion of the articles mentioned in this schedule come under the heading of those which cannot be affected by the preference. In the matter of arms and ammunition a great deal depends upon the patents or upon the particular make. Although we may impose a duty upon that class of goods coming from foreign countries, if a particular make is preferred by the user, the extra duty will be paid, and Great Britain will not receive the benefit of the trade. The same remark is applicable to many articles, such as bicycles, tricycles, and vehicles. The trade in these is largely controlled by patents or by the popular fancy for a particular make. These goods will continue to be imported from ‘the sources of supply, principally, Canada and America, in spite of any preference which we may give to the mother country. Then the proposal of the Government in respect of boots and shoes represents either an’ additional protection, or it is intended to divert trade. I venture to say that the boots and shoes imported from the United States - that is the country outside of Britain from which they principally come - will not be very materially affected by the additional duty proposed. Those boots are largely puichased, because they are of a special make. Most of them are of a high price. The same objection can be urged in respect of watches, clocks, chronometers, compasses, ships’ chronometers, telescopes. &c- Some of these articles are controlled by patents, and others are preferred because of their extra power, efficiency, or strength. If they possess those points of superiority they will continue to be purchased from the source which now supplies them, even if they cost more money.
– I understood that the right honorable member for East Sydneywas in favour of granting a preference to the goods of the United Kingdom.
– The honorable member has made a mistake. I am not the right honorable member for East Sydnev. and I have not to find reasons for all his “opinions. Had the honorable member entered the Chamber a. little earlier, he would have heard me state that I would support a proposal to extend a real preference to Great Britain, and I think that the right honorable member for East Sydney has said the same thing. He will support a real preference being extended to the mother country in the shape of a reduction of duty. A number of the items enumerated in the schedule as drawing, mathematical, and surveying instruments, are purchased from a particular source, because they are the most suitable articles which can be obtained. Consequently a large number of the so-called preferences which appear upon the face of this schedule fall to the ground. 1 venture to say that if, under this proposal, 10 per cent, of the961,000 worth of trade mentioned by the Minister is diverted from foreign countries to Great Britain, it is all that will be accomplished, and to accomplish that - according to the Minister’s own admission - the people of Australia will be mulcted, not only to the extent of the increased cost of some articles imported, but in the additional , £64,000 which he expects to annually collect under this schedule. The proposal is a sham one. It avoids the great bulk of the articles we are importing, and does not take into account imports to the value of 35,000,000, which are drawn proportionately to a larger extent from foreign countries than are the imports to the value of , £2,500,000 per annum with which it is proposed to deal. I feel satisfied that the scheme, as submitted, will be evaded, especially where the preference against foreign imports is considerable. Foreign goods subject to the higher percentages, will, in many cases, be introduced in parts into Great Britain ; the whole work of manufacturing will be practically done abroad, but the process of assembling these parts will take place in the “United Kingdom so that the complete article will be entitled to the preference granted to British imports. The proposal, as it stands, opens the door to such practices. Let me conclude by saying that, if we desire to estimate the extent of the Ministry’s affection for the mother country - the affection so strongly demonstrated by these proposals - we have only to recall to mind their action when the Tariff was under consideration. At that time, we were constantly told that duties proposed from one side of the House would not be sufficient to shut out “ the foreign article. “
Air. Thomas. - Especially the product of the pauper labour of England.
– Quite so. When we inquired what foreign articles Ministers had in mind, we were often told that they were goods produced by the pauper labour of Great Britain. That was the country aimed at, and hit more frequently than any other by the proposals of the Ministry. Are we now to accept the statement that their attitude has undergone a change, that they have acquired a sudden regard for the mother country, and are going to give her some real concession that will enable her to find a limited entrance into our markets ? The belief that their attitude has undergone such a change is dissipated as soon as we glance at thisschedule. When we examine it, we find at once that although their words to-day are different from what they were a fewyears ago, their intent is the same. I hope that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Parramatta - a proposal to give a real, although slight concession to the mother country - will find support, and that the Committee will agree to give a genuine advantage, however small, rather than make the mother country, the unreal, offer of the so-called concession which the Government have submitted.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. Johnson) put -
That after the word” That,” line1, the following words be inserted : - “ This Mouse affirms the desirability of establishing a system of preferential trade with Great Britain on the basis of conceding Tariff reductions on all dutiable imports of British manufacture coming into the -Commonwealth of Australia.” The Committee divided. Ayes ‘ … … … 10
Leave granted ; motion agreed to.
Majority … … 10 to report progress, and then for the. House again to resolve itself into Committee of Ways and Means; but if honorable members agree, I will put the question.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Fisher), read a first time.
Speech of the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to say that the business for Tuesday will be the consideration of the Constitution Alteration (Special Duties) Bill, the Bill for taking over the whole of the debts of the States, and the Bill for referendum machinery. As we are within two, or at the most three, weeks of the close of the session, I ask honorable members tobe prepared next week to condense their speeches as much as possible, and to sit whatever hours and times may be necessary to conclude our business before the elections.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he will have printed and circulated for the benefit of honorable members his speech on preferential trade made this moming? Although brief, it was bristling with facts that are well worthy of the close attention of honorable members.
– It will be published in Hansard next week.
House adjourned at 4.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 September 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060914_reps_2_34/>.