3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I - I wish to ask the Minister of Defence when the Ulverstonc Rifle Range will be put in such order as will permit of rifle practice taking place upon it?
– In answer to the question of the honorable member, I desire to say that provision has been made on the Estimates for the completion of this work. The honorable member was good enough to inform me that he desired this information, and consequently I made the necessary inquiries. The matter, I find, had been referred to the Department of Home Affairs, and upon communicating with that Department to-day I learned that it. was in communication with the Treasury Department with a view to providing for the completion of this urgent work out of the Treasurer’s advance vote.
-I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to a statement made by the honorable member for Fawkner at a meeting of the Employers’ Union last night in regard to the Parliamentary Allowances
Bill ? That honorable member is reported to have said -
When Sir William Lyne brought down the GovernorGeneral’s Message, relating to the increase, the voice was that of the Acting Prime Minister, but the hand was (hat of. the Labour Party.
I also wish to ask whether the Acting Prime Minister does not consider that statement on the part of the honorable member for Fawkner a dirty attempt to discredit a section of his colleagues, because of their attitude towards a Bill which had the approval not only of the leaders, but also of members of every party in this House, who regarded it as a fair and just measure?
– I was somewhat surprised at the statement made by the honorable member for Fawkner. I did not expect such a statement to emanate from him, but I have often been reminded of the old Scriptural quotation, “ The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” That quotation came to my recollection when I read the honorable member’s statement. The honorable member himself may have gloved daws, but I do not think that he will gain much by adopting the attitude which he has taken up.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether in rule 565, “ Establishment,” in Military Order 108, 1907, it is proposed to abolish the two Warrant Officer ranks now in the Armament Artificers?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
No. They are provided for in this year’s Estimates.
– In view of correspondence which has taken place between myself andthe Minister of Defence, I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the proposition that the Commonwealth Government should contribute towards the survey by the Admiralty of the north-west coast of Australia?
– The honorable member will perceive that there is a question on the notice-paper dealing with the matter to which he refers ; it will, therefore, be out of order for him to put his question.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s question I have to state -
I may add that I desire to ascertain whether this matter is in any way connected with the subsidy which is paid to the Imperial Government. If it is not, it is a matter the determination of which is entirely within the discretion of the Parliament.
– What subsidy?
– The annual subsidy of £200,000.
-The subsidy payable under the Naval Agreement.
– That is not a surveying agreement.
– Idesire to ascertain whether the proposal is connected with the Naval Agreement, because if it is not, the matter is a new one entirely, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned.
– I can tell the Treasurer that it is not connected with that agreement.
– The right honorable member knows a lot.
– I know that, anyway.
Consideration resumed from 27 th August (vide page. 2404), of motion of Sir William Lyne -
That duties of Customs and duties of Excise be imposed according to the following Tariff (vide page 1648)….. ,
– In rising to speak upon the matters engaging the attention of the Committee, one is impressed, most of all, with the immense number of subjects which afford food for discussion on this occasion. No doubt, the large number of subjects of pressing importance has contributed, so far, to rather long speeches by honorable members. I hope, this afternoon, to confine myself to such a limited number of these matters as will permit me to conclude my speech within a reasonable period. In the first place, it seems appropriate to congratulate the Treasurer upon the figures which appear at the latter end of his Budget. We are told very often that the sting of a thing is in its tail. May I say that the best part of the Budget is containedin its tail, and consists of that wonderful array of figures which speak in most eloquent language of the abounding prosperity which Australia is enjoying just now. These figures read more like the tales in the Arabian Nights than anything else, and I think we may all congratulate ourselves uponthe period of prosperity we are enjoying.
– Through the F ederal Government.
– The Acting Prime Minister says; “ Through the Federal Government.” Of course he does not mean any. such thing. Whatever may be our political’ attitude whilst we are endeavoring in our peddling, pottering way to manage the affairs of this country, we must be very thankful that silent forces are working for us both by day and night to build up the prosperity of this great continent. In this connexion I should like to mention one set of figures which, to me, is very instructive and encouraging. I do so the more readily because of the friction which exists at the present time, and because of the generally unfriendly relations between the States and the Commonwealth.
– Between, some of the States and the Commonwealth.
– I think that most of the States are in a critical mood, to say the least of it, regarding our Federal doings and the worth of our Federal institutions. The figures to which I refer relate to our Inter-State commerce. It is well that they should be noted and placed upon record so that the States which are so nervous and apprehensivejust now may note the booming Inter-State trade of the Commonwealth. These figures show that during the current year it is anticipated that we shall have an Inter-State trade which is worth more than £40,000,000. I venture to say that the benefit arising to all the States, from this fact alone cannot be appreciated upon a cursory view of the situation. It is a fact which needs to be emphasized just now when so much is being said against Federation. Here is one outstanding advantage of Federation, which all the States share in common, and share to their own prosperity in an extraordinary degree. These figures indicate that our progress is also a continuing one. This year the Inter-State traffic, it is estimated,will be 18 per cent. in excess of that of last year. Now, the Budget figures go to show that last year we produced £129,000,000 worth of products, £69,000,000 of which had to find a market oversea. In this country of few men and broad acres, we must necessarily have a large exportable product which must find a market oversea ; indeed, our exports are the very life-blood of Australia, and will continue to be so for generations to come. The handicaps under which we labour are already sufficiently heavy without ourimposing additional handicaps politically or legislatively. Let me give one instance of what I mean. Every bushel of wheat that we send oversea is handicapped to the extent of 5d. in its competition with wheat forwarded to London from America and Canada. Fivepence per bushel is the handicap imposed upon our producers in the matter of freight alone, and that sum, upon an average selling price of 3s. per bushel, is a very heavy handicap indeed.
– Sometimes the selling price is less than 3s. per bushel.
– I am putting the position in the most favorable light from our own stand-point. Labouring under such a handicap, we ought to take care to foster in every possible way the export of Australian products, without which we cannot live. Now I wish to point to the figures to which I have alluded, because they are very instructive and require looking into very closely. I am referring, of course, to the relation which our imports bear to our exports. The facts are - and we shall do well to keep them in mind in addressing ourselves to the Tariff question, as we shall have to do very shortly in this Committee - that last year there was a difference between the value of our imports and that of our exports of ,£25,000,000. Our imports from abroad last year were valued at £44,750,000, and our exports at nearly £70,000,000.
– Those exports, I suppose, included gold and silver bullion?
– Oh, yes. Roughly speaking, the value of our exports was £25,000,000 in excels of that of our imports. There are some more interesting figures in this table. We find that the value of New Zealand’s imports is £15,000,000, and her exports £18,000,000. Canada’s imports are valued at £54,000,000, and her exports at £41,000,000, while British South Africa’s imports are valued at £32,000,000, and her exports at £43,000,000. In the case of all these communities there is some sort of balance as between exports and imports. In the case of Australia alone is there a huge gap between the two. It may be said at once that we have a large interest bill to meet oversea. That is perfectly true. Our public and private indebtedness is nearly £350,000,000.
– It is over
– The latest figures I have seen show the” total indebtedness to be £344,000,000. The interest on that amount is, roughly speaking, £15,000,000 per annum.
– - Nearly
– That accounts for the greater part of the sum of £255000,000, representing the balance of trade which seems to be against us ; but there is still £10,000,000 to be accounted for. I have no doubt that a goodly portion of that amount is made up by the increased .prices of our products. But whilst we may balance our accounts in that way, there is still an ugly outstanding fact to be met. First of all, we have the fact that the money representing the interest paidby us is not being re-invested in Australia, nor is the amount representing the higher prices now being obtained for our products being re-invested, so far as we know, in the Commonwealth. All this money apparently is going abroad. Such a state of affairs in connexion with a young country like this ought to be rectified as speedily as possible. This money is going chiefly to London - it is going from a country having inhabitants to the square mile to a land where there are 300 to the square mile.
– How does, the honorable member know that none of this money is being re-invested in Australia?
– The fact is expressed in our returns as to imports.
– It is not .proved by a mere quotation of the returns of imports and exports. Money intended for investment in Australia would not appear in the list of imports.
– I think that fo a large extent it would.
– Why does the honorable member think so? It would not necessarily be sent out here in gold.
– No; I think that for the most part it would come in the shape of machinery and other things required by those investing the money to pursue their particular industry.
– It is practically left here, if it is going to be re-invested in Australia.
-Yes. that is so. The honorable member for West Sydney says that the money may be sent back to Australia again, and I am merely pointing out that if ‘ it is, no reference to the fact is to be found in any record with which I am acquainted. I am simply endeavouring to show that on the balance of trade there is a difference of £25,000,000 as against Australia, whereas in the case of all the other countries to which I have referred, the exports to a large extent balance the imports. Whilst people are rushing to Canada, the imports of that country largely exceed her exports. That is a highly satisfactory state of affairs in connexion with a young country ; but in Australia, a land” equally fertile, to say the least of it, the balance of trade is against us to the extent of £25,000,000.
– What other country could stand it?
– A country that continues to give more than it can afford will soon be bankrupt. I am not suggesting that that is likely to be the fate of Australia. I am simply pointing out that the balance of trade, in recent years, is against us, and I am endeavoring to ascertain the reason for this state of affairs. If the honorable member can point to any cause, other than that which I have indicated, I shall be glad to have his explanation.
– I do not like to hear Australia being pulled down without making some effort to raise her up again.
– I should be very sorry to endeavour to pull down Australia, and hope that my remarks will not be construed in the way suggested by the honorable member. The matter ‘ is one that ought to be investigated. We ought to know why, at least, some portion of the £15,000,000, which we have to pay by way of interest every year, is not being retained here for re-investment, as it used to be. Instead of seeking to decry Australia, my purpose is the very opposite. I wish this matter to be cleared up.
– I think that the increased deposits in our financial institutions explain, to a very considerable extent, the whole position.
– Managers of financial institutions in Australia tell us that they are sending their money Home to be invested ; that they can find better investments for it in London.- That is. not my statement ; it is the statement of leading bank managers in Australia, and it is borne out by our returns of imports and exports.
– Is not the balance of trade against us to be accounted for, to some extent, by the fact that a number of loans raised abroad have been paid off of recent years with Australian money?
– There mav be something in that contention, but the fact that loans have been so redeemed would not account for the total balance of trade against us.
– We have paid off a vast amount of private loans, as well as some public loans, by money raised in Australia.
– We have not paid off, in that way, very many public loans raised in London. Of recent years, the practice of Treasurers in Australia has been to borrow in London for the purpose of redemption, and to borrow locally for purposes of development.
– And they have been able to borrow, locally, very large sums.
– At all events, it is well that attention should be called to this matter. I should like to have a satisfactory explanation. But, so far, I have not been able to find one, and the outlook, to my mind, is not so bright as the Budget statement would seem to indicate. I hope the honorable member for West Sydney will not accuse me of trying to decry Australia when I proceed to quote figures to which reference was made last night by his leader, in support of his argument that settlement in Australia was practically at a standstill.
– He merely repeated the statements of- the leader “of the Opposition.
– That is an immaterial point. The question we have to consider is, whether settlement is at a standstill, and, if it is, what that fact means for us. The Budget statement reveals one or two striking facts. -Whilst there is apparently a booming trade on the surface, the Budget shows, unmistakably, that the boom, is one in prices, and not in volume. The output of our- staple products is not greatly increasing. The output of coal during the last financial year was less than that of the preceding year, and the output of gold and silver was less than the annual output for the last five or six years. On turning to the Budget papers, honorable members will find that the areas devoted to agriculture, horticulture, and viticulture are less now than in 1904. The area under wheat this year is less than that under wheat last year.
– Does the honorable member include the area under artificial grasses in his statement as to the areas devoted to agriculture ?
– I am merely taking the total agricultural areas as shown in the Budget papers. I find that the area under wheat this year is less than that so cultivated last year ; that the output of coal, gold, and silver is also less : whilst the agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural areas are less than those of 1904. Our prosperity, apparently, is to be accounted for by the success of our pastoral and dairying industries. But here again, so far as the pastoral industry is concerned,, we find that there has not been a vast increase in the volume of business generally. Wool has increased in price from 7d. to lod. per lb.
– Has there not been a marked increase in our flocks?
– There has been an ‘increase. In 1901, we exported 518,000,000 lbs. of wool, whilst last year our exports amounted to 545,000,000 lbs. There was a comparatively small increase so far as the volume of trade was concerned, but there was an increase in values from ^£15,000,000 in 1901 to £22,000,000 in 1906. The great outstanding fact to be gathered from the figures in the Budget papers is that our increased prosperity today is due to an increase not in the volume of our productions, but in their, prices. Australia has had nothing whatever to do with that increased price except as a unit in’ the great company of nations sharing it in common with ais.
– There has been an improvement in the quality of our stock
– That is immaterial to the point at issue. Any improvement that we may have in the quality of our stock is expressed in our output. These figures have an important bearing on the present debate chiefly for the reason that the prosperity which we are now enjoying may decline at any moment, and that if we are gradually framing our permanent Estimates for the Commonwealth upon a basis that we are unable to control, we may very soon find ourselves in difficulties when present prices decline. The honorable member for South Sydney said last night that land settlement was practically at a standstill for the reason that there was no land available for settlement in Australia.
– That is very nearly true.
– There are thousands of acres available.
– I make the general statement that what Australia needs to-day, even more than an abundance of Crown lands available for settlement, is a revival of confidence and security. Such a revival would do more for Australia than would anything else.
– Does not the honorable member think that the fact that recently hu one of the States there were 900 applicants for one block of land shows tha.t the people have confidence in Australia?
– The honorable, member’s leader answered that question last night when, in response to an . interjection which I made as to the number of fresh families settled on the soil in New South Wales, he promptly pointed out that amongst those applicants were men who already held land.
– What causes the lack of confidence?
– I shall deal with that matter later on; at present I desire to ‘ meet the statement of the honorable member for South Sydney last night, when he declared that the only policy that can save Australia is a good stiff land tax, that will “ disrupt” the large estates.
– “ Disrupt “ is a new word.
– And the new word which the honorable member for South Sydney coined, or, rather, adopted last night, is a very ugly word when applied to the vested interests of a community, though I do not know that it is much’ uglier than “bursting up “ or similar phrases. However, I do not desire to talk of the terms of the proposition, but to say one or two words concerning the proposition itself. That is the remedy suggested by the honorable member for South Sydney ; and, first, we desire to know whether it has already been applied elsewhere, and, if so, with what results. The honorable member for South Sydney points to New Zealand, and says, “Look what is going on there.” Well, I have looked; and, sp far as I am able to investigate the figures, they show that the progressive, or graduated, land tax in New Zealand is being evaded wholesale. It is true that in New Zealand there is a slight declinethough it is hardly worth mentioning - in the last four or five years in the number of large, estates of 50,000 acres and over; that there is a practical standing still in regard to estates of 20,000 and 30,000 acres ; and that when we get down to estates of 10,600 and 20,000 acres, we find that the decline in the larger estates is compensated for by the increase of estates of that area. This shows that the. larger estates are being divided up in order to evade the land tax.
– There is nothing wrong in that, surely?
– The figures show that the land tax answers its purpose.
– The object is achieved if the large estates are burst up.
– I am only seeking information, and I am glad to receive that offered by honorable members. It is refreshing to know that the Labour Party, who are going to burst up the big estates, have no objection to four or five sons dividing the ownership, and thus escaping the tax. But that is not making land available for settlement - that is not increasing immigration - and it is not putting virgin lands in small areas at the disposal of honest settlers.
– Oh, yes, it is.
– It is better to have one’s sons on the land than to send outside for others.
– I am .not quarrelling about the righteousness of a land tax; at the present stage I am only contending that a graduated land tax, with a large exemption, such as is advocated by honorable members opposite, for the purpose of bursting up or “ disrupting “ large estates, is not working to that end in New Zealand.
– Practically, as a result of the land tax, 68,000 people have been induced to go to New Zealand in the last ten years.
– When we turn our attention to men who occupy farms of, say, 200 acres in New Zealand, and who are supposed to be very comfortably off, seeing that the land is so productive - when we get down to the busy, thriving, hard-working farmers - we find that there has been more increase in that kind of settlement in New South Wales than in New Zealand during the last four or five years. There are figures’ to prove that statement.
– What are the actual figures ?
– I do not know that I have the figures here, but I vouch for their accuracy. I wish to say that during the last ten years the indebtedness of New Zealand has been increased by no less a sum than £19,140,260, and a further sum of £2,000,000 must be added this year.
– They are marvellous boomsters, all right !
– Yes, but I would point out that when there is £21,000,000 or £22,000,000 of borrowed money flowing into a small State like New Zealand in ten years, it must in itself, almost without any other factors, create prosperity.
– How much was borrowed in Australia in the same ten years?
– In the Commonwealth in that period there was borrowed £58,682,736. New Zealand in that period borrowed at the rate of £2 9s. 2d., per head, as against £1 10s. nd. per head in the Commonwealth.
– How much has been borrowed by New South Wales?
– I am now speaking of the Commonwealth. In New South Wales, however, the bulk of the money was borrowed when the Labour Party were at their highest point of power. If we wish to see the “ borrow and burst “ policy, of which the honorable member for South Sydney spoke last night, in operation^ we must go back to the time in New South Wales when the Labour Party were at their strongest and able to drive the Government as they liked.
– That was when the honorable member led the party. We were never so strong as then, and never shall be again. ‘
– What is the honorable member talking about? I am speaking of six or seven years ago.
– When the honorable member was in power.
– No; the honorable member forgets that the Government of which I was a member went out of office nine years ago; and the bulk of the borrowing has been since.
– Is the honorable member aware that the New Zealand Government borrow from local sources?
– In order to resume land and sell it to farmers, and so forth.
– The figures I have quoted have been given to me by the Commonwealth Statistician, Mr. Knibbs, and honorable members may turn them about as they please. ‘Whatever improvement there may be in a country, whether inthe shape of land laws, or in other ameliorative directions, it should express itself finally in the condition of the great mass of the people. Whatever policy mav be propounded and carried into effect, if it does not assist the working man, it fails inks supreme object..
– New Zealand comes out very well in that connexion.
– Does she? .. I shall show how New Zealand comes out in that connexion. Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, who made a special investigation in>
New Zealand, found that, while during the last twelve years wages have risen by- 8J per cent., the cost of living in the same period has increased by 25 per cent, or 30 per cent. I do not call that an increase in wages; it is, in effect, a decrease. A very grave problem will confront the people of New Zealand soon, namely, What is to be done in regard to the increase in prices and in rent? The working men in New Zealand, according to the Labour Party’s own champion-
– He is not our champion ; I disclaim him. He talked a lot of rot about Australia !
– This is the first time I have heard Mr. Ramsay Macdonald publicly repudiated by the Labour PaTty.
– Why go to an Englishman for information?
– 1 go to this Englishman, because I thought he was an authority to whom the honorable member would take no exception.
– Of course I would; I do not take a globe trotter’s opinion.
– So far as I am able to ascertain, people who are now living in New Zealand bear out Mr. Macdonald’s statement.
– But they stay in New Zealand.
– As a matter of fact, they do not stay there. An old friend of mine, who went there two or three years ago, is on his way back to Australia now.
– I expect he is returning, because of the new Tariff.
– I should like to say that my friend, in his last letter to me, said that he began to have some doubts as to whether, in view of the Tariff, he ought to return. I mention these matters as worthy of investigation, because we hear constantly from honorable members that the one thing needed to right all the wrongs in Australia is a “disruptive” land. tax.
– Who says that?
– I will correct myself, and say that we are told a “disruptive tax” is the main thing needed; at any rate, that was the allegation of the leader of the Labour Party last night. When on the question of direct taxation, I should like to refer to another statement of the leader of the Labour Party, to the effect that in Great Britain there is more direct taxation, in relation to indirect taxation, than in any other part of the world; and the honorable member is undoubtedly correct. But there has been a marked allround increase in the direct taxation of Australia since the federation of the States, as the following figures, compiled by the Government Statistician, show. The direct .taxation of New South Wales yielded, in the year 1905-6, ,£1,297,776, or 17s. 5d. per head of population ; that of Victoria,’ ,£1,075,861, or 17s. 8d. per head; that of Queensland, £494,165, or 1 8s. 9d. per head ; that of South Austraia> £369,756, or 19s. 7d. per head ; that of Western Australia, £260,609, or 20s. 5d. per head ; that of Tasmania, £^248,799, or 27s. 6d. per head. During the previous year, the direct taxation’ ot South Australia was equivalent to 23s. 9d. per head, owing to the fact that duties had to be paid on two or three very large estates.
– Then the figures which the honorable member is giving us include the revenue from succession duties, and are misleading.
– The direct taxation of New South Wales was 40.13 per cent, on the Customs and Excise revenue ; that of Victoria, 42.41 per cent. ; that of Queensland, 41.76 per cent. ; that of South Australia, 53.74 per cent. ; that of Western Australia, 25.28 per cent. ; and that of Tasmania, 76.23 per cent. Leaving out of account, for special reasons, the Western Australian percentage, it will be found that the direct taxation of the Commonwealth averages nearly 51 per cent. These figures show that our people now pay exceedingly heavy direct taxation.
– Can the honorable member tell us what amount of revenue is derived from land and income taxation?
– I have not that information now. With regard to a previous interjection by the honorable member, I have yet to learn that succession duties are not regarded as a measure of reform by nearly every labour and socialistic body in Europe.
– I agree that that is so, but the honorable member’s figures needed the explanation which my interjection elicited.
– What taxation could be more direct than the levying of succession duties?
– We admit its directness.
– Succession duties? are a good form of direct taxation.
– Yes. I should like to add that it does not follow that where direct taxation is heaviest, the people are most prosperous. Will any one say that Tasmania is the most prosperous State in Australia?
– She is one of the most prosperous States, and her people are more prosperous than those of any other.
-Are wages or profits higher in Tasmania than elsewhere?
– They are as high.
– Great Britain has a direct taxation equivalent to 85 per cent. of her total taxation ; but the honorable member has spoken of that country as being in a very bad way.
– The farmers of England are ruined.
– Yet the honorable gentleman proposes to make their position worse. He wishes them to allow us to send more grain and food products there.
– So that less may be sent from foreign countries.
– What can it matter to the English farmer whether the competition which ruins him comes from Australia or from some foreign country? Last night the honorable member for South Sydney asked why the members of the Opposition are not honest in their attitude towards the public, why they do not say that there is no chance of establishing a Commonwealth old-age pensions system except by the adoption of the vague and indeterminate method which he mentioned. Every one admits that the establishment of a. Commonwealth old-age pensions system is a very serious problem.. I, as much as any member of the Labour Party, should like to see such a system in existence; but a consideration of ways and means shows its establishment to be a very difficult matter. Before the honorable member taunted us on the subject, he should have given a definite indication of what he would do to provide a Commonwealth old-age pensions fund.
– If he is placed on the Treasury benches he will define his methods.
– The honorable member for South Sydney has infinitely more power as leader of the Labour Party under present circumstances than if he were a responsible Minister. I ask him to be honest and to tell the people of Australia how he would finance a Commonwealth old-age pensions system. Not until he has promulgated a definite scheme should he taunt the members of the Opposition with not having done so.
– The honorable member for South Sydney put forward his scheme last night.
– In a very indefinite way, speaking of direct taxation amongst other things ; but when asked what kind of direct taxation he would impose to provide Commonwealth old-age pensions, he could not reply. He could not expect to derive sufficient revenue from a land tax, because he and the members of his party have declared that the object of their proposed land tax is-, not to raise revenue - although incidentally it may yield a small amount - but to break up the large estates. Therefore he must contemplate the imposition of some other form of direct taxation to find revenue for a Commonwealth old-age pensions fund.
– The New South Wales Statistician has suggested a very good way of obtaining the necessary money.
– Coming now to another matter, I wish to say that I consider the figures showing the results of the sugar bounty to be very gratifying. Two years ago I criticised similar returns adversely, because they indicated that the bounty was having no appreciable effect in bringing about the substitution of’ white for black labour in the cane-fields. Now, however the bulk of the sugar produced in Queensland comes from fields cultivated by white labour, a state of things which I cordially welcome, and hope may continue. The more I read of the race problems of the world, the more I am thankful that we have not such a problem to deal with here. In America the colour difficulty is more menacing every day. Two gentlemen of high culture and commanding position in the old country, one of whom is now resident in America - Professor Black, lately of Edinburgh, and Professor Rendel Harris - after investigating the problem in the southern States of America, declared that they saw no solution of. it, and that the cloud is becoming blacker every day.
– Is it right to sell in South Africa for£11 5s. a ton Ausralian sugar such as our people buy at £18 a ton?
– I do not think that it is ; but I do not see the bearing of the interjection on the subject which I am discussing.
– It has a bearing on the bounty question.
– I am glad to know that the quantity of sugar produced by white labour in Queensland is increasing, and I am watching the experiment with the keenest interest. I have every desire to protect Australia from the difficulty which is menacing other countries of the world.
– Does the honorable member agree with the honorable member for Swan in regard to the elimination of both the bounty and the excise?
– I prefer not to speak on the subject, because I have not sufficiently considered it. As has already been indicated, the Commonwealth revenue has been increasing by leaps and bounds, the increase last year being £912,000 ; but notwithstanding that increase, the amount which will be returned to the States this year will be , £65,550 less than was returned last year. Therefore, the Governments of the States are rightly apprehensive. Notwithstanding that the Commonwealth revenue is booming, they are getting less than they have received in the past. This gives taxpayers the right to inquire closely into our proposals for expenditure. The revenue has shown an increase per head of population, which is the best of all indications that the country is prospering, the return in 1905-6 being £2 18s. 3d. per head, and in 1906-7 £3 2s.21/2d. per head, while the estimate for the current year is £3 5s. 71/4d. per head. Notwithstanding the huge increase of revenue, the Tariff has been amended to obtain still more revenue, duties having been placed on tea and kerosene, amongst other articles, for that purpose. Last year the honorable member for Swan, who was then Treasurer, proposed to earmark the returns from duties on these articles to provide an old-age pensions fund. His scheme was opposed for reasons upon which I need not dwell now. The Government, however, is at the present time collecting duties on these articles for no special purpose.
– Except to have the money to spend.
– Yes. Ministers are beginning to exploit our reserves of taxation, although the revenue is booming and they have no special emergency to meet. While the Commonwealth is increasing taxation, the States are remitting it. Last year all the States had surpluses. New South Wales had a surplus of £1,500,000; Victoria of £800,000, Queensland of £400,000, South Australia of £300,000, and Tasmania of £80,000. In other words, the States had an aggregated surplus of £3,000,000, notwithstanding that their total population isonly 4,000,000.
– The honorable member has not quoted the Western Australia surplus.
– That State, I admit, had a slight deficiency.
– Although they are remitting taxation, the honorable member is complaining that the States are not well looked after by the Commonwealth.
– I quote these figures for quite another purpose. I repeat that to-day the States have surpluses aggregating £3,000,000, although they contain only 4,000,000 of people. The, question which naturally presents itself to my mind is, “Ought we to impose further duties for the purpose of providing funds for an old-age pension scheme when the States themselves have surpluses sufficient to provide the necessary money twice over?” I should like my honorable friends opposite to meet that position.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable member for Indi ought to be in the State Parliament and not in this Parliament.
– Here is the position: We are talking about imposing further duties to provide the wherewithal for an old-age pension scheme, although the States last year had surpluses amounting to £3,000,000, or sufficient money to finance two old-age pension schemes for Australia. If Mr. Asquith, the Chancellor of the Imperial Exchequer, had had a surplus in his accounts relatively as large, he would have had a surplus of £30,000,000. And if he had had such a surplus last year, I should like to know whether he would have thought of propounding schemes of further taxation for any purpose whatsoever. I admit that all this opens up another problem, namely, the financial relationship of the States to the Commonwealth. I merely mention this aspect of the matter because I have no time to discuss it to-day. It was very thoroughly discussed last year, and as the Treasurer has brought forward no proposals in regard to it, that discussion may. be permitted to stand for the present. But we have now reached this anomalous position ; whilst we are imposing additional taxation, the States are remitting it and distributing largesse throughout the land. The sooner that kind of anomaly is ended the better it will be for the Federation. Notwithstanding our extraordinary prosperity, new taxation is proposed to enable us to pay our way. That is our position at the present time, and I say that it cannot continue. It is a false position, and the sooner that fact is recognised the better. We are raising this money without the. obligation of accounting for its expenditure, while the States are spending the money without the obligation of raising it. I repeat that we occupy a false position, and one which cannot continue. It works out in this way : Whilst the outlook of Australia, so far as material prosperity is concerned, was never brighter, the political and financial outlook, in my judgment, was never more serious. That is the anomaly of the whole position. As sure as fate - unless a radical alteration be made in the financial relations of the States to the Commonwealth - the moment the present boom ceases, we shall be in extremis financially. Added to all this, we have at the head of the Government, In the person of the Acting Prime Minister, a gentleman who is known for his generosity . in the matter of the expenditure of public money.
– He has cut down my estimates almost to the bone.
– He declares that the present is the meanest Government he has ever known.
– I said the meanest Parliament.
– That amounts to the same thing. I suppose, therefore, that if the honorable gentleman had had his way our expenditure would have been millions sterling more than it is.
– I do not think so.
– Then what is the meaning of the honorable gentleman’s expression? Everybody is aware that his accession to any position associated with the public finances has always synchronized with a swift upward leap in the public expenditure. It was so in New South Wales. There the increased expenditure began immediately, and did not stop for a period of five years. Before it had stopped, the ordinary expenditure of the State had increased by £2,500,000 annually. In the present instance, after the Treasurer has been only a fortnight in office, our expenditure hasincreased by £1,000,000. If that be the result of a fortnight’s occupancy by him of the office of Treasurer, what may be expected at the end of two years ? I am afraid that the present position will not be permanently improved until responsible government isestablished in this House - until the Government, by their own inherent strength,, can control their own functions absolutely, and, if need be, take up a firm and moderate and reasonable position in dealing with the States. Inthe meantime, I merely wish to say that finance in Australia - as anywhere else - is the first and most important interest of the nation. It ramifies into every nook and” corner of our administration and of our government, and, therefore, of our civil and social life. .Seeing that we have a public indebtedness of £250,000,000, the’ maintenance of our Australian credit is the first and most important thing which we should set ourselves zealously to guard. That brings me to a brief consideration of the proposals contained in the Budget for the current year. The cost of governing Australia - I am speaking now purely of Commonwealth expenditure - has increased by £2,234,000 since the accomplishment of Federation. It has increased from £3,733.°°° to £5,967,000.
– Of how much have we relieved the States?
– I am not dealing with that matter just now.
– We have taken over their Departments.
– I am not sayinganything to the contrary. The point I wish to make is not against the Commonwealth. I say that, whilst there is every need for the exercise of caution in our Commonwealth procedure, this large increase in our Federal expenditure has not been accompanied? by a proportionate decrease in State expenditure.
– And it should have been*
– I do not say whether or not it should have been. But while the Commonwealth and the States are concurrently spending so largely, it is not to be wondered at that the taxpayer should become nervous and apprehensive. For the current year our revenue is estimated to show an increase of £912,000, and our expenditure an increase of £980,000. I should like for » few moments to direct attention to ohe of the spending Departments of the Commonwealth - I refer to the Post Office. I hope that honorable members will bear with me for a few minutes while I examine the figures relating to that Department. We are told that a larger number of hands is required to carry on the , work of the Postal Department, and that sweating conditions are prevalent there. On the other hand, we are assured by the ex-Treasurer that he would like to see a change made in the control of the Public Service of Australia. He wishes to revert to the old system of Ministerial patronage.
– That is scarcely what he wants.
– He argued last night that he would like to see the Public Service Commissioner endowed with less final power in the matter of* making appointments and Ministers with more.
– If something of that kind be not done, sweating cannot be prevented.
– The right honorable member for Swan wishes to give the Public Service Commissioner a life tenure of office, but to curtail his power.
– The right honorable member for Swan does not want political patronage, but he does desire Ministerial responsibility.
– I want to say that there is Ministerial responsibility enough to-day if it be assumed as it ought to be.
– I have been fighting for over four months to obtain the services of ten extra sorters in the Post Office, and I have not yet been able to secure them.
– I do not think that my colleague ought to get them.
– I want to say as emphatically as I am able - after an experience of both regimes - that I would rather trust the Public Service Commissioner to-morrow to make appointments than I would any Minister. I am speaking, of course, generally. If there be any thought in this House of curtailing the powers of the Commissioner in the matter of the regulation of the Service and of the making of appointments, it will find in me an opponent, and not a friend. I am not averse to saddling Ministers with responsibility to thelast degree, but I am opposed to any curtailment of the powers of the Commissioner in the matter of making appointments to the Service.
– What does the honorable member mean by appointments - the nature of appointments or the need of them?
– How is a Minister to be held responsible if he says that a certain number of officers are necessary in a Department, and he cannot secure their appointment ?
– The Commissioner acts as a healthy check upon Ministers. When somebody whispers in a Minister’s ear that it would be well to make a certain appointment to the Public Service it is well that we should have a Public Service Commissioner to inquire and report whether there is no one in the service already who can fill the position or do the work.
– Then how can we secure Ministerial responsibility?
– I can indicate that to the honorable member. If a Minister cares to assume his full responsibility - although it may involve a fight with the Public Service Commissioner - this House will always deal justly with him. To-day Parliament can make any number of appointments to the Public Service, if the Departments are short-handed. The only point is that, under the present system, we obtain a report from a disinterested officer as to whether the services of fresh hands are needed, as to what those services are worth, and as to the position to which new officers shall be assigned. I hope that there will be no derogation from that system, and I do not see that it conflicts at all with the final responsibility attaching to Ministers. Let me again refer briefly to the Post and Telegraph Department, I find that since the establishment of Federation the income of the Department has increased by £817,000, while there has been an increase of £518,000 in the expenditure. On the face of it, that appears a healthy state of affairs, but I do not think there is much room for congratulation, since no institution is so sensitive to the position of the country as a whole as is the Post and Telegraph Department.
– There has been a steady increase all along the line.
– To earn that increase there has been a steady increase in the expenditure, in spite of the fact that since we took over the Department trade has been on the up grade.
– Is it not a fact that New Works and Buildings are partially charged to the Department?
– That is precisely not a fact. The Post and Telegraph Department does not charge itself with the cost of New Works and Buildings. If it did these figures would be on the wrong side.
– It does.
– Where is that fact shown ?
– It charges itself with New Works and Buildings to the extent of £275,000.
– This year a sum of £434,000 is to be spent in respect of New Works and Buildings. Does the Department charge itself with that expenditure ?
– I am speaking of last vear.
– The Budget, papers do not show that the Department charges itself with that amount. I should like to see that expenditure brought into the accounts of the Post and Telegraph Department.
– -As a matter of fact the expenditure on New Works and Buildings is not brought into the accounts of the Department.
– That is my impression. The total expenditure on New Works and Buildings is grouped in the Estimates of the Department of Home Affairs. This item does not appear in the accounts of the Post and Telegraph Department. The Budget papers are prepared to show that the Department is a booming concern. As a matter of fact, if it paid for its New Works and Buildings it would have a debit balance every year.
– Last year, after charging the full cost of New Works and Buildings it showed a profit of £164,000.
– I should like the matter to be investigated. The honorable member should be careful in dealing with this question, because if he remains long at the head of the Department he will find that its revenue cannot maintain itself in the same booming ratio. I should like to point out that the Department takes no account of the interest due on its public buildings. Last year it earned a surplus, but if it had paid interest on its buildings it would have had no surplus whatever.
We have among the Budget papers a statement of accounts with regard to the Department, and I should like to point out generally that since we took over the Department there has been spent upon New Works and Buildings in connexion with it no less than £1,348,000. That expenditure is not brought into its accounts. If it is, why does it appear as a separate item in the Budget papers? We have amongst those papers a statement showing that the receipts over expenditure in respect to the Department amount to £934,000. If the cost of New Works and Buildings has been taken into account, why does that separate’ item appear in regard to it? I am satisfied that the Minister will find that the Department is not debiting itself with the cost of New Works and Buildings. While the cost of those works and buildings are being provided for by the Department of Home Affairs we find prevailing in the Post and Tele-. graph Department an extraordinary system under which, when a new switch board is required to replace one that is. worn out, the service is not debited with the cost of the old one, nor even the new one. In any ordinary business concern a sinking fund would be provided for this purpose. There is no sinking fund in connexion with the Department, and when any of its services wear out they are recruited from an outside source.
– Are they not paid for out of revenue?
– Such services are now being paid for under the head of New Works and Buildings, the money for which comes from another part of the public revenue. That is my complaint. If the Minister takes the seven years period dealt with in the Budget papers, and deducts from the total amount set” down as surplus earnings the interest on postal and telegraph buildings, he will find that the Department should rightly be debited to the tune of £1,250,000. Yet we have the Minister saying that the revenue is booming, and that if we need any favours we should at once apply for them. His own idea of administration is to cut down prices without the slightest regard for the increased efficiency of the service.
– That is an exaggeration.
– The service today is not more efficient than it was when we took over the Department. The telephone branch is far more inefficient than it was when under the management of the individual States.
– I do not think that is so.
– Such a comparison cannot be made since the service to-day is ten times larger than it was when we took over the Department.
– I say that the ratio of increase in a State like New South Wales is not greater than it was before.
– We cannot ask every day for new services and have nothing to pay for them.
– I am not dealing with that point.
– We are constantly complaining - and the honorable member is one of those who do so - that we cannot secure -increased services for country districts, yet the honorable member now complains that the Minister has spent some money in granting improved postal facilities.
– The honorable member’s interjection is .entirely irrelevant. I am not now discussing the question of whether or not the Department should be a paying concern ; I ami merely considering the question of whether or not its accounts should be properly and strictly kept. A business concern is not properly managed unless strict principles of accountancy are observed in connexion with it. We have not yet had from the Department an annual report, such as used to be submitted to all the States Parliaments prior to Federation. In pre-Federation days an annual report in relation to the Department was submitted in each State. Honorable members say that the facts do not indicate an increase of inefficiency. I hold that they indicate a very serious lack. I do not suggest that it would be convenient for the Department to present a yearly return to Parliament. I recognise the difficulties of grouping the returns for all the States, in respect of a continent 3,000 miles in length; but we might at least have a periodical report submitted to us. In reality we are unable to discuss the affairs of the Department when we can secure no discussion of them by the officers of the Departments.
– The service in Western Australia is far more efficient than it was prior to Federation.
– I am not prepared to dispute that statement. My contention is that in the larger States the services of the Department are not more efficient than they were prior to Federation.
– It is admitted that they are, in some cases, inefficient.
– I trust that the honorable member will pay a little attention’ to this sT3e of the administration of his Department, and will not think that his duty is done ‘when he sits in his office chair and confers favours on members of Parliament.
– I am afraid that I have not yet had an opportunity to confer many favours.
– I have nothing but good wishes for the honorable member so far as the administration of his Department is concerned, and I hope that he will be prepared to accept a little advice. One of the crying needs of his Department is increased efficiency. There prevails in connexion with it to-day a state of affairs that would prove disastrous to any business house. The best men in the service are glad to leave it the moment they are sixty years of age. Men in the full plenitude of their powers are glad to leave-
– That is chiefly because of the niggardliness of the Public Service Commissioner.
– The Public Service Commissioner is a good old stalking horse. We can saddle him with all sortsof responsibilities, and he is not here to answer charges made against him.
– He presents from time to time reports to Parliament.
– I hold that the fault is not that of the Commissioner. I make bold to say that when we find our best officers waiting to take advantage of the time when they will be entitled to retire on their pensions, we are on the road to an inefficient and not to an efficient control of the services of the Department. I come now to the Defence Department. Since the establishment of the Federation, the cost of defence has practically doubled.
– A - And it is utterly useless.
– I do not agree with the honorable member, that it is useless. There must be a still larger increase of the defence expenditure, but does any one believe for one moment that our army has doubled its fighting efficiency since it -was transferred to the Commonwealth control? It has doubled its cost; is it twice as good a fighting machine as it was when we took it over? Again, the answer must emphatically be in the negative.
– We should not say much for it if we could say that it was twice as good.
– We are at least entitled to expect some increase in efficiency for double the cost, and the Defence Estimates this year will be almost double what they were four or five years ago. To-day we have not a more efficient fighting machine than we- had when we took over the Department, and I despair of having a truly effective fighting machine under present conditions. What have we done so far? As soon as a Minister has formulated a scheme, or has begun to Apply himself to the work of his Department, he is removed from his position, and put somewhere else. We have had six or seven Ministers of Defence in as many years. We cannot have a defence policy elaborated under a system which leads to «ach Minister neutralizing that which the other has done. First of all, we sent for Major-General Hutton, who formulated a scheme of Australian defence. Then our local officers were let loose on this scheme, and they condemned it. Eventually - as soon as Major-General Hutton had returned to London - we sent there, on his heels, an officer charged with the duty of submitting his scheme to the War Office authorities. After inducing them specially to send Major-General Hutton to Australia to advise us, we submitted the scheme prepared by him to the authorities at Home in order that they might criticise it although they had not been here, and were ignorant of local circumstances. The result of the present system is that the moment a scheme is formulated, either by the Admiralty, by any British general, or even by our own- officers, Ministers set. to work to undo it. To-day a defence scheme for Australia is still a matter for the future, and is of the gravest possible concern for Australia. According to Hansard, the Acting Prime Minister contemplates a time when we shall betake ourselves to loan expenditure for the purpose of increasing the coastal defences and armaments of Australia. I sincerely hope the day will not come when we shall begin to pile up loan expenditure for defence purposes. It is time enough to resort to loans in a national emergency, when the enemy is upon us, or for some very special reason, and when we must needs prepare for that final arbitrament . to which nations must sometimes resort. But we ought to be able to meet all our ordinary expenses of government out of our ordinary income for the year. The expenditure of the Customs Department has increased from £262,353 to £317,434, an excess °f £55,081 during the” last five or six years. I suppose that that increase is due to the greater difficulty in the collection of the Customs than obtained heretofore. A Tariff extending over a wide range of imports necessarily means costliness in collection. When, as in the case of the old country, there are heavy revenue duties on a few importations, the cost of collection may Le reduced to a minimum -; but the wider we make the basis of taxation, the more costly the administration, and, I suppose, this accounts for the increase in the expenditure of the Customs Department. While we have a right to spend the money as we have been doing, there is every need for caution, and for strictly husbanding our resources; we must look to the future with the greatest possible concern, bearing in view what may be in store for us. The Acting Prime Minister talks airily on this point. He says, with great gusto, that we have given to the States over £5,000,000 above our legal obligation. But that is not a fair way in which to put the case. We have not given the States a penny over our legal obligation, which is to hand them at least three-fourth’s of the Customs and Excise revenue, and as much more as the Commonwealth does not need to spend.
– The honorable member will not dispute that we have given the States £5,000,000 which we could have used ?
– We could not have kept and used that money - we could have wasted it. How could we. have spent the £5,000,000 except by wasting it?
– We could have spent a good de”al of it om old-age pensions ; that would not be wasting the money, would it? ‘
– No, it would not be wasting the money except in one sense. The States Treasurers would have spent it in some way other than paying oldage pensions. As yet we have not taken over the transferred properties; and in this connexion a remark fell from the Acting Prime Minister, and also from the leader of the Labour Party. When the Acting Prime Minister was discussing this question the honorable member for . South Sydney asked, by way of interjection, whether when the time came to pay for them, account would be taken of the surplus revenue already returned to the States. That, I take it, means a suggestion on the part of the honorable member that when we settle the question, we should set against the total cost the £5,000,000 we have given to the State’s over and above our legal obligation.
– It would have been a good thing had we initiated that system from the beginning.
– We have no constitutional right to keep beyond the month end a farthing of the money due to the States-; certainly, the Constitution does not contemplate the use of the money in such a way as that indicated by the interjection of the leader of the Labour Party.
– The honorable member will admit that the States have had good interest up to date?
– Yes ; but may I remind the honorable member that, while the States are paying interest, our accounts are not appearing in their true light. In a true and correct balance-sheet of Federal affairs, the item of interest should appear ; and our accounts are vitiated, in so far as the States meet an obligation which properly belongs to us. All I am pointing out is that if that item did appear, our expenditure would be shown to be a very great deal more than it is, and the £5,000,000 paid to the States would have been reduced. Last year the Commonwealth handed to the States £805,000, and this year the States will receive £103,000. in order to meet an interest bill, which the Commonwealth should meet, of £350,000. Threfore, I say that, actually and substantially, we are already transgressing the constitutional limits which have been prescribed for us.
– I agree with the honorable member there.
– In other words, we are not paying our way as the Constitution directs we shally while our expenditure per head of population has increased from /Ti 2s. 2$d., in 1905, to £1 8s. 5 3/4d. this year. I had intended to say a word about the bookkeeping as between the States, but in view of the time I have already occupied, I am afraid I shall have to postpone my remarks.
– We should like to hear something from the honorable member about the bookkeeping system.
– In a word, I think that the sooner the bookkeeping system can be equitably and justly ended, the better. While the system continues it constitutes a standing negation of the Federal principle. When we keep accounts of goods passing between. State and State, as we are doing, we cannot be said to have uninterrupted and absolute free-trade. But the difficulty is to bring the bookkeeping system to an end; and the two States which make the problem so- difficult are Western Australia and New South Wales, as a brief reference to the figures will show. If the accounts were kept on a per capita basis, I find from the Budget papers, that they would work out in this way : If we included Western Australia in the per capita distribution, there would be a loss to New South Wales of £159,001 ; a gain to Victoria of £163,375 ; a gain to Queensland of £54,908 ; a gain to South Australia of £117,705; a loss to Western Australia of £260,149; and a gain to Tasmania of £83,162. In other words, every State stands to gain from the abolition . of the bookkeeping period, at the expense of Western Australia and New South Wales - what those two States lose, the other States would gain, to the large amounts I have mentioned. . If Western Australia be excluded, the position immediately becomes very much worse for New South Wales. Under such circumstances, the loss to New South Wales this year on the per capita basis would be £262,704; the gain to Victoria would be ,£80,645 > t0 Queensland ,£18,979; to South Australia £91,769; and to Tasmania £71,311. In other words the £262,704 which New South Wales would surrender, would be distributed in those proportions amongst the other States. It is easy to talk about the abolition of the bookkeeping system, but the problem is to end it justly without some special adjustment being made. I do not think, however, that it is a problem beyond the resources of statesmanship - I cannot bring myself to believe that. In my opinion, some adjustment could be made, both as to Western Australia ‘ and New South Wales, which would enable the system to be abolished, and thus remove the fetters which are clogging trading operations in all the States of (he Union.
– The honorable member will admit that a per capita distribution would not be satisfactory.
– I say that a per capita distribution would not be entirely satisfactory ; but it would be worth a great deal to, say, a large State like New South Wales, to concede something in order to end the present system.
– It would not be worth £262, 000.
– I am afraid not. Two years ago a check was made of the number of Customs entries involved in keeping those Inter-State accounts, and the result was the appalling figure of 300,000. Each of these entries involve an analysis of the goods, and. must necessarily, therefore, be expensive, as any business man knows. It means that in the case of a suit of clothes there must be an analysis for the purpose of assessing the duty on the buttons, the thread, the lining, the woollens, and so forth ; every part of the suit has to be dissected and analyzed; and, therefore, the operation must be costly, and very irritating to traders. It would be worth something to terminate the arrangement, if only from that point of view ; but I am afraid that the financial jerk to the Treasurer of New South Wales would not be quite fair, and there would need to be some adjustment.
– Has the honorable member any scheme to suggest?
– I confess that I have not a complete scheme in my mind at present. But a matter of adjusting, say, £150,000 in one State, and a like amount in another, ought not to be beyond the capacity of our statesmanship ; and the sooner the bookkeeping period comes to an end the sooner we shall be in possession of our full Federal rights and privileges, and the sooner will our trade be absolutely free. At present we are simply trustees for the various States; we are little more than clerks and bookkeepers, who keep the State accounts. The sooner we can arrive at the time when each State will be independent, financially, within its own ambit, the better it will be for all concerned. The problem of the States debts was discussed at large last year, and I shall not pretend to touch it now. But I should like to say a word as to our outlook. We have to regard this Budget in the light of the declarations and acts of the Governmentin the light of their expressed intentions. On the very threshold we are met with such projects as the Kalgoorlie to PortAugusta Railway, the Federal Capital, the Northern Territory, old-age pensions, bounties - obligations in connexion wit): which we have already taken, while there are others to be proposed by the Government - immigration, an Inter-State Commission, and a Federal Fleet. The expenditure I have set against those items, though only in the rough, is, in respect of the Capital Site when selected, £50,000, just as a modest beginning.
– That expenditure would be spread over at least two years.
– If the Northern Territory is transferred to the Commonwealth, in accordance with the agreement which has been suggested, it will involve us in an expenditure of £150,000 a year.
– Of more than that, because the interest charge would come to between £120,000 and £130,000.
– The honorable member is quite right. An old-age pensions scheme would cost us £1,500,000. For the maintenance of a High Commissioner, and the carrying out of immigration schemes, I have put down £100,000 as the irreducible minimum. I do not think that we can spend less than that, if it is intended not to play with the subject, Canada spends £250,000.
– Australia should spend at least as much.
– It is apparent that there is to be a further speedy increase in the cost of the High Court, for which I have put down £10,000.
– I think that that might be dropped out.
– I estimate the expenditure on the Departments of Quarantine and Meteorology at £25,000, which is, I believe, within the mark. Of course, these estimates are mere guesses, but I have tried in every case to under-estimate rather than to over-estimate, and I have obviously done so in regard to the Northern Territory proposal. The proposed bounty on iron I estimate will cost £25,000 a year.
– Does the honorable member think that there will be a bounty as well as the duty?
– The Government intends to propose a bounty, and, if possible, to pass it.
-It would be better to have a bounty than to have a duty.
– I am trying to estimate the outlay which will be incurred if the proposals of the Government are carried into effect.
– Are we to take it that the estimated Customs revenue does not include revenue from the duty on iron?
– I should think that the Treasurer has not included in his estimate revenue from duties which may not be collectable, because to do so would be to play a trick upon Parliament. Of course, the Minister can give us no information on the subject. We had a most interesting financial statement from him; but it was marvellous that he could speak so well when he knew so little about the matters on which he was speaking.
– It was only a gramophone address.
– I should not like to say that, because sometimes the most intelligent speeches are made by those who know nothing, about their subject. The obligations in regard to the bounties of which this House has approved, and which will, I presume, be approved by the Senate, will amount to £35,000 a year, in addition to the sum on the Estimates for this year. I have estimated that the initial cost of a Federal fleet will be £250,000, and of providing and maintaining ocean lights, beacons, and buoys £50,000, though I am not particular about the inclusion of this item. If it is excluded, my estimate of our future expenditure will, exceed £2,000,000 per annum, and we are already over the constitutional limit of our expenditure.
– Will the expenditure to which the honorable member has been referring be recurrent?
– Most of it. Unless we do something to relieve the financial situation by exercising economy, and, in other ways, it is inevitable that we must levy direct taxation to pay our way. In my opinion, it will, within a short time, be necessary to make a searching investigation into our Federal expenditure.
– The honorable member is absolutely wrong in asserting that we have exceeded the constitutional limit of our expenditure. We have not done so.
– This year we shall return to the States £103,000, with which money they will have to pay interest, amounting to £350,000, on properties transferred to the Commonwealth.
– I thought the honorable member said that that ought not to be considered.
– My point has been that it ought to come into our accounts.
– The honorable member referred to an interjection! which I made last night on the subject.
– My point has been that the interest due on transferred properties should be shown in our accounts. The sooner it is shown the better, because the sooner shall we have an honest statement of our financial obligations. At the present time, the States are paying interest on buildings which are being used by the Commonwealth, which we nominally own, but have not yet paid for. This interest amounts to £350,000 per annum, and we propose to return to them this year £103,000. Therefore I say that we have exceeded our constitutional limit of expenditure by £250,000.
– We have notyet arranged how the transferred properties are to be paid for.
– Does the Treasurer suggest that by some legerdemain this obligation may be obviated?
-Either the payment of interest on transferred properties is an obligation on the Commonwealth, or it is not.
– It will be an obligation when the transaction is complete.
– In the meantime the Commonwealth is using the transferred properties, arid the cost of them should be set against the services carried on in them.
– W - We are all one people.
– One people with two purses, and the sooner independence is reached in the relations of the States and the Commonwealth, the better it will be for all concerned. I should like to say one word in concluding my remarks on the Budget. Before we can carry out any of the large financial schemes which, when carried out, will relieve the financial situation, and bring us back to an honest and solid basis, we must win the confidence of the States and of investors abroad.
– We have a nice chance of winning the confidence of the parliamentarians of the States.
– Confidence and security go hand in hand, and with them will come that amity and cordiality which we desire,
– In every speech which the honorable member makes he tries to shake public confidence in the Commonwealth.
– What is the cause of any lack of confidence?
– Amongst other things, the extravagant proposals of the leader of the Labour Party, and the doings in general of the Commonwealth Government
– The Opposition has been crying stinking fish for some years past, and has discredited Australia at every opportunity.
– Last night the leader of the Labour Party declared that Australia could obtain salvation only by the disruption of her large landed estates. That was crying stinking fish with a vengeance. Such a statement would not be likely to attract immigrants to our shores.
– The honorable member’s speech will not attract very many.
– The honorable member seems to take this position, that the people cannot get land, but that we had better leave it at that.
– With regard to the Tariff, I wish to make one or two general remarks, recognising that a detailed criticism would now be out of place. The first thing that strikes one in considering the proposal’s of the Government is the indiscriminate manner in which duties have been levied or increased without being asked for by persons in a responsible position. According to the evidence given before the Tariff Commission, the local makers of candles wished for a duty of11/3d. per lb. on those articles, but the Government has imposed a rate of 2d. against candles of British manufacture, and of 21/2d. against foreign candles. A duty of 3d. on confectionery was asked for, and duties of 31/2d. and 33/4d. have been proposed. No request was madein regard to the duty on biscuits, but it has been increased to11/2d. per lb. No increase was asked with respect to coffee or in respect to fish, but the rate has been increased in the one case by1d. per lb., and in the other by1/2d. per lb.
– The duty on fish is a revenue duty, because we have no fishcanning industry here.
– At the present time, it is a revenue duty, but we have just agreed to a bounty to stimulate the canning of fish in Australia.
– And have spent£8,ooo on a trawler.
– Yes. I hope that a start will soon be made with this industry. No request was made to the Commission for an increase of the duty on currants and dates, but there has been an increase of1d. per lb.
– A desire was expressed to the Commission to tender evidence, but it was refused as unnecessary.
– That is an explanation. There was, however, no request to increase the duty on infants’ and invalids’ foods, but the Government has put on a duty of 15 per cent. On jams and jellies the Government has, without being requested, increased the duty to 2d.
– Who asked for a duty on infants’ feeding bottles?
– I do not know. There was no request for an increase of the duty on arrowroot ; but the rate has been increased from1/2d. to1d. per lb. Similarly, without request, the duty on matches and vestas has been largely increased.
– It has been trebled.
– Yes; although the only evidence in regard to the industry taken by the Tariff Commission was in favour of a reduction. The duty on preserved milk has been increased, although no one wished for an increase, and persons are writing from every part of the Commonwealth asking that the duty may be sept at the old rate.
– They are asking hat the higher duty may be retained. [ have received many such letters.
– The New South Wales and Victorian factories object to the i ncrease.
– Perhaps the Minister would give us the explanation of the Tariff for which we are waiting, and which it is his bounden duty to make. He should tell us why he has imposed or increased duties for which no one has asked, and which no one desires.
– The increases have been asked for, and are desired.
– Those who wish for them should have appeared before the Tariff Commission, and made a request tothat body instead of going behind its back to the Minister privately.
– I am referring to the period which has elapsed since the Commission sat, and if I had wanted to give evidence before that Commission - after the way in which some witnesses were treated - I have no hesitation in saying, that I would not have given it.
– Because they were grossly insulted.
– No insults were given.
– Senator Clemons was grossly insulting.
– The statement of the Acting Prime Minister is an attack upon the Tariff Commission which is’ a most unworthy one. It is a poor return for the hard work - extending over two and a half years - undertaken, by the members of’ that body without fee or reward.
– I am stating a fact when I say that some witnesses were grossly insulted by Senator Clemons.
– Witnesses were let down very gently indeed.
– Order. I must remind honorable members that it is impossible for me to maintain order without their assistance. We are in Committee of Ways and Means, and the Acting Prime Minister and others will have an -opportunity to speak just as often as they desire. Consequently, I must ask them to cease interjecting.
– There are a number of other items to which I might refer. All the evidence tendered to the Commission was to the effect that a duty of 25 per cent, was required upon blankets and flannels. But the Government, have given Australian manufacturers the benefit of a 30 per cent, duty, notwithstanding that even the Victorian manu.facturers themselves did not as’k for it. Of course, there is no preference proposal, in the case of blankets. The duty imposed by the Government is prohibitive alike to the importation of blankets of British and of foreign origin. There has been a large increase in the duty upon tweeds above that which was asked for by manufacturers who appeared before the Commission, and a similar remark is applicable to apparel. With regard to portable engines, no request was made for the imposition of a duty, but the Government have, nevertheless, levied duties of 30 and 45 per cent, upon the manufactures of the outside world and of Great Britain respectively: The same treatment has been accorded to barbed wire. Then, although Mr. Beale requested the imposition of a duty of 33 per cent, upon pianos, the Government have given him the benefit of a 40 per cent. duty. In connexion with portable engines, I am given to understand that a request was made to the Commission by the representative of Walkers Limited, of Maryborough, Queensland, for the imposition of .a duty, but that this request was subsequently withdrawn, with a view to preventing the agricultural industry from being prejudiced. That was a very magnanimous action on the part of this gentleman. I congratulate Queensland upon possessing a citizen who is endowed with so much public spirit and magnanimity.
– It is very rare.
– This gentleman actually asked for the imposition of a dutv upon portable engines, and afterwards declared that he would not press his request out of consideration for the agricultural industry.
Colonel Foxton. - That was Mr. Har.rington, of the firm of Walkers Limited.
– But in spite of the withdrawal of the request, the Government have imposed a duty of 30 per cent, upon portable engines imported from foreign countries, and of 25 per cent, upon engines of British manufacture. I say that before the items are considered separately, we have a right to know from the Minister why that course has been adopted. Before the Tariff Commission is flouted in this way, the least the Minister can do is to offer a full explanation of the reasons which have prompted him to put forward these extraordinary proposals - proposals which I venture to submit will not be agreed to by this Committee.
– The principal ones will be, or the Tariff will not be passed at- all.
– It is good to hear a declaration of Ministerial responsibility for once.
– I am not going to associate myself with another ragged Tariff.
– I venture to say that before this discussion terminates the Acting Prime Minister will find that “the new Tariff is a very ragged one indeed - that it is an ill-conceived and misshapen product. I hope that the Committee will do their best to make it a reasonable Tariff. Other honorable members may do as they please, but I shall certainly do my best to shear down the duties to reasonable proportions.
– To a free-trade Tariff such as the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission have recommended.
– The Acting Prime Minister has no right to say anything of the sort.
– The statement is true.
– It is absolutely incorrect. I shall approach the consideration of this matter from the point, of view of the late elections, and from that of the appointment of the Tariff Commission. I shall approach it with’ a desire to allow the old duties to continue in Operation. I shall consider other proposals upon their merits, endeavouring, so far as I can, to make the duties imposed reasonable and proper ones. This leads me to say that, so far as I can see, the Tariff is one which is designed to benefit the cities of Australia, and is not one for all Australia. I will go further, and say that it is a Tariff which will benefit a couple of the big cities, at the expense of the other cities of Australia. There can be no doubt that if it be passed in its present form, the two cities which will principally benefit from the duties imposed - assuming that any benefit will result from them - will be the two large manufacturing cities of Australia. They will benefit largely at the expense of our smaller cities.
– And at the expense of the rural districts of Australia.
– If we examine the Tariff we shall find that it contains no proposal which will benefit the interior of the Commonwealth. Our pioneers go out to “blaze” tracks in the country, and to assist to build up its prosperity, and yet they find themselves taxed upon almost every article necessary for their sustenance and use. Their axes, their ploughs, machinery, timber, wire-netting provisions, tea, kerosene, and preserved goods all bear specially heavy imposts, notwithstanding that of all men they stand most in need of sympathy. In considering the Tariff, I ask myself how it will help us to. alter the disproportion which already exists in Australia as between the population of the country and that of the towns. If we look at our population we shall find a very striking condition of things. The bulk of it is confined to the sea-board - it is grouped in a few large cities in a way that we do not find population grouped in any other country in the world. This fact constitutes a serious problem that we have to face, and we have a right to ask whether the Tariff will interfere with the unnatural conditions which now obtain. For instance, ‘ I find that 36 per cent. of the population of New South Wales is grouped in Sydney, 41 per cent. of the population of Victoria is grouped in Melbourne, 45 per cent. of the population of South Australia is concentrated in Adelaide, and 23 per cent. of the population of Queensland is centralized in Brisbane. I say that we ought to do nothing either by way of Tariff legislation orby any other means which will tend to add to the congestion of the population in our cities at the expense of the great interior of Australia. What happens in other parts of the world where high duties are operative? In Germany, there is a process of depopulation going on in the country. There, the people are flocking to the towns. Concurrently with their manufacturing progress -
– So it is in England.
– I know that it is. It is the case in Germany, and in almost every other country in the world.
– But here in Australia it is taking place prematurely.
– That is precisely what I was about to point out.
– The same condition does not obtain in Canada.
– Not to the same extent, though the position is bad enough in Canada. Just now there is a mighty movement going on in Canada to settle people in the interior. But we are doing very little in that direction.
– We are doing everything to attract them to the towns.
– Exactly. If this sort of thing continues, our social development will become lopsided, and, therefore, the best results cannot accrue. What is happening in America, where the highest duties in the world are imposed? In the cities, there is to be found the best paid labour in the world, and in the interior almost the worst paid labour in the world. In discussing the Bounties Bill the other day, I had occasion to look up two items which bear out my statement in this connexion. The Government propose that we shall grant bounties to assist the establishment of the cotton and rice industries in Australia. Now, in the United States of America, where they manufacture cotton, I found - according to the figures published last year - that a man was working in the cotton industry for£1 a week, his daughter, who was a woman of mature years, was earning another£1 a week ; in short, a family of four or five were earning from £3 to £4 per week between them. And I also found that in three of the States where rice is being cultivated the wages paid are respectively £25 and rations, £28 and rations, and £32 and rations per annum.
– In some of the dairying districts of Australia no more is paid.
– I think the honorable member is mistaken.
– In some cases, dairy farmers do not pay more.
– I know of no dairying district in which an able-bodied man receives less than £25 a year.
– I can show the honorable member men who rise at 4.30 a.m. every day in the week, and whose labours do not finish till 7 p.m., and who do not receive as much as . £25.
– It may be that the honorable member could point to some shocking cases in Australia, but I venture to say that they are accidental, and not typical ones. I am quoting official figures.
– They are not typical of America either.
– They are typical of it so far as these two products are concerned. I am pointing out that we can force industries to a most destructive point. I am arguing that in shaping the Tariff we should have some regard to the interior of Australia and to our staple products as well as to the manufacturing industries of the towns. In my judgment, there can be no settlement of the Tariff question upon the linesof the Tariff introduced by the Government. It cannot stand in its present form. It means an inevitable re-action and further turmoil. Those who hope for a settlement of the Tariff for some yearsmust earnestly betake themselves to a strict scrutiny of the schedule, and an effort to make it a more reasonable one.
– We shall have no Tariff settlement if we have a low Tariff.
– I have no doubt that the thing cuts both ways. If we are to have Tariff settlement we must have a reasonable Tariff - shall I say a composite Tariff?
– It will have to be a protective Tariff.
– It must be a Tariff framed to meet, to some extent, theconditions, not of one, but of every State.
– A Tariff for Australia.
– It must be a Tariff which has regard to all the States, and the bulk of the industries in all the States.
– Not a mongre Tariff. That is what the honorable member wants.
– I wish the honorable member would not make such silly interjections. What is the purpose of this Tariff? As pointed out by the honorable member forIllawarra on Friday last, one of its main objects is to equalize the labour conditions existing in Australia and the rest of the world. It was to make some allowancefor the difference between the labour cost here and that of other lands. I wonder whether the Government have even given any consideration to the question of what is the difference between the labour cost in the various States of Australia, to say nothing of the labour cost in the Commonwealth, as compared with that of the rest of the world ? I noticed the other day that in one of the reports of the Commission, it is pointed out that there is a very striking difference in the wages cost in the various States. Let us take one or two items. The Chief Inspector of Factories at Perth states that the weekly wages for engineers is as follows: - Western Australia, £2 16s. 3d. ; Queensland, £2 11s. 6d. ; and Victoria, £2 4s. 11d. Thus we find a differenceof 12s. between the average weekly wage paid here and that prevailing in Western Australia. Has that disparity been taken into account by those who framed the Tariff? If it has it should find some equipoise in the “Tariff before us. Then as to the cost of labour generally, it is pointed out in the same report that the difference between that prevailing here and that obtaining in the rest of the world is one-third. To make good that difference in the labour cost - and labour cost includes in each case profit and interest- duties amounting to more than one-third have been imposed. In other words, we have imposed duties which represent more than the total labour cost - more than the cost of labour, the profit, and the interest necessary to carry on these particular industries. We have given the manufacturers the protection of a- higher duty than- is necessary, according to the reports of the Tariff Commission, to cover all those items.
– To what industry is the honorable member referring?
– To the engineering and other industries. Many of the new duties will neutralize each other. Parts are taxed at the same rate as the completed article - or the assembled parts - is taxed. It seems’ to me to be absurd to tax the completed article - the assembled parts - in the same way as the component parts are taxed. I have no desire, however, to deal with the details of the Tariff at the present stage; the whole schedule will have to be carefully looked into when we proceed to discuss if. I wish now to refer to the scheme of new protection outlined last night by the honorable member for South Sydney, who has in view an object with which every one must sympathize if it be his desire that working men in Australia shall be guaranteed good conditions of labour and ot livelihood generally. Every honorable member, so far as I am aware, would cordially go with the honorable member in an effort to secure that object. The question to be considered, however, is whether or not he can secure it by the means which he has promulgated. He says, first of all, that there must be some guarantee that the interests of the consumer and the worker will be looked after. “The honorable member made the very candid admission - such an admission as we should ‘never obtain from the honorable -member who directs, from 66 Bourke-street, the protectionist policy of Victoria - that the imposition of these duties in some cases- would necessarily mean increased prices to the consumer, and, therefore, a reduction in the purchasing power of the wages of the worker. His object in interposing the new protection is to guard against that possibility, as well as to insure that the worker shall secure his fair share of the return from the industry which is protected. No one can quarrel with that object. But can the honorable member accomplish it in any way that is not open to him by the ordinary machinery of the law now operative and by the ordinary control of the market by trades unions and in other directions ? He proposes, first of afl, that a Commission shall be appointed to investigate prices. If it finds them unreasonable, it is to report to Parliament, and Parliament may ‘ alter the protection already allowed the manufacturers.
– It may reduce the duties.
– I wonder whether the honorable member has thought of what that means. How long would it take, with the machinery now available, to make a thorough investigation of prices in any one of the States, to say nothing of the whole of Australia? The Tariff Commission spent two and a half years on its work.
– Does the honorable member refer to an investigation in regard to one industry?
– Yes. It would be the more difficult, because the conditions in no one industry in Australia, or in any State of Australia, are uniform. Prices fluctuate and vary because of a number of conditions over which we have no control. Geographical position, for instance, enters into the prices of marketable goods, and therefore, in order to investigate the prices relating to any one industry, the Commission would have to consider the varying circumstances of. the whole of the States.
– No. We could soon ascertain whether or not unfair prices were operating if we had the authority to make the necessary investigation.
– How could that be .done?
– We could ascertain what manufacturers were charging in any two of* the principal States, and determine whether those prices were justified by an investigation of the conditions of manufacture in different places.
– The honorable member will see that that statement does not touch the point at issue. Alter the manufacturer has made his goods he sends them to the retail house, perhaps 500 miles away, and it is the price of the goods at the point where they reach the consumer that must be ascertained.
– That does not touch the question of free-trade or protection or the question of duties. That is a question of retail distribution that must arise whether imported or locally -produced goods are dealt with.
– The question at issue is the means by which the consumer is to be protected.
– That is professed to be the question at issue.
– There is no “ professing “ about it. It is the question at issue.
– Before the honorable member could ascertain whether or not the consumer was being fleeced he would have to go to the point at which the consumer operates.
– But would not that objection arise even if we imported everything that we require ? In such circumstances we should still have to find out what the consumer was charged. .
– The honorable member is proposing that which is impossible. I hold that his scheme will break down at the initial point. He could not, even if he tried, fix the prices of commodities. I should like to know what is going to be the basis of fair prices. Does not the honorable member see that when new duties are imposed in connexion with an industry, the only basis on which prices can be fixed is disturbed.
– A basis could be arrived at by a comparison between local prices and those charged outside, plus certain other charges.
– Not at all. First of all it would be necessary to investigate the conditions under which the goods were produced here. The Commission would have to undertake a minute inquiry into the conditions of production before it could determine whether or not prices were fair. It would then have to take into consideration the ramifications of distribution extending over a continent 3,000 miles in length. A Commission with very much less obligation has been sitting for two and a half years, and even now it has not satisfied the Government.
– It is ignored.
– It has been ignored, and it has not satisfied the Go: vernment. Then, again, how could legislative action be taken in the direction which the honorable member for South Sydney suggests? I fail to see how it could be taken ; I wish that I could.I am unable to see that any man, no matter how clever or tremendous his capacity and power might be, could undertake such a task, and complete it with credit to himself or with any justice to the community. He might adopt an arbitrary and rough-and-ready assessment of prices.
– What more does the honorable member want? What more does Parliament do when it, imposes a duty with a view to assist an industry ?
– Parliament has never undertaken such a duty as that which the honorable member wishes now to throw upon it. If he could accomplish his object and put his scheme into practical and detailed operation he would be nine-tenths on the road to Socialism.
– Socialism is a sort of “ King Charles’ head “ to the honorable member. He discovers the phantom in every bush.
-Why cannot the honorable member refrain from making such taunting interjections ?
– That is a fair statement of the honorable member’s attitude in regard to Socialism.
– I am sorry that I do not commend myself to the honorable member. Of course, this scheme means Socialism, and no one knows it better than he does. The honorable member knows that his scheme means Socialism, but he is cunning enough not to say so.
– I cannot surpass the honorable member in cunning of the lowest possible degree.
– I am only saying in regard to this matter what the honorable member thinks in his heart. He says that he is going to try to protect the worker by stamping goods which do not already bear the Commonwealth Trade Mark. I cannot resist asking why the Commonwealth Trade Mark has lain rusting on the shelf so long? I remember the fight there was to get the measure through, as the one thing needful -for industrial Australia.
– That was in reference to the union label.
– There was never any discussion about the Commonwealth trade mark.
– The supporters of that measure went the length of trying to gag Parliament in their strenuous efforts to attain their object - they went the length, almost, of venturing on the discussion of the Bill on the Sabbath ; but we stopped short of that.
– The honorable member is quite mistaken - his memory fails him - the Commonwealth trade mark was not involved in that dispute.
– Yes, it was.
– There was never a division, or even a speech, so far as I remember, in regard to the Commonwealth trade mark.
– The whole was involved in the proposals we considered at the time.
– Nonsense 1
– The honorable member need not -try that kind of bluff - what I am saying is a matter of fact.
– It is absolute nonsense !
– T - The honorable member for Parramatta is thinking of the union label.
– I am thinking of both the union label and the Commonwealth trade mark.
– The Commonwealth trade mark was not in question.
– Both were involved in the one set of proposals.
– Nonsense 1 Talk sense, for goodness sake 1
– I am sure the honorable member has a monopoly of good sense 1
– The honorable member is not exhibiting good sense’ just now.
– I am stating a simple fact.
– It is absolutely not- a fact, if T mav say SU
– I have called the honorable member for . South Sydney to order several times, and I again ask him to cense his interjections.
– I. am quite agreeable to do so.
– I say that the two matters were involved in the one set of proposals.
– That is not true.
The CHAIRMAN. The honorable member for South Sydney must withdraw that statement.
– I will say that the honorable member for Parramatta is exhibit1 ing an absolute failure of memory in regard to this particular matter.
– That is better !
– If the honorable member for Parramatta is aiming at the truth, he is a remarkably bad shot 1
– I do not mind the expression used by the honorable member for South Sydney - I simply ignore it.
– The honorable member would ignore anything that is true.
– I repeat that my statement is correct. The two labels we’re involved in one set of proposals which came before this Chamber.
– That is not correct.
– And the fight was in regard to the two proposals taken together.
– The Commonwealth trade mark proposal never came from the other Chamber at all.
– I stand by my statement, and the honorable member for South Sydney may make what statements he likes. What has become of that legislation? It has never been put into operation yet.
– Ask the Employers’ Federation what has become of the legislation. Ask the honorable member for Fawkner.
– I must again ask honorable members not to continue these interjections. If they do continue them I shall have to take another course.
– Does it help matters to suggest that the honorable member for Fawkner should be asked about this matter ?
– There is an injunction against the operation of the Act.
– Have the supporters of those proposals introduced a measure that has absolutely no value?
– Do not stir them up any more !
– Stir them up ! I cannot say a word but honorable members come at1” me in this way - I do not know why. I desire to discuss this matter fairly and fully.
– Stick to facts !
– I want to face the facts as I see them; and if I do so a little strenuously I hope that it is with no bad feeling. I have a right to know what has become of that legislation which was regarded at that time as of such supreme urgency to the industrial workers of Australia. What has the honorable member for South Sydney suggested, over and above all that can be obtained by the industrial legislation already in operation in Australia? There are Wages Boards in some of the States, and there is conciliation and arbitration in the Federal arena designed specially to guarantee to the worker fair and reasonable conditions of employment. Does the honorable member propose to do any more? No. He merely proposes to register the decrees of the Courts I have indicated - that is all he proposes to do; nothing more than can be attained now.
– Excepting in States where there are no such Courts.
– What States are those?
– Tasmania, Queensland, and South Australia.
Colonel Foxton. - The Queensland Government are passing legislation in this direction.
– They have talked of such legislation in Queensland for years, but nothing has been done.
– South Australia had an Act for years before any of the other States.
– The Victorian law does not apply to all the trades in Victoria, for instance.
– I am glad of the reminder. I believe that the honorable member for Angas last night said that the Tariff would touch only one-twentieth of the total number of workers in Australia; and it would appear that what the honorable member for South Sydney is suggesting will affect only the same proportion.
– Why is that?
– The Tariff will indirectly affect all the workers of Australia, and, therefore, the honorable member’s suggested remedy is at least not coequal with the range of the Tariff. I am putting these objections, and I should be glad to see them met. The objections are not advanced for the purpose of factiously opposing the suggested remedies, but merely as considerations to which we should have regard when it is proposed to impose duties which, as the honorablemember for South Sydney admits, wilt raise prices.
– I do not admit that the result of the. Tariff will be to raise prices.
– I shall be glad? to hear any further modification the honorable member likes to make.
– There is no modification, but the misrepresentation of the honorablemember surely needs some reply. That is an absolute misrepresentation.
– I must ask the honorable member for South Sydney, if he desires to reply, to do so at the proper time. I have called the honorable member to order several times, and I shall not do so again.
– Surely I am not expected? to sit and allow the honorable member for Parramatta to deliberately misrepresent what I said?
– I do not deliberately misrepresent what you said - you slanderer !
– Will the honorable member for Parramatta resume his seat. The honorable member for South Sydney has no right to take the course he has taken to correct any misrepresentation of what he said. There is a proper course open to him if any honorable member makes a misstatement; and I must ask him to withdraw his charge of deliberate misrepresentation. The honorable member has the right, seeing that we are in Committee, to reply to any statement which may be made.
– I shall take an opportunity immediately the honorable member for Parramatta sits down.
– In the meantime, I must ask the honorable member to withdraw the remark he made.
– What about the term “ slanderer “?
– The honorable member for South Sydney must withdraw the remark he made.
– What was that?
– The honorable member said that another honorable member had spoken a deliberate untruth.
– No; what I said was that the honorable member for Parramatta had deliberately misrepresented me. The method of the honorable member was certainly deliberate enough; and I challenge him to cite one single instance where I said that the effect of the duties would be to raise prices.
– I must ask the honorable member to withdraw the remark he made.
– I withdraw the suggestion that it was intentional misrepresentation.
– And now I ask the honorable member for Parramatta to withdraw the remark he made.
– Certainly. But I will not permit any man to say that I made a deliberate misrepresentation.
– Not even if it be true?
– The Acting Prime Minister had better hold his tongue ; I have had quite enough insults during the debate already.
– The honorable member as himself flinging enough insults about !
– I fling no insults about; the only remark I made was that I would be glad to hear any further modification the honorable member desired to make.
– There is an insinuation !
– It is not an insinuation.
– The honorable member has always done this sort of thing.
– The honorable member for South Sydney never did, or could, do me justice in debate.
– One of us is very obtuse; I do not know which.
– No doubt the honorable member is a most brilliant man.
– I do not claim to be a brilliant man.
– I have a habit, which I cannot help, of following the honorable member, and investigating his statements and proposals. If I do not let the honorable member off with a few soft nothings I cannot help it - such is not my way. I told the honorable member, when I began, that I wanted to discuss this matter fairly ; and if I misrepresent him it is quite unintentional. But I did understand the honorable member to say that one of his chief reasons for making the suggestions he did last night, was that it had to be admitted that during the early stages of the imposition of protective duties, prices would in some cases go up.
– Hear, hear ; I did say that.
– And I have said nothing more.
– Oh yes; the honorable member may not be aware of the fact, but- he did say more.
– I intended to say nothing more; and when my words come to be examined, it will be found that’ I did not ; the honorable member’s restiveness did the rest. The honorable member admitted last night that, for , a time at least, there would be an increase in prices in consequence of the protective duties.
– In some instances.
– In spite of the honorable member’s taunts, and those of his party, I claim to have just as keen a sympathy as they have with the workers of Australia; I have no reason to feel otherwise, and hope I never shall. But I do think there is ah obligation on us, in the interests of the workers of Australia, to probe to the bottom the suggestions of the honorable member for South Sydney. The more I consider the suggestions of the honorable member, the more I see that ultimately they mean only a new expense in the households of the workers, and a new political experience in the way of such palliatives and ameliorations. As to preference, I do not think there is any need to discuss the question, because there is no serious intention on the part of the Government. And I regret to say that I did not see much evidence of a desire for any genuinepreference on the part of the ex-Treasurer last night, when he said that we would not admit from Great Britain or any where else goods that we could make ourselves.
– I do not think the right honorable gentleman said that he approved of that, but that that would be the effect.
– The right honorable gentleman said that he approved of it.
– Yes, that was so. Preference begins at that point ; no goods which can be made here willbe allowed to come from Great Britain or anywhere else.
– The Chairman of the Tariff Commission said the same thing.
– I think that is so. The leader of the Labour Party last night said he was not in favour of giving any preference, unless there was a. reciprocal and mutual preference on the part of the old country ; though he did not say how that could be brought about except by imposing duties. From my point of view, we can get no further trade, preference from Great Britain, which has given us an open, free and unrestricted market for all we care to send. If preference is to be used as a lever for binding together the Empire it can only be on a basis of mutual sacrifice; and I see no trace of sacrifice in the proposals which have been submitted. In nearly every case in which a supposed preference is given, the duties are raised against Great Britain as well as against foreign nations. We shut the gate tighter on Great Britain than it was before. There is no sacrifice in such a policy ; it seems to me the very contrary Of sacrifice. No one has pointed out more clearly than the leader of this movement in the old country that if we are going to have a successful preference scheme in actual beneficial operation, it can only be on a basis of mutual sacrifice. In a letter which Mr. Chamberlain wrote the other day from his sick bed on arriving home from the Continent; replying to a letter of welcome from Sir Oliver Lodge, he said that he believed -the time would not be long before his own country would consider the advisability ot making the sacrifice requisite to carry out this Imperial idea. That has been his hope all through, and he- has ‘ made no secret of it. He wishes, if possible, to bring about a free-trade Zollverein. But that is not what those who support this Tariff desire. The intention of the Tariff is to give further protection to Australian industries as against Great Britain, and it would have been fairer and more honorable if the Government, instead of proposing a sham preference which cannot help the producers of the mother country in the slightest degree, had declared that it has no favours to give to Great Britain. However, I shall not longer discuss the matter at this stage, because there will be further opportunity for doing so, of which I shall not hesitate to take advantage, the subject being of transcendent importance. If we are to settle the Tariff question for some years, as I hope we shall, all parties must co:operate in an earnest endeavour to meet the varied conditions of Australian life, and to impose rates which will be equitable, and work harmoniously throughout the States. The rates which have been proposed must be reduced, and should be harmonized, so as to secure the settlement of the Tariff question for some years to come. I hope, too, that parties will so work together that the only obstacle now interposing to prevent responsible government being possible for the first time in our national Parliament will shortly beremoved.
. - I am sorry for the heat which I allowed’ myself to display in interjecting during the speech of the honorable member for Parramatta, but he evidently misconstrued language in which I thought I had plainly voiced my opinions as to the defects of the Tariff. I think I stated distinctly that where industries have not been established in Australia, the effect of the Tariff will be to increase prices to the full extent of the duties, but that there is no reason why there should be an increase of prices in other cases, because manufacturers are ‘now making fair profits, or, at least, existing,, and with a larger market will be able tomake larger profits, without a proportionately increased cost. With regard to the Commonwealth trade mark, there was, according to the honorable member, a long discussion, or a big fight, but in that statement he is quite mistaken’, because if he looks up the Hansard reports he will find that it was not discussed at all. The proposal for a Commonwealth trade mark originated in this Chamber; it did not come from the Senate.
– It was one of the proposals which were under consideration, during the discussion of the Bill.
– Of course it was, but it was never discussed, and I do not think there was a speech upon it. The attacks of the Opposition, and the defence made on this side of the Chamber, related to the workers’ trade mark, and did not touch the Commonwealth trade mark.
– If it be the chief duty of a leader of the Opposition to criticise, it cannot be said that the honorable member for Parramatta has failed to thoroughly and efficiently perform it. I do not remember anything which he has omitted. He was not even content to pass by our present amazing prosperity and progress without pointing out that it is merely due to an increase in the prices of our staple products. Others would have left that to critics elsewhere to discover. This is the only country where persons continually decry its advantages, yet complain because immigrants do not flock into it; the only country where there exists a “ stinking fish “ party which, while slandering its. country, parades its patriotism, and its desire for the restoration of what it is pleased to term responsible government, crying from every dunghill for confidence and security. God alone knows what it means by those terms, because when this party was in power there was neither confidence nor security, either in Parliament or outside. The members of that party so little commanded the respect of Parliament that, not having the courage to even place a programme v before Parliament, they were ousted at the first available. opportunity, and, later, when they went before the country, were overwhelmed with great and irretrievable disaster. Where are those honorable gentlemen round whose heads shone that halo of confidence and security which was going to coruscate and blind the nations of Europe? They are for the most part gone. The ranks of Tuscany are thinned, and contain only strangers who in their turn will also disappear. The honorable member for Parramatta has had a great deal to say to-day about the condition of Australia, deploring the many shortcomings of the Government and of Parliament ; but he has not animadverted upon one great blot upon this institution, the deplorable condition of the Opposition, about which I propose to say a word or two. A great deal has been said lately about the increasing of the salaries of the members of this Parliament, and last night a gentleman, who, I believe, represents Fawkner - though, in thinking so, I may be doing his constituents a wrong - went to a public function where, like another eminent historical personage, he quoted Scripture, saying that, while the voice of the Treasurer in proposing this increase was the voice of Jacob, the hand that pushed it forward was that of Esau; that is to say, of the Labour Party. That statement was an unmitigated falsehood, and every member of the. Committee, except the honorable member for Fawkner, knows it to be so. I shall prove what I say. It is well known that the Parliamentary Allowances Bill received the cordial support of the leader of the Opposition, the acting leader, and a very large number of their followers, as well as of honorable members sitting on this side of the Chamber who have nothing in common with the Labour Party.
– What has this to do with the origin of the measure? A member of the Labour Party went ali round the Chamber touting for support for’ the Bill.
– That is a good yarn. The proposal came from the other side of the Chamber. The honorable member’s insinuation is contemptible.
– The proposal originated five years ago.
-L I f I feel proud that I had. to do with it.
– I did not mention the honorable member.
– There is a tendency on the part of members sitting on the Opposition corner “ benches to make statements outside the Chamber which they would not make here. The honorable member for Fawkner will not dare to repeat his statement here.
– I shall do so.
– If the honorable member does, a dozen members sitting on the Opposition side of the Chamber will tell him that he did not speak the truth. There is a tendency, of which this incident is a symptom, to lay on the shoulders of the Labour Party the blame for everything done or said in the Commonwealth which is the subject of adverse criticism’ by the general public. When the right honorable gentleman who leads the Oppo’sition spoke in reference to the Tariff and the Budget the other . evening, he did so in a. very temperate and dispassionate manner,, his speech being a model for lesser men to copy. I have listened to him on many occasions, it having been my good fortune to know him for many years, and to admire the versatility of his genius and his amazing eloquence. In many respects there is no man in the public life of Australia, and few elsewhere, who are his equals. He is a man of eloquence, and of the most surprising agility- mental and political. The other evening he delivered a speech which the Treasurer, who, as we all have, has heard him deliver speeches of a very different kind, said was most temperate. It was not merely temperate, it was below zero. In the face of a Tariff which he says is of the most amazing and atrocious character, he is calm, dispassionate, and even smiling. It may be as well for us to ask why this is so, because the right honorable member is never anything at all without a very good cause. He has said - and others in New South Wales are saying it, because this is naturally the time when they would do so, seeing that a general election is imminent - that the persons who are really responsible for this Tariff are the Labour Party. The right honorable member said the other night -
This Committee of the Labour Party has more power than all the rest of the House put together.
Then he went to New South Wales and said -
I think it will shock any fair-minded workingman to learn that when Mr. McGowen and Mr. Watson met - two men who could reduce the burdens of the thousands who trusted them by a few words whispered in the ear of Sir William Lyne - neither of these professed champions of the poor found time to “discuss the enormous advalorem duties proposed on clothing of all kinds, a tax which the rich never feel, but which falls with cruel severity on families living on daily wages. Cannot these orators who declaim about the inequalities between rich and poor help to bring the duties on clothes down to the level at any rate of the proposed duties on velvets, silks, furs, and gloves?
Mr. Carruthers, the Premier of New South Wales, said a few nights ago -
The Federal Labour Government had increased taxation. The Labour Party had used its power in the Federal Parliament to grind the poorer working classes. To-day there was a new Tariff in operation, by which he would undertake to say that the people would be taxed during the next twelve months to the extent of over ?1,ooo,ooo sterling extra.
Mr. David Fell said
The duties were proposed by the Federal Government - no doubt with the consent of the Labour Party, who hold the Govrrnment in the hollow of their hand. They were essentially in the interests of a class. … It was hard to imagine how a party who ostensibly claimed to represent the working classes could submit to such an unnecessary system of taxation.
I have read these extracts with a view to show honorable members that an attempt is being made in’ this House, and outside of it, to place upon the shoulders of the Labour Party responsibility for this Tariff. I desire now to show exactly to whom that responsibility belongs. Everybody knows thecircumstances under which the Constitution was accepted. Every citizen of New South Wales knows that the financial clauses of the Constitution were opposed by the people of that State tooth and nail, and would never have been accepted but for the right honorable member for East Sydney. He is the man who is responsible for the Tariff of to-day, and he alone. There can be no doubt that had he stood up for a more effective financial system, it would have been formulated, and we should have had a better system to work under to-day. I wish to trace exactly the causes which have led up to the introduc tion of this Tariff, and I venture to say that the right honorable member for Easy Sydney will find it impossible to shirk the responsibility which belongs to him in this connexion. A little time before Federation he delivered at the Protestant Hall. Sydney, one of the most effective speeches that he has ever made, in the course of which he pictured five drunkards attempting to lead one sober man into a haven of refuge. The five drunken men were symbolical of the five protectionist States.
– That is about sixteen years ago.
– The honorable member recollects the occasion very well.
– So does the honorable member.
– I am only correcting the honorable member as to the date.
– I do not know exactly how long ago it is since the right honorable member delivered that speech. But as soon as he got into power he commenced to advocate Federation, and at once went hand in hand with the five drunkards into an orgy which has led us where we are to-day. I wish to show that this action has been typical of the right honorable member’s career - that he has been fated to denounce his future actions with a degree of clear foresight and critical acumen which only needs presentation to confound even such an agile person as himself. I repeat that he advocated Federation. By-and-by Federation became an accomplished fact. Then the right honorable member said - in spite of the circumstances that the chances of freetrade had been notoriously crippled if not almost destroyed - that he would fight like a tiger for free-trade. At the first general election he made fiscalism the chief plank of his programme. There were members attached to the Labour Party whose candidature was supported by him because they were free-traders. At the second election he again proclaimed himself in favour of free-trade. After that election, however, he began to realize that there was no possible chance of his securing office in this Parliament so long as he remained a free-trader. Thereupon he proposed a referendum upon the fiscal question. Several of his supporters did not agree with that proposal, and the Sydney press told him, in so many words, that it would not do. Consequently, he dropped it. He next made his great discovery of anti-Socialism. This brings us to quite recent times. That discovery may be. classed with the discovery of the law of gravitation in physics, and of the circulation of the . blood, in physiology. I repeat that he discovered antiSocialism. He found it a most convenient vehicle in which he, the late honorable member for Gippsland, and other Victorian protectionists could ride together. Therefore they came over to this side of the House. Although the right honorable member had all his lifetime been a most distinguished advocate of free-trade, he became a convert to fiscal peace, and, at the recent election, stumped the country upon anti-Socialism, declaring that the fiscal question was quite unimportant. In fact, he asked every respectable protectionist to fight under his banner. Incidentally he opposed every labour candidate, irrespective of whether he was a freetrader or protectionist. He opposed every candidate who would not accept his doctrine of anti-Socialism, and he was quite willing to hold out the right hand of fellowship to protectionists who would follow him. To show exactly what this resulted in, I propose to read an extract from an interview with the honorable member for Parramatta, which was published in the Daily Telegraph a few days ago. My object is to show how it comes about that we have a high Tariff to-day, and who is responsible for it. I ought to mention here that after the right honorable member had got into office by virtue of a protectionistcumfreetrade majority, he appointed the Tariff Commission. That Commission was composed of an equal number of freetraders and protectionists. At the time he appointed that body, he knew very well what would be the result of its labours. He knew the men who composed it - he knew their opinions - and he must have known, not in detail, but in general, what would be their report. In the face of that knowledge, he appointed that Commission. The Commission continued its labours until the last general election, and at that election the issue raised in every State except Victoria - where the fiscal question was raised bya section, if not by the whole of the candidates- was that of Socialism versus anti-Socialism. The issue of Socialism versus antiSocialism was also raised here. In many instances in New South Wales the fiscal question was not even mentioned. For my own part, I cannot recall one elector having asked me a question in . relation to fiscalism.
– I do not think that an antiSocialist would have been returned in Victoria if he had not avowed himself a protectionist.
– Very likely. But it was quite immaterial to the leader of the Opposition whether candidates were protectionists or free-traders, so long as they were anti-Socialists. He was prepared to adopt any candidate who would follow him in that cry irrespective of whether that candidate was in favour of the imposition of duties of 20 per cent., 25 per cent., or even 40 per cent. That fact is proved by the interview with the honorable member for Parramatta, which was published in the Daily Telegraph, and part of which I propose to read. That honorable member said -
In that State (Tasmania) a man would call himself a free-trader while supporting a 20 per cent. or 25 per cent. duty. In Victoria every member is pledged to effective protection.
This will in all probability turn out to mean a general support to the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Royal Commission.
Here is the important point. The honorable member went on to say -
It will thus be seen that our own side of the House, and even our own immediate party, is very much divided on the fiscal question.
Who divided them ? Who is responsible for the fact that in this House to-day there is no party pledged to free-trade, or even to a low Tariff ? Noman, except the leader of the Opposition, is to blame for this state of affairs. He deliberately sank thefiscal question.
– Does the honorable member say that he could have secured a majority for free-trade?
– What I contend is that had he stood out for it he could have had as good a majority for free-trade as he had in 1901. Had he devoted to the advocacy of free-trade one-tenth of the energy displayed by him in dilating upon the supposed dangers of Socialism, he would not have been left to-day with a party which, as the right honorable member says, is so divided that perhaps there are not ten honorable members who would follow him to a division on one of the items.
– He would have failed just the same.
– The honorable member for Calare, one of the most pronounced free-traders in this House, was opposed by the right honorable member at the last general election. The leader of the Opposition stumped his electorate and tried to defeat him. His attitude in connexion with my own case is even more notorious. No man in New South Wales, let alone in this Parliament, has ever advocated free-trade more consistently than I have done.
– Did the honorable member’s party put up a protectionist against the leader of the Opposition with a view of securing his rejection at the last general election ?
– What is that to us? I have never fought an election on the fiscal issue.
– The honorable member’s leader went on the fiscal issue very strongly at the last general election.
– He did not.
– Not as leader of the Labour Party.
– He did.
– The attitude of the Labour Party was perfectly clear. We have always taken our several courses so far as the fiscal issue is concerned. Everyone knows that I have been a free-trader. I have never hesitated to declare myself in favour of free-trade, whether the policy has been popular or unpopular. - I have never hesitated to declare myself a freetrader in this House as I did in New South Wales, when five out of every six persons were free-traders. At the same time, when the question at issue has been whether I am a free-trader or a labour man, no one has ever been in doubt on the point. At the last general election, the Opposition put up a man against me. 1 do not know whether ha was a free-trader or a protectionist - I believe that he was a protectionist - but, at any rate, the Opposition never asked him. The honorable member for Parramatta does not know
– How does the honorable member know what I know?
– I know that the honorable member does’ not know very much about the man in question. He was put up against me, and an effort was made to defeat me. To defeat a free-trader is one way of furthering free-trade. The Opposition also endeavoured to defeat the honorable member for Calare and every other free-trade labour man. They endeavoured to oust every man who was not in favour of their anti-Socialist programme.
– Did not the honorable member’s party take up the same attitude towards the Opposition?
– The Labour Party will at least bear comparison in this matter with the party to which the honorable member belongs.
– Did not the honorable member’s party try to drive the leader of the Opposition and his party out of public life?
– Certainly. If a man comes to me in the middle of the night, with a bludgeon in one hand and a tomahawk in the other, I do not meet him with a prayerbook, or a Christmas-box.
– Then what is the honorable member squeaking about? Both sides adopted the same tactics.
– I am squeaking because there are so many interjections that I cannot make myself heard. The leader of the Opposition declared at the last general election that the fiscal question was of no importance. He now says that the Labour Party is responsible for the high Tariff. But he alone is responsible for it. He did what he could to kill the cause of free-trade in this country, and he has now made a low Tariff in Australia practically impossible. Here is what the Daily Telegraph of the 26th inst. says -
Many people while supposing that they were voting for or against Socialism, now found that they were unconsciously being polled on the issue they thought was sunk. ‘ Obviously that objection applies to any measure of protection the bringing forward of which means that fiscalism has become a matter of transcendent importance instead of the minor one it was assumed to be.
It will thus be seen that when the leader of the Opposition says, “ I admit that there was a majority polled for protection,” he does so because he sees there is no way of getting on to the Treasury Benches except when the question of fiscalism shall have been removed from the political arena. He is prepared to settle that question even if in the settlement of it he presses upon the shoulders of the people of this country a burden so intolerable, to use his own words, that it will utterly crush them. Yet, in these circumstances, he is quite calm and temperate - in the face of a burden which he says represents 4s. or 5s. per week to every man in the Commonwealth, he only smiles. I do not know what this burden really represents. According to the Argus, which every morning publishes statements as to the effect of the Tariff, it means from 3s. 6d. to 5s. per week in the shape of increased prices to every family in Australia. I do not say whether it does or does not. All I know, as a man who has to maintain a household, is that it means’ an increase in prices.
– A substantial one.
– A fairly large increase. We know, however, that the leader of the Opposition, in the face of those burdens, is quite calm and temperate. He says, “ I will do my best. I will fight to reduce the duties.” The deputy leader makes the same statement. They will both fight to. reduce duties. They first create a situation in which reduction is impossible, and then propose to do what they can to reduce duties. Their united efforts are puny and futile. Not one or two votes will reduce the Tariff ; the action of a united and powerful party will be necessary to do so. The leader of the Opposition and the deputy leader have deliberately prevented a party having that object in view from entering this House. They solemnly declared at the last general election that only one thing was important, and that was the necessity of downing the so-called Socialist Party. Thev went to the country on that question. They told the people of the dangers that would follow the return of the Labour Party to Parliament. We were returned, and now the people say they ought to have. taken care to return to Parliament a party that would have given them a different kind of Tariff. The deputy leader of the Opposition, as well as the leader of it, will fail utterly to divest themselves of the responsibility for the Tariff now before us. They speak of a revenue Tariff - that I should have lived to hear the honorable member for Parramatta talk of such a thing !
– I never said such a thing.
– I listened for a long time this afternoon to the honorable member’s denunciation of direct taxation. I will ask him now whether there are not only two ways of imposing taxation - the one the direct, and the other the indirect, method?
– I hope the honorable member will allow me to again correct him. ‘ He heard me say nothing of the sort.
– Then all I have to say is - that the, honorable member has the faculty of speaking without knowing that he is doing so. I heard him say, not once but many times, that the proportion of direct taxation to indirect taxation that each State bore was very high. The leader of the Labour Party pointed out the position of those who, being opposed to direct taxation, were yet in favour, or alleged themselves to be in favour, of old-age pensions. He said that practically they were in an impasse; there was no means of finding money unless by resorting to direct taxation. Every Government has to be provided with means, and taxation is the only method by which the cost of Government may be provided for. We may have direct or indirect taxation. Of which is the honorable member for Parramatta in favour ?
– si do not mind obliging the honorable member by answering his question. I have said half-a-dozen times in this House that I am not in favour of duplicating, in the Federal arena, the direct taxation of the States.
– That is to say the honorable member is in favour of a revenue Tariff.
– The honorable member may draw what inference he pleases.
– It is more in sorrow than in anger that _ I hear the honorable member make that statement. I propose to quote a few lines from that distinguished writer, Henry George, whom my honorable friend, and others like him, used to worship in the days long since gone. At page 79 of his work on Protection or Freetrade, I find these words -
All the objections which apply to indirect taxes in General apply to import duties. Those protectionists are right who declare that protection is the only justification for a Tariff, and the advocates of “ a Tariff for revenue only “ have no case. If we do not need a Tariff for protection we need no Tariff at all, and for the purpose of raisins revenue should resort to some system which will not tax the mechanic as heavily as the millionaire, and will not call on the man who rears a family to pay on that account more than the man who shirks his natural obligation, and leaves some woman whom in the scheme of nature- it was intended that he should support, to take care of herself - as best she can.
On page 291 - under the heading of “ The Lion in the Way “ - I find the following-
We may now see why the advocacy of freetrade has been so halting and half-hearted. It is b-cause the free-trade principle carried to its logical conclusion would destroy that monopoly of nature’s bounty which enables ‘those who do no work to live in luxury at the expense of “ the poor people who have to work,” that so-called free-traders have not ventured to ask even the abolition of Tariffs, but have endeavoured to confine the free-trade principle to the mere abolition of protective duties. To go further would be to meet the lion of “ vested interests.”
That is the “lion in the path” of those gentlemen. They denounce Tariffs - they denounce this Tariff - but when the Labour Party propose to place taxation where it ought to be - on the land, and on those best able to bear it - what do they say ? They are no longer temperate.
– Is the Labour Party prepared to take the proposed duties off?
– I do not know.
– Then what is the point ?
– What I do know is that we are not at all responsible for the Tariff, while the honorable member and his colleagues are.
– The honorable member does know whether the Labour Party are prepared to take off the duties.
– The leader of the Opposition is responsible for the Tariff, because he appointed the Tariff Commission. Do I understand that there is no party on the Opposition side - that there is merely a collection of dissatisfied and disinterested units ? It is a party with one leader here, another leader there, and another leader elsewhere.
– The honorable member said that when the Labour Party proposed to shift taxation to where it ought to be, according to the extract he has read, we were opposed to it, and I ask him whether the Labour Party are prepared to reduce the proposed duties? He knows that the Labour Party are not prepared to do so.
– Are they not? I say that, first of all, this situation hasbeen created by the leader of the Opposition and those who follow him : - they first made a revenue Tariff in this country inevitable. Having deliberately, under the financial proposals of the Constitution, created this most unfortunate situation,they have now aggravated it a thousand times by making the present Tariff almost inevitable ; and no one has ever denied the fact.
– I am not going to say that it is fortunate.
– When the Labour Party were in office, honorable members opposite thought it their one duty, for which Providence had placed them here, to hound the Labour Party out. The Labour Government were not dismissed on any fiscal or financial policy, but on a pretext so hollow that it will not bear examination.. The honorable member for Parramatta spoke of the Labour Party having been in office, and said that we could be in office again. That is true : and where, I ask, is there any other party of which it could be said that they can have office, and yet are indifferent to it? If the wretched collection of disintegrated and dissatisfied units I see opposite were as near the grapes of office as the Labour Party are said to be, how many minutes would elapse before they had clutched them?
– I can assure the honorable member that I never said any such thing. What I said was that the Labour Party were more powerful than if they were in office.
– The honorable member said that the Labour Party could be in office if they chose.
– I heard the honorable member say so; he spoke for three hours, and probably does not. remember all thathe did say. Here is a Tariff which; according to the leader of the Opposition and his party, imposes greater burdens than ever were imposed before; and yet that leaves the right honorable gentleman temperate and calm. At the recent election the Labour Party proposed to impose, for the purpose of promoting settlement, a tax on the unimproved value of estates amounting toone half-penny in the pound on values upto£10,000, with a £5,000 exemption. Here were rich men owning£10,000worth of land ; and yet such a tax would not amount to more than £10. It is fair to say that land of the unimproved” value of . £10,000 would, with improvements and so forth, be worth front £15,000 to £20,000; and yet, because the Labour Party proposes to tax such estates to the extent of£10 a year–
– Would such a tax burst up the estates?
– Never mind about that;if the tax burst up the estates the owners would not have to pay it. Anylight that the honorable member for Robertson may be able to throw on the question, he will no doubt make availablelater. At the contemplation of this iniquitous proposal, the leader of the Opposition and his party tore through the land like a whirlwind. They denounced the Labour Party ; and no epithet was too evil to hurl at us. We were described as atheists, as nien engaged in a deliberate attempt to break down the marriage tie - proposing to confiscate property - in short, as men who were potentially and actually guilty of all the crimes in the calendar. I do not know all that the honorable member for Robertson said during the elections, though I know something of what he said.
– Is the honorable member not “ going back “ on his continental “pals”?
– I hope I shall never go so far back as to bump against the honorable member, and that, whatever I may do, I shall not be driven to the desperate extreme to which the honorable member appears to be driven in conducting an election.
– What is that?
– I hope I shall never resort to slander.
– I never slandered any one.
– I can understand that what the honorable member would call slander another man would call by another name.
– That “ gag” will not do.
– If the honorable member is not satisfied with what I say, 1 shall read a cutting from one of his speeches, which I am sure will’ satisfy evervbody else.
– I stand by what I say
– When I was interrupted, I was saying that the land tax in the case of a man with -£15,000 worth of property would amount to something like ;£io, if he paid it. Our proposal was not to tax a man for the sake of taxing him, but if, and only if, he had an amount of land which was considered so large as to be detrimental . to the best interests of settlement ; and because of that proposal the Labour Party were denounced. Yet when there is a proposal which, on the showing of the leader of the Opposition himself, imposes a tax as great as ;£to a year on every working man in the country, it leaves him calm and unaffected. When the idle rich were threatened, he was not calm and unimpassioned, but he roared through the land like a lion. Now, however, when the poor unfortunate working man is threatened he is temperate and smiling. It is very easily understood exactly where his interests and real sympathies lie. The right honorable member spoke of Mr. McGowen and the honorable member for South Sydney as men who professed to be the champions ‘of the poor, but who could find no time to discuss the enormous ad valorem duties proposed on clothing of all kinds. The record of the Labour Party will compare with the record of any other party in Australia. First, we have never, as a party, had a fiscal policy, unless a policy of direct taxation can be included within the term. That policy of direct taxation does not necessarily involve only land value taxation, and I should like to say, for my own part, that if I were asked where to obtain the funds for old-age pensions, I should not resort to either land value taxation or to the Customs. Direct taxation of another sort is, I think, preferable; and if I were asked to say what shape that taxation should take, I should suggest death and succession duties. However, that is my own opinion, for which I am alone responsible. The fiscal policy of the Labour Party has never been either free-trade or protection, though the members of that party have not hesitated to declare their own respective fiscal opinions from time to time. But the record of the party as a party in reference to the late Tariff is one that will bear comparison with the record of amy party in the House. Although we were returned at perfect liberty to do as we pleased, protectionists and free-traders alike, yet, as a party, we reduced the taxation on the shoulders of the poor in the last Tariff, by the amount of something like £1, 000. 000 per annum. Tea, rice, cotton, galvanized iron, timber, yarns, cotton goods, cocoa, preserved milk, and infants’ foods were amongst the items which the whole, party sought to have placed on the free list, or saddled with duties as low as it was possible to pass.
– Are the party going to do the same again ?
– I shall follow the honorable member this time, or, what is better, ask him to follow’ me. The record of the Labour Party in connexion with the last Tariff can challenge comparison with the record of the revenue tariff party, even in the last Parliament. And in this Parliament I venture to say that the Labour
Party, as a whole, will be found voting to reduce duties a great deal oftener than will those who, as the honorable member for Parramatta very properly says, are in a very difficult position.
– We shall see what we shall see.
– That is inevitable, provided one keeps one’s eyes open ; and some of the things the honorable member will see will not be at all nice for him. As to the free-trade members of the Labour Party, I may point to my own record. I have never voted in my life to impose any duty higher than the lowest it was possible to secure; I have always voted for the lowest duty. But that did not save me from this great free-trader’s wrath. He pursued me as vigorously as he would have pursued the most arrant protectionist.
– The fact that they were free-traders did not save others from the honorable member’s wrath.
– I am a labour man, not a fiscalist, whereas the leader of the Opposition and the honorable member were free-traders first and all the time. The greatest crime imputed to the Labour Party in the New South Wales Parliament was that it had sunk the fiscal issue., which we have never regarded but as of secondary importance. The free-trade members of the party, however, have always voted for the lowest duties possible. I have always stated that I do not consider protection desirable, and have denounced revenue duties because I’ conceive them to be without justification.
– Revenue duties are the sole stand-by of the Opposition.
– Undoubtedly. As I have shown by a quotation from Henry George, they are the last resort of desperate men who have no policy, and the only barrier between vested interests and the due adjustment of the burdens of the community. If it were generally recognised that revenue duties are unjustifiable, politicians would have to be either protectionists or free-traders. Honorable gentlemen opposite are neither. They are hybrids ; but, unlike other hybrids, they breed. The honorable member for Parramatta had a good deal to say this afternoon about the Tariff being one for cities. I was waiting for him to say for one city, which would have been a most effective statement to use in connexion with the New South Wales flections ; but the inference was pretty plain, and any Sydney newspaper that does not draw it should be no longer supported by the free-trade party.
– The Brisbane Worker says that this is a Melbourne Tariff.
– In a sense that newspaper is perfectly right. The leader of the Opposition depends upon the Victorian contingent for his transference to the Treasury bench. That contingent must support a protective Tariff. This is, therefore, a. Victorian Tariff, and while the right honorable gentleman will vote against it, he will see that his cohorts vote for it,. though that will deceive no one except those who wish to be deceived. The man responsible for this Tariff is he who appointed the Tariff Commission, who deliberately sank the fiscal issue at the last election, inviting protectionists to come under his standard as anti-Socialists, and opposing free-traders who. dared to stand for Socialism. I do not know what kind of Tariff the honorable member for Parramatta would have brought forward, but, judging by the recommendations of the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission, it would not be a good one for the country. They recommended a duty of 15 per cent. on bags, sacks, and bales, such as are used for the conveyance of bran, chaff, wheat, and other produce. That is their way of encouraging the farming industry. Furthermore, they recommended a duty of 10 per cent. on cream separators, which cost at least £2710s. each. The Government, on the other hand, propose that such machines, if imported from Great Britain, shall be admitted free. Furthermore, they recommended a dutyof 10 per cent. on miners’ safety lamps, and on agricultural machinery, which the Government propose to admit free if imported from Great Britain. That was a strange way of trying to assist our primary industries.
– I hope that we shall hear an explanation. on the subject from the honorable member for Perth, who is a member of the Labour Party.
– No doubt we shall: but the honorable member ought to ask for a further explanation from the honorable member forIllawarra. He might also ask his leader why the Tariff Commission was appointed. As the leader ofa party composed of free-traders and protectionists, he appointed it, and knew what the result would be. The honorable member for Parramatta stated that people are going to Canada at a great rate, and that whereas our exports exceed our imports by £25,000,000 the foreign trade of Canada is in a different position.
– The Canadian balance of trade is on the other side.
– The honorable member stated that our population is increasing by immigration only at a very slow rate, whereas the Canadian rate of increase is much greater.
– I said that that no doubt caused the balance of Canadian trade to be on the other side.
– According to figures supplied to me by the Government Statistician, the population of Canada, when the 1881 census was taken, was 4,324,810, and that of Australia 2,252,617; while in 1891 the population of Canada was 4,833,239, and that of Australia 3,183,237 ; and in 1901, that of Canada 5,371,315, and of Australia , 3,773,248. The increase of population, in the first decade, was in Canada 508,000, and in Australia 930,000 ; in the second decade, in Canada 538,000, and in Australia 590,000 ; the percentage increase, in the first decade, being 11.7 6 in Canada, and 41.31 in Australia, and in the second decade, 11.13 Canada, and 18.53 in Australia.
– The honorable member has omitted the most important years.
– The Canadian figures are supplied only in reference to the years in which the census was taken - 1881, 1891, and 1 901.
– Up-to-date figures can be obtained.
– I can quite understand that the figures which I have quoted might prove extremely irritating to an Australian of the type of the honorable member, showing, as they do, that the population of Australia is increasing, although we have not spent, as Canada has, millions of dollars in obtaining immigrants.
– That is an answer to statements made by the leader of the Labour Party last night.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was remarking that during the decade from1881 to 1891 the population of Australia had increased 41.31 per cent., as against 11.76 per cent. in the case of Canada, and that during the decade from 1891 to 1901 our population had increased by 18.53 per cent., as against. 1 1. 13 per cent. in the case of CanadaThe latter period, it will be remembered,. Includes one of the worst droughts upon record, and evidences that in spite of adverse circumstances we are not doing so very badly after all. I am quite willing to admit that during the last few years- Canada has done better. But she ought to have done a great deal better still, because I find that she did not maintain her natural increase during the decennial period 1891-1901 by some 200,000. It isvery necessary to mention these . things at this juncture when numbers of people are everlastingly crying that Australia is being avoided by immigrants, that the policy of the Labour Party is responsible for this, and that the position of the Commonwealth, in short, is a very bad one indeed. I repeat that from 1891 to 1901 Canada, which is within a week’s sail of Europe, and which is situated alongside a country which contains 80,000,000 of inhabitants, was unable to maintain its natural increase, notwithstanding that immigrantswere being continuously introduced into the country at a considerable expenditure.
– A - At an expenditure of £2 per head.
– I do not know the exact amount. But while a number of persons from the United States are going into Canada, a much larger number have been crossing from Canada into the UnitedStates. Within the last fifty years there have been no less than 3,500,000 such persons, and at the last census there were 1,118,000 persons of Canadian birth registered in the United States. The question where the population of Canada gets to is a very mysterious one. There is no denying the number of people who enter that country. This evening’s newspapers state that 250,000 immigrants entered Canada during last year. That circumstance in itself means nothing. The point is, how many have remained in it ? Do honorable members not know that every year a very large number of Italians enter Canada and return to their own. country in the spring. Then people pour into the midland and westernStates of the Union. As an Australian, I have a right to point out that this country of ours is as good as there is in the world, and that it would be the best country in the world were it not for the fact - which it is very necessary to emphasize, because of the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta - that our population is largely concentrated in two great cities, namely, Sydney and Melbourne. Australia is also a country where, despite the fact that we have more room per unit than any other country upon God’s earth-
– The position is worse in South Australia. I mentioned four cities.
– Then I will say, “the great cities of Australia.” In spite of the fact that in Australia we have a greater acreage per unit than has any other civilized people in the world, there is a larger amount of land monopoly here than obtains anywhere else. That is the answer to the honorable member’s question. That is why the people are attracted to the towns. The honorable member made some remarks in this connexion about Germany. Does not the same condition obtain in England, which is a free-trade country? Is there not on the table of the House of Commons at the present moment a Small Holdings Bill which has been introduced by Mr. Harcourt, with a view to getting the people back upon the land. Why ? Because land monopoly has Great Britain by the neck just as it has Australia. Honorable members complain that immigrants do not come to Australia. Where are we going to put them if they <lo come? As was pointed out by the honorable member for South Sydney last night. Dr. Arthur- a gentleman for whom we all entertain the highest respect, but whose enthusiasm has carried him away - recently stated that it was wise not to emphasize the fact that in Australia land was not available to settlers. I do not know whether it is wise to suppress that fact. When honorable members rise and declare that what Australia requires is confidence and security, it is time that we said at once that what she needs is that about 670 persons in New South Wales and a similar number in Victoria, should get off the backs of the people, and give them a chance to do something. In New South Wales 670 persons own one-half of the land which has been alienated by the Government. In Victoria, no doubt, a very similar state of things obtains.
– There are about the same number of large land-holders in Victoria.
– In the other States things are verv little better. Here is a condition of things for which the members of the Opposition, who propose to displace the present Government, and who are never tired of heaping obloquy and misrepresentation upon the Labour Party, -have absolutely no remedy. When we point out that a handful of men own the lands of the country, they reply that all that is wanted to restore prosperity is confidence and security. What is wrong is not that the country lacks confidence, security, and good government, but that it lacks somebody with the courage and the power to compel those who own the land either to cultivate it or to allow somebody else to do so.
– We say that the conditions are different in each State, and that consequently the States must deal with the matter.
– It is curious that honorable members upon the other side of the House never seem to rise to the height of an original idea. The right honorable member for East Sydney supplies them with ideas which filter through their minds, and which come out in slightly different shades, but which, after all, are the same ideas. The right honorable member was an ardent advocate of land values taxation in New South Wales ten years ago, and is an advocate of it for State purposes to-day. ‘ He is always in favour of principle at an inopportune time or in an impossible way. He is the sort of Christian, who if a man were desirous of advocating the Christian religion would agree with him by saying, “It is an admirable idea, but you can see yourself that the time for it is not opportune.” The right honorable gentleman declares that this is a State question. Suppose that it is. What is a State ? Is it not an aggregation of people ? What is the Commonwealth but an aggregation of people and of States? If the States are so situated that they are denied opportunities for discharging, or . are neglecting to discharge, their proper functions that is no reason why the Commonwealth should fail to do its duty. All I know is that certain gentlemen find it a very convenient thing to -point out that this matter or that falls within the province of the States. It is only convenient for them to do so because at the present time hardly one State is controlled by a party prepared to do anything in the way of attacking vested interests. These gentlemen have- lately become converts to the great principle of State rights. Thev are the champions of the States, and only this afternoon the honorable member for
Parramatta deplored the want of harmonious relations between the States and the Commonwealth, notwithstanding that he and his party never spare an opportunity to widen the breach. Why, one of the honorable member’s friends, in his anxiety, to make political capital for a State election, recently ‘ went so far’ as to put himself within the pale of the criminal law. That is the way in which harmonious relations between the States and the Commonwealth are to be promoted - by taking by force wire netting from the Commonwealth Customs officers. I do not think that such a step is calculated to promote harmonious relations. Certainly it would not promote a very harmonious feeling in any other arena. The real reason why these gentlemen are to-day eulogizing the States, and decrying the Commonwealth is that the States in very many cases now represent their last citadel. lt is a curious circumstance that the very place which the honorable member for Parkes imagined the iconoclastic hand of the extreme; democrat, and the hob-nailed boot of the pictorial labour representative would never enter, is that which he and his party were fated to create. In the beginning these gentlemen created the Commonwealth for the main purpose of securing an arena which would be safe from the intrusion of men ignorant of sociology, history, economics, and various other matters which they, themselves, of course, understand very well. When we speak of State rights, it is only fair to say that we represent, as faithfully and as accurately as does any State, the feelings of the people of Australia. We are elected upon absolutely the widest possible franchise. The people of Australia have had an opportunity to express their opinion upon our candidature, and we are here.
– W - Why have we not a majority ? -
– One reason is to be found in the existence of honorable members opposite. We are here - I am speaking of the House as a whole - and we are just as faithful a reflex of the opinions of the people of Australia as are the members of any State Parliament. The honorable member’s bewailing of the lack of progress in Australia, and his efforts to belittle the undeniable state ‘of prosperity that’ we are now enjoying bv saying that it is largely due to increased prices, fall to the ground before the simple fact that at present this country produces more per head of its population than does any other country. Its credit is equal to that of any country, and it is per head the wealthiest in the world.
– It is second to England.
– In spite of the fact that, with the exception of about twelve months in a period of seven years, it hasbeen governed either by a Labour Administration or a Ministry which, according tothe Opposition, is under the thumb of the Labour Party, it stands to-day on a pedestal superior to that of any country in so far as its earnings, or the position of its people individually, is concerned.
– That serves to show what a wonderful country it is.
– It shows that, notwithstanding the Opposition, it still flourishes. Although honorable members opposite continuously decry the country, and say that there exists here a party that seeks to overturn the moral code, and the members of which are, at the very least, atheists, the country still persists in being prosperous. If it were not for the leader of the Opposition, and those who promoted the present Tariff, its people would continue to be not only prosperous but happy. I am not going to deal with the remarks made by the deputy leader of the Opposition as to the position- of New Zealand. They had nothing whatever to do with, the question before us, although I venture to say that very good arguments could, perhaps, be adduced against them. I should like to emphasize what the honorable member for South Sydney said last night in reference to old-age pensions by pointing out that the only way in which a Commonwealth system can be secured is by the imposition of direct taxation. If there be any other way, honorable members opposite should point it out to us. It is not for an honorable member “who, like the honorable member for South Sydney, occupies merely a private position in this House, to submit a detailed scheme for such a system. He has come forward with a general statement, and he says, in effect, to the Opposition, “It is for you, the heirs and successors of the Government, whose business it is not only to criticise their policy, but to show that you have some policy of your own, to say exactly where the policy of the Government fails, and in what respect yours is a superior one. But what do you do? You do nothing except that you say that the various States collectively enjoy a surplus of ^£3, 000,000.” In the face of what Mr. Carruthers and others in authority are continually saying - that the Commonwealth takes more and more of the money that the States ought to receive - it is very evident that they are finding uses to which the so-called surplus revenue may be put. This question of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions is one which the States have in their own hands. If they come to a mutual agreement, something of the sort could be done, but I see no indication of unanimity on their part. O.n the contrary, many of those in authority in the States are setting their faces steadfastly against such a proposal. Therefore, only that party which is prepared to place this question upon a natural, sensible, and practical basis can so advocate an old-age pension scheme for the Commonwealth as to obtain any credence from the people. The deputy leader of the Opposition had not much to say about the Tariff. Like his leader, he views it verv calmly. The leader of the Opposition, at any rate, takes it so calmly that the Daily Telegraph - which exercises considerable influence in. New South Wales, and has never been entirely unable to reach the understanding of the Opposition - says in a leading article in its issue of the 20th inst -
Mr. Reid pointed out that, while there was clear authority from the electors for an increase in the duties, he did not think thev ever dreamed of the extreme to which the Government had pushed the Tariff proposals. “There is a very large majority of protectionists in . the House,” says Mr. Reid ; and proceeds to foreshadow a series of sham Refits in which reductions will be made bv a Government whose prices have been fixed on the principles of an Oriental curiosity dealer, and of victories which will consist in abatements of exactions which it never was hoped could be maintained. And so Mr. Reid joins the dreary ranks of the lost leaders - and at what a moment ! All through the State, through the largest part of the Commonwealth, there has been ringing for days a clamour of indignation in which surprise has not been the least dominant note. When Mr. R»>id was first approached on the subject, he said that he preferred to wait for the full Tariff before he dealt with it; and he has waited, with the result that he tells us that “ there is clear authority and warrant for an increase of the duties,” and that “all that the free-traders can do under the circumstances is to keep the duties down as low as possible.”
The Daily Telegraph asserts that the electors have given no clear authority or warrant for the additional load of Customs burdens that is- now piled upon them. So far as New South Wales is concerned, no truer statement could be made. It is not the fault of the leader of the Opposition that a single member of this Parliament was pledged to fiscalism at the last general election. For all he knew or cared, every man returned to this House might have been pledged to a 50 per cent. Tariff ; provided that he had been pledged at the same time to anti-Socialism he would have had his cordial support. In the face of that state of affairs, he now says that nothing can be done to reduce the Tariff. What is the reason? It is because he himself has brought into existence a House composed largely of honorable members who are pledged to vote for this Tariff, and who were supported bv him. The leader of the Opposition did not care twopence whether a candidate at the last general election was in favour of 20 per cent., 30 per cert.. 50 per cent., or 1.000 per cent, duties provided he would “ down “ the Labour Party.
– One thing at a time.
– The honorable member’s party supported protectionists?
– Did not the honorable member’s party support protectionists?
– I must remind the honorable member for Hunter that I have twice called him to order. These interjections must cease. If honorable members are going to converse with each other across the chamber, it will be impossible for the honorable member to continue his speech.
– I have never supported a protectionist: T.have always supported the members of my party. Mv attitude has never changed since I have taken part in politics. I have belonged to only one party, and it has advocated that which it advocates to-day - an experience so entirely foreign to honorable members in other parts of the House that no doubt it is a little bit difficult for them t” appreciate it. At the last general election the leader of the Opposition deliberately sank the fiscal issue and invited every respectable protectionist to fall in under his banner.
– He could not find a respectable one.
– He found many. As the honorable member for Parramatta has pointed out. he found so many that the ranks of the Opposition to-day are crowded with protectionists: Those honorable members were returned not because they were protectionists, but because they were antiSocialists. The man who sold free-trade is Mr. G. H. Reid.
– T - They do not know what Socialism means.
– The Opposition have created the bogy of Socialism with the result that they have placed themselves, bound hopelessly, in the hands of the protectionists. I, as a free-trader, whom the Opposition opposed and endeavoured in every conceivable way to defeat, feel indifferent to their sufferings, and am not going to allow them to masquerade for a moment as men who are not responsible for the present position. They are responsible, and they shall bear the whole responsibility. They asked for it, and they have got it. I sincerely hope that they appreciate the position. They profess now to be astonished. As the honorable member for South Sydnev has said, they asked the Acting Prime Minister to produce the Tariff, and he has produced it. I wish now to state my own’ attitude in regard to the Tariff. It is one that I have always maintained. I do not think that protection provides more employment for the people. I have. never thought that it does so.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable member says “ Hear, hear.” The honorable member’s party, unfortunately, cannot say “ Hear, hear,” because there are only one or two of the same opinion as himself. It is, however, no doubt true that protection provides diversity of employment. I have no choice in this Parliament as to whether I am a free-trader or a protectionist j I am like Macaulay’s New Zealander on the ruins of London Bridge - apparently I am standing here the only free-trader in the House. I most emphatically say that there is not one member on the Opposition side who will vote for a free-trade policy.
– Yes there is.
– The honorable member?
– Then all 1 can say is that the honorable member ought to be ticketed, and kept on this side, because he will contaminate honorable members if he goes on the other.
– If he does, he will get bumped1 Out for Tasmania at the next election.
– I do not know as to that. A free-trade policy is only possible when we are prepared to resort to direct taxation; and direct taxation does not necessarily involve land value taxation, though it certainly does shut the door against a revenue Tariff. There are gentlemen who call themselves free-traders, and who speak about the iniquity of this Tariff - what is their idea? I can remember the right honorable member for East Sydney almost dissolving in tears because he could not get a duty of 3d. per lb. on tea approved by the State Parliament of New South Wales, and when that Parliament agreed to id. per lb. he was lifted, to the seventh heaven of delight. The ideal of those free-traders is not a free breakfast table, but a loaded one ; but that is not my idea of free-trade. When I speak of free-trade 1 mean absolute freetrade, and not duties of 3d. a lb. on tea, or similar duties on kerosene, soap, or candles. If I cannot get free-trade I do not know why I should bother about honorable members.
– Is that going to be the honorable member’s, excuse for voting protection ?
– The honorable member might have allowed me to finish ; but if it be an excuse, it is a better excuse than that of the honorable member. My own position is that I find a heavy tax is imposed on food, clothes, and the necessaries of life; and I shall never give a vote in that direction under any circumstances. If any man in this House, who calls himself a free-trader, votes for such duties I shall know what to think of him, though that will not affect the matter very much. As to the other duties I shall please myself as to what I shall do. In supporting an industry I shall require to know that it is a substantial industry, and not a mere pretext. There is a gentleman in Victoria engaged in making nails. I do not know how many nails he makes, but he employs very few people to make them. That gentleman said the other day that he would rather be in Birmingham than in Australia, and I am sure that, if the people understood the matter, thev would rather he were there - it would be cheaper for this country, and I should not mind contributing my little quota- to send that man to Birmingham or any other place. We do not want industries of that character, but industries which will employ some people; we do not want mere pretexts for manufacturers to put their hands into the pockets of the people. There are a number o’f industries in this country which no doubt provide employment; and if I am to choose between a duty which helps to establish #n industry and leads to employment and a duty which does no more than impose an additional burden upon the shoulders of the people, I shall vote for the duty which helps an industry, though it also provides revenue.
– The honorable member ought to be over here.
– And the honorable member ought to be over here, on the Treasury benches, but he will never get here unless he joins the Labour Party. My position in regard to the Tariff has not been Affected by anything that has happened ; I shall still vote for lowering the duties upon food and the necessaries of life. In regard to other duties, I am absolutely unpledged and free, and I shall do as I please, while, in regard to every proposal, considering the evidence and the merits of the case. I shall not be at all affected by the quarter from which the proposal comes, whether from this or ‘the other side. I shall, as I say, on every proposal consider the circumstances of the case,- and give a vote such as will, I hope, be beneficial to the whole country. But I cannot but regret that we are driven to this position, and driven to it by a man who now presumes to regard the matter so lightly as to deem it not worth his while to be here to strike a blow. This was the same man who, when it was proposed to put one-tenth of the taxation on the shoulders of the rich, found ample opportunity for roaming throughout the country appealing to everybody, and sparing no effort to defeat the Labour Party, simply because we had advocated the enormity of a tax of one halfpenny in the £1 on the unimproved value of all estates over .£5,000 and under ^10,000. That was the head and front of our offending, and, because we so offended, this country was sold and betrayed - the free-trade cause was abandoned, and the man who abandoned it is seeking to avoid the just responsibility of his act. But his condemnation will come, not only from the people of the country, but from his own followers. It is possible that the division lists of this House will not clearly display to the country the exact position of parties on this question. There are honorable members who stand behind the leader of the Opposition on one question, and, in spite of that, vote for heavy duties ; and it will be. useless for the right honorable gentleman to say that the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the Labour Part)’, who, in the last Parliament, were instrumental in taking off duties to the extent of ^1,000,000.
– That could not have been done without votes from this side.
– That is quite right, but it is equally true that without the Labour Party’s assistance en bloc that could not have been done; and the proof is that when the Labour Party was split up on other items the free-trade party did not win.
– The present Tariff cannot be reduced without the votes of the Labour Party.
– When the Labour Party voted as a party, the duties were lowered in each case, and the consequence was that the people’s burdens were lessened to the extent of .-£1,000,000 per annum. I voted for the reduction of every duty.
– Will the Labour Party repeat their action in regard to the Tariff before us?
– I cannot say what they will do.
– If not, the blame will rest with them.
– I say that the honorable member’s party will not repeat what they did before, but, with Hans Breitmann, I ask, “Vere is dot barty now?” Honorable members for Victoria are pledged - some of them to a moderate Tariff, and others to a high Tariff - and they must vote accordingly. I should like to say one word about preference before I conclude. I cannot say that I approve of the preference proposals. I cannot regard them as efficient, or as complete - in many cases I cannot regard them as real. At the same time, I am perfectly free to admit the difficulties of the position. I think, perhaps, that it would be better, as suggested by some honorable members, if the preference proposals awaited the settlement of the Tariff. There is much, too, in the suggestion that a preference proposal from one side can hardly be a satisfactory one. The Government of Great Britain, returned on the free-trade ticket, can hardly be blamed if they do not regard this matter in the same light’ as do the Commonwealth Government, or the followers of’ Mr. Chamberlain. It is quite obvious that in Great Britain to-day there are three fiscal parties, one prepared to go as far as Mr. Chamberlain would and tax food, one prepared to go to a point which does not involve the taxation of food, and the other - the Campbell-Bannerman free-traders - who are not prepared to alter the Tariff at all.
– And the British Government -have the support of the Labour Party in England.
– Quite so. That reminds me of a statement made by an honorable member in New South Wales, who sought to fasten the responsibility for the Tariff on the Labour Party, because, he said, Socialists were always restrictionists As a matter of fact, the Labour Party of Great Britain, which is quite as much, if not more, a Socialist party as the Labour Party in Australia, is, perhaps, the most bigoted free-trade party I ever met in my life. I shudder to think of the treatment honorable members opposite would receive at the hands of, say, a free-trader like Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, if they delivered themselves of the heresy of a 20 per cent, freetrade policy - which is indicated as the model of the Tasmanian free-trader. I have attempted to show that the Labour Party has no responsibility for this Tariff, but that’ the man who is clearly responsible is the right honorable member for East Sydney. The party in the House who are so strongly in favour of the proposed alterations in the Tariff are here mainly because that right honorable member elected to forsake his fiscal policy, and take up antiSocialism - not for the benefit of the country, but because that was the only way he could get to the Treasury benches. As soon as the Tariff is out of the road - and I am bound to say it will be some time before it is - opportunities will no doubt be afforded by which another party may make their long-deferred swoop. When that day comes we .shall see what we shall see ; in the meantime, I hope that no honorable member will be unmanly enough to fasten on the shoulders of the Labour Party responsibility that does not belong to them. By “our own programme and platform we are ready to stand or fall, and bear everything that can be said in reference to it ; but, in regard to the Tariff, we do not take that attitude. Many of us believe in the Tariff, though some do not; while, as a party, we are not committed to it, individuals may be, though not altogether. To the details of the Tariff none of us are committed, and, therefore, it would be well, in the criticism and the long discussion that must inevitably arise on the details, that these facts should not be forgotten. The right honorable member for East Sydney appointed the Commission on whose recommendation this Tariff was based, and he alone must take the responsibility for its introduction.
– There is one advantage to be gained from listening to a speech such as we have just heard from the honorable member for West Sydney, and that is that, if one separates from it the personal courtesies which Occupied the larger portion of it, one is left in no doubt whatever as to the main objects and purposes, not only of the speaker, but of the party to which he belongs. The leader of that party, in referring the other day. to a speech of the right honorable member for Swan, said that he could read between the lines, and he read between the lines a meaning which I am sure never entered into the mind of the right honorable member. But it is not necessary to read between the lines of the speeches of the leader of the Labour Party or of his followers, because, in all of them, their true object stands out in black and white, naked and unashamed. The logic of their policy appears to be - and the speech which we have just heard emphasizes it - that to get over the financial difficulties with which we are likely to be faced, and to achieve the large instalment of the millennium which they think they can bring about,- we should adopt the simple expedient of taking back from the citizens of the Commonwealth, without compensation, the rights which the State has given to them. ‘ Whether their proposal is called a land tax, or is designated bv some other name, it must, having regard to the purpose at the bottom of the policy which these honorable gentlemen advocate, be characterized as an attempt to destroy, without compensation, rights which the State has created. The honorable member for South Sydney said last night that the alternative method of obtaining land for the people of the country, and for those whom we invite to come here - that of compulsory purchase - is a trumpery policy. There is a class of persons in this, and, I suppose, in every other community, who look upon the ordinary methods of acquiring property by purchase as trumpery and too slow, and therefore adopt the easier way of taking what they require. I welcome the candour of honorable members in the enunciation of their policy, and I do so because, the more I look into Federal matters, and especially into the present financial position, the more am I convinced that the great problem which lies before 11s - one more urgent and almost more imminent than the Tariff question, and certainly of vastly greater importance with regard to future development - is whether the views of the members of the Labour Party are to prevail, and the Commonwealth is to be forced to impose heavy direct taxation, in addition to the direct taxation of the States, or whether we shall finance our Commonwealth concerns by means of the Customs and Excise revenue which has been vested in us. It is to endeavour to throw what light I can upon that problem that I chiefly desire to speak to-night. But before doing so, I wish to say a word or two upon the Tariff. It is rather unfortunate, though I think inevitable, that, in the discussion on which we have entered, the Budget and Tariff are inextricably mixed. It would have been more satisfactory could we have had a Budget debate, in the strict sense of the term, which would have given, us an opportunity to ascertain the policy of the Government, if it can be said to have a financial policy, none having been definitely enunciated, and to thresh out the matters which are usually threshed out in such a debate in a responsible assembly of this kind. The Government, however, has chosen to bring forward its financial proposals in Committee of Ways and .Means instead of in Committee of Supply. I do not say that to do so is not entirely within what one might call the bounds of. the legitimate strategy to which a Ministry may resort, and under the circumstances I do not blame Ministers. But the result is that we have to mix up two great questions which should, as far as possible, be kept separate from each other - the financial position and the Tariff, the latter of which, though intimately connected with the former, raises very different questions. We must, however, do the best we can under the circumstances. With regard to the Tariff, I wish to make my position perfectly clear. I said many months ago, and the expression has been repeated in the press and elsewhere - though I must say with very varied meanings - that I am in favour of what I denominated effective protection. I went on to define what, in ray understanding, is the meaning of that term. I pointed out clearly, and I desire to emphasize it now, that what I understand by effective protection is by, no means prohibition. It is not the protection which endeavours to keep out altogether imports of those classes of goods . which can be made here ; but the protection which is sufficient to shield our manufacturing -industries from crushing and destructive competition from abroad, protection which would prevent industries built up under a protective system from being destroyed by the importation of goods produced or made elsewhere under conditions of wages and labour lower and more unfavorable than exist here. That is a totally different policy from that which I think I am able to perceive a great many honorable members favour. Of course, the whole matter is one of degree; one cannot make different classes of protection. But I thin’k that I am really expressing what I believe to have been the views of the great majority of the people at the recent elections, when I say. that they were willing to continue, and, if necessary, to strengthen and render definite and permanent the protective system of Australia, and were not and are not desirous that, for that purpose, duties should be increased to anything like what may be called prohibitive limits. Of course, when we come to apply these principles, there must be an examination in detail of the circumstances of each industry, and I do not intend to say a word on the subject now. But there is another aspect of the question which we must not forget. It is also the desire of the people of Australia, I believe, that we shall endeavour, here and now, to arrive at a settlement of the Tariff question which will have in it some of the elements of stability and permanence. I do not mean to suggestit would be folly to do so - that any settlement at which we may arrive will be absolutely permanent. That would be impossible. But I think the desire and hope of the people of Australia is that we shall make a Tariff which will not, in” its nature, require further revision within a short time. -The proposals of the Government seem to me to comply with neither of the conditions to which- 1 refer, and I do not think that Ministers have put ‘forward what is in any sense a reasonable protective policy.
– Their proposals are not intended to settle the fiscal question.
– I do not think that they are, - and I am convinced that they will not settle it. In this connexion I should like to refer very shortly to a Victorian experience which may throw light on the probable stability of the - Tariff which the Government asks us to accept. In 1892, the Shiels-Berry Government introduced into the Victorian Parliament a Tariff very similar to that now proposed. The duties on some of the more important articles of import, such as woollens, apparel, and ironwork, were 5, and, in some cases 10, per cent, higher than similar duties in this Tariff. But, on the whole, the’ two Tariffs are not dissimilar, except that the Victorian Tariff had a larger free list, in that respect comparing favorably, from the free-trade point of view, with this Tariff. If honorable members wish to compare the two in detail, they will find the Victorian Tariff in the Victorian Year Book for 1894, or in the Victorian Statutes. Within a year and nine or ten months after that Tariff became law, there was such a revulsion of feeling throughout this State that the electors, educated though they were in the propaganda of the highest form of protection, absolutely rejected it, and in September, 1894, returned a Parliament pledged to remove this incubus from the breast of those whom it oppressed. 0
– It was at that time that Victoria was losing so much of her population.
– I think that the loss of population arose from other causes. As I have said, the Victorian Tariff was, in regard to some of its items, a little higher than this Tariff, the rate on woollen piece goods, for example, being 40 per cent., while in this Tariff the
Tate is 35 per cent. But, on the other hand, it was far less comprehensive.
– If it was too strong for the people of Victoria, it must have been pretty warm.
– If Victoria bucked when bitted with the snaffle, what, will Australia do when it gets the curb? What chance of permanency is there for this Tariff? Is there any chance of a Tariff approaching in most of its items to almost prohibitive rates of duty having either permanence or stability?
– We shall cut down the duties a great deal before the Tariff is passed.
– I am dealing with the proposals of the Government as they stand. A distinguished member of the Victorian Assembly said that to adopt the Tariff to which I have referred would be to haul down the national standard of protection, and to hoist in its” place the yellow flag of prohibition. The gentleman who made use of that expression is the head of the present Government whose proposals I am discussing, and which is responsible for this Tariff. It will strike honorable members as rather remarkable - if they peruse the report of the debate which took place upon that Victorian Tariff - that one of the strongest opponents of such duties as are embodied in the new Tariff was the head of the Government which has introduced it. In this connexion, there are one- or two passages in a very eloquent speech which I should like to read to honorable members. I shall not occupy more than about a minute in so doing, but I crave the patience of the Committee to that extent because every word which was uttered by the present Prime Minister upon that occasion - and - eloquently uttered - is peculiarly applicable to the present occasion.
– Most honorable members think that the Prime Minister knows nothing about this Tariff.
– That is possible. But so long as the Prime Minister is the head of the Government, we must pay deference to the expression of his views upon a similar occasion. Upon page 2029 of volume 70 of the Victorian Hansard, he is thus reported -
If we are to follow some of the arguments which have been used on the other side, we shall have to haul down the national standard of protection, and hoist in its place the yellow flag of prohibition- We shall put this colony into commercial quarantine. What will then be the effect upon the unprotected community? Will they not say that these benefits which the State has wisely given to her citizens were intended to be given with moderation, so that the interests of no one class should be set against the interests of another? Each of the duties now proposed demands the keenest scrutiny, with a view to determine whether it will conduce to that prosperity of the manufacturers of the towns which we all desire.
He then gives some figures which I do not propose to quote, and upon the next page he is reported to have said -
We have reached a point when every proposal for an increase of duty should be scrutinised with the keenest eye to the real necessities of the case, and the most careful adjustment to meet them. There are many items included in the Ministerial proposal which, so far as I am concerned, may pass without question, because they fulfil the requirements I have laid down, but there are others that are seriously open to question, because, while they seem to be designed to encourage one industry, they will seriously injure another.
That criticism is peculiarly applicable to many of the proposals embodied in the present Tariff. The Prime Minister continued -
I have here a drawer half filled with protests from the representatives of various trades, which are a sufficient index to the truth of my complaint. And yet, at this very time, when we should have approached this issue with the greatest deliberation and the greatest caution, we are reminded that the Government has brought forward these proposals under stress of time, and with incomplete information. It is the duty of protectionists above all things to make protection palatable to all classes of the community.
That last sentence embodies what ought to be the key-note of every protective system. But, in applying that system, we must remember that we are not dealing- as was the present Prime Minister - with one small State. We are not dealing with Victoria only - with a State whose people have for years been subject to protective Tariffs and have become accustomed and educated to all the incidence of protective duties. We are now dealing with the whole of Australia. We are dealing in many cases with persons w.ho do not occupy a similar position to that occupied by the people of Victoria, and we must recollect that whilst it is our duty to allow no real injury to be inflicted upon industries which have been created by means of a protective system, it is equally our duty to see that .we do nothing to embitter or accentuate that unfortunate jealousy which we cannot help recognising exists in regard to Federation amongst the other States. When I realize that the proposals in this Tariff in many respects go beyond the utmost recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission - when I look upon the circumstances under which it is brought forward, not only do I deplore the result which it has already had in other States of Australia, but I can see - and I do not go beyond legitimate criticism in making the statement - that in reality it has »not been brought down with a view to permanently settle this question.’ In other words, it is not seriously brought forward; it is merely a political placard. Of course, sufficient has already been said upon all sides of the Committee to show the Government that they have no chance of carrying the Tariff in its present form. There will no doubt be very considerable reductions of duty.
– The honorable member would not have been here to-day if he had made this speech upon the hustings.
– Either the Acting Prime Minister makes that assertion in absolute ignorance of the statements which I made upon the hustings, or he isdeliberately misleading the Committee.
– I read one of the honorable member’s speeches only thismorning.
– Any one who has followed my speeches will know what I said. I certainly shall not weary the Committee by reading from them; but I have here a’ reprint of the first speech which I made during the campaign - and which I subsequently repeated upon every platform. In that speech I set forth exactly the principles which I have stated to-day.
– - The honorable member did a bit of backsliding after he made that speech.
– I absolutely deny that. However, I am not going to allow the attention of the Committee to be distracted from the very much more serious question demanding our attention.
– It is idle for the honorable member to put on these superior airs. He will have to take his gruel as other members take theirs.
– So far am I from affecting a superior air that if I had regard to my personal interest it would pay me very much better to answer the statement of the Acting Prime Minister. But at the present time there are matters which the Committee have to consider of infinitelymore importance than is the particular view which any honorable member expressed upon the hustings. I should not have referred to the matter of what I then said if the Acting Prime Minister had not challenged me to do so. However, I now pass away from that question. I do not desire to say anything in reference to the preference proposals embodied in the Tariff. Honorable members will be afforded an opportunity of making a few general remarks upon them later on - perhaps when the first item is under consideration. Nor do I intend to discuss the question of the “new protection.” It will be time enough to debate that matter when some substantive proposal is made. But I wish particularly to invite the attention of honorable members to the very serious and grave financial position which we are rapidly approaching. Honorable members know that we are approaching a time when we shall have to face the responsibility of determining one of the greatest problems that has ever faced any deliberative assembly - the problem of settling, probably for all time, the foundation of the financial relations which must exist between the States and the Commonwealth. I do not know that any more difficult or grave problem was ever placed before any legislative assembly. By the end of 1910 we must not only have thought about this matter, but we must have practically agreed to a scheme which will come into existence on the 1st January, 191 1. It therefore behoves us to carefully consider our position from the financial stand-point. I do not say that the Treasurer can be blamed on this occasion for having merely come down with a statement of the revenue which he expects to receive and of the proposed expenditure for the current year. Under ordinary circumstances, that is nearly all that a Treasurer does. I cannot blame the Government for acting in that way, especially when very difficult Tariff proposals have had to be placed before the Committee. But that does not relieve all of us of the necessity of arriving at some conclusion as to what is our financial position before we proceed to deal with the Tariff. Our attitude towards every proposal in that Tariff must depend mainly upon the effect which it will have upon the revenues to be ultimately derived from Customs and Excise. Honorable members who have already spoken have touched upon some aspects of this question, and have therefore relieved me of the duty of going into it with great particularity. But I should like the Committee to follow me through a few figures which I shall make as simple as possible. The estimated revenue from Customs and Excise during the current year is set down at £10,000,000 odd. The first thing we should endeavour to ascertain is how are we likely to stand financially in the years 1909 and 1910. How shall we arrive at an estimate of what our position then will probably be? The Treasurer himself has stated that the effect of this Tariff will be to largely increase the revenue for the current year. That is obvious.
– If it be passed in the form in which it now stands.
– Yes. Of course, I am dealing with it upon that basis. The inevitable result subsequently must be a corresponding decrease of revenue. As soon as the duties begin to be really protective in their incidence, the revenue must decrease. I go further, and say that, altogether apart from their having a protective effect - altogether apart from whether they cause new industries to be established to supply the same classes of goods, or whether they cause existing industries in Australia to extend - the mere fact of raising duties from about 15 per cent. to something like 30 or 40 per cent. must exercise a very depressing effect upon the revenue. That is so, because it would necessarily diminish the number of persons who will buy the goods. First of all the effect of protective duties is to diminish the actual consumption by reason of the enhanced price, until the goods are produced in Australia, when we may have the benefit which arises from decreased prices owing to increased competition. But the inevitable result must be a reduction in the revenue during the immediately succeeding years. Of course, it is quite impossible to form anything like an estimate of what that decrease will be, but, at least, we can make a guess at it, in that we can arrive at a point at which we can say, “ It will not be less than so much.” I think I am very safe in asserting that, after the next two or three years, the expectations of the most sanguine of us would not place the revenue derived from the new Tariff at a higher figure than the average revenue which we have been able to obtain from the old Tariff.
– That is a very sanguine estimate.
– I want to take a sanguine view.
– The honorable member is basing his estimate upon the supposition that the Tariff is passed in its present form?
– Exactly. I want to see what our position will be.
– The Acting Prime Minister says that the Tariff is going to be passed in its present form.
– I did not say so.
– I think I am taking a very sanguine view of the finances when I say that, in the year 19 10, we shall be receiving as much revenue as was derived upon an average from the Customs and Excise duties imposed under the old Tariff. That would be as nearly as possible £9,000,000 per annum. I think I can put before the House a Victorian experience which goes to corroborate that estimate. In the year 1892 the Victorian Tariff, to which 1 have referred as being not dissimilar from that now before us, was introduced, and the reduction in the revenue from protected articles in that Tariff serves to give us an indication of what we may expect in connexion with the Federal Tariff. It is true that in the years 1892-3-4, financial disaster overtook Victoria. That occurrence would altogether complicate the analogy were it not for the fact that the regular revenue duties, which were not altered, afford us some gauge of what was the reduced power of consumption during those years. Taking the revenue from the duties on tobacco, which remained unchanged, as a kind of test of the extent to which the consuming power of the people had been affected by the financial depression, we find that it fell by 18 per cent., and that during the same three years the consumption of the ad valorem goods, which were mostly protected goods, fell by 48 per cent. In other words, the revenue from the protected, or ad valorem goods, for the three years fell 30 per cent. below the fall in the revenue from the more staple article during the same period.
– During that period many people left Victoria.
– I have already pointed out that I am taking that fact into account. The total fall in the revenue from the protected goods was 48 per cent., but for the purposes of my illustration, I amtaking the decreased revenue from the tobacco duties as indicating the purchasing power of the people. It must be understood, of course, that this is not a subject of calculation. I am merely putting forward these facts as a kind of indication of the extent to which we may naturally expect the revenue to fall owing to the protective incidence of the new duties. Assuming that this is a fair illustration, what will foe the financial position? We are told that the last financial year was a very favorable one. It was almost a boom year, so far as the Customs returns were concerned, and unless our population were suddenly to increase, we could not expect to better, or, probably, to equal the returns in respect of it.
– Not for some time.
– Quite so. Let me, for a moment, direct the attention of honorable members to what would be our position supposing that our Customs and Excise revenue fell to £9,000,000 per annum. The first question we have to consider is what proportion we should have to return to the States. I am one of those who say we must look forward to a policy of fair and not ungenerous treatment of the States. I recognise and feel impressed by the importance of the vast functions that we have to perform, and the great amount of money that will be necessary to carry them out. We have, in the first place, not only the immediate necessity of increasing our defence expenditure - an expenditure which will go on increasing year by year - but we are taking, and must continue to take, on our shoulders the national responsibilities which have been referred to by the deputy leader of the Opposition, and others, such as the administration of the Northern Territory, and also of the great islandof Papua. There are other great national responsibilities, apart altogether from the expenditure that we must incur in connexion with the development of Australia by the immigration policy we all desire to see adopted. I recognise all these facts, but I also recognise, on the other hand, that the States have to meet the interest on their debts. They have great works in relation to the conservation of water for the development of their territories, and also their police systems, their education systems, and other public services.
An Honorable Member. - Including the railways.
– The railways ought to pay for themselves. The fact remains that all the undertakings I have mentioned, as well as others, are dependent upon their finances, and nothing worse could happen to the Commonwealth than that we should attempt to avail ourselves of our financial supremacy either to diminish the means or embarrass the finances of the States, or to wring from them powers which they themselves are unwilling to give us. What ought we to give back to the States? Whilst I recognise that they must be treated fairly, even generously, by us, I think that before 1910, any scheme that can possibly be adopted by this House must be one that will render us quite independent in respect to our finances. I may say in passing that I do not propose, at this stage, to criticise any of the financial schemes that have been brought forward. I refer, for example, to those submitted by the ex-Treasurer, the honorable member for Mernda, the honorable member for Kooyong, and others. All these honorable members have made very valuable contributions to the debate on the financial question, but I am not going at present to take up the time of the Committee by asking honorable members to consider my criticisms upon them. I do not think any scheme - no matter from what source it may emanate - will ever receive the acceptance of this Parliament unless it renders the Commonwealth Legislature independent in every respect of the finances of the States, and the States Parliaments independent of our finances. Neither the Commonwealth nor the States can proceed with certainty and advantage in their several developments unless we take the earliest opportunity - that which the Constitution itself prescribes - of rendering the two systems of finance, State and Federal, completely independent of each other.
– The States .might not then be so parochial.
– That is very true. As long as the States Governments feel that they are dependent to some extent upon our decision as to what we will give them so long will the irritating sore continue. That being so, for the benefit of the States, as- well as for the benefit of the Commonwealth, we should endeavour, as early as possible, to arrive at a solution of the difficulty. That solution must be one which to my mind will confer on the States, if not for all time, at all events fpr a long period, the power to reckon with security on fixed payments for their development. To follow up this argument, I would ask honorable members again what is the lowest amount we shall have to return to the States. If we were reduced to a Customs and Excise revenue of £9,000,000 per annum any adjustment that would give the States only three-fourths of that amount would be one that would be not only ungenerous to them, but absolutely embarrassing, if not disastrous, to their finances.
– If we gave “them more we should be embarrassed.
– To some extent that is so.
– But that is a matter of no importance.
– I think that it is of the greatest importance.
– Unfortunately, many people do not think so.
– Perhaps so, but I repeat that I think the matter is of the greatest importance. I propose to put before honorable members some idea of what would be the result of giving the States only three-fourths of the reduced revenue I have mentioned. In that event we should return to them only .£6,750,000 per annum. I am using round figures in order to enable honorable members to follow more readily my calculations. The return of only £6,750,000 would give the States less than we are now giving them, by, in round numbers, £1,000,000 per annum. That would deprive New South Wales 01 j£393j°°° per annum, and Victoria nf £277,000 per annum. I may pause here for a moment to say that I should not fee, that we were imposing a great hardship on those States by returning them the reduced amounts. Both are strong enough to stand such a reduction, but I feel strongly concerning the position of the other States. In the event of the total amount now returned to the States being reduced to the extent I have mentioned, we should deprive Queensland of £122,000 per annum; South Australia, of £78,000; Western Australia, of £98.000;. and Tasmania of £32,000. Unless something very extraordinary happens before the time comes when we shall have to settle this question, we shall not be acting fairly by the States if we ask them to receive such a small sum as £6,750,000, per annum. Our opinions may be changed to some extent when we come to consider this question, but we should endeavour to make some estimate, because the time is rapidly approaching when we shall have .to deal with the question. What we might fairly say is that the lower limit of the amount which we ought to hand back to the States is that which, to my mind, is impliedly prescribed by the Constitution. I refer to what is, I think, the basis of the constitutional proposals, and that is that we should burden ourselves with the whole of the interest of the States debts as existing at the time of the establishment of the Commonwealth. I believe that to have been in the minds of most of those who framed our Constitution, and that it was really an indication to us that that was the burden we were to take on our shoulders as against the enormous revenue from Customs and Excise with which we were invested.
– We were to take all the liabilities, leaving the States all the assets ?
– The honorable member’s interjection suggests that he is under a misapprehension. We secure by far the greatest value of the assets. We have been granted under the Constitution what this year represented a revenue of between £10,000,000 and £11,000,000. Surely that is an asset.
– If it is, it is a very secondary one.
– It is a very direct one. In the history of all the States it has been considered their principal source of taxation ; if that is not a substantial asset I do not know what is.
– But the States, according to the honorable member, are to keep what the debts represent.
– The honorable member would like to take over the whole of the railways, the waterworks, and everything else belonging to the States.
– The assets created by debts should certainly follow the debts.
– I do not think So ; everything depends upon what the general scheme is. After all, the Federation is anly a partnership of the States. The States might have come together just as individuals do, and have arranged for a partnership under what articles they pleased. They might have come together and have said : “ We will hand over all our assets, our railways, our waterworks, and everything else to the Federation, with an obligation to pay the interest on our debts, and to provide a sinking fund for the debts which were incurred in creating those assets.” That would have been one basis, but it was not the basis of the Federation. The other basis which mighthave been, and was, in fact adopted, was this : The States said in effect to the Federation, “ We will hand to the new partnership, for all time, complete control over our great sources of Customs and Excise revenue. We do not make it a legal obligation under the Constitution, but we expect that you will take over, and we give you power to take over, the whole of the debts of the States as existing at the time of Federation.”
– That would be a very good bargain for them.
– Whether it be a good bargain or a bad bargain will entirely depend on the extent to which we tax the people through the Customs. We cannot say whether it is a good or a bad bargain, without relation to the mode in . which we exercise the power given us. All I say is that a fair reading of the Constitution seems to convey the idea that what lay in the minds of those who framed it was, “ We give and invest you freely with the vast revenue of the Customs and Excise, which you can control, enlarge, or diminish as you Like; we allow you ten years, in which time we hope and expect you will take over the debts of the States as now existing, and, until that obligation is performed, we tie your hands, so thatyou may spend only one-fourth, handing the other three-fourths back to the States.”
– If it were done indiscriminately it might work very unequally.
– Of course, the Constitution is not like ordinary articles of partnership, in which people are tied down by rigid provisions.
– Some States have spent more money than others in providing railwavs anderecting buildings.
Mr.W. H. IRVINE. - I am glad that the honorable and learned member has interjected, because it enables me to remove a misapprehension. ‘ I do not for a moment say that if we were to take over from each of the States its indebtedness, there would have to be no adjustment as between the. States. I mean, simply, that I think the burden it was intended we should take, whatever the adjustment might be, was, roughly speaking, the burden of the interest of the debts as they existed at the time of Federation. . I shall assume for a moment that there will have to be an adjustment as between the various States. But, after all, I do not put this forward as a categorical statement of what the Constitution means. Our hands are, of course, left quite free; but the position I have mentioned appeals to me as embodying, not only pretty much what was in the. minds of the framers of the Constitution as to the obligation, but also what seemed to be fair to the States.
– Was it not intended that the States should be relieved of the debts and the railways at the same time?
– That is another question. Honorable members may take whatever viewthey like, but I venture to submit that, whether they agree with me or not in the principles I am enunciating, most will agree that the amount which would thereby have to be returned is not at all an unreasonable one. It would be, in round figures, £7,250,000, with which the interest on the debts could be paid.
– That calculation makes no allowance for the bookkeeping as between the States, which complicates the position materially.
– No allowance whatever. I have not overlooked the fact that there must’ be very serious adjustments as between the States, and those adjustments may be made in a hundred ways. I am not endeavouring to put forward any solution of that extremely difficult problem ; I am endeavouring to arrive at some estimate of what ought to be a fair burden from the Commonwealth point of view.
– In the aggregate.
– In the aggregate, from the Commonwealth point of view, and it is only an approximation. It can only be viewed as simply a guiding post to point out the direction which we ought to take, certainly not as one to lead us the whole way. Whether honorable members agree with’ me or not, assuming we adopt this measure of the amount to be returned to the States, the amount will be £7,250,000; and even that would deprive the States of £500,000, as compared with the amount they will havereceived this and last year. It would take away some £196,000 from New South Wales, £138,000 from Victoria, £61,000 fromQueensland, £39,000 from South Australia, and £16,000 from Tasmania: I say, in all seriousness, that, it is not wise for us to contemplate a solution by which we shall return less money to the States than the amount I have mentioned. Now, what is the result of this on our finances ? The sum that we shall return is, as I have shown, £7,250,000 out of the £9,000,000, and that will leave us £1,750,000 from Customs and Excise. In addition, there is other revenue, mainly, if not almost entirely, Post Office revenue, which, for the moment, I shall assume remains as at present.
– That is nearly all absorbed. by the Post Office itself.
– It is more than absorbed, as I shall point out in a moment.
– If we pay for the transferred properties, it will be more than absorbed.
-It is more than absorbed at present, if we take everything into account that ought to be taken into account. To complete the balance-sheet, I am assuming that the revenue from the Post Office will remain at £3,236,000. This will leave us, on that very sanguine estimate of what our revenue from Customs and Excise will be, and on that not at all generous estimate of what we must return to the States, a total revenue for all purposes, in the two or three years before we have to settle this question, of £4,986,000.
– Inclusive of the Post Office revenue?
– Inclusive of everything. If our expenditure proceeds on the same basis as at present, we shall then find ourselves with a deficiency of £981,000.
– That is without undertaking any new obligations.
– Without undertaking a single new obligation. There will be a deficiency of £981,000, or nearly £1,000,000, which we may expect, if we go on with our eyes open and pass this Tariff in the form proposed. But ‘even if we pass ho Tariff, but allow the present Tariff to remain, we may expect a deficiency, though not quite so large as that I have mentioned. If we accept the proposed Tariff, we shall receive a great deal of revenue for the first year, and, possibly, a large revenue next year, But in the year or two following - if the new Tariff is to be protective at all - the revenue will decrease rapidly, and we shall find, when we cometo deal with this great and difficult problem, that we are dealing with itunder the stress of a deficiency of nearly £1,000,000.
– There is an immense cancellation of orders for goods already.
– But the goods will be produced here.
– The most ardent protectionist would not go blindfold into a matter like this without knowing or calculating where he is going. We must know exactly where we are. This conclusion does not depend entirely upon the very high Tariff proposed being adopted. Even if the protective duties were cut down to some extent, the position would not be very greatly altered, and we should probably be left with the very considerable deficiency of between £500,000 and £1,000,000. If we adopt the very high duties proposed, which in many cases are prohibitive, we shall shortly land ourselves in a deficiency of £1,000,000 a year. There is no way of blinking the fact; we are now faced with” it, and it is not a question of putting off until next year considerations which should have weight now. As I said, in ordinary circumstances it may be sufficient for a Treasurer to say, “ There is the estimate of the income I expect this year, and there is the estimate of the expenditure - I do not deal with future years.” That, in ordinary circumstances, might be sufficient, but, under present circumstances, we cannot be content to sailby the log. Sailing by the log from day to day will not do; the time has now arrived when we must take our financial bearings. We must have regard to something besides the log of accounts - the mere bookkeeping log - from day to day or year to year; we must find our financial latitude and longitude, and know the currents that are beneath our keel, and where they are taking us. I cannot help regarding this as rather a serious matter, and that is my only excuse for pressing it on honorable members at the present time.
– I think I am rather under a misapprehension. I understood the honorable member to say that we should have £1,750,000 left.
– The honorable member is right - that is from Customs and Excise.
– Out of the £9,000,000 ?
– Is the £.7,250,000 the three-fourths of £9,000,000?
– No; the threefourths is £6,750,000. I am giving the States £500,000 more to enable them to pay the interest on their debts. It is more than three-fourths ; but if we cut the States down to the bare three-fourths of the £9,000,000, and also take away £1,000,000 from what they have been receiving, as is within our power, theresults would be very harsh indeed on the smaller States, though they might easily be borne by the two larger ones. My calculation, which shows a deficiency of £981,000, is based on two things - on the probable fact of a very high Tariff, and also on the assumption that we hand back the amount I have mentioned to the States - an amount which I think is by no means generous.
– Does the honorable member take into account only the debts as they existed at the time of Federation?
Mr.W. H. IRVINE.- Yes; I am dealing with the Constitution) as it is.
– It does not cover the balance of the debts.
– Not at all ; the States are left to pay the interest on the balance out of their own moneys. I am endeavouring to take a sanguine view of the revenue, and to cut the States down to what seems the lowest amount on which a satisfactory permanent settlement can be arrived at. I do not assume that we are going to give the States any other portion of the revenue in addition.
– The honorable member is assuming that the principle of handing over three-fourths of the revenue will stop?
– Yes. Of course, these figures may be varied in different ways - a number of changes may be rung on them. But no matter what policy we adopt, or how the figures are varied, we always come back to the point that we shall inevitably have under existing conditions, if the present expenditure continues, a deficiency approaching £1,000,000 in two or three years, about the time we shall have to settle this question.
– The calculation is all based on a maximum revenue of £9,000,000 ?
– That is a mistake altogether.
– I am veryglad to have the honorable member’s criticism.
– If we have good protective duties, we shall have a larger population and, therefore, a larger revenue.
– Of course, no doubt every one hopes that will ultimately be the effect. I am considering not the future results of protection, but a serious and imminent problem, which will call for solution within the next two or three years.
– Which is knocking at the door.
– Which, as the honorable member says, is knocking at the door.
– Does the honorable member reckon . himself a true protectionist when he makes this calculation?
– The calculation shows the facts,anyhow.
– They are serious facts, and I am endeavouring to remove the question from party discussion, because it concerns us all as representatives of the taxpayers. However, for another reason, the outlook is not quite so black as these figures, perhaps, make it appear. As honorable members who have studied the figures know, our expenditure need not continue to be as great as at present.
– If the honorable member can show how the expenditure can be reduced, I shall be very much obliged.
– I am not blaming the Treasurer in connexion with the expenditure; I am leaving out all considerations of that kind. We may have to blame the Treasurer for many things hereafter, but at present I am simply dealing with the figures ; and I say that the expenditure may be very considerably reduced.
– I have already reduced very largely proposed expenditure.
– There is one very large item which is not usually a charge on the ordinary annual expenditure in the accounts of any State. That is what is referred to as additions and new works; and the amount for this year, £817,874, is very much larger than in any of the other years. It is inevitable that we shall always have to payout of revenue considerable sums in connexion with additions and new works, but it is by no means inevitable that we should always pay anything like such a large sum as I have mentioned. That is one respect in which the expenditure may be reduced.
– It cannot be reduced very much for several years to come.
– I was just going to point that opt.
– Does the honorable member propose to stop works, or to cease extensions ?
– The item of £817,874 to which I have referred, covers works which are not ordinarily paid for out of revenue. If honorable members will turn to page 48 of the Budget Papers, they will find set out in detail, under the head of Defence and Post Office, a large number of items of expenditure which are not usually paid for out of revenue. No one would suggest that we should buy ammunition or arms out of loan money ; but reluctant as we may be to borrow money if we can avoid doing so, it must be recognised that such works as the construction of barracks and fortifications have not, in the accounts of the State Departments, been debited to revenue. I do not suggest that we should revert to the old method of borrowing money to expend upon works which will last for only a. short time. But there is in the Railway Department of Victoria a system which has worked well for a great many years, under which a certain proportion of the expenditure on anything partaking of the character of permanency - even rolling-stock - is debited to capital account, and a certain proportion to revenue account. That system has worked well, and does not transgress the rule that one ought not to borrow to pay for works which are not of a permanent character.
– In New South Wales when Treasurers have been hard up that rule has proved very elastic.
– It was found there that fortifications became obsolete in ten years, and had to be torn up.
– I hope that I have not conveyed a false impression. No one is more averse than I am from expending borrowed money on works which are not of a strictly permanent character.
– They should be reproductive as well as permanent.
– No one would say that railway rolling-stock is permanent, because its life is an easily ascertained quantity. But to the extent to which it replaces worn-out stock its cost must be debited to capital account. I should be sorry to create the impression that I desire to revertto the very loose financial methods which prevailed in the past in several of the States. I am merely endeavouring to show that this sum of £817,000 might be to some extent reduced without transgressing the rule as to borrowing. The provision this year for the works which it covers is nearly twice as’ great as was made last year, and, we need not expect an annual expenditure equally great. The extent to which the amount may be diminished is doubtful, but I think we could reduce it by £400,000 or £500,000, although to do so would hamper our progress in many respects. Having thus stated the problem, I ask, what is the solution of it ? I am aware that the members of the Labour Party are prepared with a solution. They have made up their minds as to what is required, and would at once resort to a Commonwealth land tax.
– And to other direct taxation.
– I sincerely hope that if they ever have the power to impose direct taxation, they will tax incomes and other forms of property as well as land.
But is Parliament going to adopt this panacea? Is it prepared to duplicate the direct taxation of the States by imposing a Federal income tax and a Federal land tax?
– There is no income tax in Western Australia.
– New South Wales is re-, mitring her land tax.
– I said at the commencement of my speech that I welcome the candour of the members of the Labour Party in regard to their desire for direct taxation; but I wish to show other honorable members how imminent this question is, and how essential it is that in connexion with the Tariff there should be placed before us what financial ideas there are in the minds of Ministers, if they have any. When, a few weeks ago, I protested as strongly as I could against the haphazard method of finance under which, by means of a Bounties Bill, it was proposed to hypothecate £500,000 of revenue without any statement as to the financial intentions of the. Government, I was asked, “ Do you mean to say that you think so little of Australia that you consider her unable to stand the expense of this system of bounties?” Was I not entitled to know, when those proposals were made, whether the Government has a financial policy? Andought we not to know it now, before dealing with the Tariff? If Ministers have no policy, is it not better to honestly and candidly announce that fact, and to honestly admit that we are entering into the discussion of the Tariff blindfold, as we entered into the bounty discussion?
– The honorable member should have opposed the last Supply Bill.
– I cry peccavi. I should have done so, and so should every other honorable member.
– I tried to do so.
– The honorable member was right and I was wrong. The more I have gone into this question the more am I convinced that that should have been done. It is admitted that the Supply Act sanctions the payment of the automatic Public -Service increments, which the law says are not to be paid without parliamentary consideration. I thought at the time the Bill was introduced that the course which has always been pursued in my parliamentary experience was being followed, and that Parliament was merely . being asked to sanction payments of absolute necessity, no question of. policy being in volyed. It appears now that the incre mentsto which I have referred will be paid before Parliament will have an Opportunity to exercise its discretion in regard to them.
– The Treasurer predecessor refused to pay them.
– Sir George Turner always paid them.
– Surely wages should bepaid.
– Wages should be- , paid, but increases which an Act says shall depend on the volition of Parliament should not be paid until Parliament has signified that volition.
– The Act practically determines that the increments shall be paid if the Commissioner recommends them.
– The Act practically determines only what it legally determines.
– The provisions of the Act are such that we cannot avoid these payments.
– What is required is a rigid scrutiny of the finances and expenditure of every Department of the Commonwealth Service. I have never agreed’ with; but have often disputed, the criticismsof those who have accused the Federal Government of extravagance, . because I have never seen positive evidence of extravagancein any particular direction. But I do not think that the fact’ that the Commonwealth has returned to the States more than it has been obliged to return, showing that there isan unexpended residuum, proves that it hasbeen economical, any more than the fact that a man is found in possession of a bottle in the bottom of which remain a few drops of whisky proves that he has beer temperate. The Federation has sailed1 along very quietly”, with no immediate control over its expenditure, and I should notbe surprised to find that a careful scrutiny of that expenditure, not merely on salaries, but also on contingencies, which amounttoa great deal in every Department, would show opportunities for retrenchment. Whenone endeavours to compare the figures set forth in different parts of the Budget statement, the amounts differ slightly, which israther confusing, but, broadly speaking, those relating to the Post Office for the last four or five years show that, if the expenditure is deducted from the gross returns, a substantial profit is left.
– As presented in the accounts?
– Yes. That is precisely the point to which I am coming; Why is there left out of this account one very large portionof the expenditure on behalf of the Post Office- I mean the building of post offices - the new works for the service?
– They arebuilt under contract by private persons.
– Still they have to be paid for. I find that this year there are £434,000 worth of new works to be undertaken for the Post Office. If the policy of paying for them out of revenue is right, why are they not brought into the debit side of the Post Office account? Can we form a fair estimate of what that account is unless they are placed there? If honorable members take the trouble to adopt the same principle with regard to other years, they will find that, until 1905-6, instead of a profit there has been a heavy annual loss. Here is an interesting point in connexion with the expenditure for the present year. In 1905-6 - if we add the amount expended upon new works to the expenditure by the Department for the year, we shall find that for the first time it yielded the small profit of £40,000.
– Without allowing for depreciation.
– Exactly. Next year the Department returned a considerable profit, namely, £165,000.
An Honorable Member. - It was a bookkeeping profit.
– Of course, I am taking into consideration the expenditure upon new works. But when we come to the current year we find that there is an absolute loss of £109,000.
– That is if we in clude the cost of new buildings.
– Of course. I expected the Treasurer to say if we adopted penny postage. The fact to which I have referred seems to indicate that the amount of £434,000 is quite beyond the sum which we are justified in expending as . part of the legitimate Post Office account. There is another rather remarkable circumstance in connexion with Post Office expenditure which I think deserves the attention of honorable members. We are all agreed that the Post Office is a mercantile Department, and ought to be conducted upon business principles. It is not intended that it shall produce a very large profit, neither is it contemplated that it shall show a loss. But it ought to pay its way.
– But the new buildings of which the honorable member speaks will last for years.
– I am dismissing new works from consideration for the moment. If we take the account, as it is stated in the Budget papers, we shall find that ever since 1901-2 there has been an increase in the revenue, and also in the expenditure. In each of the four years which have since elapsed, the increase of revenue in the Department has exceeded the increase of expenditure. That is as it should be.
– Is not that good business?
– Yes. It represents healthy progress on the part of the Department. Comparing. 1902-3 with 1903-4, the figures show that the new revenue exceeded the new expenditure by £30,000, the next year by £64,000, the following year by £122,000, and the next year by £253,000. This year we find that it has gone right back, and that there is a deficiency of £4,000. I am assuming, of course, that we do not pass the Bill relating to penny postage. If we take the revenue which it is estimated will be derived by the Department, assuming that penny postage be adopted, it will be £121,000 to the bad. That is to say, the new expenditure during the current year will exceed the new revenue for the year by £121,000.
– Has the honorable member allowed for interest upon capital, during any of thoseyears?
– No. That is another very important factor, of which no note has been taken. If the Department be managed on commercial principles, that consideration ought certainly . to be taken into account. . Upon the other hand - as has been pointed out by the honorable member for Hindmarsh-we have to remember that a good many of the buildings purchased out of. the revenue are of a more or less permanent character. But when we pursue a policy of extendingyear after year the operations of our Post Office, we cannot give that principle free play.
– Some buildings are regarded asproperly charged to loan account because they are permanent assets, sometimes enjoying an increment.
– Provided that the repairs to them are paid out of revenue: I do not propose to occupy the time of the Committee at greater length. But before I conclude, I should like to direct attention for a few moments to aquestion which I regard as of great- importance.I would point out that this Parliament established a Public Service under an Act which makes extremely liberal provision for those who are employed in it. So far as the clerical division of the service is concerned, the Act provides that when a boy enters the service he shall receive from £40 to £60 for the first vear, and that subsequently he mav obtain increases. In fact, ne is supposed to get an increase of £20 per annum until he reaches a salary of £160, provided that Parliament in its wisdom finds that the payment of these increases is consistent with the economical management of public affairs.
– The only proviso is that the Public Service Commissioner must certify that. the officer has done his work well.
– That is a condition precedent to the payment of the increment. But the Public Service Act expressly provides that these increments shall not be paid until Parliament approves of them. I must insist strongly that that is what is intended, and that the adoption of any other policy would have been simply madness. To have conferred a right to these increments upon public servants - we have seen the results of doing that in some of the States - altogether apart from the consideration of whether the finances of the Commonwealth would permit of such increases being granted, would have been absolute moonlight madness. Take the case of a boy of similar age who enters a merchant’s office or a bank. He does riot get annual automatic increases. He has usually to show the stuff of which he is made, and it is only then that he obtains an increase. Is the Commonwealth. I ask, to set up a service which will provide infinitely higher remuneration than that which an intelligent youth can get in competition with others of his kind?
– Because private employers may sweat boys, does the honorable member say that the Commonwealth should follow their example?
– I am not discussing the question of sweating just now. An intelligent youth who is afforded a chance of acquiring business knowledge does very well if he gets an Increase in salary when he has shown himself to be energetic.
– He will probably receive 7s. 6d. a week at the beginning.
– No doubt the honorable member would like to see every lad of fifteen years of age start with .£100 a year. But I am now talking of practice politics. We must view this financial question from the stand-point of -ordinary common sense. . Let us regard it in that light. When Parliament made this very favorable provision for lads entering the Public Service - when it provided that they should receive from £40 to £60 during, the ‘ first year of their employment, “ and that thereafter they should be granted large increments if the state of the finances permitted their payment - it reserved to itself the discretion which it is bound to exercise, of determining whether those increments are warranted by the condition of the finances. But those increments have been paid automatically. Parliament has never exercised its discretion. Thev have been included in Supply Bills, even by such a careful Treasurer as Sir George Turner, who is a gentleman for whom I entertain the highest respect.
– I think that he entertained the view that whether for good or for ill Parliament had practically contracted to pay these increments.
– If he took that view, his action is not open to criticism, although I should have disagreed with him. But we are approaching the time when we shall have to exercise the most rigid scrutiny over the expenditure of every Department. I do not ask honorable members to be unjust to any person in the employ of the Commonwealth. But if we are to have money to undertake the great works which lie before us, if we as a Parliament are not to be financially impotent, it is necessary for us to take this matter in hand and to put the position right as soon as possible. Only the other day I had a return prepared by the Secretary of the Treasury, setting out the extent to which the annual expenditure of the Commonwealth has been increased by these so-called automatic increments. Of course, I am not referring to expenditure caused by promotions.’ When a boy or a man is promoted to a: higher position, of course, he naturally receives higher pay. ‘ But I find that from 1902-3 up to and including the present year, the amount of these annual automatic increments - which have been paid to officers doing the same work during the last six years- is £249,887. That is the total of the annual increases which we have paid tr> the same boys and youths for doing the same work that they did six years ago.
– But they are six years older.
– Of course they are.
– Has the honorable member considered the increments to which they would have been entitled under the States?
– I am speaking of the increments actually granted to these officers.
– To which they were entitled under the States?
– The honorable member is referring to post-office employes of Victoria and other States who were transferred to the Commonwealth and who had rights under States’ laws. Those officers, I do not think, would account for 10 per cent, of the increments which have been paid. I do not for a. moment dispute that, if the State or another employer chooses to take into its service boys who are growing up to manhood’s estate, when they reach twenty or twenty-one years of age thev must be granted more pay. than they received at sixteen or seventeen years of age.
– In 1901 there were only certain services transferred to the Commonwealth, but since then other services have been transferred. Has the honorable member allowed for that?
– I asked for a return of the increments which have been granted, and I- received the paper which I hold in my hand. I do not for a moment dispute that there must be a considerable increase in the salaries of officers, but what I venture to say is that these figures disclose that if we were to exercise the same honest scrutiny of our financial administration as an ordinary company would exercise on behalf of its shareholders - in the way of seeing that its work was fairly done, its employes fairly paid, and that there was no lack of economy - we should find that the sum I have mentioned is a great deal more than is necessary to fairly increase the remuneration of these officers.
– I do not think that that statement quite completes the view of the matter. Hundreds of these men cannot hope to obtain further increases for many years.
– Further increases of what?
– Beyond their limit of £160 per annum.
– I quite agree with that. Tt is when they reach their limit that the hardship occurs, because many of the men are married. It is in their case that much greater hardship occurs than in connexion with youths whose increments in many cases might be postponed for a time. I have not had time to look into the figures, but I believe that it might be found that a large number of these increments, more especially in the case of youths, might well be postponed if the necessities of the case demanded it.
– That is a mere general statement.
– Does the honorable member expect me now to go into the whole question of salaries?
– The honorable member should not have mentioned it unless he were prepared to deal in detail with it.
– Can the honorable member tell us how many employe’s there were in 1901, and how many there are at the present time?
– I have before me a return which I am prepared to hand over to the honorable member. I asked for it some days ago, but for reasons to which I need not refer, I was unable to secure it until late this afternoon, and have not had an opportunity to examine it in detail.
– The honorable, member does not appear to have made any allowance for the number of employes now in the Service, as compared with the number in the Service in 1901.
– The honorable member will have the fullest opportunity to criticise my remarks. I do not wish to unduly occupy the time of the Committee. I shall ask Hansard to publish the return, which is as follows -
The comparison between the amounts provided for 1007-8 and 1006-7 ‘s shewn in the attached statement. - Similar statements appear in former Budget papers.
Secretary to the Treasury. 28th August, 1907.
I apologize to honorable members for having occupied their time to such an extent in dealing with matters which appeared to me to be very important, although they are necessarily of a very dry character. The moral of my somewhat long and uninterrupted sum of the finances is that as a Parliament charged with the trust of expending the people’s money, we have before us an extremely difficult problem which, as the honorable member for Kooyong has said, is already knocking at our door, and clamouring for settlement. It is our duty to deal with that problem as soon as possible. The figures I have endeavoured to place before honorable members to-night are sufficient to show that if we proceed much furtherif we proceed to deal with the items in the Tariff - without having somethingformulated in the shape of a financial policy for our future settlement, without having some daylight thrown on the great problem which lies before us, weshall be abdicating one of the main and most important duties which rest upon us as a representative assembly.
.- I have listened carefully to the address just concluded by the honorable member for Flinders, and I must say that, having regard to the difficult circumstances under which he necessarily approaches the consideration of the Tariff, he has made the most of his opportunities. He did not occupy much time in discussing the Tariff, and while I sympathize with him to a certain extent in regard to the difficulty which he said he experienced in dealing in the one speech with two great questions, I venture to say, that he had another reason for desiring to dispose of that question in as few words as possible. As a member of the State Parliament, he made speeches which, of course, found their way into Hansard, and although I am not usually in favour of referring to what may be termed ancient history, I think that since the honorable member alluded to the
Victorian Tariff of1895–
– And quoted remarks made in connexion with it by the present Prime Minister.
– Quite so. Inthe cir cumstances, I think I am entitled to show that during the consideration of that Tariff the honorable member delivered one of the most violent free-trade speeches uttered in connexion with it. He made a very lengthy and forcible speech in favour of free-tradeonthatoccasion
– If the honorable member will omit the word “ forcible,” by the use of which he flatters me, I will admit the correctness of his statement.
– Although I credit the honorable member with having delivered a forcible speech on the occasion in question, I do not credit him with having displayed a great deal of wisdom in connexion with it. I propose to support my assertion by showing that since then the honorable member has somersaulted from one side of the fiscal issue to the other, if not back again to his original position. He was then a freetrader and a land-taxer. He now says he favours effective protection. For the information of the Committee, I propose to read a motion submitted to the Victorian Legislative Assembly on 12th June, 1895, by a Mr. Rogers who, as an amendment to a motion for the adoption of the Tariff resolutions submitted by the Government then in office, moved that -
– That is not necessarily inconsistent with what the honorable member for Flinders has said to-night. He objected to-night to what is called doublebanking the land tax.
– The honorable member for Flinders has explained his position in a speech extending over one and a half hours, and since he is still in the Chamber, the honorable member for Parkes may well allow him to correct me if I wrongly attribute any statement to him.
– Even if the honorable member for Flinders did take up that attitude, does that fact alter the position in regard to the Tariff?
– That is another matter. I am simply pointing out that in 1895 the honorable member for Flinders was a free-trader and a land-taxer. The division on the motion to which I have referred took place on 27th June, 1895, and the honorable member for Flinders was one of the unlucky thirteen who voted for it. The honorable member for Ballarat - the present Prime Minister - whom the honorable member has endeavoured to show was in opposition to a Tariff which was supposed at the time to be prohibitive voted against him, and with the protectionists in the Victorian Legislative As sembly. The honorable member for
Flinders, in the course of a lengthy address on the occasion in question, stated that protection was not going to assist the farmer, and that it would injure the primary industries. .
– Right every time.
– He said that protection was going to bring rings into existence in Victoria.
– Will the honorable member-
– The honorable member for Robertson might well restrain himself. . When the honorable member for Flinders was speaking, he was in such a state of mind that he occasionally cried “ Hush,” and one was inclined to believe from his attitude that a schoolmaster was delivering an address, and that the honorable member was “one of the small boys prepared to drink in every word that he uttered. In these circumstances, therefore, I think that he might well allow me to proceed without interruption. In 1895 the honorable member for Flinders was particularly anxious to show how unjust the Victorian Tariff would be in its operation to the farmer, and he pointed out that six rings had already been brought into existence in Melbourne as the result of the protective Tariff then in existence for a few days. Little more than eleven years have since elapsed, and in the meantime the honorable member, according to his public addresses, has changed his view.
– If it will do the honorable member any good, I will admit that I have.
– I think that the electors are justified in taking these admissions on the part of the honorable member with a large grain of salt.
– I am responsible to my constituents.
– We all are responsible to our constituents, but we are responsible in a still larger degree to the people of Australia generally. If we notice some apparent inconsistencies on the part of honorable members, it is not unreasonable that we should point them out. Prior to the last general election, the honorable member for Flinders said that he was a protectionist, and, if I remember rightly, he fought the election as a protectionist. I believe that, had it not been for his desertion of freetrade for protection, he might not have secured a seat in this House.
– What is the” inference?
– The inference is that the exigencies of electioneering in Victoria: had something to do with the honorablemember’s reform.
– Had the honorable member followed my speeches, as he says he did, he would have known that twoyears before the last general election I stated publicly that I was in favour of preferential trade and moderate protection.
– Of course, no man whocontemplates becoming a candidate for Parliament waits until the day before the election to prepare the way to his return. We usually- begin some time in advance to prepare our course of action. The honorable member may have consistently and conscientiously changed his fiscal belief - if it be possible to be consistent in such a reversal - but, although he has fought and won an election as a protectionist, I am prepared to say, on the strength of his speech to-night, that he seems to be as good a free-trader as any honorable member on the front Opposition bench. That speech had not the true ring of an utterance by a man who has fought and won a seat on the question of protection. However, I shall not deal further with the question, because, after all, it is one which the honorable member will have to settle finally with his constituents, and he has a perfect right and considerable latitude in saying what he believes to be effective protection. The honorable member for Flinders also referred to the Public Service. The honorable member has had an unique experience in connexion with the Public Service of Victoria, which, although it may stand as a lasting monument to his capacity or incapacity and resource, does not immortalize him as the author of a great deed in the interests of his country. The Act, which was passed by the Parliament of Victoria at the instance of the honorable member, may have served its purpose at the time in disfranchising a section of the people, and placing them in a position which is not possible under the Australian electoral law ; but the fate which befell it, after he left the Ministry,- cannot be a source of pride to him.
– The Act was riot repealed so long as I was there.
– No ; but in my opinion, it would have been repealed even if the honorable member had remained in the Victorian Parliament. It would appear that’ the opinion which he then formed of the Public Service has in no way been altered. It seems to be his bete noire. I am as anxious as any one to guard the rights of Parliament in regard to expenditure; but I do not think that any serious harm has been done by the payment, as thev become due, of the automatic increases to the lower-paid officers of the Public Service, without waiting until the Estimates have been approved. I cannot see why Federal servants, whose services have been certified to by the Public Service Commissioner as deserving of some recognition, should not be paid the money to which they are entitled as it becomes due. Surely it cannot be regarded as a heinous offence for the Treasurer to pay these increases on a Supply Bill, rather than ask the public servants to wait until the end of the year. It has been the custom to pay those increases for a number of years in the way in which they are now paid, and, especially in the case of those whose remuneration is small, a mere living wage, every consideration should be ‘shown. As to the Budget, I share with some honorable members a certain amount of anxiety as to the realization of the estimated revenue. Australia, in the eastern States, at all events, is enjoying a period of exceptional prosperity. We have had a number of what I may call abnormally good seasons ; and, as a result, we have realized a revenue much in excess of our most sanguine expectations twelve months ago. Yet, in face of the fact that we are entering upon a financial policy which may involve some loss, the Treasurer estimates an increase of £912,000. That, in my opinion, is altogether too sanguine an estimate ; or, if it be not too sanguine, then the Tariff will have failed to realize the expectations of its framers, and will have proved to be a revenue instead of a protectionist Tariff. I am not prepared to vote for protection which does not protect; and I shall be no party to imposing duties on the necessaries of life and industry in order to swell the revenue. Amongst the items of expenditure is £573,000 to be paid in bonuses on white-grown sugar. That is a large item which considerably increases the expenditure of the Commonwealth; and I may say that on this question I occupy the same position as I did when I first entered Parliament. I am pleased that the purification of Queensland from the kanakas has been carried out with not half the trouble and difficulty anticipated by the opponents of the White Australia legislation. I hope to see such conditions prevail that this industry may be retained for Queensland and Australia in . all its present prosperity ; but I view with apprehension the effect on the finances of the Commonwealth. The greater part of the Excise paid on white-grown sugar goes into the coffers of the States, while the whole of the bounty paid in order to realize the Excise is debited to Federal expenditure. This, of course, plays ha.voc with Commonwealth finances ; and I hope it may be possible in the near future to devise some scheme whereby the industry may be retained without- the prejudicial effect I have indicated. Another phase which will have to be considered in the near future is the cost of the industry in re-“ lat;-.i to its value to the people of Aus tria. We are told that the total produc– tion of sugar this year will be about equal to the home consumption ; and the duty of £6 per ton is sufficient to allow tlie Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which, unfortunately, has a monopoly, to impose such terms as to just undersell the importer. The whole of the increased price paid by the people of Australia - or, at any rate, a considerable amount of it - is pocketed bv the company, and, in my opinion, the Australian people pay altogether too much for the sugar they consume. We are, roughly speaking, taxed to the amount of about £1,060,000 annually in order to secure protection for the sugar industry ; and as the total value of the industry is well under £3,000,000, there ought to be most searching investigation before the present conditions are renewed. It should not be beyond the capacity of this Government and Parliament to suggest a scheme more favorable to the general community, and yet one which would continue to carry out the great policy we had in view when the present conditions were introduced, and keep the industry in a flourishing condition. The estimated expenditure on defence is considerable, amounting to something over £1,250,000. During the next few years an earnest endeavour should be made throughout the length and breadth of Australia to insure that our young people are given a little drill, and taught to shoot straight. I know that I am encroaching on the ground covered by the motion of the honorable member for West Sydney ; but I desire to say that I disagree with that proposal, not as to its principle, but as to the age at which it is proposed to apply it.
– Order !
– I know that I am on delicate ground in referring to a motion on the business-paper, but I merely wish to say that if the honorable member for West Sydney’ will make his scheme apply to our youths instead of to the adults of Australia, it will have my hearty support. If, later on, it is found that we cannot obtain an efficient Defence Force merely by the compulsory training of our youths, I shall be ready to vote for the extension of the system to adults. The Minister of Defence is thoroughly seized of the necessity of encouraging rifle clubs and cadet corps, and in encouraging them is taking the most effective means of providing for our future welfare and safety. I am almost in accord with the criticism of the honorable member for Swan as to the need for establishing in Australia a factory ‘for the making of small arms and cordite. It is time that Parliament was asked to definitely say whether such a factory shall be established, and, if so, where it shall be placed.
– A sum to provide for its establishment appears on the Estimates this year for the first time.
– Yes; and I think that, in view of the large expenditure proposed for Defence, the Minister should have informed us of the intentions of the Government in regard to this and other matters. The situation of the proposed factory is one largely for experts conversant with the strategical questions involved ; but its establishment should not be longer delayed. I notice, too, that the Estimates provide £200,000 for the annual contribution under the Naval Agreement. In my humble judgment, the Ministry occupies a remarkable position in regard to this matter. The Prime Minister in London, a few months ago, made a speech which, I think, can only be interpreted as a notice to the Admiralty that the contribution is to be discontinued.
– He could not say that, because it is provided for by an Act of Parliament.
– The agreement is for ten years.
– Those who read the speech to which I refer must feel that the honorable gentleman had in his mind the intention of presenting to this Parliament at an early date a Bill for the termination of the agreement. We are all sorry for the cause which has since necessitated his absence from the Chamber. But it is strange that the Acting Prime Minister has had nothing to say on this subject. Of course, neither he nor the other Ministers are responsible for the opinions expressed by the Prime Minister; but it is unfortunate that there has been no statement of policy in regard to the matter. I do not hesitate to say that I think with the Prime Minister that the agreement should be terminated. One of the fundamental conditions of that agreement is that the Australian Squadron may at any time, if the Admiralty so desires, be withdrawn from these waters without the consent of, or even consultation with, Australia or New Zealand, the other two partners to the agreement. Thus, it might happen that at the time of her most urgent need, Australia would be bereft of her defence.
– Does not Australia pay very little for the protection afforded by the British Fleet?
– That is another matter. If we depend for our defence upon the British Navy, we should pay a fair proportion of the cost ; but, in my opinion, Australia should take steps to protect itself.
– We must have a larger population before we can do that.
– No doubt, population is one of our greatest needs from the defence point of view, and, in my opinion, those who sit on the Opposition corner benches are, by their Conservative policy, doing more- -perhaps unintentionally - than any other party to discourage immigration. But that is beside the question. WhileI say that Australia should pay a fair proportion of the cost of her defence if she relies upon the British Navy, I should like to add that the child must not always be dependent for safety and support upon its mother. Having become an adult, it should share her responsibilities.Similarly Australia should prepare to assist the mother country in case of further need by providing for her own effective defence. But I repudiate any suggestion that those who advocate the construction of an Australian Navy are not as loyal members of the Empire as are those who favour the continuance of the Naval Agreement.
– A majority has al ready indorsed the present policy. The honorable member is in the minority.
– I disagree with what the majority has done, and being in a minority I comfort myself with the reflection that I have seen minorities grow into majorities. I hope that the Australian people will accept their responsibility in regard to defence, and be prepared to put their hands in their pockets in order to meet their share of the financial responsibility. If the honorable member for Grampians knew the history of the Naval Agreement, he would be aware that it was a question that was not submitted to the constituencies. There should have been a referendum on the question, according to the dictum of my honorable friend quite recently. It was a proposal agreed to by the first Prime Minister at the previous Imperial Conference. If I remember rightly, it was in a very shaky state during its passage through this House, on the motion for its ratification. The Opposition had to come to the assistance of the then Government in order to carry it through.
Mr. EWING laid upon the table the following papers : -
Defence Acts- Provisional Regulations - Military Cadet Corps - Substituted Regulations - Nos. 2, 12, and 18 - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 85.
Military Forces - Additional Regulation - No. 122A - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 85.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) pro posed -
That the House do now adiourn.
.- On Friday mention was made of a matter in which General Gordon was alleged to have been unjust to a certain man under bis control. The Minister of Defence made a proposal that the question should be submitted to a
Committee of three members of this House. I desire to notify the Acting Prime Minister, in the absence of the Minister of Defence, that the honorable member for Riverina, the honorable member for Batman, and the honorable member for Macquarie have agreed to act as a Committee. I should like the Minister of Defence to be kind enough to direct one of his officers to have the papers available at the House to-morrow morning.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.43p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070828_reps_3_38/>.