3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
STATUE TO MR. CARRUTHERS.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY. - I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister, without notice, if there is any truth in the rumor that, in imitation of the action of the. State of South Carolina, in erecting a monument to the memory of J. C. Calhoun, the great American nullifier of the Constitution, it is the intention of the Government to place a sum of money on the Estimates to erect a life-size statue of J. H. Carruthers, the Australian nullifier of the Constitution, who sneaked the wire netting from the Sydney Customs officials? If so, will the monument of glorybe built of bronze, marble, or mud?
Sir WILLIAM LYNE.- No such action has been or will be taken.
Preferential Trade - Duty on Wheels and Axles - Duty on Magazines.
Mr. JOHNSON.- I wish to call the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to the following cablegram from London, which is published in to-day’s Argus -
THE HEAVY TARIFF.
Birmingham much concerned.
London, Aug. 22.
Birmingham commercial men are much concerned at the heavy increases of duty provided for in the Australian Tariff. The Chamber of Commerce has already presented a memorial to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, pointing out the “ injustice, hardship, and enormous losses “ which exporters would suffer by the Tariff coming into operation without notice, and urging Lord Elgin to ask the Commonwealth Government to postpone its operation for three months.
Mr. Churchill announced in the House of Commons last evening that Sir William Lyne, the Commonwealth Treasurer, had stated that he was unable to defer the collection of the new duties. When he heard this statement, Mr. Harold Cox (who for many years acted as secretary to the Cobden Club), shouted excitedly, “Will the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce take this lying down?”
The chairman of the Birmingham chamber declares that in some cases the new duties are prohibitive, and he intends to confer with other chambers throughout Great. Britain as to what action should be taken.
Has the honorable gentleman read that cablegram, and, if so, does he still hope to deceive British manufacturers as to the sincerity of his expressions of a desire to give them substantial trade preferences?
Sir WILLIAM LYNE. - I have read the cablegram, but I do not know why the members of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce should be disturbed about the new Tariff, seeing that, according to the honorable member, Customs duties must be paid by the people of the country in which they are levied, not by those who export goods to that country. Amongst many statements, true and untrue, regarding the Tariff, I have read that manufacturers in other parts of the world say that if the rates of duty remain unchanged they will have to come here to manufacture. They have, therefore, not much to complain of, seeing that they can get here the raw material to manufacture what they require.
Mr. HEDGES. - I have received a telegram from the Minister of Mines and Railways in Western Australia to the effect that, under the new Tariff, duty amounting to £1,09318s. 9d. has been charged upon wheels andaxles landed at Fremantle by his Department, whereas the duty under the old Tariff would have been only £109 14s. Will the Minister of Trade and Customs inquire into the matter?
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN. - Certainly, and I shall inform the honorable member of the result of my inquiry.
Mr. GLYNN. - In view of the consensus of opinion that the tax upon magazines is a well-meant but mistaken emotional inspiration of the Minister, that the advertisements contained in them are not local and cannot come into competition with local advertising, and that there is no tax on the raw material of genius and talent, even if imported, will the Minister of Trade and Customs, without delay, remove this tax, and allow the public free enjoyment of imported literature?
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN.- I would not put my legal knowledge against that of the honorable gentleman, but hemust know that it is not within my power to remove this duty ; that it can be removed only by Parliament. I shall not do anything in the matter until Parliament hasdealt with it.
Mr. Glynn. - None of the duties which are now being collected has yet the force oflaw.
Mr. McDONALD - Will the honorable gentleman make the duty on magazines one of the first items to be dealt with when the Tariff is considered in detail?
Mr- AUSTIN CHAPMAN. - I am afraid that if I proposed to. do so the Committee would say that it should be taken in its proper order.
Mr. LIDDELL.- Is it a fact that the honorable gentleman has permitted importers to remove advertising matter from magazines with scissors before passing entries for them?
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN. - As I explained the other day, the importers of magazines have been allowed to remove certain advertisements in bond, but whether scissors or knives were used, I do not know.
– Seeing thatthe discussion of the Tariff is likely to occupy a long time, will the Acting Prime Minister give Parliament an opportunity to deal with his proposals for expenditure on additions, new works and buildings before it is considered in detail?
– The works Estimates have been prepared separately, and will be proceeded with as soon as opportunity offers.
– Before the consideration of the details of the Tariff is commenced ?
– With a view to making a personal explanation, I wish to read the following article which appears in this morning’s Argus, headed, “ Sir W. Lyne’s Analysis “ : -
The Acting Prime Minister (Sir William Lyne) has prepared an analysis, showing the variations made in the reports of the Tariff Commission by the Government. This shows that in 542 cases the recommendations of the Tariff Commission have been followed. In these cases, in which the Commission’s recommendations were departed from, the rates have been raised in ninety-three cases, reduced in eight cases, and in six cases varied to fresh bases. These figures represent different rates - not items. Items frequently consist of two or more different rates, and in some instances some of the rates recommended by the Commission under an item have been varied and in others followed.
I think it necessary to explain that the reports referred to above are not the reports of the Tariff Commission, but those of the protectionist section of that Commission. Similar paragraphs have appeared in the press from time to time, and to show that the public is misled by them, I wish to read an extract from a letter m regard to the kerosene duty appearing in this morning’s Argus, in which the writer says -
In the first place, you state that the Tariff Commission recommended that kerosene should be admitted free, but this is not so, as the Royal Commission progress report No. 30, item 84 (see special report No. 28), clearly states: - “We recommend that- kerosene in bulk be admitted free, but that packages containing less than 10 gallons shall be dutiable at 3d. per gallon.”
Two reports were issued on the subject of kerosene duty, the free-trade section of the Commission recommending that kerosene should be admitted free, as the light of the poor, and the protectionist section recommending a duty under certain conditions. I hope that when future references are made to these reports a distinction will be drawn between the reports of the Commission as a whole, and the reports of its two sections. There seems to be a tendency to ignore the reports of the free-trade section, although the members of that section numbered as many as the members of the protectionist section.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. When speaking on a motion submitted by the honorable member for Barrier, in reference to patent and proprietary medicines, I stated that a preparation known as “ California Syrup of Figs “ contained podophyllin. I spoke on the authority of an expert in chemistry. I find he cannot give me the details of the analysis upon which he relied, and I am assured by the representatives of the proprietors that it does not, and never did, contain the drug mentioned. They have also submitted certain analyses of the pre.paration to me. I desire to say that I accept their assurance, and express publicly my regret for a statement which may have done them harm. Had the proposal to have placed upon the bottles the contents of such preparations been- in force, the mistake could never have occurred.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral obtain from the Victorian Postal Department a return showing the amount of overtime that is being worked by the officers of that Department, the ‘ accrued allowance for overtime owing to them, and the length of time for which it has been owing? Will the honorable gentleman lay that information on tine table before the discussion of the Estimates is commenced ?
– I have made a memorandum, asking for information on the subject.
– Is it a fact that the Queensland mail contractors are paid only every three months for their services ? If it is, will the Postmaster-General take steps to have them paid monthly?
– In some instances they are paid monthly. I shall make inquiries on the subject, and, if practicable, provide for monthly payments in every case.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral yet in a position to inform the House whether any advance has been made in regard to securing the payment of the guarantee for ,£25,000 given in connexion with the cancelled mail contract?
– The Attorney-General has the matter in hand.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
The Commanding Officer investigated the case, and informed Bombardier Lang that he had no cause of complaint.
On being released from arrest, Bombardier Lang was not dealt with as a prisoner, but was paraded before General Gordon to enable him to state his case, and to give him full opportunity to make any statement he desired, with the result that he withdrew his complaint, and expressed himself satisfied.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he be willing to import shipments of wire netting direct (similar to the action of a South Australian Premier) in the event of prices on wire netting being increased by local manufacturers ; or will he endeavour to obtain from Australian manufacturers of wire netting a guarantee that prices will not be raised if the tariff proposed on that article is agreed to.
– I have not yet had time to consult my colleagues in reference to this matter, but, in any case, it appears to me that if the honorable member’s request were complied with, numerous similar applications would be made in regard to other items upon the Tariff, and that it would therefore be practically impossible for the Government to take action in the matter.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
What action, if any, has been taken by the Government to obviate the danger threatened by the indiscriminate admission of consumptives to the Commonwealth?
– The matter raised by the honorable member has been referred by me to the Department of External Affairs; which is charged with the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act.
Consideration resumed from 22nd August (vide page 2282), of motion by Sir William Lyne -
That duties of Customs and duties of Excise be imposed according to the following Tariff (vide page 1648).
.- The Acting Prime Minister, in submitting the Tariff proposals of the Government, did not put much information before the Committee, and even when he replied to the criticism of the leader of the Opposition on Wednesday last, he made a statement that was altogether inadequate. When the first Tariff was submitted by Sir Edmund Barton, many honorable members felt that it was not what the people of Australia were entitled to expect, having regard to the promises and statements made by Ministers at the first general election. The Tariff Commission found that it was full of anomalies, and after a careful scrutiny of it, and the taking of much evidence, it made recommendations as to the steps to be taken for their removal. After a close examination of the Tariff now before us, I have come to the conclusion that many anomalies are also to be found in it. Those responsible for its introduction appear to have given very little care and attention to its preparation, and it will be the duty of the Committee to see that the anomalies with which it bristles - and many of which are similar to those which existed under the old Tariff - are removed. I am not in accord with the view expressed by the leader of the Opposition that he recognised that the last general election resulted in a victory for protection so far as the representation of the people in this House was concerned.
– In Victoria not one freetrade candidate was returned.
– Victoria is not yet Australia. I am ready to admit that the majority of honorable members returned to this House at the last general election are protectionists, but the issue at that election did not relate to the question of free-trade or protection. The leader of the Opposition himself travelled from one end of Australia to the other and invited free-traders and protectionists to join forces in a fight against Socialism. Many protectionists and free-traders responded to that call, and, therefore, whilst I admit that there is a majority in favour of protection in this House, I do not agree with the leader of the Opposition that the last general election was a victory for protection. . In many of the States the fiscal issue was not raised.
– Is it not strange that nearly all the anti-Socialists who were returned are protectionists?
– They responded to the appeal by the leader of the Opposition that the protectionists and free-traders should combine . to fight the issue of Socialism.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney abandoned the policy of free-trade for a myth.
– I have so many matters relating to the Tariff to bring under the attention of the Committee that I do not wish to be led into a lengthy discussion regarding the last general election.
Colonel Foxton. - The fiscal issue was not raised in Queensland at the last general election.
– Nor in Tasmania.
– Nor was it raised in New South Wales. I hope to prove before I resume my seat, that there is not the slightest justification for such a Tariff as that now before us. Many of those who appeared before the Tariff Commission were absolutely unable to sustain their plea for higher duties. I think that I shall be able to satisfy many honorable members that, on the evidence put before the Commission, as well as on the statement of the Treasurer himself, there is no justification for the adoption of the higher rates of duties affecting some of the most important industries in Australia. I fail to understand why those engaged in our great primary industries, and consumers generally, should be subjected to heavy taxation merely to benefit a few manufacturers in and around Melbourne, Sydney. Adelaide, and other large centres of population in Australia. The evidence submitted to the Commission clearly proved that, in most cases, manufacturers were doing well. Many industries to which these high rates of duty relate are in a flourishing condition, and that being so, there can be no justification for passing a Tariff that will impose’ very serious burdens on the primary industries of Australia and the great mass of the community. It will be for those - who favour this Tariff to prove that under the old rates production has diminished, trade has decreased, employment has fallen off, and wages have been reduced, and that, therefore, the higher duties are necessary. Although the Free-trade Party in this House is in a minority, I trust that they will be able to secure the co-operation of many protectionists in an effort to materially reduce a number of the proposed duties. A perusal of the reports of both sections of the Tariff Commission will, I trust, lead to such a combination.
– Does the honorable member think that we shall find ourselves in a minority when we endeavour to secure a reduction of the duties on the necessaries of life?
– I do not. ‘ I hope that honorable members of the Labour Party who claim that they are more closely identified with the people than are the Opposition, will fight with us in an effort to reduce the duties on food, clothing, and many other commodities used by the masses of the people, and that in this effort we. shall be assisted by honorable members- belonging to other parties in the House. To those responsible for this Tariff, I. would say that the latest Commonwealth, statistics do not bear out the contentions that under the old Tariff production has diminished, trade has decreased, employment has fallen off, and wages have been reduced. On the contrary, they clearly show that, in connexion with production, trade, employment, and wages, there has been a very material improvement. Trade is’ flourishing, the “number of persons employed is greater now than it was when the first Commonwealth Tariff was introduced, and wages, instead of falling off, show an increase. I heartily agree with the view expressed on Wednesday by the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, that frequent alterations of the Tariff dislocate trade and disorganize the whole business community, and that we should endeavour, therefore, to so frame the schedule of duties’ before u» as to render it unnecessary, for many years, to make further alteration. It is absolutely essential, in the interest of the development of our industries, and the well-being of the people, that we should pass a Tariff that will be fair in its incidence to all industries and of an enduring character.
– Those are noble sentiments, but I arn afraid that the honorable member is too sanguine.
– We all show an aptitude for giving expression to noble sentiments, and I hope that in this case a majority of honorable members will be prepared to carry into effect the sentiment [ have just voiced. It seems to me that the Tariff has been framed for the especial benefit of the manufacturers who failed when before the Tariff Commission to justify their demand for. higher duties. Some time ago. we heard frequently of the strangled industries in and around Melbourne. Meetings of workers at various factories were addressed during the luncheon hour by honorable members of this House, who assured us that various industries were in a very serious condition. Representatives of those industries, when before the Commission, however, absolutely failed to prove that any one of them was being strangled.
– Is the honorable member referring to the time when we had the counts out?
– Yes. At that time feeling ran so high that some honorable members frequently addressed meetings of workers during their luncheon hour, and consequently were unable sometimes to be in their places when the House should have commenced the business of the day. One honorable member expressed so much concern for the workers that he declared that he would be unable to enjoy his Christmas dinner since he would know that many families would not have the wherewithal to provide themselves with a good meal.
– The people since then have spoken most emphatically.
– The agitation of those days has been exploded. I absolutely disagree with the conclusions and recommendations arrived at by the Chairman of the Tariff Commission and his protectionist colleagues in connexion with these matters. The reports of the free-trade section of the Commission speak for themselves.
– What did the honorable member’s protectionist colleagues on the Commission say ?
– What they said apparently tickled the ear of the Minister and his colleagues, because in hundreds of instances they have followed the recommendations made by that section of the Commission. The Acting Prime Minister, when speaking in this House on Wednesday, dismissed the reports of the free-trade wing of the Commission with the statement that he “ recognised that such reports were in existence.” Before we have dealt finally with the Tariff, he will regret that he has not read them. They are based, not on mere statements contained in circulars issued by manufacturers, but on sworn facts. When the proposed Tariff is fairly and honestly considered in detail, I believe the Acting Prime Minister will find great difficulty in combating the conclusions arrived at by the free-trade members of the Commission. The Tariff fence which the Acting Prime Minister is endeavouring to erect is so high that many honorable members will “ jib “ at it.
– Call it a barricade !
– The honorable member may apply whatever term he chooses to the proposed Tariff ; but I am satisfied that several rails will have to be taken out of the fence before even the protectionist members of the House are able to surmount it. In the course of our investigations, we found that a large number of the complaints as to the operation of the old Tariff came from one State. It strikes me as rather remarkable that the applicants for higher duties were mostly from Victoria, where a protective policy had been in operation for very many years. It might be thought that, if the’ effect Of protection is to establish manufactures, and, as has often been said, to so encourage infant’ industries as to, in time, enable them to rely on their own strength, there would not be complaints from a State where high protection had been enjoyed for so long. But we are presented with only another example of what the history of the world has proved time after time, namely, that, once protective duties are imposed, they seldom, if ever, can be removed. When manufacturers are shielded against the competition of the world, they are content to carry on with obsolete machinery, and they do not display that energy and push which characterizes those who are exposed to ordinary, industrial competition. When under the Commonwealth there arose Inter-State competition, the Victorian industries, instead of being in that strong stable position which we have been led to believe would be the result of protection, were the subject of the largest number of complaints. Another fact is that very few consumers gave evidence before the Tariff Commission. That was rather unfortunate, considering that the consumers are much the larger body - are, in fact, the bulk of the people of the Commonwealth.
– One or two consumers gave evidence, did they not?
– Only one or two; and it is to be regretted that the other side of die picture was not presented more strongly. Since the introduction of the new Tariff, however, a feeling of indignation has been created from one end of Australia to the other against the consequent heavy taxation, more particularly on the necessaries of life. In the evidence given, especially in what used to be the freetrade State of New South Wales, it was clearly pointed out that food, clothing, and other necessaries had, in consequence of the Tariff, been considerably raised in price. As “one result of the Inter-State freetrade established under the Commonwealth Constitution, the output of manufacturers lias enormously increased ; and we found that in the wider area of competition, it was the men with up-to-date equipment, sufficiency of capital, and energy who were taking the lead,- while those to whom I have already referred were falling behind. The evidence of the manufacturers themselves shows that it is not competition from the outside world from which some of them are suffering, but the competition of their fellow citizens within the Commonwealth. This is a point which I trust honorable members will carefully consider when dealing with the Tariff in detail. I hope that honorable members will look closely at the imports and Inter-State transfers ; when I am sure that they will find that those who complain most loudly about the Tariff are not prejudicially affected by increased imports from the outside world, so much as by the competition to which they have to submit in the course of Inter-State trade. At any rate, that is the position which many manufacturers have represented themselves to be in ; although in numerous instances they failed to show any just ground for their complaints. I have already referred to the fact that employment and production increased largely under the old Tariff. There came under our notice, however, one feature which is characteristic of all protective Tariffs, namely, that in some of the manufacturing industries, combinations were being entered into. That was the case particularly in connexion with the candle industry, which is one of the largest in Victoria. We found that a combination had been organized with the view to meeting the demand and regulating prices throughout the Commonwealth. That, as I say, is characteristic of the protective theory ; and we know that in the United States one of the greatest curses has its origin in the trusts that have been formed under the high Tariff. But the American people are now rebelling and are at this moment fighting against the power of the trusts as strongly as they possibly can.
– Trusts will control all industries if they are not checked by a Tariff.
– Exactly similar results are following the adoption of protection in. Australia. Then, consumers are called upon to pay very much more for goods manufactured here, in consequence of the heavy cost of distribution. It is not a deal between manufacturers and consumers; but. the middle man comes in, and, in very many instances, practically controls the trade. We found that, in many instances, manufacturers were not receiving the return to which they are entitled, while the consumer was called upon to pay three or four times more than was just for his goods.
– That is why the Flinderslane .people are turning protectionists - they can make more out of protection.
– That is a characteristic, not only of Flinders-lane, in Melbourne, but of York-street, in Sydney. Certain merchants find that they can make more profit out of the people in connexion with Australian manufactures, and they are giving up the system’ of importation; a large number of the manufactures of Melbourne and Sydney are in the hands of big firms and institutions represented in Flinderslane and York-street.
– Did the honorable member find that in consequence of the Tariff those people were manufacturing instead of importing?
– We found that many were taking over, manufactories, or becoming largely interested in them.
– I think that is a very good thing.
– We found another drawback which is common to every protective Tariff, namely, that, when there; is an attempt to give protection to one industry, another industry may be very seriously hit. When we protect one industry, we find, it may be, that we have taxed the raw material of five or six other industries; and this is a matter which has to be very seriously considered when we are dealing with the’ Tariff in detail. We must take care that what may be the raw materials of several industries are not taxed for the benefit of one industry, but. that they are admitted freely in order that as many people as possible may be employed in production. Some time ago there was a great agitation in regard to what is described as “ dumping “ ; and it was contended that the practice is very disadvantageous to Australian manufacturers. But, although many manufacturers were examined before the Commission, not one was able to cite a single case in which dumping had occurred in any part of ‘Australia. It would be thought that after the clamour the representatives of the very men who gave evidence, there would have been proof of at least one instance.
– Was the question ever asked ?
– Time after time, as may be seen from the evidence, the question arose; but not a single instance of dumping in connexion with importations was proved. That, I think, is very significant.
– Can the honorable member explain why the Commission did not take some evidence from the users or con’sumers of goods?
– Because they did not come before the Commission.
– It was a case of what is everybody’s business is nobody’s .business.
– The Commission sat for a couple of years, and notices were inserted in the press of the various capitals inviting people to give evidence. The manufacturers all presented themselves with their cut-and-dried cases - they were the interested people, who had something to gain from higher duties - but the great consuming public of Australia, to which we all belong, were not represented. As the honorable member for Perth has said, what is everybody’s business is nobody’s business; and the result was that little or no evidence was given on behalf of the. public. As I said before the honorable’ member for Grey entered the Chamber, I felt that omission very keenly. But, of course, the Commission could not summon people to give evidence ; and if they did not present themselves, we could not help it, though in common with, I am sure, all honorable members, we regret the fact. Astc the allegation of dumping, the Commission found that there had been followed in Australia a well-known rule of trade. Australian manufacturers admitted that, in the course of trade. large shipments aresent to other countries at a cheaper ratethan that at which they would be sold inthe country of origin, or at a cheaper ratethan would be charged for small parcels. That has been the practice to a considerable extent in the Commonwealth, as shown by the admissions of the manufacturersthemselves; but there was not a tittle of evidence to show that dumping had occurred in connexion with importations intoAustralia. Much has been heard about prejudice against Australian goods, and there is no doubt that in years gone by such prejudice existed. In many instances, however, the Commission found that the prejudice was well founded, owing to the quality and character of the goods manufactured in Australia. We also found that when Australian goodswere up to standard, from the point of. view of quality and price, they were in many instances preferred to imported goods. For example, we were assured by tailors that the produce of Australian woollen mills - when it was up to standard - -was preferred by them to the imported article. In other words, no real prejudiceexists against Australian manufactures so-‘ long as they conform to the standard of imported manufactures in respect of quality and price. It was -asserted again and again by witnesses who appeared before theCommission that, owing to the rate of wages paid to employes in Australia, and to-, the hours worked by them, local manufacturers were under a great disability ascompared with their oversea competitors.
– It is a disgraceful thing that there are no honorable memberspresent upon the other side of the Chamber to listen to such an important speech.
– Considering that theActing Prime Minister, in his statement tothe Committee the other evening, merely recognised that reports had been forwarded to the Government by the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission - reports which he had not considered - I did not anticipate better treatment.
– I did not make that statement.
– I am referring to the statement of the Acting Prime Minister. I repeat that I did not expect better treatment.
– But we shall have it.
– At a later stage we shall be afforded an opportunity of deter-, mining which section of the Tariff Commission has arrived at a sound conclusion upon the evidence tendered to that body.
– It is a disgraceful thing that the supporters of the Government should be absent from the Chamber whilst the ablest speech that has yet been made upon the Tariff question is being delivered.
– The statement was repeatedly made that owing to the rate of wages paid and the hours of labour worked in Australia, our manufacturers were placed at a distinct disadvantage as compared with their competitors abroad. But it is very significant that the authors of these complaints were extremely unwilling to give definite information to the Commission -in support of their statements. They repeatedly declared that if, by means of the equalization of the rate of wages paid and the hours of labour worked, they were placed upon a level with their competitors abroad, they would be able to successfully compete against the world. In this connexion they made statements of a most reckless character, but in every instance, when they were subjected to cross-examination by the free-trade section of the Commission, it was found that their statements had been grossly exaggerated. They had attempted to bolster up their case by assertions which would npt bear examination. In the whole of the evidence tendered to the Commission, scarcely any proof can be found that the difference alleged to exist between the -wages paid by Australian manufacturers and their oversea competitors does actually exist. Doubtless, some little difference exists, but in every case the statements made in this connexion were proved to have been grossly exaggerated.
– I desire to call attention to the state of the. Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– It is rather singular that manufacturers should have been so un willing to give convincing evidence in support of their contention that their inability to compete with the outside world was due to the higher rate of wages paid to their employes, and to the shorter hours worked by them. By adopting that attitude they robbed themselves of the strongest argument which could have been advanced in “ support of their cause. I repeat that their statements could not endure analysis, and that whilst they were under crossexamination we found that the operation of the old Tariff had not prejudicially affected employment. On the contrary, it was patent to all that the duties imposed under that Tariff were sufficiently high to compensate them for any disability under which they laboured in connexion with the rate of wages paid or the hours of labour worked by their employes. Indeed, in very many instances it was found that those duties represented more than the total cost of production.
– Did the honorable mem- . ber find that that was the case in connexion with the engineering trade?
– I will refer to that matter presently. I have taken the trouble to select a few items in order to direct pointed attention to the fact that, in many instances, the duties imposed under the old Tariff represented more than the total cost of production. The whole basis of the agitation in favour of increased duties was the equalization of .the conditions surrounding the Australia manufacturers and their competitors abroad. Strange to say, the countries which were chiefly referred to as cheap-labour countries were those in which protective duties of an extremely high character are operative. Is it not a remarkable circumstance that the countries against which Australian manufacturers desire to be protected are Germany, Belgium, and others, which to-day have in operation some of the highest protective Tariffs in the world? The Government, however, by means of the present Tariff, have not only sought to protect the people of Australia against the low wage countries of Europe, but they have gone out of their way to increase the old duties, in order to exclude the manufactures of England. I ask honorable members whether protectionists ought not to be satisfied if the duties levied under the Tariff are of such a character as to equalize the labour conditions as between Australia and other countries ?
– They ought to be satisfied. That is the only justification for a protective Tariff.
– It was the whole basis of the claim of the Melbourne manufacturers for increased duties. Let me take the case of bolts, nuts, and rivets, the manufacture of which is an important industry in Australia. The old duty upon these articles - as will be seen by reference to page 10 of the ninth report of the freetrade section of the Tariff Commission - was 12½ per cent. In connexion with this industry, I should like honorable members to recollect that the chief trouble experienced is not on account of the duty which has been operative, but on account of the limited demand for these goods which exists in Australia. Labour-saving machinery has been introduced in their manufacture, with the result that in a very short time a supply of bolts, nuts, and rivetsmore than sufficient to satisfy the demands of the Commonwealth - can be turned out. Consequently, the machinery has for a certain period to lie idle. The old rate of duty, I repeat, was 12½ per cent. The total wages cost involved in the manufacture of bolts, nuts, and rivets is 20 per cent., and the proposal of the Government is that a 30 per cent, duty shall be imposed upon them, with a 25 per cent, duty uponthose imported from the United Kingdom. I appeal to honorable members to say whether it is fair to levy a duty of 30 per cent, upon bolts, nuts, and rivets, seeing that the wages cost involved in their manufacture is only 20 per cent. ?
– Does that include the cost of material ?
– It represents the proportion which the cost of labour bears to the total cost of production.
– My next example has reference to the manufacture of nails, which represents another industry of a very extensive character. Official statistics show that under the old Tariff, when the duty on nails was 3s. per cwt., the local production largely increased, and importation declined, while new factories were opened within the Commonwealth. It was conclusively shown by the evidence given before the Tariff Commission that there is no unfair competition in the nail industry from outside manufacturers.
– That is true to a certain extent ; but within the last three months manufacturers abroad have been selling nails in this country for less than the wire needed to make them costs. That can be proved.
– I trust that an attempt will be made to prove it, and that it will not be regarded as proved merely on the statement of some interested manufacturer.
– I shall put in an official price list.
– If the honorable member does that, we shall be able to deal with his statement. I am speaking from what I know as a member of the Tariff Commission. Despite the fact that the local nail industry has increased and flourished under a duty of 3s. a cwt., the Government has raised the rates to 5s. 6d. and 5s. a cwt., which is equivalent to a protection of about 40 per cent, on the price of nails, without taking into account the additional protection afforded by the freight, wharfage, landing and other charges on imported! nails. Furthermore, the cost of the labour employed in the industry is insignificant. Ministers cannot have considered thequestion of cost of labour andnatural protection. Had the Acting Prime Minister, strong protectionist as he is, done so in connexion with any one item, he would have hesitated to propose the increases which have been made. With regard to the duty on ironpipes, cast and wrought, n.e.i. , the Commission found that in Queensland the wages cost of producing such pipes is 10 percent., and in Melbourne, for reasons set out in its reports, about 20 per cent. The old rate of duty was 25 per cent, on wrought iron pipes, but under the present Tariff the rates are 30 and 25 per cent, on both wrought iron and cast iron pipes, there being a preference of 5 per cent, in favour of the British manufacturer. There has been a falling off in the local production of iron pipes, but this has been due to the cessation of Government works.. These pipes are used chiefly in Government undertakings, and the Governments of the States having ceased for a time to carry out works largely requiring the use of iron pipes, the demand for them fell off. It was clearly proved, however, that, notwithstanding this falling off in demand, the local industry has been, and is being, carried on at a profit. That is another instance in which wages cost and natural protection were not considered. With regard to the duty of 50s. a ton on sheet lead and piping, which, was admitted free under the old Tariff, I would point out that the three witnesses who appeared before the Commission to ask for protection for this industry asked for a duty of from 25s. to 30s. a ton.
– What is the percentage rate of the present duty?
– About 10 per cent. What importations there were came chiefly from Great Britain, and when a free-trade member of the Commission asked one of these three witnesses why he wished for so high a rate as 30s. a ton, he was told that it was merely a sort of “ornamental demonstration of the Empire’s unanimity.” The speeches which have been delivered in support of the Tariff proposals of the Government are a fair sample of what may be regarded as an ornamental demonstration in favour of preference. I was astounded, to hear the honorable ‘ member for Bendigo, after his statements in favour of preferential trade, conclude, his speech the other evening by saying that in no instance . would he vote for a reduction of duty on British goods if their importation would prejudicially affect an Australian manufacture. That was tantamount to a declaration that he is in favour of absolutely excluding British goods from this market, because any importation must prejudicially affect local manufactures. A duty of 30s. a ton being the highest rate asked for the protection of the sheet lead and piping industry, I cannot understand why the Chairman and the other three protectionist members of the Commission recommended a duty of 50s., or why the Government has adopted that rate. That will be a matter for both parties to explain and justify. As a matter of fact, the local industry is in a most flourishing condition. .Manufacturers in New South Wales told us that they had flourished under free-trade there, while under the first Commonwealth Tariff they exported to Japan, New Zealand, and other parts of the world. Australia’s exportation of sheet lead increased from 22,611 cwts. in 1901, and 17,429 cwts. in 1902, to 34,629 cwts. in 1905, the importation in 1905 being 5,071 cwts., or, as was. stated by two witnesses, a mere fleabite in comparison with the exportation. Wire netting is an article of which we have heard a good deal lately, particularly in connexion with the recent action of the Premier of New South Wales. The labour employed in the manufacture of wire netting is little and insignificant in comparison! with that employed by the pastoralists and farmers, who have to erect wire netting fences to pre vent their land from being overrun by rabbits. There are hundreds and thousands of men in Australia who have to protect their’ holdings from the rabbit pest by means of wire netting fences. Under the old Tariff wire netting was admitted free, but now a duty of 35 and 30 per cent, is being charged on it. The object of this duty is to give an altogether inconsiderable amount of employment. If it is really desired to assist the development of industry, and to benefit the community generally, the Committee will remove this impost, which presses so heavily upon those engaged in our rural industries, whose efforts are the basis of the country’s welfare. Even in the Illawarra district, within the last two or three years, the rabbits have made their presence felt. This week I have received from constituents letters in which it is pointed out that the proposed duties will seriously affect their interests. In three instances have dairy farms in my constituency been abandoned because of the rabbits. I trust that the Committee will not impose a heavy tax upon the primary producers of Australia for the encouragement of an industry which employs little labour.
– And which flourished without the protection of a duty.
– It is in a very flourishing condition. The Acting Prime Minister said on Wednesday that Lysaght Bros., who until recently had been turning out 200 miles of wire netting every week, had increased their output to 400 miles a week, and before long would have a- weekly output of 600 miles. The industry is flourishing, and there is no necessity for a duty.
– They started under “ a duty, and have been struggling ever since.
– They have struggled so valiantly that they are now able to turn, out 400 miles of wire netting a week.”
– I did not say anything of the sort. My statement was that they were formerly turning out 2bo miles of wire netting every week, that a few months hence they would probably have a weekly output of 300 miles, and that before the middle of next year their output would probably be 600 miles per week.
– They refused orders last year. I sent an order to them through an agent, but they could not supply it.
– The next item to which I wish to refer is that of blankets and woollen piece goods. According to the evidence submitted to the Commission the wages cost in connexion with the production of these goods is about 30 per cent. The old Tariff provided for a 15 per cent, duty, and under the Tariff now before us imports from foreign countries will be liable to a duty of 35 per cent., whilst British imports will be dutiable at 30 per cent.
– What is the difference between the wages cost of the foreign article and that of the local article?
– According to the evidence given before the Commission it is so small as to be barely appreciable.
– It is a mere matter of machinery.
– Under the duty of 15 per cent, the woollen mills of Australia were able to do so well that to-day they cannot fulfil their orders. I have been assured by merchants in Sydney and Melbourne that orders placed by them with Australian woollen mills have not been carried out.
– I never heard such a statement before the Tariff was submitted.
– What sort of orders were they ? Orders to cut to the bone ? Let them give good orders for decent goods and their wants will soon be supplied.
– I am not at liberty to mention the names of the merchants to whom I refer, but I do not think they are in the habit of giving orders of the kind suggested by the Postmaster-General. They do not favoursweating such as that which has been so prevalent in Melbourne, or that which I hope the honorable gentleman will endeavour to eradicate from. that great institution - the Postal Department - over which he presides. Having regard to the position which the industry at present occupies, the honorable member for Bendigo’s appeal for the higher duties recommended by the Government was a pitiable one. Those duties are slightly higher than those recommended by the protectionist section of the Commonwealth. I am sure we shall all agree with the honorable member for Bendigo that it is highly desirable that our woollen manufactories should be in a flourishing condition. The evidence put before the Commission shows that they are, and it remains for those who dispute it to submit rebutting evidence. The honorable member for Bendigo said that a high duty was necessary to prevent the Australian market being floodedby the sweepings of the world. As a matter of fact this higher duty is desired simply to prevent the product of British manufacturers - the result of the labour of British workmen - from having a fair opportunity to compete in the. Australian market. Recognising what the mother country has done, and is doing, for us - recognising that she is protecting this Continent, and preserving it to us in order that we may develop our industriesin peace - I am sure that the majority of the people, if appealed to, would declare that, despite the opinions of a few manufacturers to the contrary, the time had not yet come when British manufactures should not be allowed to compete in the Australian market. The Chairman of the Tariff Commission said that the Parliament should make a; strong and resoluteendeavour to support this great industry, asserting that “ there must be strong protection, with an assurance of its continuance.” Let us see whether this is really necessary. The honorable member based his demand for increased duties upon a summary of the evidence compiled from his own point of view. It is rather remarkable that he should have’ omitted from that summary anything approaching a complete statement of the objections that were raised before the Commission to any increase of duty. The free-trade section of the Commission, recognising how imperfectly the facts were stated in the Chairman’s summary, felt it their duty to prepare a separate report on the subject. In passing, I should like to refer briefly to the complaints made from time to time in the press - and more particularly in the Melbourne newspapers - that the reports of the free-trade section of the Commission were belated. We were blamed for failing to submit our reports simultaneously with the presentation of those from the protectionist wing. It should be borne in mind, however, that we had first of all to ascertain the nature of the reports of the protectionist section. Our object was, if possible, to agreewith those reports. We held ourselves perfectly free in every case to consider and to accept anything like a fair summary, or statement of the evidence, prepared by the protectionist wing for submission to the Parliament. We should have been prepared to sign such a report or summary, and to submit our own recommendations . But when we found, as we did in the case of the Chairman’s summary of the. evidence relating to this item that the, objections to increased duties were only briefly and imperfectly stated, we were compelled to draw up separate reports. The unanimity with which a demand for an increased duty in respect of this item was made in the various States was due to action on the part of Victorian manufacturers, who had brought together those interested in the industry in Australia with the object of arranging for a general demand for higher rates of duty. The Victorian and other witnesses asserted that in the absence of higher duties they would not be able to carry on. Let us see how far the actual facts justify such an assertion. In Victoria the industry enjoyed a high rate of duty for many years prior to Federation, and I have here official figures showing the number of hands employed, and the rates of duties prevailing, during a given number of years. In 1878, with a duty of11 per cent., there were 736 hands employed in the industry in this State. In 1881, with a duty of 16½ per cent., there were 776 hands employed; in 1886, with a duty of 22 per cent., 780 hands ; in 1887, with a 22 per cent, duty, 704 hands; in 1888, with a 22 per cent, duty, 784 hands; in 1889, with a 33 per cent. duty, 841 hands; in 1890, with a 33 percent, duty, 810 hands; in 1891, with a 33 per cent, duty, 791 hands; and in 1892, with a 44 per cent, duty - the highest that had prevailed - the number of hands fell to 552.
– That falling-off was due to the commercial crisis which took place in that year.
– I intended to refer to that fact. In 1893, with a 44 per cent, duty, there were 639 hands employed ; in 1895, with a duty of 44 per cent., 690 hands ; and in 1899, with a duty of only 16½ to 27½ per cent., there were no less than 917 hands employed. Was there a commercial crisis in 1899?
– Does the honorable member say that the duty in 1899 was only16½ per. cent. ?
– The rates varied from 16½ per cent, to 27½ per cent. Was there a boom in 1903, when, with a duty of 16½ per cent., the number of hands employed was 1,013?
– We were gradually settling down.
– We were gradually going up.
– The honorable member for Yarra has a keener appreciation of the position. Was therean exhibitionor a boom in 1903 ?
– No, but in Victoria the Factories Act was working well.
– This great increase in the number of hands employed when the duty had been materially reduced is sought to be explained by the statements that we had booms, exhibitions, satisfactory Factories Acts,and so forth in existence at the time. The fact remains that, notwithstanding the statements of representatives of metropolitan constituencies, in this State the number of hands decreased as the duty was increased, and that the greatest number of hands was employed when the duty was low.
– As the duties in New South Wales were still lower, will the honorable member give us the figures relating to employment in the industry in that State?
– I am sorry that I have not got them at hand, but the honorable member will have an opportunity to put them before the Committee.
– At any rate the figures quoted by the honorable member show that protection has not done for the woollen industry that which is claimed for it.
– Quite so. Mr. Vicars, a large manufacturer of tweed, carrying on business in New South Wales, said that his firm was able to send goods info Victoria, when the duty imposed by that State was 25 per cent., although they were manufacturing in New South Wales without the aid of a single penny of duty. Mr. Blackman, the representative of another firm in New South Wales, stated that his house had sent goods into the Queensland market under a duty of 15 per cent., and had done quite as much business in that State under such conditions as they were doing at present.
– Is that all their evidence?
– No; but it is their particular evidence, which, I think, is an answer to the honorablemember.
– It suits the honorable member’s point.
– It suits my point, and, in my opinion, clearly disposes of the contention of the Postmaster-General. At any rate, the evidence shows clearly that, so far as New South Walesis concerned, the industry was established and flourishing under free-trade.
– It was not flourishing.
– It was flourishing.
– Nonsense !
– Of course, the Treasurer never could see anything flourishing in New South Wales. What I say is that the evidence I have read showed the industry to be established and flourishing.
– It was not flourishing.
– Of course, the Treasurer is entitled to his opinion, as I am to mine.
– What I say is a fact.
– When a firm can send goods into a protectionist State like Victoria, and pay a duty- of 25 per cent., or send goods into Queensland, and pay 15 per cent., it is evidence, in my opinion, that their business must be in a very substantial position. To-day, in consequence of developments which have taken place in the industry in New South Wales, Mr. Vicars is at present in England buying special machinery in order to extend the operations of his firm.
– That is in consequence of the Tariff.
– We know that the competition created by Mr. Vicars and his firm is one of the great reasons why the Victorian manufacturers are squealing so loudly. We did not hear Mr. Vicars or his representative asking New South Wales members of this Parliament to go down to his works and hold protectionist meetings during the dinner hour.
– Oh, yes ; Mr. Vicars asked for an increased duty, and that his men should be addressed.
– I have not yet come to deal with the request for increased duty on the part of Mr. Vicars. What I am saying now is that Mr. Vicars was not one to howl and ask honorable members to hold meetings at his factory in the middle of the day. But when Mr. Vicars was asked by the Victorian manufacturers to join with them in advocating higher duties, he, like a sensible man, agreed to the request because he knew it would give him a further opportunity to dip into the pockets of the people.
– I cannot help smiling !
– Notwithstanding the smiles of the Postmaster-General, we know . that high protective duties do give manufacturers the opportunity to dip into the pockets of the people. If that be not so, why is there a cry of indignation throughout Australia in connexion with the duties which have just been imposed? Is it not because prices have gone up? And intowhose pocket does the money go if not intothat of the manufacturers? Had I been, in Mr. Vicars’ place, I should probably have done exactly as he did.
– Would the Government like to face the country just now?
– I should be quite ready to do so, and would beat the honorable member badly.
– I think anybody might tackle the Treasurer in his constituency today.
– Let the honorable member for Illawarra contest my constituency, and I will give him the greatest whipping he ever had
– 1 am not prepared lo> put .the country to the expense of an election at the present time,” although it might be worth the expense to get rid of the honorable member. We found that in this industry the Tasmanian manufacturers had suffered much less than those in Victoria. The representatives of the Tasmanian manufacturers declined to join with those who preferred requests for higher duties, and suggested a duty of 20 per cent., as against the higher proposed duty of 25 per cent. Mr. Hogarth, a Tasmanian witness, clearly admitted that prior to Federation he had sent his goods into Victoria and paid a duty of 25 per cent.
– How much did he send?
– I do not know howmuch, because the Commission did not inquire into the man’s business, merely- a general question being asked. In any case, can the Postmaster-General inform me how I could possibly find out how much this witness sent in the shape of goods to Victoria ? I have shown what was the position before Federation, and now I desire to give some indication of the state of affairs since Federation. Mr. Grainger, the well-known representative of the Ballarat Woollen Mills, admitted to the Commission that, since the inauguration of Inter-State freetrade, his firm had been benefited, and one of the reasons he gave for the improved state of affairs under the lower duty was that they had put more dash .into their business, as the result of a. little competition. Under the old Victorian Tariff there was not the competition which has to be met now, and which compels manufacturers to adopt improved methods. Honorable members will agree that since Inter-State freetrade has roused these manufacturers to a sense of their position, that result is, at any rate, a good one. The balance-sheets of the Ballarat Woollen Mills showed a very satisfactory state of affairs. Mr. Grainger was confronted by one of the Commission with one of his own balance-sheets ; and it was shown that, with a capital of £30,000, a dividend of 15 per cent, had been paid for several years. An industry which can pay such a dividend cannot be described as struggling or in a strangled condition. In New South Wales the Commonwealth Tariff gave the manufacturers a duty of 15 per cent., but we were informed by Mr. Vicars that the impost had effected scarcely any change - that under the old system of free-trade he was doing just .as well. A South Australian manufacturer said that he did not regard the progress made in South Australia as due to the Commonwealth duty, but to better methods of business, which they had been compelled to adopt, with satisfactory results. In Tasmania the reduction of duty under the Commonwealth Tariff was from 20 per <:ent. to 15 per cent., and it was admitted that the industry had profited under the lower duty. As Mr. Hogarth himself said, using similar expressions to those used by Mr. Grainger, the lower Tariff had given the manufacturers a shake-up, and. on- the whole had done them good. That was the result of. the competition which they had to face, causing them, as it did, to adopt better methods of business. According to the honorable member for Bendigo, and the manufacturers who gave evidence, the disabilities under which the latter were alleged to be suffering were unfavorable conditions regarding the buying of raw material, the great initial outlay of capital on buildings and plant, higher wages and shorter hours, local prejudice, and excessive and unfair oversea competition. These were the grounds on which higher duties were claimed, and now let us see how the manufacturers succeeded in substantiating them. In regard to the alleged unfavorable conditions regarding the buying of raw material, it was conclusively proved that the Australian manufacturer is in a better position than his competitor in England.
– He ought to be.
– I am glad that the Postmaster-General agrees with me as to that, because it is so seldom that we do agree. The manufacturer here can practically buy wool all the year round ; sales are always going on, so that he need not lay out his money, but may obtain stock as he requires it. In addition he has the advantage of saving freight, insurance, and all those other charges which English purchasers of wool have to pay. There was no direct evidence as to the relative cost of land and buildings in Australia and in England ; but it is more than probable that the cost here is not higher than at Home. In fact, the site for a .factory in England would, in all probability, cost very much more than in Australia.
– I suppose that would depend on the situation.
– Yes j but I should say that, in a congested country like England -and there are many considerations in choosing the site of a woollen factory - the cost would be the greater.
– What considerations does the honorable member mean? I think the honorable member is entirely wrong.
– Does the honorable member think that the cost of land in Australia is as high’ as the” cost of land in England?
– Where such factories are placed, yes.
– Then, I suppose, the honorable member would contend that a corner of Collins-street and Elizabethstreet, in Melbourne, is of equal value with a. similar site in the city of London ?
– I ‘would not say any such thing.
– One comparison seems as applicable as the other.
– I say that the site for a mill in Batley, the great wool centre iri England, would probably be no more than the cost of a site at Marrickville or Ballarat.
– That is a matter on which the honorable member and I must agree to differ. I contend that, in all probability, the” cost of a site in England is greater than it would be in Australia. I come now to the question of the wages paid in the industry. If honorable members will refer to the Statistical Register of New South’ Wales they will see that it contains a table showing the rate of wages paid in the industry in that State as compared with the rate of wages paid in Victoria. From that table it will be gathered that in New South Wales the average wage is 20s. 56. as against 20s. 9d. in Victoria. Again, it has been said that in England the wages paid in the woollen industry are very much less than theyare in New South Wales and Victoria.
– In England, the six hatters were receiving only half the wage which they get here.
– I am not discussing the hat industry. I am attempting to deal with the woollen industry. Whilst the Tariff Commission was sitting in Sydney, evidence was tendered it in regard to the wages sheets of three of the big woollen mills in England. That evidence showed that the average wage paid by those mills was respectively 23s. 4d., 24s.1d., and 25s. 8d. per week.
– Have children been included in those figures?
– The amounts represent the average wage paid in the mills in question. It is, however, only fair to add that the same witness declared that other mills which were engaged upon a lower grade of work paid lower wages. It was a very difficult matter for the Commission to arrive at a proper estimate of the cost of labour in this industry. The conclusion at which we did arrive was that 30 per cent, of the cost of the goods produced was absorbed in labour. I wish to draw special attention to the report of the free-trade section of the Commission upon the alleged disability under which Australian woollen manufacturers labour. After stating that the cost of labour absorbed in the production of woollen goods is approximately 30 per cent., the report states -
So that for every£100 worth of goods produced in Australia the value of the labour is £30, as against £20 paid by the British manufacturer. ‘Therefore, on an extreme estimate, the total Australian labour disability is not more than 10 per cent, of the value of the goods produced. Putting it in another way from a protectionist stand-point, and ignoring the natural protection of freights, a duty of 10 per cent, on the goods in question would equalize all the alleged disadvantages of the Australian manufacturer in respect of higher wages and shorter hours.
I have already pointed out that local prejudice, so far as Australian goods are concerned, is rapidly disappearing, and that remark is certainly applicable to the woollen industry. An attempt was made by certain witnesses to prove that Australian manufacturers engaged in the industry were subjected to unfair competition from oversea. One Victorian manager said -
Our limited market is liable to be inundated, not only with the sweepings of outside markets, but with all classes of goods exported by merchants and manufacturers alike, and which are sold in many instances much below cost price
I ask honorable members to carefully note his words. He did not say that the Australian market was inundated, or had been inundated, with the sweepings of outside markets, but merely that “it was liable to be inundated. Seeing that it had not been inundated under the operation of the old duty, what reason was there for him to suspect - especially in view of the increased employment which had taken place in the industry - that there would be a dumping of goods from abroad. In Sydney -
A warehouse manager denied that “ dumping “ woollen goods into Australia was practised to any extent. The quantity so dumped must be infinitesimal, he said, “ as for some years past few, if any, manufacturers of note have had stocks to dump.”
I now wish to deal with the important question of adulteration. That aspect of the matter was brought prominently before the Commission, with the result that two investigations were made into the quality of woollen goods locally manufactured, and into the quality of the same class of goods from oversea. The members of the Commission were not satisfied with the result of the first analysis, and consequently a second was made under conditions to which no exception could be taken. It is remarkable - and I do not say it in any spirit of hostility - that it was conclusively proved that the greatest adulteration of woollen goods takes place in Victoria.
– Almost the whole of it.
– Exactly. However I make no comment upon that fact. I merely say that the analyses of the various flannels, which were submitted to the severest tests, and which were purchased under conditions to which no exception could be taken, conclusively showed that the greatest amount of adulteration takes place in Victoria.
– Did the members of the Commission examine any imported flannels?
– Yes, and the Victorian article, as compared with imported flannel, emerged from the test very badly.
– Comparing quality with quality ?
– Yes. Bearing upon this aspect of the question, the report of the free-trade members of the Commission reads - .
The analyses of the second series showed that out of 136 samples of importedflannels,fifteen, or 11 per cent., contained cotton in proportions varying from 0.8 to 63.4 per cent. Of the simples of Australian flannels, forty-nine in number, forty, or81 per cent., contained cotton, the proportion running from 0.3 to 87.1. The Australian flannels are classified as obtained : - (a) In Victoria, and (b) in New South Wales. Of thirty-nine Victorian flannels (a) two were all wool, and out of ten New South Wales samples(b) four were pure wool.
Reference was also made to the cotton which is used for adulterating purposes.
– How were the samples obtained?
– Were they obtained under conditions which satisfied the Commission as a whole ?
– Yes, absolutely. They we’re obtained by a Customs House inspector, who had power to engage other persons.
– I would suggest that the honorable member should read that portion of the report of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission which deals with this matter.
– I have no desire to occupy too much time.
– If honorable members will not read the reports of the Commission for themselves, I suppose that the honorable member must read them for their edification.
– The report of the freetrade section of the Commission reads -
While the evidence on this subject was proceeding, the Customs authorities, at the instance of the Commission, obtained samples of Victorian and of imported flannels in order to institute a comparison between them in the matter of adulteration. The analyses showed that out of thirty-six samples of imported flannels five contained cotton in proportions varying from 28 to 40.4 per cent., while in the case of twentyVictorian samples fifteen contained from 26 to 58 per cent, of cotton. The Commission, on the casting vote of the Chairman, decided that the method of obtaining these samples “ had failed,” and the Customs Department was requested to secure a second set. Accordingly, the ComptrollerGeneral instructed Detective-Inspector Christie, of the Customs Department, to take steps to obtain these. In his report this officer explained that the mills and others were “ on the qui vive re samples required,” and as an instance of the difficulties encountered in this connexion wrote : - “ A retail firm doing an extensive business in the city endeavoured, at my request, to get samples of the goods required from each of the mills, but the latter being aware that the firm only dealt in imported woollens, informed them that it would be of no use sending samples, as they were so full up of orders that they could riot supply any fresh orders for some considerable time to come.” However, with the assistance of a lady expert, the samples were eventually obtained. The only difficulty about procuring the samples of imported flannels was that the season for importation was practically over when the order was circulated for the officers to take samples at the various shipping sheds. For over a month the collection went on, and then when the question of ceasing was dealt with in the Department, the following instruction was issued : - “ If the officers notice any importation of very inferior flannel, a sample might be retained, but otherwise no further samples are required.”
– What does the statement mean that “ the season for importation was practically over “ ?
– There are seasons during which various goods are imported into Australia. There is a season during which flannel is imported.
– As the English winter is over six months before our own, the manufacturers there send their surplus stocks here.
– What does it matter whether or not they send us their surplus stocks? The instructions issued were very definite. They set out that “if the officers notice any importation of very inferior flannels a sample might be retained, but otherwise no further samples are required.” Those instructions conclusively showed that no endeavour was made to select the best samples of imported flannels: It was pointed out by’ Mr. Vicars and Mr. Blackman that a large quantity of very inferior flannel was being sent from Victoria into New South Wales. To use Mr. Blackman’s own words, “ It had no virtue as flannel.”
– When we attempted to prevent the adulteration of articles whilst the Commerce Act was under consideration, we were blocked by honorable members upon the other side of the. Chamber.
– I do not know that that is so.
– They “ stone-walled “ and blocked ‘the Commerce Bill all night long.
– The report of the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission is that -
In 1903 the total importation into the Commonwealth of raw cotton was 464,964 lbs. Of this quantity there came direct to Victoria 417,609 lbs. In addition, therewas transferred from other States 176,453 lbs.
Those figures prove the adulteration of Victorian flannels.
– Local manufacturers of importers who sell cotton goods as flannel should be put into gaol.
– Yes, and one of the re- commendations of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission is -
Compulsory indelible marking on every article or yard of so-called woollen fabric, whether imported or manufactured locally, its proportion of purity or adulteration.
– Did the Chairman of the Commission and the remaining protectionist members make the same recommendation ?
– Surely he will support it.
– He supported so few of the recommendations of the free-trade section that I am doubtful on the point. According to the Victorian Year-Book of 1903, the Victorian woollen mills used - 154,388 lbs. cotton in 1899,1 78,332 lbs. cotton in 1900, 250,184 lbs. cotton in 1901, 273,335 lbs. cotton in 1902, 368,749 lbs. cotton in 1903.
Those figures are an evidence that adulteration has been largely practised in Victoria, by the use of cotton in the manufacture of so-called woollen goods. I trust, therefore, that the Government will endeavour to procure the adoption of the recommendation which I have just read, and honorable members seem to indorse, and that all three of our recommendations in regard to woollen manufactures will be adopted. A very important part of the woollen industry is the blanket trade. We have been told by writers in the press and by public speakers that the blanket-making industry is being ruined because of the immense importation of blankets, but that statement is not borne out by the following statistics, showing the importations of blankets and blanketing into Australia. These importations, in 1899, were valued at , £111,624; in 1900, at £134,233; in 1901, at £122,399 ; in 1902, at £114,503 ; in 1903, £70,946; in 1904, at £57,720; in 1905, at £57,899; and in 1906, at £53,506.As a matter of fact, there has been a great decrease in importations. When I stated some time ago that the woollen mills were not able to fulfil their orders, that statement was received with incredulity ; but this is what the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission have to say on the subject -
The difference between the imports of woollens in 1899 and 1905 - two fairly typical years - is equal to an increase of 34 per cent., and this, in view of the increased prosperity of recent years, cannot be regarded as in any way abnormal. That the Australian woollen manufacturer has enjoyed a large share of this prosperity is notorious. In addition to the evidence of witnesses, we learn, from official and other reliable sources, that for some time back the majority of the woollen mills has been fully employed, many of them running overtime, while their customers are unable to obtain delivery of their orders.
In substantiation of that statement, the evidence of Mr. Hogarth, a Tasmanian manufacturer, of Mr. Ripley, an importer, who gave evidence in Sydney, of Mr. Vicars, a Sydney manufacturer, of Mr. Thomson, and of Mr. Max Hirsch is cited.
– What does Mr. Max Hirsch know about the matter?
- Mr. Max Hirsch is not persona grata to the honorable member for Maribyrnong, and if the Committee will not attach importance to his statements, I ask it to consider the statements of manufacturers like Mr. Hogarth and Mr. Vicars.
– Mr. Vicars asked for a higher duty, and said that he would extend his premises if he got it.
– I understand that hie will extend his premises. I hope that in view of what I have said, honorable members will agree with the free-trade members of the Commission -
That Australian manufacturers are not in an unfavorable position in connexion with the buying of their raw materials. On the contrary, they are in a much better position in utilizing Australian wool than their oversea competitors can possibly be.
That the outlay of capital on factory buildings and site is not greater in Australia than in Great Britain, but the expense of equipping with machinery is possibly 30 per cent, greater, equal, approximately, to about 2 per cent, on the value of the annual output.
In my opinion, the value of the site is greater in Great Britain than in Australia. The greater expense of equipment here is largely due to the high protective duties on machinery, another evidence that in trying to protect one industry we cannot avoid handicapping another. Another conclusion which I hope will be accepted is -
That the disability in respect of shorter hours of labour and higher wages works out on an extreme estimate at not more than 10 per cent, on the value of the product.
In my opinion, the estimate might very well be put at less than 10 per cent. ; but to be on the safe side, we have given an extreme estimate. The general experience of honorable members should lead them to agree with the finding -
That while a prejudice may exist in the minds of some individual purchasers against
Australian woollens, others again have a prejudice in their favour. In the case of those in the trade, warehousemen, tailors, &c, the only consideration is one of value, and where this is at all equal Australian goods are preferred.
– The prejudice against locally-made goods has not entirely disappeared.
– It is fast disappearing, and I think that when our manufacturers can make goods equal in quality to the best imported goods, and sell them at reasonable prices, the prejudice will absolutely disappear. The free-trade members of the Commission found -
That the general trade in Australia in oversea goods is not in any commercial sense “ excessive” or. “unfair.” Nearly all woollen fabrics imported into the Commonwealth are selected and indented in the ordinary way of business.
No dumping was proved, and no instance was given of unfair competition, although many manufacturers came before us. Unfortunately, we found that adulterated and inferior goods are imported into and manufactured in Australia, and in that connexion I ask consideration for the recommendation which I have already read. We also found that - .
The total disability of the Australian woollen manufacturer compared with his British competitor is, therefore, on these findings, not more than 2 per cent, on equipment, and 10 per cent, on labour, or a total of 12 per cent, on the value of the product. As against this, the British manufacturer who competes in Australia pays 15 per cent, duty, and from 7½ to 12½ per cent, charges, or a minimum total of 22½ per cent, on his goods, and this, without taking into consideration an average increase in the cost of Australian wool, delivered at the mill in England, of16¾ per cent.
The conditions under which we believe that the woollen manufacture would progress rapidly towards that importance which it ought to occupy, were summarized in three recommendations, the first of which I have read, and the second and third being -
Specialization by the manufacturers in respect to such goods as their local conditions and raw materials are best adapted for.
A settled fiscal policy which would leave this industry untrammelled by duties supposed to benefit it or others.
The free-trade members of the Commission are satisfied, after the fullest investigation of the subject, that what is required to make the woollen industry prosperous and progressive is not higher duties. Unfortunately, it is only too common a thing in Australia, when an industry is not making headway, to immediately appeal to the Government to assist it by means of a bounty or a protective duty, the hundredandone reasons for which the industry is at a standstill being lost sight of, or put on one side. I trust that when the Tariff comes to be dealt with in detail, honorable members will bear in mind that it is not duties that make for the success of industries, but attention to points such as those which we have endeavoured to set out in our reports.
– Will the honorable gentleman, before sitting down, make some statement in regard to hats?
– The manufacture of felt hats is a considerable industry in Australia, in connexion with which the cost, including wages, salaries, and everything else, is 36 per cent. On felt hats the Government have imposed a protective duty of 30 and 35 per cent. The rates of duty under the old Tariff were 20 and 30 per cent.
– The 20 per cent, duty principally affected straw hats.
– I am dealing now with felt hats. The natural protection enjoyed by the felt hat-making industry in Australia is equal to at least 20 per cent., so that the total protection which the industry will secure is 55 per cent., although the wages and salaries cost is only 36 per cent.
– The honorable member’s estimate of the. natural protection seems to be rather high. There is no trouble in packing hats for shipment.
– It is ridiculous.
– The honorable member for South Sydney states his objection in a reasonable way, but the honorable member for Maribyrnong does not hesitate to say that my statement is ridiculous. What does he know about imported hats ?
– The honorable member admitted just now that I know a lot about the industry.
– If the honorable gentleman is true to his protectionist principles he will not have an imported hat exposed for sale in his shop. If he does not deal in imported hats what can he know about the freight charges connected with them ?
– I have been in the trade for thirty-five years; I was engaged in it when imported hats were exclusively dealt with.
– That was many years ago. The sworn testimony of witnesses examined by the Commission was that the freight and general import charges on felt hats amounted to 20 per cent. Thus we have under this Tariff a total protection of 55 per cent, against foreign importations, and of 50 per cent, in the case of British imports.
– The duty on felt hats has not been altered except that in order to grant a preference to British imports an additional 5 per cent, has been imposed on those coming from foreign countries.
– The Denton Hat Mills, which has been carrying on operations under the old Tariff, has issued a statement showing that the net profit earned for the . year ended 30th June was £3,684 2s. rod., equal to about 12¼ per cent, on its paid-up capital. The dividend for the year was the usual 10 per cent., and £500 was added to insurance reserve, raising it to £5,000; besides provision being made for depreciation of plant, &c. It is further stated that-
The directors report a satisfactory trade with a promising prospect. Land has been purchased for extension of premises, and new plant acquired, while a further increase in machinery to cope with the expanding business is foreshadowed. The company is in almost a unique position in being able to say that no provision has been made for doubtful debts, as none is necessary.
– Is that one of the strangled industries?
– It is one of the industries for which higher duties were asked.
Colonel Foxton.-And the company is unable to supply orders when given.
– How does the honorable member know that? I am told that it is not the case:
– I am afraid that the Postmaster-General will find himself in difficulties if he does not refrain from making these statements. The statement that the Denton Hat Mills Company is unable to fulfil orders has been directly challenged by him, and I hope that the honorable member for Brisbane will prove his assertion. I propose now to refer to the item of varnishes. The wages cost in the manufacture of varnishes - and we have to remember that nine-tenths of our imports of varnish come from Great Britain - is less than 20 per cent., while the proposed duty is 2s. per gallon, or 30 per cent., whichever will return the higher duty. It is well known that not much labour is employed in this industry. The degree of labour involved is, probably, smaller than is that associated with any industry of corresponding dimensions. Employment in the trade increased under the old Tariff, so that there is no necessity for raising the duty. Protectionists may well fall into line with free-traders who declare that a duty so far in excess of the actual wages cost might well be lowered. I think it ought to be reduced at least to the wages cost. Then we find that an increased duty has been imposed on candles. A very full report upon the candle-making industry has been submitted by the Tariff Commission. The total labour cost in the finishing; moulding, and packing of candles for mar-. ket, exclusive of making stearine, amounts; to not more than 8 per cent, of the value of the finished product.
– The manufacture of The stearine is the principal item. If we exclude it very little is left.
– The complete labour cost in the manufacture of candles from the preparation of the tallow until the goods are ready for sale does not exceed 16 per cent, of the market value of the product.
– That is an appreciable difference.
– The industry enjoys a high direct protection in the shape of freights and landing charges. The Government propose that a duty of1½d. per lb. shall be imposed on candles coming from foreign countries, and of1d. per lb. on candles from the United Kingdom. Taking the value of stearine candles at 4d. per lb. - and that is a fair average factory value - the proposed duty in the case of foreign imports is equal to 37½ per cent.,. or, in the case of imports from Great Britain, to 25 per cent. This industry is con-, trolled by a combination, which regulates prices in all the States, and it is in a flourishng condition. Mr. Upton, a wellknown manufacturer in Sydney, told the Commission that he did not want a duty. Under these circumstances,can there be any justification for the proposed increase?
– Does Mr. Upton, at the present time, enjoy a monopoly?
– He is in only a small way of business.
– Nearly 2,000,000 lbs. of candles were imported last year.
– I have quoted these figures in order to emphasize the point that this item as well as many other items of a similar character, require the closest scrutiny. The honorable member for Bendigo drew a beautiful picture of the timber industry in Australia, and spoke of his experience in Western Australia, where he saw forests of jarrah and other timbers. I think, however, that he should not have lost sight of the fact that various industries are prejudicially affected by the new duties. I am sure we all hope that our great timber forests will be developed, but we have to remember that the timber in many of the forests of New South Wales and Queensland is almost inaccessible, while in some cases our forests do not comprise the timber that is necessary for certain industries.
– The present Tariff has caused Queensland maple to be substituted for other timbers.
– That is an excellent timber. It has been said that Queensland pine is unsuitable for butter-boxes. It is perfectly true that its appearance is not so pleasing as is that of the New Zealand pine, and that it is somewhat heavier; but I do not think it is unsuitable. I was present when, before a number of experts - and I claim to know something about butter myself - a Queensland pine butterbox was opened, and it was found that butter which had been packed in it for six months was in a condition equal to that of butter packed in New Zealand pine boxes.
– Queensland cannot supply the demand for pine for butterboxes.
– I was about to refer to that point. The dairying industry today is exporting millions of pounds weight of butter, and its success depends upon its export trade. The result of the new Tariff on New Zealand pine has been to increase by 2½d. the cost of every butter- box made of that timber. A butter-box will hold 56½ lbs. of butter, and, since tens of thousands of boxes are annually used, the additional cost to the dairy farmer must be a very bigitem.
– It is nothing compared with what the mail steam-ship companies have been trying to take from them.
– Whilst the Government on the one hand have imposed a duty which will take thousands of pounds out of the pockets of our farmers, they are endeavouring, on the other hand; to arrange a mail contract that will enable their dairy produce to be carried cheaply and quickly to the old land. On theone hand, they are trying to assist the dairy farmers; and, on the other, they are seriously handicapping them. .
– The mail steam-ship companies sought to take another £60,000 per annum out of their pockets.
– It is obvious that at the present time timber merchants in Queensland could not possibly supply the demand for timber for butter-boxes.
– Shall we not soon overcome that difficulty?
– I do not think so. From inquiries which I made when in Queensland, I am satisfied that some time must elapse before that State will becapable of supplying the demand for pine for butter-box making. We have to remember that the dairying industry is by no means stagnant. No industry in Australia has gone ahead so rapidly as has the dairying industry in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. It is the most progressive in the Commonwealth, and we should be careful not to handicap it. Australia’s remoteness from the markets of the old world, as compared with the position of other countries now sending butter to England, places our dairy farmers at a serious disadvantage. But instead of facilitating them in every way, we are imposing increased duties on the timber required for their butter-boxes, on the wire-netting necessary to protect their holdings, on the salt used in the manufacture of their butter, on the timber and iron with which they build their homes, and on most of the necessaries of life. Whilst the Government are subjecting our dairy farmers to all these disadvantages, . they are absolutely unable by means of a duty to increase by the smallest fraction the price which they obtain for their produce.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I now desire to refer to the subject of mining machinery, and to show how absolutely unwarrantable is. the proposal to increase the duty from 12½. per cent, to 35 per cent., in the general. Tariff, and to 25 per cent, as against Great Britain. If these duties are imposed, they will have a very serious and disastrous effect on the mining industry throughout Australia. What is the more important industry at the present time - thegreat mining industry or the mining machinery, industry ?
– The mining industry, of course.
– The honorable member is quite right, as I shall shortly show from the figures I shall quote. When the Prime Minister and the Acting Prime Minister were attending the Colonial Conference in England - at which their primary object was to promote preferential tradethe Prime Minister made a statement to the effect that this country is very largely dependent on the export of our raw material, of which mining productions form a part. It is the mining industry, at any rate, which has made Western Australia the country it is at the present time. In the whole of Australia there are 111,714 hands employed in the mining industry, while the value of the plant and machinery is £12,476,177. In the engineering industry, on the other hand, there are only 15,022 hands employed, while the value of the plant and machinery is £1,195,637. There is no question, from a national point of view, which is the more important industry, and the more deserving of support.
– The mining industry does not require assistance, but only desires to be left alone.
– The mining industry can receive no assistance from a Tariff, and those engaged in it are severely handicapped by the increased price of all the necessaries of life. That applies not only to gold and silver mining, but to the great coal-mining industry of Newcastle, Illawarra, and elsewhere. In ray own constituency there is one of the largest coalmining centres in Australia, and the men are formed into an industrial union consisting of over 2,000 members. The Newcastle and Hunter River district is the great centre of coal mining; and all the thousands of men employed, with their wives and families, so far from being assisted in any way by the Tariff, are, as I have already said, greatly handicapped by the consequent enhanced prices. All their food and clothing, together with the timber and iron of which they build their little homes, are taxed up to the hilt.
– And they are still protectionists !
– Let the Acting Prime Minister go and ask the Illawarra miners if they are protectionists.
– Let the honorable member ask the Newcastle miners that question.
– I think I am entitled to claim the support of the honorable member for Newcastle in the remarks which I am now making.
– The Newcastle miners have never returned a free-trader to Parliament.
– That may be so; the Acting Prime Minister and others have, unfortunately, been able to persuade those miners that a protective policy is best for them. But it has never been possible to persuade the Illawarra miners to take that view.
– We have never tried.
– Because it was known the effort would be useless. The Illawarra miners are too intelligent to be misled by the wiles of the Acting Prime Minister.
– The Illawarra miners are mostly protectionists, but they vote for the honorable member out of personal regard.
– That is too high a compliment. Mining machinery is another example of those industries in which, the moment any trouble arises, it is immediately said that the Tariff is wrong, and ought to be raised.
– We do not hear any one asking for the duties to be taken off.
– No, once the manufacturers get a duty they stick to it like bloodsuckers - as is shown by the history of protection, the more they get the more they want. It was freely alleged by many witnesses who came before the Tariff Commission that the Tariff was responsible for the falling off in the Australian manufacture of mining machinery ; but the great majority, at any rate, of those witnesses absolutely failed, on cross-examination, to substantiate their position. It was made clear in the evidence that the falling off in this industry was not due to the Tariff but to the following causes, which will be found set out in Progress Report No. 7 of the Commission : -
The unsettled condition of the sugar industry had a very damaging effect on the large foundries in Queensland ; and, in consequence of several mines being closed, machinery was transferred to other mines. As to the first cause of the alleged decline in trade, it may be remembered that in Victoria, under the old State Tariff, there was large Government expenditure, and several companies were established, which subsequently went into liquidation, or were absorbed by other firms. It is proved by the evidence of Victorian witnesses that those works were established prior to Federation in order to meet special demands, and were in excess of normal requirements. Large Government locomotive workshops, were also established at Ispwich, Queensland, and on this point we had evidence from Mr. Harrington, the manager of the Walker Proprietary Limited, Maryborough. Mr. Harrington stated that the opening of the Government workshops had more than anything else a damaging effect on the foundry with which he was connected. A similar result was experienced in the case of a firm at Gawler, South Australia; and in reference to the latter Mr. Martin gave evidence, in which he said -
I think the Government, by doing their own work, has had more effect on us than anything else.
The fourth cause alleged for the decline in trade was the equipment of the prinicpal mines prior to 1902.
– That is quite correct.
– I am glad to hear that interjection, because I know it comes from an honorable member who is largely interested in mining. This prior equipment resulted in a falling off in the demand for machinery of the character to which the higher duties will apply.
– There has been no large development since.
– As to the general dullness in mining, we had evidence in South Australia to the following effect -
Not the same mining work as in 1899 . . . . hardly any mining machinery is used in South Australia, where very little mining is being done.
That was the evidence of two principal manufacturers.
In Queensland, engineers said that there was not a large enough outlet in mines and sugar mills to keep them going ; they were aware that a lot of mining machinery had been idle for some time, and that the mining industry was very depressed. In the Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories for Victoria, 1904, page 27, relating to the iron-moulding trade, it is stated - “ Unfortunately, however, owing to the mining industry being for some time at a very low ebb, trade has been very slack, and I found that a large number of men were unemployed.’’
Here we see dullness, in one industry having a corresponding effect oh another industry of a like character.
In the same officer’s report for the year 1905 page 5, appear the following remarks by inspectors at Bendigo and Ballarat respectively : - “ In Bendigo, trade generally has been good. The iron and engineering trade has been very brisk, so much so that some of the shops have been working two shifts to keep up with their orders. Bendigo has to depend on the mining industry for its support. The reason for trade being so good this year is not far to seek, as the mines throughout this district have been very successful during 1905, thereby being able to give a lot of labour to various trades.”
This shows that in Bendigo where mining happened to be brisk, the manufacture of mining machinery was correspondingly brisk. In Queensland, evidence on this point was given by Mr. Harrington, of Walker Limited, which is the largest establishment in Maryborough, and a credit to the State of Queensland. We were told by Mr. Harrington and others engaged in the industry, that one of the great causes of the decline was the uncertainty and want of confidence in the future of the sugar industry ; and there was also the additional reason that all the mills were fully equipped. When the new mills were being erected, engineers had orders which kept then busy, but, once the mills were built and equipped, the demand suddenly dropped, and dullness set in. Mr. Harrington, in the course of his evidence, said -
If it were not for the unsettled state of legislation in connexion with the sugar industry our works would be busy to-day.
The same witness, after having admitted that mining was dull, summed up the position in the following answer to a question -
I said four or five years ago, as the result of much thought and a careful analysis of our books, that one-third of our business was represented by Government contracts, one-third by the requirements of the sugar mills, and onethird by mining and miscellaneous requirements.
We have since lost the Government work, and the sugar business is uncertain, because of the want of a definite policy.
It will be seen from this extract that in consequence of the loss of Government work, in combination with the uncertainty in the sugar trade, absolutely two-thirds of the business of this establishment disappeared,
– What duty did Mr. Harrington ask for - 25 per cent. ?
– I think that is so. The next cause assigned for the depression is the drought and general depression in particular States. Itis common knowledge that there was depression in some of the States in the early period of the first Commonwealth Tariff. The position stood out in bold contrast to the prosperous years experienced immediately prior to Federation, when there was a succession of good seasons. Immediately after the Commonwealth was instituted, however, there was one of the most disastrous droughts which ever overtook Australia, and that was one of the causes for the great falling off in the demand for mining machinery. Another cause,the effects of which were felt most keenly, particularly in Victoria, was InterState trade, which is specially referred to in another report, so that I need not deal with it at the present stage. As to the use of second-hand machinery, I am sure all honorable members connected with mining will bear out the finding of the Commission as follows -
In the development of mining properties dur ing some five or ten years prior to Federation, a very large quantity of machinery was procured, mainly in the Commonwealth, which, while suitable for surface propositions and the treatment of free milling ore, was discarded when other methods had to be employed, or the mines reached greater depths. In addition, there was a good deal of imported machinery purchased for working severalWestern Australian properties which was’ never used. In this way, a large quantity of good machinery was either “ scrapped “ or sold and removed for working other claims for which it was suited, and, consequently, met the demand which otherwise would have been supplied by new machinery from Australian makers.
There are, therefore, a variety of factors which account for the depres sion which exists in the mining machinery industry. I venture to think that when honorable members carefully consider the position, they will agree with the free-trade section of the Commission that the depression in the industry is due, not to the operation of the old Tariff, but to the nine different causes enumerated in our report. There is no comparison between the mining and engineering industries, from the stand-point of their value to Australia. In the case of mining machinery, the duty levied under the old Tariff was higher than the average of the State Tariffs in operation prior to Federation. That there is a big future before the mining industryof Western Australia is conceded by every one.
– And before the industry in Queensland, too.
– Yes. But I wish to make special reference in this connexion to Western Australia. We know that to profitably develop the mines of those States it is essential that up-to-date machineryshall be employed. A large quantity of this machinery cannot be made in Australia. It is subject to patent rights which render that impossible. If opportunities are to be afforded the mining companies to develop their properties at considerable depths, and with low-grade ore, we must permit them to obtain, as freely as possible, the most uptodate machinery available. Many of them have almost reached the stage when it is difficult to carry on operations at a profit, and unless we* allow them to obtain their machinery at the lowest possible price there is no doubt that many of their workmen will be thrown out of employment.
– The honorable member does not suggest that the dividends might be a little smaller?
– It has been clearly provedthat the old Tariff did not operate to the injury of the mining machinery trade. As a matter of fact, several Australian engineering works have been fully employed. It has also been demonstrated that since the first Commonwealth Tariff became law, there has been a great reduction in the imports of mining machinery. Reference to official statistics clearly establishes this fact.
– Is it not a fact that certain poor mines can only be made remunerative by the use of up-to-date machinery ?
– Yes. It has also been proved -
That, owing to the limited, irregular, and special demands of the mining industry,no plants in Australia are capable of producing all of the machinery required for present-day mining.
The demand in Australia for certain classes of mining machinery is so limited that it would not pay any company to lay down a plant for its manufacture. I submit that as between these two industries the one which ought to be supported, if regard be had for our national development, is the great mining industry, in which over £12,000,000 is invested to-day, and in which over 111,000 men are employed, in preference to the mining engineering industry, in which only one-seventh of that amount of capital has been invested, and in which only 15,000 men are employed. I trust that when the item is under consideration, honorable members will realize the position, and see that the mining industry of Australia is given fair play. In the course of the investigations of the Tariff Commission its members discovered many anomalies which both sections desired to get rid of. In this connexion a very extensive report has been compiled, and I feel that the members of the Commission are under a deep obligation to that excellent officer, Mr. Smart, for the assistance which he and his subordinates rendered us. I venture to say that a number of anomalies will be discovered in connexion with the present Tariff. Already one has been brought to light in the newspapers. It has reference to the cap industry. In speaking of the duty levied upon caps, Mr. W. Lewis, the proprietor of the well-known Federal Cap Factory in Melbourne, says -
In my opinion the present Tariff, if allowed to stand, will mean the ruination of the cap manufacturing industry in Australia.
– He wants to bring in caps under “ apparel,” which is a fair thing. After all, they are simply tweed made up into a different form.
– But the present Tariff will place the manufacturers at a disadvantage of 5 per cent.
– Cannot they use colonial tweed?
– Is that the object of the duty? Is it intended to compel them to purchase the locally-manufactured article ?
– Why should not they purchase it?
– I do not see why they should not purchase it, if it suits them to do so.
– They want to obtain the cheapest article no doubt?
– It is a sound principle in connexion with all industries that the raw material should be admitted at a lower rate than the manufactured article. Mr. Lewis continues -
A brief examination of the new Tariff will convince you of this. Under the old scale woollen piece goods, which comprise ourraw material, were dutiable at 15 per cent., while the rate charged on the manufactured article, caps, was 30 per cent. The effect of the new Tariff has been to raise the duty on our raw material, woollen piece goods, to 30 per cent, on the British and 35 per cent, on the foreign article. As against this, the duty on the manufactured article is unchanged, and still remains at 30 per cent, on British goods, with an extra 5 per cent, on those of foreign manufacture Now, manufactured caps are almost exclusively imported from Great Britain, but, on the other hand, we are compelled to go to Germany, Belgium, or France for our raw material, which, in consequence, bears the higher rate of 35 per cent. This means, in a nutshell, that while we have to pay 35 per cent, on the raw material, the manufactured article can be imported by paying 30 per cent.
– Does he say why they have to go to Germany ? He says that they are compelled to go there.
– He can obtain the raw material here. .
– At any rate I hold that the proposal of the Government violates a sound principle in connexion with Tariff legislation.
– Then let us make caps dutiable at 45 per cent.
– I am one of those who believe in reducing duties. I submit that it is a sound principle that the manuf actured article should pay a higher duty than the raw material.
– Is not the raw material of Mr. Lewis’ industry the manufactured article of another industry?
– His raw material is tweed. The free-trade members of the Commission recommended a duty of 10 per cent, upon the raw material and an impost of 15 per cent, on the manufactured article, thus giving the proprietor of the cap factory an opportunity to secure his. raw material at a 5 per cent, lower duty than is borne by the manufactured article, with which he. has to compete. The Government propose to reverse the position and to compel the manufacturer to pay 5 per cent, more upon his raw material than is levied upon the manufactured article.
– Does Mr. Lewis prefer the proposal of the free-trade members of the Commission to that of the Government?
– I do not know. I am not acquainted with Mr. Lewis. I am merely referring to one anomaly in the present Tariff which has already been noted in the press. I now wish to make a few remarks upon the question of preferential trade which, in an indirect way, engaged the attention of the Commission.
The chairman of that body has submitted a report in which he has pieced together the various statements made by the witnesses, but has made no recommendation in that connexion. The free-trade members of the Tariff Commission, however, pursued a different line of conduct, and pointed out a manner in which a substantial preference could be given to the old country without injuring the manufacturers here, even on a protectionist basis.
– There is no protection in the recommendations of the freetrade section of the Tariff Commission.
– My ideas and those of the honorable gentleman differ to such a degree that it is hardly worth while answering his interjection.
– My ideas are right, and the honorable gentleman’s are wrong.
– That statement proves nothing. If argument alone would carry the day, the honorable gentleman would have no chance against any one of the freetrade members of the Commission ; but, of course, he can beat us in the making of rash and injudicious statements which will not bear cross-examination. We found in regard to preferential trade that -
In nearly every instance the witness clearly indicated that no preference should be given by Australia to Great Britain until the duty had been fixed at such a rate as to secure to Australian manufacturers the Commonwealth market with a substantial margin of security, even against the competition of British manufacturers.
A witness examined in connexion with the manufacture of springs expressed himself as in favour of preferential duties, but this was His evidence when pressed by one of the Commissioners to indicate precisely the nature of the preference which he desired -
Do you want, in the first instance, a duty which will secure to Australian manufacturers the trade in the manufacture of springs - that is, against every one else? - Yes.
I presume that when you have achieved that object by means of a duty, you will put on an ornamental coping in the shape of a few per cent, more against the foreigner? - Yes.
Is it not the case that most of the socalled preferential duties in this Tariff are intended to largely prohibit the importation of British goods, the extra 5 per cent, on foreign importations being merely an ornamental coping? Most of the importations of mining machinery and woollens come from Great Britain, and those interested in the manufacture of such goods in Australia emphasized what they regard as their handicap - higher cost of raw material, shorter hours of labour, and so forth. After a careful investigation of all the representations made to us, we found that, as a rule, 12 per cent, would cover the alleged disadvantages of the Australian manufacturer.
– How can the Tariff injure British manufacturers, seeing that the duties are still higher against foreign manufacturers?
– The duties on British manufactures are so high as to practically prevent their importation into Australia, and the extra 5 per cent, against the foreigner is merely ornamental, and, furthermore, is imposed on many items in regard to which there is no foreign importation. The, duties on mining machinery, textiles, and woollens are so high as to practically prohibit British importations, and it is from Great Britain that in the past such goods have chiefly come. The additional rate of 5 per cent, against the foreigner is a mere make-believe preference to the British manufacturer. I have already pointed out that the Chairman of the Tariff Commission has announced his intention not to vote for any reduction of duty, even on British goods, whose importation is prejudicial to Australian manufacture, and, as I have said, any importation must be prejudicial to some extent to the local manufacturers of goods of the kinds imported. The duties on British goods are such as will prevent them from competing against local manufacturers in this market. But I shall show the position which the Prime Minister and the Treasurer put before the British people when in England in connexion with the Imperial Conference. It will be found, by referring to page 249 of the Report of the Proceedings of that Conference, that the Prime Minister made use of these words-
The imports of wheat and flour into the United Kingdom amount to 41¼ millions sterling annually, and of this quantity Australia sends only
Of other grains, principally oats, barley, and maize, the imports of the United Kingdom are valued at 29 million sterling, to which Australia contributes an insignificant , £9,000. . . . If we secure only one-fifth of this trade, employment would be found for a large number of farming hands, and if our export of wheat only reached the figure of£8,500,000, or twice the past year’s total, and other grains £5,000,000, as they might very well be expected to reach under a slight preference, this would mean the additional employment in the Commonwealth of 200,000 persons. All of these would be purchasers of British goods, far larger purchasers than foreigners are, and of the goods you most wish to sell.
The Prime Minister spoke of our people being purchasers of British goods. How will that be possible with duties of 30 and 40 per cent, on such goods?
– Reciprocity has not yet been obtained.
– On pages 257 and 258 of- the report, the Prime Minister is made to say -
Now, as regards the modes of preference to British goods, it is obvious that the Commonwealth may proceed either to lower existing duties in favour of Great Britain, or to increase these duties to the foreigner.
Not a word about increasing duties against Great Britain, which is what has been done.
– “Existing” duties mean those existing when reciprocity was effected.
– I take it that the Prime Minister referred to the duties in existence at the time he was speaking. The report continues -
Increase to Foreigners.
This latter course has been followed in Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, and probably in no perceptible degree influences the amount of duties collected. The immediate object of preference in our case would be to exclude foreign goods, and to favour. British goods. . . .
It is natural, then, that the extent of the preference should be such as to be calculated to accomplish the first of these objects, that is, the cessation of importation of foreign goods, and an increase of present duties, would seem to be the best means to achieve this end.
There is not a word there about increasing the duties on British goods. The report continues -
I am assured by an authority that a substantial preference to the goods of Great Britain in our markets would result in an increase of British trade with Australia to the extent of perhaps 50 per cent. This would be the effect of substantial preferences, and substantial preferences are contemplated by the third resolution of the Conference of 1902.
We can imagine what a howl would come from those interested in the woollen and other industries who have been clamouring for more protection if the present rates were reduced to give a real preference to British manufacturers, and the result were to increase the importation of British goods by 50 per cent.
– What is suggested is that trade which is now done with the foreigner would be transferred to the Britisher.
– At page 262, the Prime Minister is reported to have said further -
The Customs Tariff which we shall submit will be framed on the same principle I have been enunciating here.
Our first consideration will be that of the circumstances of Australia and its demands.
He would have been nearer the mark if he had said that the only consideration would be the demand, not of Australia, but of Australian manufacturers. This Tariff, is merely a pandering to the demands of the manufacturers of Melbourne, Sydney, and other large centres, in obedience to the dictates of a section of the Victorian press. So long as Parliament meets in Melbourne, the Ministry of the day will be influenced by the press of the capital, and the sooner money is placed on the Estimates to prepare for our removal to the Seat of Government in New South Wales, the better it will be for our legislation. The Prime Minister continued -
The next (consideration) will be the possibility of giving a preference, and, therefore, entering into closer commercial relations with the mother country and our sister dominions.
The Tariff contains .a sham preference to Great Britain, but I see nothing in it providing for our entering into closer commercial relations with our sister dominions.
– We have already entered into a preferential arrangement with South Africa, which is not affected by this Tariff.
– That arrangement was in existence when the Prime Minister- made the remarks which I have quoted. The Treasurer is reported oni page 336 of the document from which I am quoting to have stated that it was ridiculous to suppose that a duty of 2s. a quarter on wheat would, raise the price of bread ; but Mr. Asquith and Mr. Lloyd George, who ought to know something about the position of the people of England, did not agree with him. The English people do not seem to have forgotten the state of affairs which existed when Sir Robert Peel took action to remedy the - starving condition of the masses of that - country. They did not believe the honorable gentleman.
– Most of them did.
– I have not read any evidence in support of that statement. He said, furthermore, “ that a duty of 3d. a bushel would encourage the colonies to put 15,000,000 or 20,000,000 acres: under wheat, and find employment for an least 200,000 more men, Britons, I hope.”
I agree with the honorable gentleman that it would be a grand thing for Australia if such a state of affairs could be brought about. I should almost be prepared to submit at once to this Tariff if I thought that” it would result in 200,000 men coming from the old country. to develop the unoccupied lands of Australia.
– We cannot hope for that until we have a land tax.
– The Acting Prime Minister would first of all tax everything used by the man on the soil, and then, with the object of still further encouraging the people to go on the land, he would impose a. Federal land tax. In New South Wales, we already have a land tax, and in some parts of it a land tax in addition to a municipal tax.
– We do not wish a continuation of the 200,000 or 300,000 acre properties.
– The Acting Prime Minister went on to say at the Conference that these 200,000 men - with their wives and families would consume the manufactured products of Great Britain, and thus increase employment in the old country.
It would be interesting to learn how manufacturers in Melbourne view that statement. The Minister has introduced a Tariff in the interests of the big manufacturers in Australia, and yet, whilst in England, he declared that the thousands of immigrants whom the Government hoped to attract to Australia would consume not local manufactures, but the products of Great Britain, and thus increase employment in the old country. The two do not harmonize.
– I said that they would not consume foreign produce.
– That is an addition to the honorable member’s original statement. When he was posing before the public of Great Britain as a man who intended to do something for the old land, it did, not suit his book to say merely that those coming to Australia would not consume foreign produce.
– I distinctly referred on more than one occasion to the value of foreign imports entering Australia, and gave the figures.
– I intend to make another quotation from the honorable member’s speech on the occasion in question. He went on to say -
The same may be said of dairying, meat, and many other industries ; preference to the
Colonies would mean the employment of millions more Britons in your Colonies and increased markets for British manufactures.
Increased markets not for colonial but for British manufactures.
– And not foreign manufactures.
– What has the honorable gentleman done to carry out his promise? As soon as he returned to Australia, he submitted a Tariff which will prevent British goods coming into Australia and competing on fair terms with our own products.
– It is a Tariff to prevent the unrestricted importation of foreign goods.
– The honorable gentleman asked that his remarks should be placed on record. I do not know whether he had not been reported or what caused him to make that request. He said -
I hope I may be permitted to have what I say placed on record-. It is more necessary now than it was before the statement we have heard to-day from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to let the Australian people know exactly what we have attempted since we came here.
– Hear, hear.
– I have endeavoured to let the people of Australia know what the Acting Prime Minister told the Conference he would endeavour to carry out. I hope that British statesmen will note what is occurring at the present time in the Australian Parliament. Those who posed before the people of Great Britain as ardent supporters of preferential trade were prepared to make glib promises in the old land as to the grand markets that would be opened up for (British manufactures in Australia; but as soon as they returned, they changed their tune, and began at once to pander to the desires of Australian manufacturers, and to yield to the dictates of a section of the press. They have shown themselves utterly unable to rise to the true ideals of Imperial unity ; they have really no idea of the meaning of Imperialism in this connexion. In the old land they talked of uniting the Empire by means of preferential Tariffs, but as soon as they returned to Australia they brought down a Tariff calculated to shut out goods not only from foreign countries, but’ from Great Britain herself. I have no hesitation in describing the preferential trade proposals of the Government as a sham, a humbug, and a farce. If they were prepared to grant a substantial measure of preference to Great Britain, why did- they not adopt the suggestion of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission, which showed that a preference on a protectionist basis of 12½ per cent, could be granted without injuring Australian industries? Why did they not pull down instead of raise the duties against the products of the mother land? I wish now to know whether the Tariff, as introduced, is to be carried in its entirety or whether the Government are prepared to compromise?
– It is to be a protectionist Tariff, and that is why the honorable member does not like it.
– Then there is to be no compromise ?
– We are not going to descend to the free-trade proposals.
– Are the Government prepared to accept a compromise ? I understand from the Minister of Trade and Customs that they are not. They are going to fight for a high protectionist Tariff.
– We are going to fight against the proposals of the freetrade section of the Commission, which, after asserting that they were satisfied that the country had decided in favour of protection, recommended a revenue Tariff.
– We do not desire to do anything of the kind suggested by the Minister, and the free-trade section of the Commission never assertedthat the country had decided in favourof protection. I was led to ask whether the Government would be prepared to compromise, because of two speeches delivered by Ministers on Saturday night last. The Acting Prime Minister spoke in Sydney, whilst on the same night the Minister of Trade and Customs spoke in Melbourne.
– Without a rehearsal.
– They had evidently not conferred and fixed up their speeches. According to the report before me, the Acting Prime Minister declared, amid a chorus of approval from the manufacturers present, that-
He was pleased to have had an opportunity of giving to Australia a protectionist Tariff, and they might depend on it (slapping the table) they were going to have it. . . . Did they think that this great country would ever stand a wishy-washy, half-and-half Tariff that would do nothing but raise revenue?
Chorus of manufacturers - No, no.
– Hear, hear.
– The Minister who now says “Hear, hear,” went on to declare that -
He was as confident as that he was standing in that room that the Tariff would be carried into law.
To use an expression of his own, I suppose that he intends, with the assistance of the majority at his back, to “ bullock it through.” In striking contrast to that statement was the speech delivered by the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– He is a diplomat.
– At all events, on the occasion in question, he made a very fair and reasonable statement. He is an ardent protectionist, but whenspeaking at a gathering of members of the Commercial Travellers Association in Melbourne on the night that the Acting Prime Minister spoke in Sydney, he admitted that behind the contentions of honorable members who were opposing him there was a good deal of argument.
-I must have foreseen this long speech.
– The honorable gentleman said -
Though an ardent protectionist, he was prepared to say that there must be reason behind the contentions of the many men whose views were opposed to his. The two parties would have to look at both sides and bring abouta happy compromise.
Whilst on the one hand the Minister charged with the administration of the Tariff says that we must have a happy compromise, the Acting Prime Minister declares that the Government will not have a wishy-washy Tariff, but an out-and-out protectionist one, likely to please the manufacturers who applauded him while he was speaking.
– We are not going to have a wishy-washy Tariff such as the honorable member would desire.
– I think that we are entitled to have from the Ministry a fair statement of their intentions in this regard. I apologize to the Committee for having occupied so much time, and desire to thank honorable members for the hearing they have accorded me.
– I must express the pleasure with which I have listened to the able speech delivered by the honorable member for Illawarra, who has just resumed his seat, and who has enjoyed the advantage of being a member of the Tariff Commission.
While I disagree with many of the statements to which he has given utterance, I may say at once that I am pleased with the attitude of the Opposition, and trust that we shall receive their assistance in our efforts to frame a Tariff that will be a credit to Australia, and will stand for a very long time. Unlike the honorable member, I am here to fight for a purely protective Tariff. Although I am not an expert, I fail to understand why, having regard to the arduous work performed so well by an able Commission, it should be said that the Tariff has not been properly considered.
– But the Tariff recommended by the Commission is not that which the Government have introduced.
– It is based on the report of the protectionist section of the Commission. The Tariff is high in places; but who could expect a perfect Tariff, when so many items have to be considered? I do not suppose that any representative House would accept absolutely the recommendations of a Commission. The members of the Commission undoubtedly did their best ; but it is unfair to accuse those who drew up the Tariff now before us of having done so without due consideration. I was much struck by the emphasis which the honorable member for Illawarra laid on the importance of the mining industry. Mining, taken as a whole, seems to me practically a gamble. There is more money put into mining, not only in Australia, but in every other part of the world, than into any other form of gambling.
– This Tariff does not affect the gambling element, but it affects the workers.
– I am glad to observe this solicitude for the worker. It is truly astonishing how careful honorable members opposite appear to be on behalf of the worker; but when there arises any test question as between the worker and the man who desires to sweat him. the sympathy for the worker is all on this side. I have had many years’ experience of mining; and I should consider any company very weak-kneed that would be afraid to launch out on a speculation because of duties on mining machinery. Furthermore, the mining industry is not confined to gold or precious metals; and the Tariff is an attempt to develop mining generally. Australia can produce almost any mineral, especially iron and tin, and, though the mining companies may feel the effect of the Tariff a little, the duties will assist other branches of mining, by causing the local production of machinery made from raw materials raised in Australia. We have been told that the last general election was not fought on the fiscal question. That, however, could not be said of my own contest, because the gentleman who opposed me went very solidly for free-trade, as he had done as a member of this House. Personally, I stood for protection as well as for labour.
– Was the honorable member’s opponent not an anti-Socialist?
– He was a single-taxer ; I do not know whether that means an antiSocialist.
– He was one of the straightest men who ever came into this Chamber.
– I always considered him a straight man, and I am not saying anything against him. During the election I was asked whether I, as a protectionist, imagined for one moment that I would get any large support on the mining fields, seeing that protection must injure the miners. I know a great many mining fields in New South Wales; and the one question facing the fathers of families there, now that the alluvial fields are worked out, is what to do with their large families in the way of employment.
– Some of the miners have passed resolutions in favour of protection.
– I notice that, even in Western Australia, a resolution indorsing protection has been passed in an important mining centre.
– By how many people?
– I supposethey were representative.
– They were a mere handful.
– I bow to the honorable member’s superior knowledge.
– The miners did not vote for protection in my day.
– They have come round since.
– I am pleased to hear that from the honorable member for South Sydney, because it shows that miners are improving in their knowledge, and becoming less selfish.. In the early days of mining in Australia, when everybody was rushing pell mell to make his fortune, I can well understand that all were free-traders. The prospect then was that Australia would become a great mining camp, and must import all its requisites from outside; and, therefore, a miner was consistent in being a free-trader. But I know thousands of men to-day who, although ten or twelve years ago they were free-traders, are now voting steadily for protection.
– Does the honorable member say that he was returned as a protectionist, pure and simple?
– 1 was returned as a protectionist and a Labour man - the best combination in Australia to-day.
– The honorable member” did not always say that.
– I did ‘not; in my younger and. more callow days I used to vote on theory - I had dreams such as the honorable member seems to have now. Years ?.go, when I was a student of economics in pure theory, I made the discovery that under one condition only could there be free-trade without injury to the people of Australia. That condition was that there must be a system of national co-operation, po that the whole people may own, collectively, the machinery for production and conduct not only their own manufacturing, but also their own distribution. If we had a system of national co-operation, we would not import unless we wished to, seeing that there would be only one importer, and that importer the nation. When I hear honorable members opposite advocating free-trade I ask them whether they will go the whole hog, and support national co-operation?
– We are always in favour of co-operation.
– If honorable members are so fond of the Empire as they would lead us to believe - and I have listened to much about preference - why do they not ask for an Imperial Zollverein - that is, free-trade within the Empire, and protection against the outside world?
– Is the honorable, member prepared to do that?
– I do not say; at present I am here as a protectionist, but I should like honorable members opposite to advocate more than free-trade, if they wish to be taken seriously.
– Is this the result of the honorable member’s fifteen years’ study of economics ?
– If the honorable member had studied economics he would be seated on this side. There is one important point, which I should like to impress on those honorable members who are such staunch free-traders. We have heard a great cry during the last few weeks about the enormous prices which people have been called upon to pay on account of the Tariff, but I have not heard one word from the Opposition benches as to how this can be remedied. Those honorable members have pointed to one class of robber - the Australian manufacturer. But not a word have we heard from them about the middleman, who is raising the prices of commodities on which no duty has been paid. We have not been told that the middleman, or that the foreign manufacturer, who wants to wipe out our little local manufactures, is a robber. No; the Opposition have discovered one robber, but have left the other two robbers untouched.
– What would the honorable member do?
– I tell the honorable member what I should do as a protectionist, but I throw the onus of proof in regard to free-trade on his shoulders, and those of his colleagues. I regret the lamentable absence of argument on the part of the Opposition. I must say, however, that I admire the leader of the Opposition in the stand he has taken on the Tariff. He has decided not to obstruct, but to accept the inevitable and expedite the measure. That shows the common sense of the right honorable member; and I am glad that we are to have no obstruction. However, the right honorable member put forward a plea on behalf of the consumer. “ He urged that, while much had been said during the last few months about the manufacturers, nothing had been said on behalf of that great body of people who are consumers. The’ right honorable gentleman, however, quite omitted to tell us that nearly the whole of the consumers are producers; and in a protective Tariff we seek to assist all producers. The farmers and miners, on behalf of whom the plea of the -right honorable member was made, are only too willing- to vote for protection, even if they have to pay a little more in living expenses. It is not pretended for one moment that they are to have the benefits of protection without paying for it in some way ; but what they desire is diversity of employment for themselves and children. They desire to see Australia absolutely selfsupporting, which is, after all, the first effective blow to be struck in self defence. In my opinion, the establishment of a thoroughly protective system in Australia is the most important step we can take in defence of the country. If we do not make Australia self-supporting, what is the use of worrying about closer settlement, or about putting people on the land, when it is possible that the country may soon pass out of the hands of the British race into the hands of some invading force of, say, Chinese or Japanese? The farmers and miners, and the people generally, are willing to sacrifice a trifle to avoid such a calamity. The man who says ‘that protection will cost us nothing - that we are to have absolute cheapness straight off - is, in my opinion, not telling the whole truth. I do not look on protection as a final reform, but merely as a means whereby we may make Australia a country worth living in. I have heard a great deal about dumping to-day. Of course everybody is aware that in America there is a monstrous and abnormal growth in the form of trusts and combines. I know that members of the Opposition are always ready to assure us that these trusts are the result of protection. I admit that they have utilized protection to their own advantage just as they have utilized the weakness of the people, the poverty of the workers, and all the methods known to bad finance to their own aggrandizement. Those Who stand up for freetrade to-day seem to be quite willing to place our industries at the mercy of these trusts. Having read up this question some years ago, I recall the fact that in the early days of American history, Lord Brougham advocated the wholesale dumping of goods into America with a view to crushing its infant industries. As honorable members are aware, these enormous trusts would not hesitate to send millions of pounds worth of goods into this country for the purpose of killing our industries if they were satisfied that they could subsequently recoup themselves by making larger profits. We can find plenty of instances of dumping if we care to look for them. No doubt honorable members upon the Opposition side of the House are just as familiar with them as I am.
– We are quite unaware of any such instances.
– It suits the honorable member’s purpose very much better to interject that protection is the cause of trusts. I wish to say, especially to the honorable member, that I do not desire to see trusts of any kind established in Australia. I do not wish to see the people robbed, even by our local factories. That is why I am an advocate of the “ new protection.” That is why I stand for the protection of the employes and of the public from robbery* either by the manufacturer or the middleman. Another objection urged to a protective policy is that if we close our portsto foreign production, no ships will come here to take away our wool and meat. I have not a very exalted opinion of the Australian who has not a greater faith in the possibilities of his country, especially in’ view of the wonderful resources which we possess. I do not think much of the knowledge and foresight of the man who does not believe that in the future Australia willbe able to export her products. What is to prevent her doing so if we adopt a reasonable protective Tariff. Its operation will undoubtedly give our manufacturers a larger turn-over, and a better chance to install more efficient machinery. What then is to prevent Australia from becoming an exporting country? It is not my intention to deal at length with any of the details of the Tariff. I do not believe in a revenue Tariff, neither do I believe in tax-, ing such articles as tea and kerosene, which we cannot produce locally. Nor would I impose a heavy tax upon magazines.
– If the imposition of a tax upon wheat in the old country makes that commodity cheaper there, will, not a duty upon kerosene cause that articleto be sold cheaper here?
– We may be able to produce kerosene in Australia, but it seems rather hard that we should tax that article straight away. I should prefer to foster the industry by means of a bonus. I. think that we can well afford to forego any special tax upon kerosene. I am credibly informed that there is a firm in our midst which imports kerosene in bulk, and which tins it, and I do not see why the StandardOil Trust should not do the same thing. J hope that members of the Opposition wilt not take my replies too severely to heart, because I recognise .that they are just as earnest in their convictions as I am in mine. I have been forced to become a protectionist by considerations of self-defence. It is all very well for us to be importing millions of pounds’ worth of goods annually, but when we recollect that at any time there may be an outbreak of war, and that we may be called upon to stand to our defences, I think we must recognise the need which, exists for making some sacrifices with a view to render the country self-supporting. That is the main line of argument upon which I rely in defending a protective policy. I agree with others that before Australia can accomplish very much in the nature of closer settlement, she must have diversity of industries, and that the men who have taken up small areas of land must be able to grow something more than wool and wheat. Hand in hand with a protective system must go the idea of closer settlement in the building up of a prosperous population. The one great factor which stands to America to-day is the fact that she has, a mighty home market. She has 80, 000, 000 of people to feed. No matter what war may break out, that market will still be available to her. A few weeks ago I was very much amused in reading an article upon the possibility of an outbreak of war between America and Japan. If those two countries were engaged in an armed conflict, what a magnificent selfsupporting position America would occupy. I can quite imagine that, whilst one fleet of vessels was being destroyed, she would be building another fleet. But in what position should we find ourselves in such an emergency ? We are doing next to nothing in the way of providing an effective means of defence. I recognise that if we are to build up a nation, Australia cannot continue to grow only wool and wheat, and to carry on our minor industries. We must go in for manufacturing, and thereby bring about a dense population. In conclusion, I must express my pleasure at the attitude of gentlemen who - although they have spoken adversely of the party of which I am proud to be a member, although they have said that Australia was being ruined by Labour legislation, and although they have roundly abused this country - have now seen fit to withdraw their calumnies. I hope they will join hands with those who believe that Australia is going to be one of the greatest nations of the earth. I see no reason why they should not unite with us - now that they have ceased to traduce. Australia - in advancing her best material interests. They can most effectivelydo that by assisting us to dispose of the Tariff as soon as possible.
– I suggest that we might well report progress now.
– I am willing to do so if it is the desire of the honorable member and others, although it is rather early.
Mr. MAUGER laid upon the table the following paper -
Census and Statistics Act - Statistics of the Commonwealth - Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance - Bulletin No. 6. - June, 1907.
Order of Business - Case of Bombardier Lang - Colonial Sugar Company’s Agreement with Immigrants - Seizure of Wire Netting - Tasmanian Postal Service - Women’s Work Exhibition Grant - Northern Territory.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister yet decided when he will proceed with the Judiciary and Commonwealth Salaries Bills, about which he promised to make a statement to-day? I hope that he will definitely fix a date for dealing with these measures.
– This morning, I asked the Minister of Defence certain questions, upon notice, regarding an action taken in the case of Bombardier Lang, of the Royal Australian Artillery. It is my duty, as a representative of the people, to bring before this House any case of injustice which it is within the province of this Parliament to remedy, and it is the duty of Ministers and of honorable members to take notice of the cases which I bring before them. In reply to a question asking if Bombardier Lang had made a complaint about the conduct of Major Hawker to the non-commissioned officers under his command, I was told that -
On the 28th March last Bombardier Lang made a complaint to the Commanding Officer, R.A.A., New South Wales, to the effect that Major Hawker had improperly dismissed a case brought forward by him (Br. Lang) against a gunner, and that Major Hawker had said to the Company Sergeant-Major that a conspiracy had existed amongst the NonCommissioned officers against the gunner concerned.
The right to complain to the Commandant of the State is given by the regulations, and when on a previous occasion, I voiced the grievances of certain men who had been badly treated at Queenscliff, I was told that they should have complained to their State Commandant. Therefore, I asked if Bombardier Lang subsequently complained to General Gordon, and if he had the right, under the regulations, to make such a complaint. The reply I received was that he had the right, and that -
On the 18th April, 1907, Brigadier-General Gordon was inspecting at Middle Head, when Br. Lang repeated the same complaint.
Therefore it is admitted that Bombardier Lang made a complaint, and that it went through the proper channel.
– Was there no New South Wales member by whom he could have got his grievances represented ?
– He was advised by me to make representations to a New South Wales member, but, for reasons which I shall give to the honorable member privately, he did not care to do so. It appears that, although under the regulations he had a right to complain to General Gordon, he was put under arrest for doing so, and kept under arrest from the 18th to the 24th April last. I asked if General Gordon has been asked to explain the arrest, but I have received no answer to that question. I was informed that the Commanding Officer investigated the case, and informed Bombardier Lang that he had no cause of complaint. I was also told that-
Br. Lang was …. paraded before General Gordon to enable him to state his case, and to give him full opportunity to make any statement he desired, with the result that he withdrew his complaint, and expressed himself satisfied.
In reply to my inquiries Bombardier Lang informs me that -
The statement that I withdrew the complaint is altogether a misapplication of words. When I was before General Gordon, after his return from the Maitland camp, some days after I had been released, he made a long rambling statement, the meaning of which I took to be that if I let the matter drop I could get anything that I chose to go in for, but if I forced the matter I need not expect a bed of roses while I remained in the Artillery.
– That is an ex parte statement.
– Yes; and I ask the Minister of Defence to thoroughly inquire into it. It is a matter of mere justice. We have heard a great deal lately about proper military control and discipline, and while I agree that discipline is necessary, we should have as much at the top as at the bottom. The Governor-General in Council having issued certain regulations giving the right to the least influential man in the forces to complain to his State Commandant, it was scandalous to keep Bombardier Lang under arrest for seven days for having made such a complaint.
– It was an outrage upon justice.
– Yes ; and I hope that the Minister will cause a thorough investigation to be made into the whole case. The humblest soldier in the forces has a right to receive fair treatment, and if he suffers injustice, the House should interfere.
.- Some time ago, I asked the Acting Prime Minister to lay on the table a copy of the agreement entered into between the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and certain immigrants from Europe, and a paper was laid upon the table which purported to be such a copy ; but, subsequently, the Minister said that a mistake; had been made, and that it was not a correct copy. I now ask him when he will carry out his promise, and place a certified copy on the table ?
– It is stated in this morning’s papers that the Premier of New South Wales has declared that no force was used in connexion with the seizure of wire-netting in Sydney, which has caused such consternation throughout Australia and probably all over the world, the public having been led to believe that force was used. I ask the Minister whether, if he has any information on the subject, he will give it to the House?
– I have already told the House and the honorable member for Corio that it is my duty and that of the Government to see that no injustice is done to any officer or private in the Military Forces. We recognise thai justice is the basis of discipline. But mistakes will at times occur, and a mistake was made in this case.
– By General Gordon?.
– In the absence of General Gordon, who remedied the mistake as soon as He could. I believe that he telegraphed that Bombardier Lang had acted in accordance with the regulations, and, therefore, should be released.
– The honorable gentleman informed me this morning that General Gordon put Bombardier Lang under arrest.
– Immediately the Commandant found that a mistake had been made,he remedied it. He informed Bombardier Lang that a mistake had been made, and was told by him that he was perfectly satisfied.
– Bombardier Lang denies that.
– I find that a mistake has been made, and mistakes are at times inevitable in any Department.
– Surely some reparation will be made to a man who has been kept under arrest for seven days owing to a mistake?
– I am prepared to make any reparation possible ; but I am sure that honorable members are willing to concede to military officers the consideration which they extend to other officials. Moreover, members of the House are responsible for the upholding of military discipline, but if every grievance is made public, discipline is impossible. If, instead of bringing matters of this kind before the House, the honorable gentleman would make representations to me, I should be prepared to submit my decision to him, and to any other three members whom he might desire to nominate. We do not desire to make the heads of our Military Department the “Aunt Sallys” of Parliament.
– I accept the Minister’s offer, and allow him to nominate any three members he chooses.
– My desire is to prevent the continual bringing of grievances before Parliament. I admit that injustice must be remedied, even though it affects only the humblest man in the ranks. Unless the men feel that they are being treated with absolute fairness, we cannot hope to succeed in establishing a satisfactory citizen soldiery.
– Bombardier Lang is a permanent soldier.
– The honorable member for Corio proved his case to the hilt last time.
– He will not prove that any case of injustice has been allowed to continue under my administration.
– I am content to accept the Minister’s offer.
– No member of Parliament should use his position to do anything detrimental to a Department. Therefore, let the honorable member bring his case before me, and if, when I have dealt with it, he thinks that I have unduly favoured any person, he will have a real ground of complaint. He has already discussed the matter in private with me, and knows that no definite decision has yet been arrived at. Instead of exhausting the Minister’s authority, he has brought the matter before the House. Had I refused to do what the honorable member thinks I ought to have done, he would then have been justified in taking that step.
– I accept the honorable member’s offer.
.- Two or three weeks ago I brought under the notice of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who was then Postmaster-General, several matters relating to the Launceston Post Office, and to the postal service generally in Tasmania. The honorable gentleman assured me that he was thinking of sending an officer to Tasmania to inquire into the working of the Department there; but I learn to-day that the postal arrangements are still very unsatisfactory. An honorable member who visited Tasmania some time ago had to wait at the Launceston postoffice for twenty minutes before he could purchase a stamp. This state of affairs has been going on for some time, and I should like to know whether the present PostmasterGeneral will see that improvements are effected as speedily as possible in connexion with the Launceston post-office, and indeed in the service generally throughout Tasmania.
– The Acting Prime Minister yesterday replied to a question that I put to him with regard to the grantof£ 1,000 made to the executive of the Exhibition of Women’s Work. He then stated that, so far as he was aware, only£15 had been paid over. In view of the fact that this grant was made by the Ministry without the authority of Parliament, and, so far as the papers disclose,quite spontaneously, I should like to know whether the Acting Prime Minister will be prepared to cancel the unexpended balance and place the item on the Estimates in order that the opinion of the Parliament may be obtained. There has never been any urgency in regard to the matter. On the admission of the Acting Prime Minister himself, it appears that the grant was made, not to encourage any special effort on the part of the women of Australia, but to defray the cost of bringing exhibits from Europe.
– To defray the cost of carrying exhibits from the continent to London. They will be carried from London to Australia free of charge.
– Those associated with the exhibition are so influential that they should have had no difficulty in providing for freights without appealing surreptitiously to the Government for so large a grant It is only due to the Parliament that the Acting Prime Minister should cancel the giant and inform the executive of the exhibition that the item will be placed on the Estimates in order that the opinion of honorable members may be taken upon it.
– In answer to the honorable member for Bass, I desire to say that I shall cause inquiries to be made at the earliest possible moment in regard to the matters of which he has complained.
.- Can the Acting Prime Minister inform the House when the return for which I moved in regard to land and other questions affecting the Northern Territory is likely to be laid upon the table of the House?
– In reply to. the honorable member for Lang, I. can . only say that I gave instructions for the preparation of the return, and that I do not know when it will be ready, The honorable member for Riverina’ inquired as to the correctness of a statement attributed by the press to the Premier of New South Wales regarding the force used the day before yesterday in removing wire netting from the control of the Department of Trade and Customs. I have received this afternoon reports from New South Wales which, but for the fact that the case is now sub judice, I should lay upon the table. In the circumstances I do not think it would be proper for me to do so. I may say, however, that the statement which I first made to the House in regard to this subject is more than borne out by the reports, and that if they be true, a most aggravated course of action lias, been adopted by Mr. Carruthers. As to the inquiry made by the honorable member for Parramatta, I may say that I had intended to ask the House to deal to-day with the Judiciary Bill and the Commonwealth Salaries Bill, but, rinding that.it was improbable that we should be able to deal with them finally this afternoon, I decided not to do so.
– Their consideration will occupy some time.
– I do not wish the general debate on the Tariff to be interrupted, and unless it be unduly prolonged, I do not think I shall submit those Bills until it has been brought to a close. I shall probably submit, them about the time that I ask the House to deal with the Works and Buildings Estimates.
– At all events, we shall receive two or three days’ notice before we are asked to proceed with those measures ?
– Yes. I shall try to give honorable members generally the necessary notice. Coming to the question put by the honorable member for Coolgardie, I must confess that I think he is taking a very lively interest in a very small matter. Surely Ministers can be trusted to spend judiciously a sum of £1,000?
– The leader of the Opposition, when at the head of a New South Wales Government, was thrown out of office because of an expenditure of £350 which had not been approved by the Parliament.
– That was an entirely different matter. I gave the honorable member for Coolgardie yesterday an answer with which I had been supplied by the Treasury, and explained why .the money had been sent to London. I pointed out that it was to be expended only in defraying expenses in respect of conveying valuable exhibits from the Continent to London, and that the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company would carry them thence to Australia free of charge. If there is any surplus in connexion with the exhibition, the money so spent will be refunded. I have reason to believe that there will be a surplus ; everything points to that conclusion. The latest advices obtainable are that only .£15 has yet been expended.
– Then the honorable member will have control of the balance?
– So far as we know at the present time, only £15 has been expended; but the balance of the money is in London.
– Why not send a cablegram directing that no further sum shall be expended ?
– I am not going to place such an indignity upon the Prime Minister, nor my late colleague, the right honorable member for Swan.
– I did not suggest anything of the kind.
– That would be the effect of the adoption of the honorable member’s suggestion. I understand that the Prime Minister–
– Promised the money.
– I believe that he did. At all events, he is familiar with the details.
– The papers ought to show that.
– They simply show that the Prime Minister had apparently made a promise to some one that a grant would be made for this purpose, and that the secretary of the exhibition wrote to him reminding him of that promise. I hope that the honorable member will not press his objection. I believe that the money paid in this connexion will be refunded to us. If the whole£1,000 is not required for the purpose for which it was granted, it will not be expended. The honorable member for Herbert put a question to me in regard to contract immigrants. There was a mistake in the paper which I laid upon the table some time ago. I think I shall be able to present the true agreement on Tuesday. I do not think that there is any objection to doing so; and I will take care this time that the document is so certified that there cannotbe any mistake, as there was on the last occasion. I regret that an error was made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4. 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070823_reps_3_38/>.