3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m.. and read prayers.
– By: way of personal explanation, I wish to again draw attention to a matter to which I referred on Friday last - the fact that the reports of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission are being continually spoken of as the reports of the Commission. This is being done, not only by a section of the press, but by Ministers and other mem- bers. The Acting Prime Minister, in a letter to his constituents, which is published in this morning’s Age, speaks of the duty on wire netting as being in accordance with the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, when, as a matter of fact, it is in accordance only with the recommendation of the protectionist section of that body. Furthermore, the misrepresentation is being repeated in Hansard, which, as honorable membersknow, is sent all over Australia, and will be quoted in the future as authoritative. I find that the honorable member for Bendigo, when speaking in the Budget debate the other evening, continually referred to the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Commission as the proposals of the Commission itself.
– Were they not the recommendations of the majority?
– No. Four free-traders and four protectionists constituted the Commission, and the recommendations referred to by the honorable member for Bendigo were the recommendations of half the members of the Commission, not of a majority, or of the Commission as a whole. He is reported in Hansard, at page 2161, to have said: -
Any industrious student, on searching the reports of the Commission, and comparing the recommendations of the Commission with the actual propositions of the Tariff, may, occasionally, sec a striking similarity ; and for those portions of the Tariffwhere the similarity ceases I am not prepared to express any very great admiration. However, I shall touch on that point presently. Meanwhile, it would be only doing justice to the Commission to rapidly enumerate some of the principal recommendations.
His manner of doing justice to the Commission was to enumerate a certain number of recommendations made by the protectionist section of it, and to ignore the re- commendations of the free-trade section. Furthermore, he embodied in his speech a tabulated list of items in regard to which were set out in separate columns the former rates of duty, what he calls the “ Commission’s proposals,” and the maximum rates proposed by the Government. The rates set forth as the “Commission’s proposals “ are not-the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, but those of its protectionist section.
– Was not that the more important section ? There were two Labour members on it.
– A very distinguished Labour representative, the honorable member for Perth, was one of the free-traders on the Commission. These statements having been published in Hansard, it is time to take serious notice of the matter, and I trust that now that it has again been referred to, sufficient publicity will be given to my remarks to enable the people of Australia to know that the recommendations which have been spoken of as those of the Tariff Commission have emanated from only a section of it.
– I am glad that the honorable member has mentioned this matter, because I do not desire that there shall be any misapprehension in regard to the reports of the Commission. I intended to convey, by the tabulated statement which I read last week, that the rates of duty set forth in the column headed “ Commission’s proposals,” were the rates recommended by the section of the Commission to which I had the honour to belong, and whose reports I signed. It was my intention to explain that, and I am very sorry if I omitted to do so. If the honorable member desires, I shall try to have a correction made in the Hansard report which will make my meaning clear. I should like to explain, however, that in regard to the reports and communications relating to Tariff matters we have endeavoured as far as possible to avoid party designations.
– By doing so in this case, the honorable member has committed an injustice.
– I did not intend to convey the impression that the recommendations to which I referred were other than those of the. protectionist section of the Commission. I merely cited therecommendations which the protectionist members of the Commission had made, and compared them with the proposals of the Government . I said nothing about the free-trade recommendations.
– With regard to my letter to which the honorable member has referred, I wish to say that I regard the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Commission as the main recemmendations, because they are signed by its Chairman.
– That should give them no additional weight.
– I always thought that the Chairman could exercise a casting vote.
– He had no casting vote. The free-trade members of the Commission would have refused to sit with him had he had that privilege.
– I referred to the protectionist report, because, on considering the free-trade report, I found that it did not carry out what I regard as the intentions of the Commission. If the recommendations of the free-traders were adopted, the Tariff would bring in £1, 000,000 less revenue.
– By way of personal explanation, I should like to say a word as a member of the Tariff Commission. If the members of the Government will take the trouble to read our Commission from His Excellency the Governor-General they will find that the Chairman of the Commission had no status over and above that of any ordinary member in reference to the signing of the various reports. No doubt the Chairman had a casting vote in the ordinary business affairs of the Commission ; but the fact that he attaches his name to some of the reports gives those reports no more significance than attaches to those over the signatures of an equal number of other members of the Commission.
– I wish to know if the Acting Prime Minister can afford the House any information as to the health of the Prime Minister. I should be glad to know whether the fact that the Prime Minister has constituted himself a Commission of one to inquire into the white labour conditions of Queensland is to be regarded as a welcome sign of returning health, or as a symptom of restlessness characteristic of the nervous breakdown from which he is suffering.
– I shall not answer that question. It is a disgraceful one to ask.
Duties on Kerosene, Milk, Timber, and Chairs - Seizure of Wire Netting - Charges for Liquor on Mail Steamers - Smuggling of Opium.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs to the sworn statement made by a working woman in Court yesterday that, since the Tariff has been imposed, she has had to pay from 3d. to 4d. more per week for the kerosene which she uses.
– It is a common experience.
– It is the natural effect of the Tariff. Consumers always have to pay more when duties are raised.
– Prices are always raised. That always will be done.
– Unfortunately, it is a common experience, but, as the honorable member for Corio was good enough to give me notice of his intention to ask this question, I have been able to obtain from my officers the following particulars : -
– Does the Minister expect the House to assume that the holders of stocks cleared prior to the introduction of the new Tariff have not raised their prices in consequence of its introduction ?
– The statement I have read shows that there is in the Commonwealth a supply of kerosene, sufficient for nearly eighteen months, upon which no duty has been paid, and, consequently, there is no good reason for increasing the price to retailers. As the honorable member knows, kerosene can be imported in bulk free of duty.
– I wish to know from the Acting Prime Minister, if the following statement in to-day’s Argus is true. In reference to the recent seizure of wire netting in Sydney, it is stated that -
On its side the Commonwealth Government has not been idle. When the wire netting incident was discussed in the House of Representatives last week, Mr. W. H. Irvine, in an interjection, suggested to the Acting Prime Minister that action should be taken against the individuals who removed the goods from the charge of the Customs. This advice has been taken, and a writ has been issued by the Commonwealth against the carter who took the wire netting away from the wharf. The writ claims the penalties provided for such a breach of the law.
– It is hardly necessary for me to say that, before the interjection of the honorable member for
Flinders, the Government had decided what it would do. No advice was tendered, so far as .1 know, and therefore the statement which the honorable member has read is absolutely wrong.
– I wish to know, for the information of the House, and of the public - and, if necessary, I can show that I have good grounds for my inquiry - whether the officials of the Customs Department are aware that, not merely have the retailers of condensed milk, manufactured in Australia, increased their prices for that article since the imposition of the new Tariff, but that its local manufacturers have also done so-
– I shall be very glad to make inquiries on the subject, and shall inform the honorable member of the result of them ; but it is impossible to carry in one’s head all the information furnished to the Department.
– Was not .the Tariff designed to increase prices?
– No; to widen the market.
– And to reduce prices.
– With reference to the statement of the Minister of Trade and Customs that prices will not .be increased to the consumer under a protective Tariff, I desire to ask that gentleman is it not a fact that the cheapness of imported commodities is the main ground of complaint by local manufacturers, who urge that they cannot successfully compete in the manufacture of -goods, because the cost of producing similar articles locally is higher? And is not the Tariff, therefore, designed primarily to increase the price of imported goods in the interests of the local manufacturers ?
– Certainly not. Its object is to give our manufacturers the Australian market, so far as that is practicable ; not necessarily to increase prices. The history of Australia shows that the more our producers are protected, the cheaper commodities become.
– I have received communications from three different States to the effect that on chairs invoiced at is. 3d. a duty of 7s. 6d. is being charged. ‘ There is evidently some mistake here; and I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs if he intends to make any alteration in reference to this particular item, -so that importers may know exactly what to do.
– My attention has been directed to this matter. The duty of 7s. 6d. is a recommendation, perhaps not of the whole of the Tariff Commission, but certainly of that section represented by the Chairman.
– I think the recommendation was .intended to apply only to wicker work.
– However, it is a recommendation of the Commission, and the Government are giving the whole question consideration. The item will come up for discussion when the Tariff is being dealt with in detail.
– A considerable quantity of timber is used in the manufacture of butter boxes which are again exported; and, under the circumstances, I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he will allow a rebate on the dutv now imposed ?
– The honorable member was good enough to intimate to me that he would ask this question. I find, however, that the honorable member for Echuca has a question on the notice-paper relating to the same matter; and I shall later on answer both.
– I should like to ask the ‘Acting ‘Prime ‘Minister a question without notice, in reference to an erroneous statement made by officers of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company as to the excessive charges which are made for drinks on board their vessels on arriving at Fremantle. For instance, for a sixpenny bottle of beer a charge of is. is made, and when the officer was asked for an explanation, he said that the extra charge was caused by the Tariff. Will the Acting Prime Minister take steps to correct those’ false statements so that the protective policy of our country may not be wrongly accused ?
– When I was in London I saw Sir Thomas Sutherland, the chairman of the company, oh the subject, and I understood from him that the system of raising the prices in the way described would be altered. I think the prices were raised as a kind of retaliation, when the honorable member for Adelaide, as Minister of Trade and Customs, compelled oversea steamers to pay duty on all stores consumed whilst on the coast. That remark applies to both the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company and to the Orient Steam Navigation Company. The latter company, however, has long since given up the practice of making an extra charge; and I certainly had expected, in consequence of the representation of Sir Thomas Sutherland, that an end would have been put to it on the steamers of the other company.
– I will ask the Minister of Trade and Customs a question, without notice, as to the duty on magazines. Sympathetic and very reasonable consideration has been given by the Minister to the views expressed by importers of magazines ; and I should like to know whether he will ask leave to withdraw or to amend Item 352c, “ Printed matter except newspapers registered for transmission through the post “ by adding after the word “ post “ the words “ and magazines.” Such an amendment would be of great advantage to importers, who have to give their orders long in advance.
– As honorable members know, importers of magazines made representations to me; and, in consequence, I allowed them to remove certain advertisements in bond, with a view to the clearing of magazines so treated, and in order that they might be disposed of before they became what is called “ stale.” It was pointed out to me by those importers that there was no possibility of their passing the duty on to the purchaser; and no chance of returning the magazines, which are worse than perishable goods, seeing that they become of no value almost at once.
– The duty is continuous month by month?
– Yes. I made a promise to the effect that I would ask Parliament to post-date the application of the duty to those magazines to four months from the introduction of the Tariff, so that the importers might have an opportunity to make their arrangements accordingly. That promise will be loyally kept ; and I hope that the House will agree with the Government in the action that has been taken. I would like to point out, however, that the Government cannot remit duties; that is a matter for the House. It would be a very difficult, and, in fact, a very dangerous precedent, to pick out any one item and move an amendment in the way suggested. I hope we are all anxious to get the consideration of the Tariff completed as early aspossible, and, if the honorable member for Angas consults the Acting Prime Minister, he will probably be told, on behalf of the Government, that we are desirous of removing any anomalies.
– While expressing my sense of the fair consideration given by the Minister to the suggestion made, I ask him whether, inasmuch as the resolution relating to the Tariff has not been carried and is not in force, except by executive act, he will move in the direction I have mentioned.
– I should be very glad to consider any suggestion; but my recommendation is that we hurry to the consideration of the item, and so get rid of it.
– I direct the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs to the following telegram, which appeared in this morning’s Argus -
Sydney, Wednesday. - “ I have been instructed by the Minister of Customs to ask for the highest penalty possible in all cases of this description,” said Inspector Donohue, in a case before the Central Police Court to-day, in which Young Loong was charged with having 27 tins of opium in his possession.
Mr. Payten, stipendiary magistrate, replied that instructions of that kind could by no means be permitted to influence the Bench, and imposed a fine of£54, the alternative being three months’ imprisonment.
Did the Minister instruct Inspector Donohue in this particular instance; and, if so, is that a usual or unusual practice in cases of this nature?
– The honorable gentleman was good enough to give me notice of his intention to ask this question, and I have to say that it is quite usual to give instructions of the kind indicated. The suggestion as to influencing the magistrates is absurd. The Minister is in the position of prosecutor, and, of course, has the right to instruct the officer who conducts the case to press for the highest penalties wherever he thinks it right. That officer has the right to inform the Court what his instructions are, and the Court has the duty of determining the penalty after hearing argument. I may add that it is our intention to press for the heaviest penalties in such cases as that referred to. When Chinamen smuggle opium, we ought to take every measure to protect the public, although, as the Acting Prime Minister said the other day, we are not prepared to go so far as is done in China, and order decapitation.
– Is the Minister aware that there are certain regulations in force in the Straits Settlements by which Chinamen, indentured coolies, who have been convicted of two offences are repatriated, and that, when they arrive in China, they are thought so little of that they are decapitated? May I suggest that this course might be taken in regard to smugglers of opium ?
– If the honorable member will volunteer to accompany the repatriated Chinamen as escort. I shall consider the suggestion.
– On the 27th instant, when I was making my observations in regard to the Budget, I referred to the item of gloves which were imported to the value of £232,000 last year, and on which it is proposed by the Government to impose a duty of 30 per cent. ad valorem. I then used the words -
We do not make any of these gloves in Australia.
To that the Acting Prime Minister replied -
Yes, they are made in Melbourne.
I should like to ask the Acting Prime Minister, without notice, his authority for the statement that gloves of the description on which it is intended to impose a duty of 30 per cent., are made in Melbourne, and, if so, where theyare made in that city ?
– The honorable member had better give notice of. the question.
– The Acting Prime Minister made a definite statement; but I suppose he did not know anything about the matter.
– I shall show that I do know.
– The Fire Insurance
Bill, the second reading of which was moved the other day, has by error been put down as an Order of the Day for Thursday, the 5th September. Seeing that a mistake has been made, I ask that the Bill be made an Order of the Day for Thursday, the 12th September, the original date intended.
– The proper course to follow would be for the honorable member to wait until the 5th September, and then, as soon as the Order of the Day is called on, to ask that it be set down for a week later. If, however, the honorable member desires to ask the leave of the House to take the course he suggests now, it might be done, though it is unusual.
-I think that under the circumstances the alteration I suggest ought to be made now. If I allow the matter to stand over until the 5th September I may find the Bill superseded by other business.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the consideration of the Fire Insurance Bill be set down for the 1 2th September?
– Can the Acting Prime Minister give us any information as to when certain returns relating to the Northern Territory which were ordered on an unopposed motion are likely to be laid on the table ?
– It was necessary to obtain the information required in connexion with the preparation of the return from the Premier of South Australia, who was written to on the 18th July. A reminder was sent on the 21st August.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether the classification of any postmaster or postmistress at any South Australian office has been raised on account ofincreased business since the issue of the classification list of 1904; if any, which offices have been regraded ?
– In reply to the honorable member’s question, the Public Service Commissioner states. -
No alteration in the classification of postmasters or postmistresses in South Australia has been made in the direction indicated.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
His Majesty’s Imperial Government to confer the Albert medal on Mr. Hughes, the diver who recently rescued an Italian miner at Bonnie Vale, Western Australia?
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I have to state -
Acting Prime Minister, Sir John Forrest, by the honorable member for Coolgardie, who was assured it would receive favorable consideration. His Excellency the Governor of Western Australia recommended to the Governor-General that this was a case in which the Albert medal might be awarded. This recommendation was indorsed by the Governor-General, and submitted to the Secretary of State for the Colonies for the consideration of His Majesty the King.
Majesty has been graciously pleased to award the Albert medal of the second class to Mr. Hughes, in recognition of his gallant conduct ; and requested that the medal should be actually presented by cither the Governor-General or the Governor of Western Australia.
asked the ActingPrime
Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is “ No.”
– In asking the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to give effect to the recommendation of the Tariff Commission in respect to the duty upon timber used for butter-boxes, page 49,Report 37, and reading - “ Provided that upon the export of butter in boxes made out of dutiable timber a drawback be allowed on each box, equal to the original duty collected on the timber of which the box is composed,”
I desire to state that the report to which I refer is that submitted by the protectionist section of the Commission.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Yes. Instructions had already been given to permit export under drawback in cases where it can be incontestably proved that duty had been paid on the timber used. As large stocks were in. hand when the new duties came into operation, great care must be exercised, and rigid proof required, in this respect.
– I moveThat, in order to give the industrial classes the full benefit of the protective policy adopted by the people of the Commonwealth, this House is of opinion that industrial legislation throughout Australia should be of a uniform, character, and that, in order to secure such uniformity, the
State Governments should be asked by the Federal Government to introduce legislation which would give the Commonwealth Parliament the necessary power, as provided for by the Constitution, to enact such industrial legislation.
I offer no apology for submitting to the House what I believe is one of the most important questions which the Parliament has to consider at the present time. The leader of the Opposition, in the course of the Budget debate last week, said he was in favour of the policy of the “ new protection,” and the deputy leader of the Opposition stated that he would also be prepared to move in that direction. The leader of the Labour Party submitted an outline of a scheme by which he thought such a policy mightbe carried into effect, but the leader of the Opposition and his deputy refrained from suggesting the means by which, in their opinion, we should best be able to protect the workers. I venture to assert that the proposal I now make constitutes the only effective means of carrying out the object which I believe honorable members generally have in view.
– Is the honorable member aware that a similar motion was agreed to by this House during the life of the first Parliament?
– I am. I am also aware that a similar proposition was submitted two years ago by the present PostmasterGeneral, but I recognise that the situation has changed very considerably during the last few years. I have in this respect the honour to follow in the footsteps of Mr: Justice Higgins, who, as a member of this House, first submitted the question to it. On 28th June, 1901, in moving a similar motion, he said -
The only ground on which I think we ought to have this power is that in the Victorian Parliament they can only deal with Victorian conditions; that in the New South Wales Parliament they can only deal with New South Wales conditions, and that it is impossible, therefore, with a uniform Tariff all round, to do fair play to all the States unless through the Federal Parliament. . . . With free-trade between the States it will not work well to let one State have one set of laws regulating the wages, hours, and conditions of labour in that State, and to allow another State to have another set of laws dealing with those subjects within its boundaries.
That is obvious.
I propose now to quote the opinion expressed during that debate by the then Prime Minister, Mr. - now Mr. JusticeBarton, who said -
The grant of Inter-State free-trade, which follows the adoption of a uniform Tariff, is likely, in many respects, to be crippled, unless the Commonwealth has power to deal uniformly with the conditions of employment throughout Australia. The conditions of employment and the price of articles are inseparably interwoven, and those conditions and prices are also inseparable from the nature of the Tariff, whether it operates externally only, or externally and internally among the States. Matters of this kind are also so interlaced, one with another, that it seems to me that the authority which declares Inter-State free-trade might be wisely intrusted by the several States, with the power to make the grant of InterState free-trade effective in such a way as to place the citizens of the Commonwealth on an equality.
Sir William McMillan, who was then deputy leader cif the Opposition, also spoke to the motion, saying -
I hold generally that everything that affects the rights and liberties - especially the industrial life of the community - ought to be in the hands of the national Parliament. I have seen, since that Convention, certain attempts at legislation in some of the local Parliaments. I am not going to say whether that legislation is sound or not, but it certainly is of such a farreaching character with regard to the. liberties of the people in their industrial life - and, after all, Australia is an industrial community - that I do nol think those great subjects should be settled except by a national Parliament.
These were the opinions of three gentlemen who were members of the Federal Convention, and as such, assisted in framing the Constitution. They all agreed that it was necessary that the power to deal with, industrial legislation should be vested in the national Parliament, in order that effective uniform laws for the protection of the workers might be passed. We have now to consider what attitude the States Parliaments are likely to take up in regard to this proposition. An ex-Premier of Victoria, the late Mr. Duncan Gillies, asserted some years ago that factory legislation should be uniform throughout Australia, whilst an ex-Treasurer of this State, the late Mr. G. Downes Carter, gave expression to a similar opinion. I propose to quote from the Victorian Parliamentary Debates a short extract from a speech delivered by the honorable member for Grampians, Mr. Hans Irvine, who, as a member of the Legislative Council of Victoria, said, when the question of the re-enactment of the Victorian Shops and Factories Acts was being discussed in that Chamber in connexion with the Address-in-Reply -
I feel that there should be a conference between representatives of all the States, with a view to a mutual agreement to request the Commonwealth Government to pass a uniform Factories Act applying equally to all the States in the Union.
This view was supported by the honorable member for Balaclava, Mr. Wynne, who at that time was also a member of the Legislative Council, as well as by Mr. J. M. Pratt, and other members of that branch of the State Legislature.
– When was that?
– About five years ago.
– Did we not have under consideration at the time a question relating to wine casks?
– Yes. Since the honorable member has referred to that matter, I shall read another short extract from a speech made by him in regard to the cost of wine casks -
A cooper in Geelong wrote to him saying that he was buying casks at the present time ir» Adelaide, where he found he could get then* 3s. per hogshead cheaper landed in Geelong than he could buy them in Geelong.
The honorable member proceeded to make the following admission -
This was simply because there was no Wages Board in Adelaide for this trade. It was no pleasure for him to go’ outside the State, but at the time he ordered these casks, they were not obtainable, and he was surprised that with freight added these casks from Adelaide were landed for him 3s. or 3s. 6d. per hogshead cheaper than he could have got them in Geelong.
He went on to assert that in his opinion factory legislation should be of a uniform character. I have shown that at thistime many of the members of the Legislative Council of Victoria considered that the Federal Parliament should control factory legislation, and that therefore the State Legislature should refuse to agreeto the (re-enactment of the Victorian Shopsanc ‘ Factories Acts. If the motion which I have submitted be carried, those honorable gentlemen will have an opportunity of proving the sincerity of their professions. I wish now to point out someof the conditions of labour which existed in Victoria prior to the passing of factory laws by the Parliament of “this State. Some time after the passing of that legislation a Factory and Shops’ Commission was appointed to investigate its operation, and among- the witnesses examined by it was= a tailoress who gave evidence as to what had been its effect. She was examined asfollows -
Has it been beneficial to you? - It has to me. Before the Shops and Factories. Act came into force I used to have to work, very long hours - on an average from twelve to> sixteen hours - and at the end of the week my average wage was 12s. 6d. Some weeks it was. more - about 15s. - but, taking the average, it was about 12s. 6d. a week. I have two daughters tailoresses, one, “ before the Factories Act came in, was getting 12s. 6d. a week, and the other 12s. 6d., but just a few weeks before the Act came in, 15s. Since the Factories Act came in, the one at 12s. 66. has been getting £1 a week, and the other £1 2s. 6d. ; and, as for myself, if I got the work, I could earn £1 a week in the eight hours.
What was the position in Tasmania? Francis William Lord, a jam manufacturer in that State, gave evidence before the Commission, and, according to the report, was examined as follows as to the wages ruling in that State -
What is the lowest rate of pay? - Little children of twelve or thirteen will make 7s. to 8s. a week; the more advanced, the girls, 12s. to 14s., up to 16s. a week. The men run from 25s. to 30s. per week.
He was further asked -
Are you under any sanitary law?
He replied -
No. Of course there are the health officers of the metropolis; they are at liberty at any time to inspect our premises; but our sanitary arrangements are so well known to be good that the inspectors do not trouble us.
In giving evidence upon this matter of Tasmanian rates, on the 18th March, Mr. Murray Aiken, woollen manufacturer, said -
Under the Federal Government, all the States are under the same Tariff.
He was then asked -
How would a new Tariff affect you?
To that question he replied -
It ought to be higher. Fifteen per cent, is not enough. We were more comfortable under the 20 per cent, and we think that we should still have that.
These people evidently want to be 4,yer the benefit of higher duties whilst retaining liberty to sweat their employes. Mr. Bromley, M.L.A., put to the witness the following question -
As a business man, if there were a loss on your work you would have to make that up in some way?
His reply was -
You would have to sweat it out some road.
The same witness also stated that he regarded 14s. per week as a sufficient wage. I might quote further evidence of a similar character which was tendered to that Commission, but what I have cited will be sufficient to disclose the state of affairs which existed at that time. I now wish to refer to the evidence taken by the Tariff Commission. A large number of witnesses were subjected to a very searching examination by the members of that .body. The gentleman whose evidence I wish to quote first in connexion with this question is Mr. W. E. Harrington, the managing director of Walkers Limited, Maryborough, Queensland. He was examined as follows -
Do you suggest that the manufacturers in the other States are laying down mining plant here for less than cost price in order to compete against you ? - No, but they pay lower wages than we pay. There are non-union shops in Gawler and Castlemaine which pay lower wages than we pay.
I suppose that the Castlemaine establishment to which you refer is that of Messrs. Thompson and Co. ? - Yes.
Mr. Harrington declared that his firm were unable to successfully compete under existing conditions because the wages paid in South Australia and Victoria were lower than those paid in Queensland. At the present moment the foundry of Messrs. Thompson and Company, of Castlemaine, is in full swing, and it is employing a large number of workmen. The” unfortunate fact is that it enjoys unfair advantages by the payment of low wages. Foundries upon the south side of the Yarra have to pay 20 per cent, higher wages to their employes than do Messrs. Thompson and Company. The latter, whilst enjoying this additional protection of 20 per cent, are able to sweat their workmen. If such an anomalous condition of affairs can obtain within the borders of one State, surely this Parliament ought to say that, as a condition of protecting industries f rom the cheap labour of other parts of the world it must have liberty to prescribe the rate of wages which they shall pay. The evidence taken by the Tariff Commission in Western Australia followed upon the same lines. The manufacturers there complained of the unfair competition of Messrs. Thompson and Company’s foundry, and of certain foundries in South Australia. Surely these facts constitute a strong argument in favour of the Commonwealth securing control of industrial legislation. A similar remark is applicable to the timber industry of Queensland. In giving evidence before the Tariff Commission, on the 26th May, 1906, Mr. Daniel Lahey said that, . in his opinion, factory legislation should be of a uniform character. Mr. Robert Cockburn, a representative of the coach-building trade, in giving evidence at Perth, affirmed that we should have uniform factory legislation throughout Australia. As evidencing the need for this, I would point out that, in one trade to-day, Victoria is paying wages which are more than 100 per cent. in excess of those paid in Queensland.
Mr.Fisher. - Which trade is that?
– I have here a sample shirt, for the making of which girls in Queensland receive only 7s. 6d. per week. Manufacturers from the other States are sending this material to Queensland to be made up there.
– To what part of Queensland ?
– I am not concerned with the particular portion of Queensland in which this condition of affairs may obtain. I am only interested in Australia. When persons in Queensland who ask for more protection, sweat their female employes by paying them only 7s. 6d. per week, as against 16s. which is paid in Victoria for the same class of work-
– For howmuch protection do the people who pay 16s. a week to their employés ask?
– I do not know ; but in any case they pay more than double the Queensland rates and the factory books are open to the inspection of any honorable member who desires to see them, so that no difficulty need be experienced in ascertaining the actual wages which are being paid. How is it possible for Australia to progress if one section of the community can sweat their employés andyet receive an equal amount of protection with that afforded to another section which does not resort to that practice ? That fact, to my mind, constitutes one of the strongest arguments in favour of this Parliament controlling the industrial legislation of the Commonwealth. I wish now to read a brief extract from a speech which was delivered by the late Bishop of Melbourne, Dr. Goe. It reads -
What is sweating? The chief outward cause of sweating was unrestricted competition in trade, which compelled employers of labour to overwork their employes and pay them starvation wages in order to meet the demand of the public for cheap goods. To show how this cruel and selfish system worked in its full development the Bishop quoted instances of sweating in the East End of London, Leeds, Manchester and other centres of population in England. He pointed out that the characteristics of sweating were overcrowding, bad sanitation, excessive hours of toil and shamefully inadequate wages. It was hard to define sweating. The committee appointed by the House of Lords exacted 25 definitions from witnesses. Some might think that the Government alone could stamp it out by insisting that no work should be given out except at a fixed wage. But the difficulty might arise that this would be considered interference with the liberty of the subject. However, it was not inconsistent with the constitution of a free country to curtail the liberty of employers if they used their liberty to oppress their employes. No suggestion for dealing with this question was more worthy of consideration than that of the Chief Inspector of Factories in his last report. His proposal was that all wearing apparel should be made only in factories or workrooms registered under the act. Whether or not legislation could be effectual in putting a stop to the sweating evil he was sure that the church had a mission to deliver to the employers of labor and to the public at large. To the employers of labor she would say that the DivineMaster had announced the principle which ought to govern the payment of laborers when He said, “ The laborer is worthy of his hire.” He had also laid down the law which should govern the relations between man and man when He said, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” They should not say that a widow with a young family need not take work at starvation wages when they knew that the alternative before her was either to accept the miserable pittance or see her children cry out for bread. They should consider also that the sweated workers did not appeal for charity or mercy. All they asked for was justice and fair play.
In conclusion, he said -
What satisfaction could they (the employers) feel in their handsome dwellings, with their well-dressed families and their flourishing businesses if they knew that these things were gained by taking away the lives of the people.
He also referred to the sweating conditions which existed in Melbourne prior to the enactment of factory legislation.
– That was under a protective Tariff.
– Employers will sweat their workmen under protectionist, as well as under free-trade conditions.
– But they sweat them continuously under protection.
– To a large extent, workmen are more sweated under free-trade conditions than they are under protection.
– It was the sweated labour of Victoria which used to break up and terminate the strikes that occurred in New South Wales.
– It was the democracy of Victoria which saved Australia. I now wish to quote from the Age newspaper of 1 6th September, an article headed, “ Sweating in Melbourne. Five shillings for 98 hours’ work per week.” It has reference to the evidence collected by the Trades Hall, which instituted an inquiry into the question of sweating, and shows how unfair it is to any other State which pays decent wages. It reads thus -
Several soap and candle makers stated that the average wages for men in their trade was 30s. per week. Work started at 7.30 a.m., and finished at 5 p.m. A number of young men, tip to 25 years of age, received less than 30s., although some were married. The task system, by which a man had to do an appointed amount of work in order to earn the full wage, was said to be prevalent.
A starch maker said the average wage in his trade was 30s. per week for men, and 8s. to 9s. for women, although sometimes women on piecework made 16s. to 17s. One factory paid mcn 45s. for 48 hours, and another 25s. to 32s. 6d. for 54 hours, and this gave a big advantage to the latter. Mr. R. Solly, M.L.A., said that a married man with three children was getting 225. 6d. per week, and he had to work wet through all day.
In dealing with the starch trade, I propose to refer to the sworn testimony before a Judge. William Henry Rawlings, starchmaker, employed in Melbourne, said-
I started three years ago at 30s. per week of 54 ‘hours. I am now 32 years of age, and I receive 33s. per week. I was there two years before I could spread sheets as I can now. I am a married man, with three children, the eldest of whom is a girl nine years of age. .My weekly expenses are - Rent 7s., baker 3s. 6d., ment 3s. 6d., potatoes and vegetables is. 6d., -groceries 12s. 6d., and wood 2s. 6cl. , leaving 2s. per week for medical, attention,, boots, clothes, and school requisites. I have run considerably into debt for living expenses. If I were not in the militia I would have no money for clothes. The militia pay for full attendance is £6 8s. per year. I work two hours every Sunday morning, and receive is. 6d. extra.
I am not aware of better wages in other States, but if the Commonwealth had control of such a trade, is there any doubt but that better wages would prevail?
– Yet the honorable member is supporting a Tariff which will increase prices.
– I intend to secure more protection for the workers.
– According to the honorable member’s showing, the workers do not get the benefit of protective duties.
– If this Parliament had the power to pass industrial legislation, the workers would be properly protected. It would be made conditional to the protection.
– The sweating to which the honorable member refers exists in Victoria.
– For a number of years sweating of the worst type occurred in New South Wales ; but it is immaterial where it occurs, it being our duty to look after the interests of the people- all over the Commonwealth. Mr. Justice Hood, in summing up the evidence in the case to which I have alluded, said - “ The work of the women is monotonous, tiring, and poorly paid. With the married men I gather that better employment is scarce. It was stated that if these men left their employment their places could be filled ten times over. They have wives and young families to support. Their lives are hard and dull, and their prospects dismal.” The employers offered a new scale of wages, which Mr. Justice Hood directed should be adopted. Adult males are to be paid 36s. a week, adult females 22s. 6d. a week. These wages, the Judge stated, “ effected a considerable improvement in the conditions of the workers, by bringing them into line with the general rate of wages in these trades.”
Mr. Mitchell, a representative of the starch trade, stated, in a letter published in the
Age on the nth June last, that in his opinion this Parliament* should have the power to pass industrial legislation, and Mr. Dupre, the secretary to the Candle and Starch Union, has also stated that the regulation of wages and factory legislation generally should be controlled by this Parliament.
– What wages are paid in the candle trade?
– Very low wages. Mr. W. D. Beazley, the president of the Protectionist Association of Victoria, and a gentleman who has done as much for the workers as any man in Australia, speaking at Richmond on Monday last, is reported to have said -
What he desired most strongly to see the Federal Parliament do was to make factory legislation uniform, so- that all competition might be on equal terms. An effective Tariff with uniform legislation would, he thought, be an advantage to Australia.
Then, on the 12th August, the Victorian Protectionist Association passed this resolution -
That this meeting heartily supports the application of the principles of the “ new protection “ to all effectively protected industries, and earnestly appeals to the Government to devise some means for the protection of the worker, pending the taking over by the Federal Parliament of the full power of industrial legislation.
To bring my quotations right up to date, let me add that the Postmaster-General, speaking last night, made the following statement : -
It was also the determination of the Government to see that as far as possible not only the manufacturer, but the worker also, would be protected. It was a matter bristling with difficulties, because the national Parliament that fixed the Tariff and could protect the manufacturer, had not the power to protect the worker and the consumer. The same Parliament should have power to do both.
I have now briefly placed before the House the reasons which have actuated me in. moving this motion. . I have shown that three years ago the Prime Minister, the deputy leader of the Opposition, and Mr. Justice Higgins stated that in their opinion this Parliament should have power to deal with industrial legislation. I have referred to the state of things in Victoria prior to the passing of the factory legislation of the States, showing how bad it was, and I have quoted the statements of witnesses who, when before the Tariff Commission, said that, in their opinion, the industrial legislation of Australia should be uniform. I have mentioned further that the secretary of the Starchworkers’ Union, and the representative of the starch trade hold that opinion. What is my proposition? I have moved -
That, in order to give the industrial classes the full benefit of the protective policy adopted by the people of the Commonwealth …. this Parliament should be empowered to enact industrial legislation. There is no doubt, that if we have one uniform fiscal system, we must have, also, one economic area. Every honorable member must admit that the people of the Commonwealth have adopted the protectionist policy. I desire that the Ministry shall ask the State Governments to introduce legislation to give us this power, which’ I regard as absolutely necessary for the effective protection of the workers.
– Are they effectively protected in Victoria now ?
– We have done our best to protect them, but the Victorian state of affairs could be improved. This Parliament, which is elected, not’ by a section of, but by the whole people of Australia, can alone effectively deal with industrial legislation. The Parliament of Victoria is elected on a restricted basis. There is no female suffrage, and the members of the Council are elected oh a property qualification of £15, whereas every adult in the Commonwealth has a right to vote in the election of members to this Parliament. Surely a Parliament which is determined not to allow goods made by sweated labour in other parts of the. world to be imported into Australia is desirous of preventing the sweating of workmen by the manufacturers whom it protects. I submit the motion with every confidence that it will be carried.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Hume Cook) adjourned.
.- I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, no tender for the carriage of mails from the Commonwealth to countries beyond the seas should beaccepted in cases where such tenderer differentiates against members of any union.
My apology for troubling the House with this motion is that it involves an issue of considerable importance. I lately had an opportunity to inquire into certain matters connected with the employment of seamen in foreign-going ships,- and the information of which I became possessed seems to me of sufficient importance tobe laid before honorable members. Probably they are not aware that no man can obtain employment on a vessel carrying mails leaving the port of London - arid, for aught I know, other ports cf the United Kingdom - on a foreign-going voyage, unless he belongs to what is known as the Shipping Federation. What the exact purposes of this mysterious but powerful body are I have not been able to discover ; but I shall tell the House what are its ostensible purposes, and! what are its effects throughout the trade. I shall then leave honorable members to say for themselves whether they approve such conditions, and, if not, whether we should encourage them. I cannot say who is responsible for either the existence or continuance of the Shipping Federation;, but’ every important shipping company, whether voluntarily or as a result of some pressure from outside, does conform to the requirements of the federation. Every man that is shipped out of London in the employ of any important shipping company is compelled to pay to this federation the sum of is. as the fee of membership for one year; and the important point is that, unless he becomes ai member, he cannot obtain employment. When I wason my way to England, in. one of the steamers of the Orient Steam Navigation Company, I made inquiries as to whether certain men employed on board were members of any union in Great Britain. I spoke to two or three of the men, and I was told that they did not belong to any union ; and when I asked them why, they said they had to belong to the Shipping Federation, or they- could not get employment. The first man whom I questioned’ was unable to tell me any more than that he had paid is., and that that was the end of the matter. However, on making further inquiries, I found that every man belonged to the federation, and that, although it is not a condition precedent that a man shall not be a unionist, yet, as a matter of fact, every man on the vessel, and every seafaring man I spoke to in Great Britain, said that the federation was for no other purpose than to defeat and discredit unionism. The ostensible purpose of the federation is to provide against accident to its members,’ and the subscription of is. a year is supposed to cover any compensation or other payment made to a member as the result of an accident incurred in the course of duty. I am not able to say that at one time this might not have been sufficient reason for the existence of the federation. But after June of this year there was no longer any excuse for an organization with such a purpose, because the extension of the” Workmen’s Compensation Act to the seamen of Great Britain now covers all accidents incurred during the performance of duty ; and, therefore, the ostensible reason for this federation no longer exists. I found out, however, that while, it is perfectly true that that is the ostensible reason for the federation it is not the real reason. When I asked the steam-ship owners why they insisted on their men belonging to the federation, some of them were unable to give any reason ; but those ship-owners represented a comparatively small tonnage. The large ship-owners were at no loss for an answer. They were able to say exactly why they insisted on their men belonging to the federation; and the reason given was that it insures a sufficiency of obedient and even servile labour - that there is no chance of a member of the federation belonging to any union. With this federation in existence, no seamen’s union can possibly insist upon the payment of a decent wage, because the federation is the only channel through which a man can obtain employment. If it be known that a man is a unionist, I was informed by seamen, he is not admitted to the federation ; at any rate, it is a condition as regards membership of the federation that he shall work with anybody with whom he may be asked to work. .Practically the federation represents a determined effort on the part of the ship-owners to prevent unionism having any opportunity to assert itself. While I was in England there was considerable discussion about the shortage in the supply of seamen and officers. And yet here we have a direct effort on the part of the ship-owners to compel every one of their men to pass through one channel - to compel all seamen, by abstaining from joining unions with the object of raising wages, to accept a wage which is grossly insufficient in such a laborious and dangerous occupation. This Shipping Federation is neither more nor less than an organization of employers for the purpose of crushing unionism. However, I would not ask the House to concern itself with the matter, if it were not for the fact that when we spend Commonwealth money we ought to spend it in a way conformable with the ideals of Australia. We have already decided in the face of many jeers from gentlemen who know nothing at all of the subject, that it is good to have a White Ocean policy. I have had an opportunity of crossing the seas lately and, in my opinion, a White Ocean policy is most desirable. I have not been able to learn that the work is more difficult for firemen on the Red Sea than on any other sea.
– Oh !
– I have no doubt the honorable member is au fail with the question.
– The honorable member has not been in the stokehold in the Red Sea in June or July.
– I did not get my information in the saloon, but went to the fountain head - below - for information, and I may say that there were no complaints as to the inefficiency of white men for arduous work of this nature. Provided a decent wage is paid, there is no difficulty in obtaining the services of suitable men, but while ship-owners pay ,£4 10s. and £4 15s. a month they cannot expect to obtain the services- of other than the reckless, indifferent, and drunken - steady, reliable: men will not work for such a wage.
– The stokehold of a manofwar is hotter than the stokehold of any liner.
– That is so.- Any man who has travelled on the coast of Australia knows that at Cooktown, Townsville, or Rockhampton, the climate is as hot as it is anywhere in the summer; and the discharging of a cargo at Cooktown at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, when the iron hold is saturated with the sun, is a hotter job than any fireman on a liner has to face. However, I am not dealing with that particular phase of the question. What I ‘say is that we have a right to say how we shall spend ‘ our money; and it should be spent conformably with the ideals of our country. We have a right to demand, not that unionists should be employed in preference to other men, but that - every man should have the same chance, and that the best man shall be employed, whether he be a unionist or a non-unionist. A man ought not to be asked, when he applies for employment, for his federation ticket, and, if he has not a ticket, be turned away. That is wrong, because it is differentiating against men, not because of unfitness, but for some other reason. Therefore, I have thought it right to bring this subject under the notice of honorable members, so that when we enter into a fresh mail contract, we may insist on absolute fair play, in order that men may be employed on their merits, and not because they belong to the shipping federation or any other federation. If we accept the tender of a shipping company which resorts to such a practice, we shall be doing what in effect the federation seeks to do, namely, crushing the principle of unionism. That principle is recognised legally in this country, as is shown by the passing of the Arbitration and ‘Conciliation Act. Unionism within bounds is admitted by all people to be an , excellent thing, though there may be differences of opinion as to how far it should go. It is not now a question whether it should be a political factor or not; but, industrially, we have decided that unionism is excellent. It is bad for the British race that they should be compelled to work for such pitiful wages, in bringing about which the Shipping Federation has certainly more than a small share.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Tudor) adjourned.
.- I move -
That this Bill be now rend n second lime.
There is no necessity for me, I think, to deal with the merits of this measure at any very great length. During last Parliament, practically the same measure was before us, and, in the considerable discussion of it, a large amount of information was given to honorable members, not only by myself, but by the honorable member for Melbourne and others. It will be remembered that when the Electoral Act was passed in 1902, honorable members on both sides of the House, and especially the honorable member for North Sydney, seriously warned us that in departing from the old practice of settling our own electoral disputes by means of a committee selected from amongst ourselves, and relegating the duty to a law Court, we should cause serious expense to those concerned. At the time many honorable members were of opinion that these were highly exaggerated statements, but subsequent experience has fully corroborated the view expressed by the honorable member for North Sydney. I regret to say that I was the first victim to the new system. In the circumstances, therefore, I speak with some feeling in the matter. It was the intention of the Parliament that the Court of Disputed Returns, in considering petitions submitted to it, should not be a Court of law in the ordinary sense of the term, but should be guided, as section 199 provides - by the substantial merit and good conscience of each case, without regard for legal forms or technicalities, or whether the evidence before it is in accordance with the law of evidence or not.
– The honorable member for Echuca ought to be able to speak feelingly on this question.
– I presume that we shall hear from him. Parliament intended that the Court should divest itself of ordinary legal formalities, so that any candidate feeling aggrieved should be able to appear personally before it and state his case in his- own way and in his- own words. My experience, as well as that of others, however, has clearly shown that, unfortunately the Court - and I speak with all respect for it - finds it impossible to divest itself of those forms of procedure which all members of the legal profession are trained to observe. In my innocence, I imagined that I was quite competent to put my own case before ‘the Court. The facts on which I relied were simple, and obvious, and in the- circumstances I felt that I should have no difficulty in conducting my own case and obtaining a prompt decision. At the very outset, however, I was blocked. In December, 1903, I sought to present, a petition against the return of my opponent, but was promptly told by the Registrar that I could not lodge it, since no rules, of Court were in existence. 1 had, therefore, to wait for some weeks in order that the necessary rules might be prepared by the Chief Justice, and gazetted. After that had been done, I made a second attempt to lodge my petition, but discovered that it was absolutely impossible for me to proceed without legal assistance. Finding that I had either to abandon my petition, or retain counsel, I consulted a firm of solicitors, and they, in the ordinary way, had to brief counsel to appear before the Court. The facts on which I relied were so conclusive that I had not to call one witness; yet some timeelapsed before the decision of the Court was given. Several adjournments took place. In the discharge of his ordinary duties as a member of the High Court Bench, the learned Chief Justice, who dealt with my case, had to proceed from State to State, and on several occasions matters relating to it had to be mentioned to him. The Chief Justice was of opinion that the recount in Melbourne would not occupy more than two or three days, and as he had business to transact in Sydney, he said to counsel, “ You may mention the matter to me in Sydney on Friday.” In other words, he desired . to be informed on that day whether or not the recount had been completed. Most people would imagine that in the circumstances a telegram addressed to the learned Judge would have been sufficient. As a matter of fact, I was advised that counsel in Sydney would have to appear before His Honour to inform him on the date fixed that the recount had not been completed. Counsel was communicated with, and he replied that he would have to be instructed by a solicitor. Thus a solicitor had to be advised to instruct counsel to inform the Court of the simple fact that the recount had not been concluded, and this procedure cost me £15 15s. On three different occasions the case had to be “mentioned” before the Court, and I thus incurred an expenditure of 45 guineas. In the aggregate, the cost of proceedings was over ^1,000.
– The honorable member would have saved money had he allowed his opponent to retain the seat.
– Exactly. I shall never go to the Court again. Should I again have the misfortune to be -concerned in a disputed election, rather than engage in such costly legal proceedings, I would be seriouslytempted - even if I believed that I had an excellent case - to say to my opponent, “You had better take the seat.” At the last general election the return of the present member for Echuca was disputed, and the proceedings occupied the attention of the Court in various States, and at various times, for a period extending over four or five months. It was not until some time after the taking of evidence had been completed that the decision was given. If honorable members desire further information as to the costliness of proceedings ot this kind, they will find in Hansard full information on the subject. It is often said that a Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications, consisting of honorable members of this House, might be unconsciously biased. My long experience of political life leads me to believe that there is absolutely no warrant for such an assertion. I have been a member of several such Committees, and I have no hesitation in saying that, although they comprised members holding widely divergent views on political questions, they were determined in every case to divest themselves of party- feeling, and to do justice. Justice was invariably done.
– That was not always the position in Victoria.
– I cannot speak of the position in connexion with the Victorian Legislature, but in no case within my knowledge has dissatisfaction arisen because of the party leanings of members of the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales.
– As members of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, the honorable member and I sat on a Committee which unseated Mr. Svdney Smith.
– That is so. We were also members of a Committee which on one occasion dealt with a petition against the return of the present Minister of Trade and Customs as a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. Why should the Parliament lose control of a matter affecting its own interests? Why should not the electors be afforded the earliest opportunity - of being represented by the men whom they consider to be best fitted to express their views in the Legislature ? One of the principal grounds on which it was urged that we should have a Court of Disputed Returns presided over by a Justice of the High Court was that we should thus be enabled to secure the prompt settlement of disputes. But, so far as I am aware, in each of the four cases dealt with by the Court, vexatious delays and much expense have been incurred. I am satisfied that, if the present costly system is permitted to continue, the will of the electors will not prevail. In many cases petitions may be filed by wealthy men against successful candidates who are without the necessary means to instruct counsel, and in that way an appeal may often go by default. A candidate should not be required, or expected, to expend large sums of money in defending such proceedings. The Bill which I have introduced provides for the repeal of that part of the Act which declares that a Justice of the High Court of Australia shall constitute the Court of Disputed Returns. It provides further that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or in the case of a disputed return or election for the Senate, the President, shall nominate not less than nine members to act as a Committee to deal with any petition. I am sure that every honorable member holds Mr. Speaker in the highest esteem. No doubt we shall always have profound respect for the occupant of his high office, and I am satisfied that Mr. Speaker would invariably be careful to nominate only those who would’ be likely to deal fairly and squarely with every case submitted to them. If the nominations are not objected to within six days, then the persons so nominated are to constitute the Committee ; but if an objection be lodged within the prescribed period, a ballot is to be taken, and the members chosen in that ballot are to constitute the Committee, which is to be known as the Court of Disputed Returns. I further propose in this Bill that the Court shall have jurisdiction to compel the attendance of witnesses to give evidence upon oath, and power to sit in any part of the Commonwealth, at any time. An aggrieved candidate, instead of having to file a petition at a particular time with the Registrar of the High Court, will simply have to file it with the Clerk of the House within forty days after the return of the writ, and at the same time to lodge with the Clerk a sum of £50as security for any costs that may be incurred. The petition will be immediately referred to the Committee, or, as I propose to call it, the Court of Disputed Returns, and will be dealt with without delay. The Court will have power to proceed to any electorate, if it deems it necessary to do so, in order to elicit the facts of the case submitted to it. When they had concluded their investigations, they would submit their report to Parliament, and if that report was founded upon the weight of evidence, there is no doubt that it would be accepted by Par liament without demur. The petitioner would be required, in the ordinary way, to set out all particulars relating to his allegation, so as to obviate the possibility of a “fishing” inquiry being instituted. The clause defining the powers of the Court is a very essential part of the Bill. I propose to vest the Court of Disputed Returns with very extended powers. These are defined in clause 198, which reads -
The Court of Disputed Returns shall sit as an open Court, and its powers shall include the following : -
To adjourn ;
To compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents ;
To examine witnesses on oath ;
To declare that any person who is returned as elected was not duly elected ;
To declare any candidate duly elected who was not returned as elected ;
To declare any election absolutely void ;
To dismiss or uphold the petition in whole or in part;
To award costs;
To punish any contempt of its authority by fine or imprisonment.
In other words, I propose that we should endow the Court with all the powers vested in the High Court, so far as disputed elections are concerned.
– Does the honorable member make provision for dealing with illegal practices ?
– Does he propose that the Court shall have power to punish persons who may be deemed guilty of illegal practices ?
– Under the Bill the Court will have power to declare an election absolutely void if bribery or attempted bribery has been disclosed on the part of a successful candidate. In all cases where a candidate has been adjudged guilty of illegal practices, it will be open to the AttorneyGeneral to prosecute the offender. In regard to the question ofcosts, honorable members will recollect that in the Amended Electoral Act of 1905 a provision was inserted which was designed to prevent litigants - in the case of disputed elections - being mulcted in heavy costs. That Statute provides that neitherparty can recover from the other side more than £100 in this connexion. But I need scarcely point out that under the present system there is no limit to the costs which either party may have to pay, because, if the lawyers cannot obtain their fees from one side, they will secure them from the other. Under the
Hill, litigants would not be called upon to Lear a hundredth part of the expenditure which they would have to incur in appearing before the High Court. In Committee, I intend to submit for consideration the following new clause -
No person who has been declared elected, and against whose election a petition has been filed, shall be permitted to take his seat or to sit in Parliament before the Court of Disputed Returns has reported on the petition.
I need hardly recall to the minds of honorable members certain circumstances which point to the urgent need of some such provision as that. We know very well how evenly parties in this House are sometimes divided. As a matter of fact, when my opponent in the contest for the Riverina Division, who had been wrongfully declared elected, occupied a seat in this House, the Government of the day had a majority of only one. In other words, the vote of one honorable member was sufficient to change the position of parties. During that time - notwithstanding that I had lodged a petition against his return - that gentleman continued to sit in this House. If this Bill were passed, such a state of things could not be repeated. If a seat were challenged in the form I have indicated, it would at once be referred to the Court of Disputed Returns, consisting of a Committee of either House. That body would deal with it immediately. Their decision would be available within two or three days, whereas, under the existing system, a decision cannot be obtained for three or four months. I submit the Bill to the House in the interests of justice, of economy, and of promptness. I think it is wise that Parliament should have the power to deal with disputes in regard to parliamentary elections rather than that the present system of referring such disputes to the High Court should continue. I ask honorable members to agree to the second reading of the Bill, and not to rely upon that provision in the existing law which declares that the Court* of Disputed Returns, in dealing with electoral disputes, shall divest itself of legal technicalities. As a matter of fact the Justices who comprise the Court find it impossible - owing to their professional training-to divest themselves of legal technicalities. I ask honorable members not only to agree to the second reading of the measure, but to pass it through Committee as speedily as possible, so that we mav- lae able to deal with our own affairs in a spirit of equity and economy.
.- The honorable member for Riverina has presented his case in a very temperate way, seeing that he has suffered so unjustly as the result of the existing method of dealing with disputed elections. He was content to remark, in this connexion, that it had cost him ^1,000 to vindicate the position which he had gained at the poll. We are all aware that two similar cases have occurred - cases in which the honorable member for Melbourne and the honorable member for Echuca were the principal figures. I wish that the latter had been present to give the House the benefit of his experience in that connexion. I think it must have occurred to honorable members either that the Court of Disputed Returns, as it is at present constituted, is a very costly machine, or that it must afford a large measure of protection to the general public. Of course, I can quite understand the view entertained by those who urge that a branch of the High Court should deal with all questions relating to disputed elections, so as to insure their investigation by a tribunal which is free from political bias. We all recognise that it is not only the rival candidates -whose claims have to be considered, but also the interests of the electors. In this Bill, the honorable member for Riverina proposes to establish what he describes as a Court, whose function it will be to determine all disputed elections. He wishes to vest in the members of that Court, which is to consist of a Committee of either House of this Parliament, certain powers. Personally I intend to support the second reading of the measure, because I believe in the general principle underlying it. To my mind, the Elections and Qualifications Committee in New South Wales has not reflected the political bias which it has been ‘urged would attach to a political tribunal of this character. I am informed that, in South Australia, election petitions are dealt with by a body composed of a Judge of the Supreme Court, who sits as chairman, and six members of Parliament,- who are appointed by ballot. The members of Parliament act as assessors, while the Judge, as Chairman, is able to give them advice on questions of law. The experience of the honorable member for Riverina is the experience of all litigants. He tells us that he spent £1,000 in fighting his case, and from its genesis to the exodus of his rival, he was much in the position of the man who, travelling from Jerusalem, fell among thieves, except that he fell among lawyers. I do not blame the lawyers who acted for him, because I know that if one member of the profession had not bled him, another would have done so. If we run to lawyers they will make us pay for their services. It is said that a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for his client ; but I do not think that the honorable member for Riverina would have done worse by acting as his own lawyer ?han he did in paying ^1,000 to others to act for him. The Court of Disputed Returns is instructed to deal with the cases which come before it having regard to equity and good conscience, and Parliament, in constituting it, was of opinion that it would take an ordinary common-sense view of affairs, and give its decisions quickly. But the honorable member for Riverina has shown us that he could not get a look in, or a look out, without having a lawyer to act for him. He could not even suggest directly to his counsel that a telegram should be sent to inform the Chief Justice that a recount had not been completed.
– There were two lawyers.
– I suppose one was appointed to draw the fees, and the other to see that he did not draw too little. Hitherto I have been fortunate enough in elections to keep so far ahead of my opponents that they have not thought it worth while to petition against my return, but if a’ petition were lodged, I should have to ask myself, in view of what we have heard from the honorable member for Riverina, whether it would be worth while to fight the case. Many an honorable member whose banking account is not very large would think it almost better to abandon a seat which he had won than to spend ,£1,000 in fighting to retain it. Parliament has reimbursed those who have hitherto had to go before the Court of Disputed Returns the amount of their election expenses, which, under the Electoral Act, must not exceed ^100, but the legal costs and charges are very much in excess of that sum, if the experience of the honorable member for Riverina is to be taken as a guide.
– The sum I have mentioned was spent in contesting the case, and the two elections. .
– Now that it is known that the Court of Disputed Returns is a very expensive and slow-moving machine, we may have speculative lawyers taking up election petitions on the mere chance of making money 01ft of successful candi dates. The honorable member for Riverina having had to pay £1,000 to retain hisseat, may not the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, 01 the honorable member for Dalley, have to do the same in thefuture? That is one of the dangers of thepresent arrangement. I should be glad, to see the Court superseded by a body similar to that which deals with election, petitions in South Australia. The question arises - Can we trust members of Parliament to act fairly in dealing with election petitions? My experience in New South Wales is that we can. I remember an occasion on which the return of the latemember for Macquarie in this House, whowas at the time Postmaster-General in a New South Wales Government, was petitioned against. Parties were almost evenly divided in the State House at the time, and, as a member of the Elections and Qualifications Committee, I, in common! with, other members of my party, fought as hard as I could for the retention of the seat, whereas the honorable member for Riverina and the members of the opposing party fought equally hard for the petitioner. But this fight lasted only up to a certainpoint. In the case which I am’ discussing,, as well as in other cases of which I had experience, there came a time when each member of the Committee had to say whether an illegal act had been done, and whether the seat petitioned against should be forfeited because of illegal practices, or an improper count. When that timecame, the members of the Committee acted as the average juryman would have acted, and each decided the question in accordancewith his view of the evidence. I should besorry to think that a member of Parliament would allow himself to be so biased by party considerations as to act unfairly. I do not know what is done in regard topetitions affecting the return of a member to the British House of Commons; but for a number of years they were dealt with by Committees.
Colonel Foxton. - That is not done now.
– In Committee, I shall’ be glad to have the assistance of honorable members to improve the Bill.
– The measure is one, not merely for the protection of sitting members, but for the protection of candidates, generally, to save them from costly litigation. Any person fighting a case before a parliamentary Committee could appear either personally or by counsel. In NewSouth Wales, parties were advised to place their own cases before the Committee, without the assistance of lawyers. Before any case couldbe heard, a deposit of £25 was demanded from the petitioner ; but the money was refunded if it was proved that the petition was neither frivolous nor vexatious. Cases were dealt with without delay, and in no instance in which I was concerned as a member of the Committee was the deposit of the petitioner confiscated. Another reason for the abolition of the Court of Disputed Returns is, that we have been informed that the highly-paid Justices of the High Court are now so overwhelmed with work that their number must be added to. That being so, we should do what we can to lessen their burden. If the return of four or five members was petitioned against after any election, it would take a Justice of the High Court the best part of two years to deal with the cases, supposing that they occupied as long as the Riverina case occupied ; and surely his legal training and knowledge could be better employed in the settlement of other cases?
– In my case, it took seven days to count 7,000 votes, whereas the officials at Echuca counted 20,000 votes in three days.
– When votes are being recorded in my favour,. I do not mind how quickly they are counted, or how slowly my opponent’s votes are counted. But while I have seconded, and am supporting, the honorable member’s motion for the second reading of the Bill, I wish to point out that his proposal is rather complicated, and that he seems to wish to invest the Committee of Elections and Qualifications with all the frill of the High Court.
– I merely wish to give them the necessary powers.
– The honorable member seems to have added a lot of embroidery, for which we shall have to pay. He practically proposes the setting up of another Court.
– The Prime Minister promised last session to give me every opportunity to pass the Bill through this Parliament.
– If the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General are in favour of the proposal, they should embody it in the Amending Electoral Bill which, I understand, is to be introduced. I hope that that willbe done. The representative of the Government in another place has said that the Government will introduce an amending Bill.
– An amending Electoral Bill is being prepared.
– Does that Bill deal with the Court of Disputed Returns?
– The honorable member will see when the Bill is introduced.
– What does the Minister himself think of the proposal ? The Minister does not seem prepared to express his opinion. I trust that this measure will be passed ; and that before next private members’ day we shall be told thatthe Government have indorsed it.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Mauger) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Groom) read a first time.
Consideration resumed from 28th August (vide page 2 511) of motion of Sir William Lyne -
That duties of Customs and duties of Excise be imposed according to the following Tariff (vide page 1648).
.- When progress was reported last night, I was dealing with the defence expenditure, of which I expressed a general approval. But I view with some apprehension the other proposals contemplated, not because I think that the Government are not competent to control the different services which it is proposed to bring within the sphere of the Commonwealth, but because the new responsibilities will seriously interfere with our financial arrangements. As pointed out by the honorable member for Parramatta last night, the taking over of the Northern Territory will mean a big obligation ; and in my judgment the conditions associated with the transfer will require the closest scrutiny at the hands of honorable members. I should have preferred to discuss this question fully at an earlier stage than it will be possible to do so, because it is of the utmost importance, not only to theCommonwealth, but also to the State of South Australia; and the sooner we arrive at a decision the better in the interests of all concerned. We must recognise that if we assume control of the Northern Territory, the financial responsibility; will mean anything up to £250,000 per annum.
– Between ,£200,000 and £250,000.
– The Bounties Bill, which has been agreed to by this House, will involve a considerable expenditure, extending over a number of years; and in addition there is the proposal of the present Minister of Trade and Customs for penny postage throughout the Commonwealth. I am not sure whether the latter proposal is dead or only sleeping ; but if it be adopted it will mean a considerable loss during the next few years. If the Minister of - Trade and Customs were to unfold his mind, he would admit, I think, that in the present unsatisfactory state of the Federal finances penny postage is as dead as Julius Caesar. Although I express that opinion I agree with the principle of penny postage, and would have it carried into effect as soon as the financial position of the Commonwealth justifies such a step. But we are not in that position now; and while the Braddon section operates there is no. possibility of our financing the proposal. There is also the cost of the administration of the Meteorological and Quarantine Departments, and the proposed High Commissioner’s office in London. These matters have been mentioned ; and in my opinion we should continue to mention them until the financial position of the Commonwealth is thoroughly appreciated. Under suitable conditions, I favour the Commonwealth control of all the Departments mentioned in the Government list; but it is time that honorable members demonstrated’ to the people that when we assume control of those Departments, there should be a corresponding decrease in the expenditure of the States. I express that opinion frankly, and I shall continue to do so on every possible occasion, in order to counteract the efforts of interested politicians in the States, who are at the present time endeavouring to bring Federation into contempt. The policy which underlies the action of those States politicians should be made clear to the people of the Commonwealth as a whole. Every one of the Departments mentioned in the Government list are suitable for central control ; and members of the Federal Parliament ought to take every opportunity to show to the people throughout the States that the Commonwealth is doing its best,, while the States are not assuming their proper responsibility. One notable omission from the Budget is a reference to old-age pensions. It is a matter of extreme regret to me that in the seven years. of our existence as a Commonwealth, no provision has been made by the central. Government for the aged and invalid poor. This question is associated with serious financial difficulties ; but if members of this Parliament desire old-age pensions, the obligation is upon them to accept the responsibility of making the necessary provision. One section of this House is prepared to say, in beautiful and convincing language on the election platform, that they are in favour of the federalizing of old-age pensions, but within this Chamber they are as dumb as the Sphinx when a suggestion is made as to a means of financing the proposal. It is time we grasped the nettle, and thoroughly realized that, while we have the Braddon section, we should either tell the people that they are not to have old-age pensions or we should avail ourselves of the means which lie to our hands in the .shape of direct taxation. In my opinion, there are no insuperable difficulties, if Parliament is sincere in its desire to see this beneficent scheme in operation.
– The honorable member for Flinders did not say a word about old-age pensions.
– The honorable member for Flinders religiously excluded from his few remarks many questions on which we desired to have his opinion. But there are more than the honorable member for Flinders who are to be blamed for their attitude on this matter. Personally, I should be prepared to vote for direct taxation in order that this humane provision may be made for our aged poor; and 1 shall have a considerable amount to say on the question as soon as the Tariff is out of the road.
– Have the States any responsibility for old-age pensions?”
– They have.
– Then in the States there is enough of surplus revenue to provide for two old-age pensions.
– Unfortunately the States which have the greatest surpluses have already old-age pensions.
– Not at all; thereare in four States, in which there is surplusrevenue, more than sufficient to provide old*age pensions.
– If the States will not accept their responsibility, the Commonwealth is not thereby relieved of its responsibility. During my political career I have always declared in favour of a Federal scheme as opposed to a State scheme; and to that extent I have relieved the States politicians, or at least I have given a cue to the States politicians as to. how they may relieve themselves of their responsibility. I am certainly of opinion that the Commonwealth should face the question of old-age pensions as soon as the Tariff is disposed of.
– The position is that the taxpayer is already paying enough money to provide for two old-age pensions.
– I believe that is so; but if the States Governments, which have enormous surpluses, do not accept their responsibility, the Commonwealth Government is not justified in abandoning the idea of Federal old-age pensions. This is the proper Parliament to deal with the question, and if we impose direct taxation for the purpose, I have no doubt that in those States where there are surpluses, there will be a revision of taxation.
– We might have more surplus revenue Bills.
– I agree with the honrable member for Parramatta that a big surplus is often more injurious to a State than is a deficit. A large surplus often leads to reckless extravagance, and on many occasions it has led to the bribing of constituencies with a view to a certain party being kept in power.
– It would not be fair to say that a deficit is better than a surplus. The honorable member’s statement should be qualified.
– I do not mean to suggest that I should like to see any State unable to meet its liabilities, but I certainly believe good does not always result from the fact that a Treasurer finds himself in the possession of an enormous surplus.
– Is not a surplus a good thing if it be applied to the payment of liabilities?
– That is another question. It rarely happens that a surplus is so used.
– South Australia applies its surplus revenue to that purpose.
– Queensland has done so for many years.
– Victoria has paid off out of surplus revenue liabilities amounting to over£500,000.
– I am glad that Victoria is making a start in the right direction. The fact remains that she has devoted a comparatively small proportion of her surplus revenue to the payment of her liabilities.
– New South Wales has devoted portion of her surplus revenue to the payment of her debts.
– Victoria is expending over£300,000 of her estimated surplus for the last financial year-
– In what direction?
– I have a very poor opinion of the way in which it is proposed to expend that money. The desirableness of imposing a graduated land tax is a question which must be faced. I believe that within a limited time this reform, of which the Labour Party approves, will be demanded generally by the people.
– Of only one or two States.
– It will be demanded by the representatives of the various States in this House. The imposition of such a tax would provide some money for a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions, and it would also tend to the breaking up of vast estates. In that way it would enable people to be settled on land now lying unused, and would incidentally lead to the greater security of Australia.
– But if the large estates be broken up no revenue will be obtained from the proposed tax.
– If they are cut up into holdings below a certain area no revenue will be obtained from the tax, but the honorable member is very sanguine if he imagines that such a thing is likely to happen for some years.
– How would the honorable member provide for a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions if the anticipated revenue from that source were not obtained ?
– I shall deal presently with that phase of the question. I have referred to what I believe to be an acceptable means of providing within the next few years for a Federal system of old-age pensions. I blame the Opposition corner for the fact that such a system is not already in existence. The right honorable member for Swan said that he was in favour of old-age pensions, but was opposed to a land tax. He also stated that he favoured what, in essence, means a continuation of the Braddon section for another thirteen years. In the circumstances, he ought to have admitted at once that, in his advocacy of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions, he was playing the part of a hypocrite.
– Certainly not.
– I hold that he was. Any one who says that he is in favour of the continuation of the Braddon section
– The right honorable member for Swan favours the payment of a fixed amount to the States. That is a different thing.
– His proposal is, in essence, a continuance of the Braddon section, and no one who favours such a proposal can conscientiously say that he desires that a Federal system of old-age pensions shall be brought about during the life of this Parliament. At the last general election, honorable members opposite expressed themselves in favour of such a system, but those who genuinely believe in it, find them raising all sorts of difficulties when it is proposed that it shall be established-.
– Is the honorable member willing to sacrifice everything to the establishment of such a scheme?
– No; but I am prepared to support an annual expenditure of £1, 500,000 on such a scheme. I am ready to agree- to such a sacrifice in the interests of this beneficent proposal, and believe that, owners of estates ranging in value from ,£5,000 to ,£10,000 and over, should be compelled to use them to their fullest capacity, or give up some portion of them.
– Why does the honorable member point to the Opposition? The majority is on his side of the House.
– I am sorry to say that even on this side of the House there are to be found some honorable members who are not prepared immediately to vote for this proposal. It is from the Opposition corner that the greatest objection to it has come.
– Does the honorable member desire a Federal land tax to be imposed to provide for old-age pensions?
– I think that such a tax would assist to raise the necessary funds. I am not blind to the financial tethers by which the. Federation is held.
– The honorable member is quite safe in blaming the Opposition. He should talk to honorable members on his own side of the House. They have the power to do what he proposes, but that., of course, is immaterial.
– I am responsible to my own conscience, and to my constituents for the views which I express. So far as the continuation of the Braddon section is concerned, I think that the present Government occupy a unique position.
– I have thought that for the last three years.
– Doubtless the honorable member for Dalley would be very pleased if he and some of his colleagues were on the Treasury bench. It is remarkable that the ex-Treasurer, with the full concurrence of his Government, should have submitted to the Conference of Premiers in Brisbane certain proposals amounting in essence to a continuation of the Braddon section, or to something, perhaps, a little worse, and that the Ministry now should not have put their views on the subject before the House. I am not in favour of the continuation of chat section, but if the worst comes to the worst, in 1910 weshall be able to vary it, and to retain more than one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue. The only terms on which I shall consent to the payment of a fixed amount to the States will be that there shall be ,£1,500,000 per annum paid out of the consolidated revenue of the Commonwealth to provide for a Federal system of old-age pensions.
– Hear, hear.
– I am pleased to hear the Postmaster-General say “ Hear, hear “ to that proposition. When the time comes to determine the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States, we must give primary consideration to the question of old-age pensions, which will then have been awaiting settlement for something like ten years. I have never been in favour of this Parliament doing anything that would give the States an opportunity to accuse the Commonwealth of endeavouring to create friction. I have always said that no undue cause for friction should exist, and that we should endeavour as far as possible to give the States legislatures no cause for complaint against the Parliament or the Government of the ‘Commonwealth.
I regret to say, however, that the Commonwealth Government of to-day have so acted as to afford the States authorities occasion to anathematize the dealings of the Federation with them. The Prime Minister probably is the only one who can say whether the ex-Treasurer had the authority for the step which he took; but the fact remains that whether he was authorized or not, when at the Brisbane Conference he pledged his Government to a financial scheme.
– The Prime Minister was away at the time.
– The Prime Minister alone can say whether the ex-Treasurer had the authority of the Cabinet to pledge the Government to the scheme which he submitted to the Conference of State Premiers with regard to fixed payments to the States. It is true that that scheme was submitted subject to its being ratified by the Parliament, but the Acting Prime Minister, when delivering the Budget statement, announced that it had been abandoned by the Commonwealth Government, and offered no explanation for that course of action. I am very glad that the Government do not agree with the opinions expressed by the ex-Treasurer. I am not in accord with the scheme relating to the adjustment of the financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth which he submitted to the Conference of Premiers. Consequently, I was pleased to hear the Acting Prime Minister characterize that scheme as an impossible one. But. whilst I agree with his conclusion, I certainly think that some explanation is due to the Committee of the reasons which are responsible for this changed attitude on the part of the Government. The problem of substituting for the Braddon section some scheme which, while it does not fetter the Federation, will make adequate provision for the necessities of the States, is a very intricate one indeed. The scheme for theper capita distribution of revenue which, with some qualifications, was urged by the Premier of Tasmania, does not recommend itself to my judgment. In passing. I may be permitted to remark that the tone adopted by that gentleman throughout the entire discussion, pointed to the fact that he desired to obtain about £30,000 which rightly belonged to another State. I submit that no schemes for the adjustment of the financial relations of the States to the Commonwealth, which will have the effect of robbing one
State for the purpose of enriching another, can be regarded as a satisfactory one.
– Western Australia wants special treatment from a financial stand-point.
– Western Australia does not require special treatment in the way of a poor relation. She wants her rights. Surely it is not beyond the capacity of this Parliament to devise a scheme which will rid usof the embarrassing financial restrictions at present imposed by the Constitution.
– Does not the honorable member think that we ought to settle the question of the future financial relationship of the States to the Commonwealth before sanctioning any big undertakings such as old-age pensions?
– I would not allow the initiation of a system of old-age pensions to be delayed any longer if I could possibly avoid it. To my mind, it represents an obligation which the people have contracted to meet.
– But the adoption of 3 scheme in substitution for the Braddon section is the crux of the situation.
– It is because I recognise that fact that there are a number of honorable members who will not face direct taxation, and who are prepared to perpetuate the present embarrassing system. Further, that I do not intend to allow a consideration of the status ofthe States Parliaments to weigh with me in coming to a decision upon this matter. A perusal of the report of the proceedings at the Conference of Premiers which was held in Brisbane, has convinced me that the dominant feeling amongst the members of that Conference was that if they did not secure a satisfactory settlement of the financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth, the status of the States Parliaments would suffer. The other motive which influenced them was a desire to drive the hardest possible bargain with the Federation. In my judgment, the framers of the Constitution acted wisely in vesting this Parliament with supreme power in regard to the arrangement of financial responsibility. From my stand-point, there can be no more financial independence on the part of the States.
– Why not?
– At the present time we receive the great bulk of the revenue which is paid by the people of Western Australia.
– That is unification in one act.
– It is not. The honorable member should not jump to such hasty conclusions.
– It would lead to unification.
– It need not of necessity do so, but even if it did, I am not prepared to say that it. would occasion me any anxiety.
– It would cause anxiety to a good many people.
– The honorable member may require the assistance of nominee Legislative Councils, and institutions of that description, to guard his interests, but I am prepared to. trust the government of this country to its people. _ I do not wish to see their interests committed to the charge of Legislative Councils which are elected upon a property qualification.
– Who has spoken of that?
– In my opinion the power of the Federal authority should be increased. I believe that the. time is not far distant - notwithstanding that at the present juncture there is an agitation outside against the Federal Parliament, an agitation which has chiefly been fomented by the States politicians - when the” people will delegate to the Federation more power than it has at present.
– I am not talking about the State authorities, but about the people of the States.
– In my judgment, the interests of the people are more likely to be conserved by this Parliament than they are by the States Parliaments. The Federal authority must be the dominant authority. When we come to consider the question of whether it is wise to sanction a continuance of the Braddon section, we ought not to overlook the desirableness of consolidating the public debt of Australia. At the present moment we owe, in round figures, about £[250,000,000. During the next seventeen years no less’ a sum than £161,000,000 has to be met by the States. I think that the Federal authority is better able to raise loans at a satisfactory rate of interest than is any part of the Commonwealth. In a paper which was presented to Parliament some time ago, the right honorable member for Swan pointed out that if, by reason of the Commonwealth undertaking the flotation of loans, a saving of only J per cent, could be effected, it would be equivalent to a saving of about £16,000,000 - exclusive of interest - be tween the present period and 1951. Taking all things into consideration, I believe that a saving of J per cent, could be insured by the Commonwealth undertaking future borrowings in lieu of the State’s. In the past the States Treasurers have lamentably failed to appreciate one very important factor in connexion with the redemption of public loans. They have entirely overlooked the periods at which these loans would have to be met by our people. In this connexion” I find that in 1907 we shall be called upon to meet a sum of ,£12,185,000 ; in 1910 an amount of £[4,892,000; in r9I2> .£10,266,000, and in 1914, £[835,000. I say that any scheme of finance which contemplates the people of Australia being called upon to meet £[10,000,000 in one year, and about £[750,000 two years later, is likely to be productive of the worst results.
– My trouble is that upon the basis of our present prosperity we seem to be sanctioning a permanently large expenditure.
– That consideration is not directly involved in the question which I am discussing - the question of whether the accumulated public debts of the States should be federalized. The States Treasurers appear to have rushed upon the money market whenever the opportunity occurred, raising money at ruinous rates of interest, and to have neglected to provide that these loans should be met by the payment of sums over a fixed period of years.
– We ought to credit the States Treasurers with having made the best possible bargain at the time.
– I credit them- with having made the most hopeless muddle imaginable. For instance, in 1914, the people will be called upon to meet a loan of £[800,000, which one of our local money lenders would probably be able to arrange. But in 1923 they will be called upon to meet no less an amount than £[7,025,473, and the following year they will have to meet a further sum °f £31,900,000, having met £[8,000 only a year or two before. Does any sensible man, knowing the need for sound administration, desire that the national finances shall be longer controlled by this’ body of muddlers ?
– Before Federation the States borrowed independently of each other.
– So they do now, and the members of the Conference wish to perpetuate the present state of things.
– During recent years there has been an understanding amongst the Premiers of the States in regard to borrowing.
– There is no understanding between them which is worth anything. They may occasionally hold consultations in regard to the possibility of floating loans satisfactorily ; but there is no agreement that they shall consult or consider each other.
– I think that the honorable member is mistaken.
– It was assumed, when Federation was being advocated, that the Commonwealth would be able to borrow at a lower rate than the States had borrowed at, and would be able to save £500,000 or £1,000,000 a year by effecting conversions. But, unfortunately, it is now seen that the Commonwealth credit will be no better than that of the States.
– How can the honorable member prove that?
– In a paper on the subject of State indebtedness, prepared by Mr. Coghlan, at the request of the Commonwealth, he says that the credit of the Commonwealth is no higher than that of the States. *
– Neither Mr. Coghlan nor the honorable member can prove that.
– Mr. Coghlan is on the spot.
– The credit of the Commonwealth will not be known until it attempts to borrow. I have the greatest respect for Mr. Coghlan, and have based my remarks on his paper. He condemns the system which obtained in the past.
– The remedy for it is the consolidation of the debts of the States.
– That is the remedy which I advocate.
– Then why does the honorable member worry- so much?
– To effect reform, one must point out the difficulties, dangers, and disasters resulting from the existing state of things. I think that the Commonwealth should control the debts of the States. The amount to be redeemed in 1922 is only £8,252.
– It must be a balance. No SPate ever borrowed such a small amount at one time.
– I am quoting from Mr. Coghlan’s paper. In 1924, £31,987,729 falls due.
– That is the liability of all the States for that year.
– We shall not have any difficulty in meeting those loans in 1924.
– The amount is equivalent to nearly £8 per head for every man, woman, and child now living in the Commonwealth.
– But look at our assets. They would cover an indebtedness ten times as great.
– I am not saying anything against the credit of Australia; but I wish to point out that it was a foolish financial arrangement to so borrow that only a few thousand pounds fall due in one year and nearly £32,000,000 two years later. The only way in which the liabilities of 1924 can be met will be by paying a ruinous rate of interest for new loans that year, or by borrowing some years before the money falls due. The present condition of affairs is due to maladministration on the part of the States.
– It is the unfortunate result, not of maladministration, but of the lack of joint action, the States having borrowed independently.
– There has been maladministration of the finances of Australia.
– There may have been better administration in the year in which £31,000,000 was borrowed than in the year in which only £8,000 was borrowed.
– I do not say that the £31,000,000 was borrowed in one year. Loans aggregating that amount fall due in 1924. I suppose those responsible expected to be asleep when that year comes, and knew that they would not have the trouble of providing for their repayment.
– The States have always seized upon occasions when money was cheap.
– I advocate’ the consolidation of the financial responsibilities of Australia at the earliest moment.
– We are all with the honorable member in that.
– I am’ triad to hear it, though sometimes I have grave doubts as to the propriety of mv conduct when I find that I am in accord with members of the Opposition.
– The honorable member for Parkes, as an ex-Treasurer of New South Wales, is responsible for £4,000,000 of the indebtedness of that Stale.
– I do not think that that has much to do with the question which I have been discussing. Turning now to the Tariff, to which I intend to make brief reference, I wish to express my appreciation of the energy displayed by the members of the Commission in presenting to Parliament the statements of the witnesses that they examined in a form in which they can be easily understood by honorable members. The work of the Commission was a very big one. The labours of the Commissioners extended over a long period, during which, no doubt, had they consulted their own instead of the public interest, they could have been, more profitably employed in attending to their own business, and they deserve the best thanks of the Committee for what they have done. At the same time, I do not agree with all their conclusions. It is not my intention to deal exhaustively at this stage with the duties in detail. I wish to point out’, in the first place, that Western Australia occupies a unique position among the States in regard to the Tariff. She is being treated much like the junior partner of a firm, because she is isolated, and her population fiar removed from that of the eastern States. With the exception of gold mining, her industries and manufactures have not been developed so fully as have those of the eastern States, and consequently rates of duty which may be satisfactory to the people of the other States may be quite unsuited to the conditions of Western Australia. I am prepared to give every consideration to those- engaged in the manufac’ture of goods which should be manufactured in this country, and I wish to prevent the manufacturers engaged in such industries from being put at a disadvantage because they have to pay higher wages and give better labour conditions than obtain elsewhere. But I reserve to myself the right to say what rates of duty should be imposed. I cannot lose sight of the fact that Western Australia depends mainly upon her primary industries, and that if anything, were done to cripple the greatest of them - gold mining - it would be a serious blow to the State.
– It would shut it up altogether.
– The resources and capabilities of the State are so great that I do not know that any iniquity of this Parliament could shut it up altogether. But the unique position of the people of Western Australia must be recognised. It appears to me that there has been too little discrimination in the framing of the Tariff. It seems to have been forgotten, for instance, that many classes of machinery may be used in connexion with one industry. Kalgoorlie is, perhaps, the greatest primary wealth-producing constituency in Australia; and the industry carried on there necessitates the use of the highest classes of electrical, reducing, and driving machinery the human mind has been able to devise. If any inducement has been held out to manufacturers in Australia to produce this class of machinery, it has not been responded to.
– The demand is too limited to- justify the laying down of the extensive plant necessary.
– That, to a considerable extent, may be the reason that this kind of machinery has not been produced here. There are items in the Tariff on which an indiscriminate duty of, say, 25 per cent, is imposed ; and it will be necessary to dissect those items and ascertain- exactly what they mean: There- are items covering the necessities of the great primary producing industries, necessities, the- production of which cannot possibly be induced by the imposition of any duly; and the attitude which I adopt is that those which cannot be .produced in Australia at a reasonable cost,, or are not produced here- at the present time; - whether they be necessaries of life or of industries - are not, in my opinion, fit subjects’ for taxation for revenue purposes ; and I shall not be found supporting taxation on such items. I know that that brings me into conflict with a certain section of the Tariff Commission. During the last few weeks I have been looking closely into the reports of the Commission, and I find, in many cases, that the revenue tariffists of the Commission - for they are not free-traders - have accepted the responsibility of recommending duties on. certain items which the protectionist section recommend shall, be admitted free.
– The honorable member is basing his ideas on the document issued by the Government, and that document’ is entirely misleading.
– That is a statement which, I think, necessitates some reply from the Government. If we have been relying, on what is presented to (is as a Government document, and that document is said to be misleading, it is a serious matter.
– The honorable member for Illawarra has spoken since that document was issued, and he said nothing as to its being misleading.
– Take a specific item, and test the accuracy of the document.
– The honorable member for Perth ought to have an opportunity to demonstrate the truth of his allegation ; but, of course, 1 cannot be expected to post pone my speech in order that the point may be decided. Fortunately, or unfortunately, 1 have prepared my figures and drawn my deductions on the document issued by the Government, and 1 am justified, for the time being, in accepting that document as correct. In regard to 114 items, the free-trade or revenue Tariff members of the Commission have recommended duties from - though the number at the highest rate is limited - 5 per cent, to 20 per cent., while the protectionist section of the Commission have recommended that they shall be admitted free. I have prepared a table setting out those items -
I think this table will be useful for the purpose of future reference, and, therefore, I have read the particulars, so that they may be placed on record. Unfortunately, it appears that the revenue Tariff or free-trade members of the Tariff Commission have made a direct attempt to impose revenue duties -.of the most burdensome nature on the primary productions of Australia. Ore bags, etc., for instance, which were imported .last year to the value of over £1,000,000, are proposed to be taxed to the extent of 15 per cent, .by those who have always regarded themselves as the specially .appointed guardians of the interests, of the primary producers. The next item is hessian, which is very extensively used in Western Australia, for the purpose of building houses. This commodity it isproposed to .tax to the tune of 10 per cent.,, and we are told that it was imported last year to the value of .£250,000. There may be evidence, of course, to lead the free-trade members of the Commission to’ believe that this commodity can be produced within Australia; but that is highly improbable, seeing that . the protectionist section of the Commission ma’ke an entirely opposite recommendation. Then it is proposed to impose a tax on miners’ safety lamps. If there is one item which might well have been permitted to freely pass the Customs, it is the lamps which are used for the protection of miners, especially coal miners, and which have not been produced in1 a satisfactory way in Australia up to the present time. I cannot imagine why the free-traders on the Tariff Commission should desire to impose a duty on such an item.
– It was a very shameful thing to do.
– I agree that it will require much explanation. The next item to which I desire to refer is that of agricultural, viticultural, and horticultural implements, and so forth. I see no reason why one industry should, under the Tariff, pay more taxation than another. If the great primary industries have to pay imposts, each ought to take its share of the responsibility of a protectionist policy. These agricultural, viticultural, and horticultural implements were imported to the value of ,£144,032 last year, and while the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission recommend a duty of 10 per cent., the protectionists recommend that they shall be admitted free.
– The protectionist section are alleged to have made that recommendation.
– The honorable member ought to demonstrate, if he can, that the document submitted to honorable members foy the Government does not represent a fair statement of the opinions of the Tariff Commission.
– It has been framed in error - on a misunderstanding.
– Then it is a very serious matter; and if the honorable member for Perth can show that we have, as it were, been working under false pretences, severe condemnation awaits some one. The next item to which I refer is that of crucibles, which are used to test the value of different ores. I suppose that every man who does prospecting, or engages in any branch of mining where analysis is necessary, uses a crucible of some kind or. other.
– The prospectornever uses a crucible.
– I am afraid the honorable member’s experience is very limited if he . has not seen a crucible in operation, because nearly every man uses one.. I wish to direct special attention to the next item - ‘ ‘ Mining machinery : requisites in connexion with such,” the imports of which are valued at .£195,000. When we have indications that these tools of trade cannot be produced in Australia at a reasonable cost it is certainly right that we should have absolute free-trade in regard to them, in order that the mining and mechanical industries may be assisted. Imports relating to electrical necessaries, .valued at £[258,000, constitute another item to which every consideration should be given. As I have said, I do not propose to deal in detail -with the Tariff, but as a protectionist, I thought it necessary to- point out the apparent inconsistencies shown by free-trade members of the Commission. If my honorable friend can demonstrate that the comparative statement issued by the Government is not a faithful one, I am sure he will do so, and that he will put before us the absolute facts. I wish now to refer briefly to the proposed duty on iron. I am sincerely anxious to see established in Australia a great industry producing iron from native ores, but I entirely disagree with those who think that the best method to secure the establishment of that industry is to be found in the immediate imposition of a duty on iron. I am prepared to agree to a financial sacrifice in order that the industry may be encouraged, and would vote for a bounty with that object in view. I trust that the Government will adopt that means of assisting the industry, but if it does not do so I shall be constrained to look to. other measures for granting it assistance. I trust that I shall not be forced to vote for a duty to keep the industry in existence. The granting of a bounty would achieve results as satisfactory as those likely to be gained by the imposition of a duty, and at the same time it would not be likely to penalize industries in which iron is largely used as raw material. I desire now to refer to the question of the new protection. Throughout my political career I have made it perfectly clear that I am not prepared to grant protection to industries in which satisfactory conditions of labour are not conceded to the worker. I have the greatest doubt as to whether that desirable state of affairs can be achieved in the present state of the Federal law. The only satisfactory^ solution of the difficulty will be found in the adoption of the motion submitted to-day by the honorable member for Batman, that the Commonwealth Parliament should have full power to control industrial . laws. I may say at once that I shall support that motion. At the same time I am willing to look closely into the scheme outlined by the honorable member for South Sydney - a scheme to the preparation of which the honorable member and those associated with him have devoted much time and anxious consideration. Objections may be raised to it, but I believe that the proposal that the products of protected industries shall bear a trade mark - as a guarantee that those engaged in their manufacture enjoy fair conditions of labour - and that a Commission shall be appointed to protect the consumer, will be found far better than the alternative of allowing things to remain as they are.
– Does not the honorable member recognise that such a scheme would be only partially operative, and, therefore, would not be the correct one to bring into existence in connexion with a general Tariff?
– I recognise that we shall encounter enormous difficulties in our efforts to achieve that which I am sure most honorable members have in view. Under existing circumstances, we are likely to be confronted with many obstacles in connexion, not only with, the scheme sub.mitted by the honorable member for South Sydney, but with any other that may be proposed.
– It is the very essence of the Constitution that we should treat all alike.
– The question is a very difficult one to deal with, and I repeat that if we are to. have a satisfactory solution of the problem, the industrial conditions of the Commonwealth must be subject to the control of the Federal Parliament. I shall give every consideration to the scheme outlined by the honorable member for South Sydney, and I am satisfied that if a more satisfactory scheme could be propounded, or any desirable amendment could be suggested, ,no one would be more ready than he would be, in the interests of consumers and workers alike, to accept it.
– Hear, hear !
– Coming to the question of preferential trade, I may say at once that I have never been a very enthusiastic advocate of a scheme under which we are to give other people something for nothing. There is certainly room for reciprocal Tariff relations between the mother country and the great outlying portions of the Empire. But if we are to be fair to our own country, we must first of all take measures to safeguard’ the interests of the Australian worker and the Australian consumer. We must take that step before we give consideration even to the mother country. That, at all events, is my doctrine. I am pledged first of all to Australia; our first obligation is to the people of this country. Once we have secured the position of Australia, I shall be prepared, even without reciprocal treatment, to grant a preference to British imports. I do not think much practical benefit is likely to result to the people of Great Britain from the scheme of preference presented by the Government, but, having regard to the exceptional circumstances under which it has been introduced, I shall be prepared to consider what can be done in the hope that it may lead ultimately to a better understanding and to more satisfactory trade relations between Australia and the country to which ve owe our origin.
Sitting suspended from 6.11 to 7.45 p.m.
.- I should have been’ only too glad to remain quiet during the general discussion upon the Budget and the Tariff, but I presume that I am expected to say something, particularly in regard to the work of the Tariff Commission. I need scarcely add that I am profoundly thankful that that body has completed its labours. Whilst its work has been of a particularly arduous- character, and has been carried on for the most part at high pressure, it seems to have had very few friends indeed throughout the community. Despite the fact that the members of the Commission have worked as hard as it was possible to work, we have been consistently and persistently accused by a certain section of the press with deliberately prolonging our proceedings with a political object in view. Now, I think I may say for myself and all the members of the Commission, that, realizing the important nature of the duty which we were called upon to perform, only one idea was present in our minds, namely, to discharge that duty as thoroughly as possible, and with, the greatest amount of expedition. To me the inquiry was a very interesting one. I entered upon it with a full knowledge of the exhausting nature of the task to which I was addressing myself, but, having always taken a deep interest in political economy, and in the fiscal issue, I thought it would afford me an excellent opportunity, not only to throw some light upon the subject for- the benefit of the public, but to gain information upon my own account. I think that, in view of the position occupied by the people of the Commonwealth in regard to Tariff matters, some such Commission was absolutely doubtedly made patent to me - that it is only was entirely in the nature of an experiment - of a leap in the dark. We had very little to indicate what would be the probable result of its operation. After a few years’ experience of its -working, it was natural that a thorough inquiry should be undertaken, with a view to enabling this Parliament to decide upon definite grounds in what respect it could be improved. I have no desire to deprecate the value of the inquiries which have been undertaken by honorable members on their own account in connexion with Tariff revision, but I think it will be patent to all - as it. was undoubtedly made patent to me - that it is only by bringing those persons who are directly interested in the Tariff question before a body of gentlemen who have full power to investigate their statements that the best and most effective results can be obtained. Lobbying may continue indefinitely, members may be bombarded with written statements, but unless an opportunity is afforded for a proper investigation of those statements - unless their authors can be subjected to a searching cross-examination - I say without hesitation that we are very liable to arrive at) an erroneous decision. That was particularly illustrated in connexion with the work of the Tariff Commission. Witnesses frequently appeared before us with a statement which, upon its face, appeared to be thoroughly sound, but which, upon investigation, was found to wear an entirely different complexion from that which they had intended. Thus it comes abour that two sets of recommendations - representing the views of the two fiscal sections of the Commission - have been presented in respect of many of the items in the Tariff. One of those sections appears to me to have laid more emphasis upon the ex parte statements of witnesses than has the other.
Upon the other hand, the second section of the Commission seems to have relied more upon the_ results of its crossexamination of witnesses. Without claiming that the free-trade section of that body has arrived at any greater degree of truth than has the protectionist section, I do suggest to the Committee, that, before they arrive at any conclusion based ‘upon the allegation, of witnesses as to the need which existsfor imposing higher duties, they should carefully read the cross-examination of those witnesses. I regret that, owing to certain circumstances, the work of the freetrade section of the Commission was confined almost entirely to the crossexamination of protectionist witnesses, who desired that we should recommend the levying of higher ‘rates of duty. I have not only to complain of the hostile attitude of the protectionist journals throughout the Commonwealth to the work of the Commission, but also of the indifference of the great free-trade organs. In Sydney I -was both surprised and disgusted to discover that the newspapers - although they possess enormous influence - were quite unable to realize the importance of the inquiry which was being conducted by the Commission. They failed to recognise that for the first time in the history of Australia - perhaps in the history of the world - protection was on its trial. They failed to grasp the fact that the claims of protection were being investigated in a thorough and at the same time an impartial manner, because the Commission, being composed of an equal number from each side of the fiscal fence, was certain to undertake a most exhaustive inquiry. T repeat that the work of the free- tra de section of the Commission was largely confined to an examination of the claims of protectionists, who asked for the imposition of higher duties. Incidentally it was directed towards an investigation of the alleged principles which underlie protectionist theories. I quite agree with -those members of the direct free-trade party who say that to a large extent the fiscal issue has disappeared in Australia. I regret that freetrade has been wounded almost to death in the house of its friends. The right honorable member for East Sydney has seen fit to abandon the free-trade movement and to take up the cry of antiSocialism.
– But his followers have not done so.
– I am dealing with the utterances of the leader of the Opposition.
Unfortunately, according to the ethics of party government, he can exert an influence over his party irrespective of what their opinions may be. In practically abandoning free-trade for a policy of antiSocialism, the right honorable member has possibly taken a step to his own political advantage. I am a member of the party to which he has opposed himself politically. My political and economic principles are generally those of Socialism. I believe that in an ethical and cultured Socialism lies the only’ hope for the future of humanity. Although I am not one of those who hunger after the immediate realization of Socialism, still I believe in plodding steadily along in a direction which will ultimately give to the people of this country the absolute control, not only of political affairs, but also of social and industrial activities.
– The honorable member does not believe in Socialism in our time.
– It would be unwise, I think, if by any coup de main, Socialism could be achieved immediately to bring it about, because it is an experimental science, and it is only by a gradual process that any real progress can be made. It may not be altogether palatable to my friends in the Opposition corner that I should present a different view of Socialism from that which they have endeavoured to palm off upon the public, but nevertheless I am entitled to point out what I regard as the leading principles of that movement, with a view to showing how wrong they are in opposing it. They might as well attempt to emulate the task of that good lady who endeavoured to sweep back the Atlantic with a broom. If the leader of the Opposition had desired to play into the hands of the Socialists of Australia, he could not have done it better than by adopting his policy of antiSocialism. He has brought into one camp all the reactionary and conservative elements in Australia, though I do not say that there are not there represented elements which are not conservative and reactionary. Since the leader of the Opposition stands for anti-Socialism, every interest in the community identified with reaction and antiquated forms of conservatism flies to him as a rallying centre against the masses who are represented by the Socialists. Therefore, his policy has played into the hands of those who, like myself, believe in Socialism, since it is causing the masses to become, for the first time, class-conscious, in the sense of realizing that, to save themselves from conservatism they must fly into the arms of labour. There is another reason besides the attitude of the right honorable member for East Sydney for the decline of free-trade in Australia./ There is not the least doubt but that in Victoria free-trade is regarded as a policy to be anathematised by the people generally.
– Because they have been groping in the dark for the last forty years.
– -This is not wholly due to the activity of the protectionists - or even to the influence of that great protectionist newspaper which has fought so well for the cause of protection, and, incidentally, for many of the rights of the people. Protection has gained an advantage in Victoria largely because the newspaper which has represented the free-trade view in this State has identified itself with everything that is reactionary and hostile to the popular interests.
– The honorable member suggests that the success of protection is due to association of ideas.
– -That phrase explains my meaning. By reason of the association of ideas, the people of Victoria have come to identify free-trade with everything contrary to the interests of the masses, with freedom for the privileged few to exploit the community at large while the masses remain in servitude.
– There could not be a more erroneous view of free-trade.
– I agree with the honorable member.
– Does the honorable member think that protection should be associated with conservatism ?
– In other countries, protection is associated with conservatism. In that great protectionist country, the United States of America, a strong socialistic, democratic body is growing by leaps and bounds, and agitating strongly and forcibly for a revision of the Tariff in the direction of securing freer trade. In Germany the Social Democratic Party - a great and growing political force, although it may have sustained a temporary check recently - numbers several millions, and is pledged to fight against protection and to do its best to remove a Tariff which has caused an increasing consumption in that country, not only of horse flesh, but even dog flesh - a condition of affairs which gives the lie direct to statements regarding the alleged prosperity of the workers of Germany. Accounting further for the decline of free-trade in Australia, I say that in New South Wales the tendency of the newspapers - although for ‘many years they have voiced the democratic aspirations of the community - is to edge round towards the interests of capital as against those of the masses. What wonder is it, when the people see capitalism in alliance with freetrade, that they should by the association of ideas, identify fiscal freedom with tyranny ? And so at the present time free-trade is under a cloud in Australia, due to an unfortunate combination of circumstances, such as is sometimes more effective than argument. The protectionist organs can appeal to the sentiments of the workers, and can use this appeal with greater force to secure the adoption of protection than would attach to the strongest and most effective arguments. One part of the work of the Tariff Commission, as I have indicated, was to inquire into the bona fides of protection, and another, which has been dwelt upon very forcibly in .this Chamber ‘on one or two occasions, related to the question of revenue. It was, perhaps, going beyond the scope of the Commission to deal with the revenue phase of Tariff revision ; but we were instructed to inquire into the effect of the Tariff on Australian industries, and incidentally, the free-trade members of the Commission at least, took it upon themselves to keep the revenue question in view. They now find that in doing so they have put themselves into a position which has given an opportunity for very adroit misrepresentation by the Government. I have never been a revenue tariffist. Whenever Tariff questions have been discussed in this Chamber, I have spoken and voted as a straight out free-trader. I believe in direct taxation, and have always advocated it. But I am not so foolish or impracticable as to suggest that Parliament should, by one swoop, if possible, do away with indirect taxation.
– Then the honorable member must -be a “revenue “tariffist to that extent.
– I am one of those unfortunate politicians who, by the logic of events, is sometimes compelled to compromise between a good principle and a bad one. The honorable member for Parramatta showed very ably the other night that the movement in favour of direct taxation is growing throughout Australia, perhaps as rapidly and effectively as one can reasonably wish. I think that it would be nothing. short of a national disaster for this Parliament to abolish, at one swoop, the present methods of obtaining revenue by indirect taxation. I hold that view largely in consideration of the circumstances of the States, and of my own State in particular, revenue being urgently needed, not only for the development of the country, which is so highly desirable, but to provide daily bread for the mouths of women and children who sadly need it.
– In other words, our financial limitations necessarily make us all revenue tariffists
– Precisely. As reasonable and practical men, we must acknowledge these limitations. Even those of us who, like myself, are absolute free-traders, and opposed to revenue tariffism, cannot ignore them. But certain honorable members, misled by developments for which I cannot charge the Government directly, but which undoubtedly have been a god-send to them, have spoken of the free-trade section of. the Commission ‘as having OUt.heroded Herod in its advocacy of *et ** revenue Tariff. I deny that we have done so. We have pointed out the anomalies of the old Tariff from a revenue point of view, showing that certain articles were free, and others dutiable, without there being any apparent reason for discriminating between them. But it was misleading for the Go,vernment to publish a document indicating, that we have proposed revenue duties on a great many items which, under the old Tariff, were free. The free-trade section of the Commission, observing the numerous anomalies, and the lack of system and science in the Tariff, proposed a method of classification which it thought would assist the Government and the Customs Department. That classification affected two classes of goods : apparel and textiles, and metals and manufactures of metals. In regard to the first class, it has been alleged that we are desirous of imposing a duty on meat wraps and similar articles. We undoubtedly put the exemptions under Division V. of the old Tariff into our classification ; but the whole tenor of our report on bags and sacks was a distinct recommendation to Parliament not to place a duty for either revenue or protective purposes on these articles.
– It is to be hoped that the Age will take notice of the honorable member’s explanation. It printed the statement which he has refuted.
– When we come to metals, metal work, and machinery in general, we indicate even more plainly that the items which we are charged with wishing to make dutiable are, so far as we are concerned, to be on the free list. We drew up a schedule of our recommendations on metals and machinery, in which we indicated where those particular items were to be found in the old Tariff ; that is, the particular items as we have classified them. But while in relation to apparel and textiles we plainly indicate our desire to put the special exemptions, in many cases, into the dutiable list because they appeared to be anomalous, we were particularly careful in connexion with metals, metal work, and machinery to leave the exemptions under that head in the old Tariff severely alone. The honorable member for South Sydney made a point against the free-traders on the Tariff Commission, in connexion with the case of the “ poor struggling sempstress,” whom it was said we proposed to tax in respect of her sewing thread. We did so propose; and I shall tell honorable members why. If there is to be a duty on such articles, which undoubtedly form the staple of manyl other industries, we fail to see why there should be any discrimination. If the “ poor struggling sempstress “ is to be taxed 5 per cent, on the cotton piece goods she uses, we were utterly unable to see why cotton thread should escape, duty. We approached the matter in a logical way with an idea of removing many anomalies ; and my reply to the honorable member for South Sydney, so far as the “ poor struggling sempstress “ is concerned, is that by the time Parliament has finished dealing with the duties which affect her, he will probably find that the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission propose to let her down much more gently than he or his friends on the other side of the fiscal fence are prepared to do. I have stated distinctly the position in regard to textiles, and have shown how we introduced the exemptions under the old Tariff under our recommendations in regard to the classification of that item.. But I wish again to emphasize the point, that in connexion with metals, metal work, and machinery, -we carefully left that large free list under the old Tariff severely alone. Does any one in his senses imagine that the free-trade section of the Commission wished to place cream separators under a revenue duty, as the honorable member for West Sydnev tried to make out the other night?
Surely this is so obvious that we ought to have escaped any attempt to fix a charge of that kind upon us. I challenge the honorable member for West Sydney, or any one else, to show where, throughout the whole of our recommendations, we make the slightest suggestion that any duty should be placed upon cream separators or the hundred and one articles required in the primary industries throughout Australia indicated in the special exemption list of the. old Tariff. We saw, in connexion with those exemptions under metals and machinery, that most of them, applied to the primary industries; arid, as I say, we left them absolutely and entirely out of our recommendations with regard to classification. But what have the Government done in connexion with this precious document? They have assumed, as I say, without any justification whatever - if they were in doubt, it was their duty to apply to the free-trade section of the Commission for information - that our reommendations as to the classification of metals and machinery applied to the free list, as well as to the items distinctly specified as dutiable.
– That is quite on a par with the way in which the Government have been treating our reports generally.
– The Government had not a shadow of justification for such a course. The fact that we indicated in one of our classifications that the exemptions should be included, and that in regard to metals and machinery we left the exemptions severely alone, is sufficient proof of our intentions and desire?. I suggest that the Government withdraw this document^ and place a correct one before Parliament and the country. The Government must realize that the document as it stands is entirely misleading and unfair to those members of the Commission who are, on principle, absolutely and entirely opposed to the placing of duties on the requirements of the great primary industries, on which the secondary industries depend for their existence.
– Why did the honor able member not complain at once?
– I will tell the honorable member frankly why. I had seen the document, but did not look carefully into it until members of this House brought certain charges against us. When I sought a reason for the charges, I discovered it in this particular publication issued under the auspices of the Government. I intended to challenge those honorable members directly, but I realize now that they spoke on the authority of what appeared an authentic and official document, and I absolve them from any attempt to misrepresent the freetrade section of the Commission. But I insist that the Government shall, at the earliest opportunity, render it impossible for any others to make the same mistake.
– Does the honorable member say that that is the only part of the document which is in error?
– I say that all that portion which includes as dutiable under our classification, the special exemptions under the old Tariff, is in error.
– The honorable member does not mean only this particular item?
– I mean all the special exemptions in the old Tariff in connexion with metals and machinery which were intended in our classification to remain specially exempt.
– Did the free-trade section state their intention in so many words in a report?
– I have taken some time to show how it is impossible to arrive at any other conclusion than that such was our intention. We left the exemptions severely alone in connexion with this division, whereas we introduced them in the other classification. Surely the difference in our dealing with the two items is sufficient proof of our intention to treat them differently. The next remark I have to make is that, after a most thorough and painstaking investigation, we found no strangled industries either in Victoria or in any other State of the Commonwealth. On the contrary, speaking generally, we found a record of prosperity and progress of which we ought to be proud, as evincing what I have always contended, namely, that with the larger marketof the Commonwealth available, . as contrasted with the previously-restricted markets of the States, manufacturers are more than able to hold their own against any competition from the outside world. Undoubtedly, in some cases, manufacturers who came forward showed that they had fallen back ; but those were cases in which they, themselves, were to blame. They had either been content with antiquated machinery or methods, or, as was obvious in one or two cases, they were, perhaps, more interested in horse-racing and other sports than in the progress and development of their business. It was only natural that such people should come to us complaining about the inadequacy of the Tariff, but, at the. same time, we were fully aware, from official and other evidence, that the majority of their colleagues in the same industry were progressing in the most satisfactory fashion.
– Did the investigation of the Commission tell the honorable member that the manufacturing industry had made the same progress as the importing industry ?
– We were, unfortunately, placed in the position that we had almost entirely the statements of protectionist applicants to deal with. We had very little evidence from the other side of the fiscal fence, and the duty of the freetrade section resolved itself, I regret to say, very largely into an investigation of the claims put forward on behalf of protection as a theory, and on behalf of those who came before us asking for higher duties.
– How could it be otherwise, when they were asked to come forward and make their claims?
– It could not very well be otherwise, for the simple reason that the protectionist has a direct interest in applying for higher duties, whereas the free-trader, which is really only another name for the general consumer, is so indifferent that he very rarely takes notice of what is being done contrary to his interests until, as in the present case, it is too late to make an appeal. “ What is everybody’s business is nobody’s business “ is a saying that applies with particular force to the free-trade section of the community, or rather to the free-trade interests of the community in Australia. Accordingly, while a vital and personal interest was felt by protectionists in the raising of duties, there were very few, indeed, of the community who took the trouble to appear before the Commission as advocates of that policy which best suits the interests of the consumers.
– The Tariff Commission was appointed for the one purpose of finding out where increased protection was necessary.
– I thank the honorable member for, his reminder. Undoubtedly the object of the Commission was to inquire into the effect of the Tariff on Australian industries.
– It was clearly set out that it was not a Commission to inquire into the question of free- trade versus protection.
– Quite so; it was a Commission appointed, as I have said, to inquire into the effect of the Tariff on Australian industries.
– That is why free-traders did not come forward to give evidence.
– There is a free-trade side even to- industrial life, and I was very much surprised that the free-trade interest in that connexion was not represented before the Commission. When subsequently I spoke privately to some of the free-traders I found the reason for this was the very powerful influence which would have been directed against them, particularly in Victoria, had they dared to produce evidence likely to interfere with what is regarded as the settled policy of this State.
– Was not the Commission specially asked to report, amongst other things, upon the effect of the Tariff upon the consumer ?
– I regret to say that it was not. I come now to what appeared to me to be the practical and most interesting phases of this inquiry. I refer to the industrial result of the fiscal policy of Australia. Here I may say that it was a source of amusement to myself and other members of the Commission to receive letters, as we very often did, from individuals who, apparently had not achieved very much prominence in the community, but thought themselves entirely capable of advising us as to the fiscal policy that Australia ought to adopt. The strain of the instruction usually given by protectionist writers to the Commission was : “ Protect those industries that are naturally adapted to Australia ; protect what we ourselves can produce, and allow that which we cannot produce to come in free.”
– That is a very good policy.
– It appears to be a verysimple one until one proceeds to consider what we can produce and what we cannot produce for ourselves.
– There is very little that we cannot’ produce.
– The most effective argument against the promiscuous production in Australia of a number of things indicated as possible by our protectionist advisers is supplied by the statements of protectionists who came before the Commission. In the mouths of many who came before us asking for higher duties the policy of protecting what we could produce ourselves frequently resolved itself into this: “Protection for what I produce ; free-trade for the other fellow, who produces my raw material.” If it be correct that protection does not increase prices - that protection supplies the local manufacturer ‘ with raw materials suited, in the matter of quality and prices to his purpose - how comes it that so many protectionist manufacturers appeared before the Commission, protesting that the imposition of duties on their raw materials would seriously cripple their industries, and lead to a loss of employment in connexion with’ them ?
– Everything depends on what is considered to be raw material.
– I have again to thank the honorable member for a useful interjection. Does he not realize that what are raw materials in one case are frequently manufactured materials in another?
– If it be necessary for a manufacturer to obtain raw materials at the lowest rate, and of a given quality, in order that he may carry on his industry, will the honorable gentleman say that. the manufacturer ought to be penalized for the benefit of some one else ?
– I say that there ought to be effective protection on every article that can be manufactured in Australia.
– I can put before the honorable gentleman the evidence of many ardent protectionists who urged that the application of such a policy to them would be seriously detrimental to their business, and lead to a loss of employment. The. protectionists here are on the horns of a dilemma. Since the introduction of the new Tariff one cannot open the protectionist newspaper published in this city without finding in it protests by protectionist manufacturers against increasing the duties on some of their raw materials for the sake of assisting manufacturers carrying on business beside them. . While, on the one hand, we may impose a’ duty that increases employment, on the other the existence of that duty takes away employment. And so I contend that protection, if it be carried out in: its entirety, simply means a process of shifting from shoulder to shoulder the burdens of a number of people standing in a row. The one at the end of the row, who has no one behind him to impose a burden upon him, alone reaps the advantage. A gentleman who came before the Commission in Sydney admitted that his reason for asking for more protection was that some one had been imposing burdens, in the shape of duties, on his back, and that he had, therefore, to ask that he should have an opportunity to place some of his burdens on the shoulders of somebody else. Another phase of this inquiry - and to me the most interesting of all - was the strictly labour aspect of the Tariff. One of the arguments used most frequently by protectionists throughout Australia - and one that I . admit has been used in the past with a great deal of force - was that because we paid our workers here much higher wages than rule in other countries from which goods are introduced into Australia, it was necessary that we should impose high protective duties to obviate the disadvantages of the higher wages paid by the local manufacturer. I admit that if there be any thoroughly sound facts behind that argument it ought to be all-powerful to any one who, like myself, believes in levelling up the conditions of the. workers of Australia.
– Surely there is something in that argument.
– I propose to show what there is in it. We are told, for instance, that if wages in Australia are, say 50 per cent, higher than they are in the competing country, there ought to be a 50 per cent. Tariff to level up the difference. We were frequently met with that statement. I have seen it urged very strongly in the newspapers that this matter of high wages is one which, above all others, should commend itself to the Parliament as a reason for the imposition of the high protective duties proposed by the Government. The free-trade section of the Commission has gone very carefully into that phase of the question. While we found that time and again the statements made by protectionist manufacturers asking for higher duties apparently indicated that iri some cases a high duty was very necessary, yet when we made that close investigation which our powers of cross-examination permitted, we discovered that the claim, for the most part, vanished into thin air. We have shown this in detail in several of our reports, and I propose to read one or two typical instances to illustrate my point. Before doing so, I would point out that it is obvious to any one who has devoted any consideration to the question of the amount of duty necessary to level up labour conditions, that such a duty applies necessarily only to that portion of the product indicated by the value of the labour.
– That applies not only to the labour on the article, but to the labour on the machinery and the buildings used in the production- of the article.
– It applies to all labour conditions. It is obvious to those who have thought of this matter that in these days there is hardly a secondary industry which is not carried on very largely by the utilization of steam power and machinery. Hence it follows that in connexion with many of these industries the proportion of human labour in a given product dwindles very considerably when the case is dissected in arithmetical fashion.
– Does not the freetrade section of the Commission regard “labour” as covering also profit and interest?
– Not exactly.
– It does in connexion with its report on mining machinery.
– In some cases where that claim is made we have taken into consideration the disadvantages indicated by the honorable member. As a rule we found that the protectionist witnesses based their . complaints almost entirely on the alleged difference in the labour cost. That being so, we have confined our investigations to that phase of the question, except in those cases where some additional disadvantage was alleged. It may be laid down almost as a general principle that in nearly all secondary industries the proportion of labour is about one-fourth, so that the difference in wages, whatever it may be, has to be regarded in relation to that onefourth of the product which is represented by the labour.
– Did the Commission find that that was the position in connexion with the manufacture of machinery?
– Yes. Let me take as a typical item, that relating to blankets and woollen piece goods. The statement was made to the Commission that higher wages necessitated a higher duty for the protection of this industry. The witnesses before the Commission who asked for higher duties insisted that the difference in the wages cost was 50 per cent. That, in my opinion, is an exaggeration. I believe that in many of the woollen factories in the old country the wages of the bulk of the workers are not far short of those paid in many factories in Australia. There are, undoubtedly, some low-class factories where the wages are much lower, but I could instance factories within my own knowledge in which the average wage paid is probably not far short of the average wage paid in similar factories in Australia. We were anxious, however, to give our opponents the benefit of the most extreme cases that they cited. Accordingly we have based our calculations upon the assumption that the difference between the cost of labour was the full amount stated by the woollen manufacturers, namely, 50 per cent. We then proceed -
We regard a 50 per cent, increase on the English rate as an extreme estimate of the total labour disability of the Australian woollen manufacture, but for the purpose of this inquiry we are prepared to adopt it as the basis of calculation. The next step is to find what proportion of the cost of production is represented by the labour. From the evidence of witnesses representing four different mills, we extract the following statements of the total amounts of wages and output : -
(Grainger, Queensland, ‘0,731-33; Williams, Queensland, 10,966, 11,079; Welsh, Queensland, 12,216, 12,257; Vicars, New South Wales, 26,708). This gives approximately 30 per cent, as the proportion of labour in a given output. So in every £100 worth of goods produced in Australia the value of the labour is £30, as against £20 paid by the British manufacturer. Therefore, on an extreme estimate, the total Australian labour disability is not more than 10 per cent, on the value of the goods produced.
– Did the free-trade members of the Commission take into consideration the relative purchasing value of the wages paid?
– No. We have merely dealt with the protectionist contention which is so frequently urged as a reason for the imposition of practically prohibitive duties.
– What about the question of freight?
– In nearly every case the freight charges represent more than the actual difference between the wages cost. So that even in the matter of freight alone Australian industries enjoy a natural protection which I should be perfectly prepared to regard as reasonable under the circumstances.
– What about the difference between the hours of labour?
– We took that factor into consideration. We say -
Putting it in another way, from a protectionist stand-point, and ignoring the natural protection of freights, a duty of 10 per cent, on the goods in question would equalize all the alleged disadvantages of the Australian manufacturer in respect of higher wages and shorter hours.
There are other considerations with which we have not dealt at all. For instance, where a manufacturer sends goods which are made of Australian wool into Australia, he is at a disadvantage of 16J per cent, as compared with the local manufacturer. The charges for shipping the wool from Australia, and transporting it to the mills in the midlands, average about 15 per cent.
– The honorable member has previously stated that 30 per cent, represented the difference between the rate of wages paid in Australia and that paid elsewhere, and that it did not cover the difference between the number of hours worked.
– This calculation on the part of the free-trade members of the Commission covers both the difference between the rate of wages paid and the number of hours worked.
– But in practice the idea does not work out in the way that the honorable member suggests.
– That is another of those chance statements by which protectionists are inclined to evade a logical deduction from their own statements before the Commission. I can assure the Postmaster-General that when we come to consider the items separately, I will take care that the Committee are placed in possession of the deductions of the free-trade section of the Commission, so far as they relate to the imposition of higher duties, in order that labour conditions in Australia may be equalized. It will then be for the Committee to decide what additional duties shall be levied, bearing in mind the fact that if we fix them too high we shall in all probability either be offering a premium to our local manufacturers to’ continue ineffective methods, or permitting the plundering of the people in respect of prices.
– Does not the honorable member think that the British manufacturer in distributing his goods to all portions of Australia occupies a very much more disadvantageous position than does the manufacturer in, say, Sydney?
– Undoubtedly. The mere fact that a manufacturer is closely associated with his consumers confers a tremendous advantage upon him. Other things being equal, those who retail goods will deal with the producer who is nearest to them, because it is entirely to their advantage to do so. Hence Australia enjoys that natural protection, so far as her geographical isolation is concerned, which, although quite ignored by protectionists, amounts to a very serious handicap to manufacturers in other parts of the world.
– It is not sufficient to protect us against “ dumping.”
– I will deal with the question of dumping presently. In connexion with mining machinery, I intend to read another deduction by the free-trade members df trie Commission, which ought o be interesting to the Committee. These reductions, whilst placed amongst our conclusions, can easily be traced throughout our entire reports. We have been particularly careful that nothing in the nature of a deduction shall appear which is not led up to by evidence extracted, sometimes very unwillingly, from manufacturers themselves who asked for the imposition of higher duties. With regard to the manufacture of mining machinery, our deduction is -
That the amount paid in wages in the manufacture of mining machinery in the Commonwealth does not exceed one-third of the total value of the output ; that the cost of labour in Australia is, at the most, one-third higher than the cost in competing countries; that, therefore, the existing duty of 12^ per cent, ad valorem much more than covers the difference in the labour cost. For example, in the output abroad of the value of J, I,000 the sum of .£249 would be paid in wages. In a similar output in Australia the amount paid in wages would be ^332. The difference, therefore, in labour cost would be £83 in a total value of £1,000; in other words, a little over 8 per cent.
We have heard a great deal of recent years about the necessity of protecting our wellpaid engineers against the products of cheap labour from other parts of the world. If the duties imposed by this Committee are to be based upon that claim, irrefutable evidence is published in our report on mining machinery that a duty of 8 per cent, will accomplish all that is required in that direction.
– The amalgamated engineers say just the opposite.
– But they failed to prove their case. Does the PostmasterGeneral wish us to accept the ex parte statement of the engineers? Does he not admit that a reasonable investigation of their claim was absolutely necessary?
– I know that an ounce of practice is worth more than a pound of theory ; and the engineers themselves know . more about their position than does the honorable member.
– With regard to “ dumping,” I say that during the last year or two no aspect of the fiscal issue has been more emphasized. If we had believed the protectionist newspapers of Australia, we should have been under the impression that the Commonwealth was simply being overwhelmed by foreign goods, which were being “ dumped “ upon our market. But throughout the investigation of the Tariff Commission, not a single well authenticated case of “ dumping “ was found.
– Not even in the case of agricultural machinery, which was sold here cheaper than it was sold in America.
– Not even in the case of agricultural machinery which, in all cases, was sold in Australia at a profit on the actual cost of production.
– It was sold here cheaper than it was sold in America, where it was produced.
– As I understand the term, “ dumping “ implies the sale of goods in a foreign country at a less price than that for which they were produced.
– Not necessarily.
– If the honorable member says that it may mean the sale of foreign goods in Australia for a less price than that charged in the country of their origin, his statement simply goes to show that a higher price is being extracted from the purchasers in the United States or in Canada - inside their Tariff walls - than should be extracted from them, and that in Austrafia - owing to the low duty levied upon this article - the goods have been placed upon the market at a price which would represent a reasonable profit upon the cost of production. I do not say that in some cases goods are not sold in Australia by importers for less than they are sold in Great Britain. But, as one who was connected in the old country with a firm which shipped large quantities of goods abroad, I know that it is quite a common practice for exporters to quote a lower price for a shipping consignment than for a consignment which is intended for the home market. The reason is that the shipping consignment can be handled at a less cost. But nobody contends that that practice amounts to “ dumping.” So long as an article is sold at a reasonable profit upon the cost of production, there can be no charge of “ dumping.”
– Did the honorable member come across any cases in which goods had been sold in Australia at less than the cost of manufacture ?
– Not at the end of a season ?
– It might happen occasionally in such circumstances. But, in spite of repeated assertions as to wholesale dumping in Australia not one well authenticated case of this evil is revealed throughout the evidence tendered to the Tariff Commission. It stands to reason that if a foreign manufacturer had a quantity of goods which he desired to “dump” he would not select a limited market like that of Australia for his operations. He would “ dump “ in a much larger market, where the effect of his “dumping” would not be to unduly lower prices.
– Where would that be?
– It might be in Great Britain. He might dump in his own market.
– Is not Mr. McKay dumping his harvesters in the Argentine?
– I do not wish to go into that matter. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the goods which come to Australia come under ordinary business conditions, being consigned through indentors. or in response to orders sent from here. I do not think that any one need worry about dumping so long as Australia remains so much isolated from the great centres of the world’s production. I do not wish to discuss in detail to-night the proposals of the Government ; I shall defer my remarks upon the separate items until we deal with them seridtim. But generally they strike me as being exceedingly crude. I agree with the honorable member for South Sydney that the Tariff bears the marks of undue haste. I cannot understand the manner in which tools of trade have been differentiated, in some cases being admitted duty free, and in others being made dutiable. Among “tools of trade “ I include, for example, machinery equipment of the Kalgoorlie mines, which” are the tools of trade of the miners working there, just as much as are the contents of the Melbourne carpenter’s kit,- his tools of trade. But the Government have gone still further in this respect. Under Division VI., metals and machinery, bootmaking machine tools,, n.e.i., are dutiable at 25 and 20 per cent., and mining engines and machinery at 35 and 25 percent. But, as every one knows, the mining industry cannot derive a benefit from protective duties, whereas .’bootmaking is heavily subsidized by the Tariff. Yet the subsidized industry has to pay a lower rate of duty on its requirements than the industry which is not subsidized, and which, in Western Australia at any rate, has to contend with far more adverse conditions.
– The same thing is done in the old Tariff.
– Precisely. Not only does the Government make the unfair differentiation, to which I have just referred, but, whereas under item 166, machinery for felting, for scouring and washing wool, and other machines of that class, are dutiable at 25 and 20 per cent., it is provided on page 49, that on - machinery and parts thereof used in the manufacture of fibrous materials and felt, and felt hats, when installed for use in a woollen mill or a hat factory .for the manufacture of such materials, felts and hats - a rebate of the full duty paid on their introduction into the Commonwealth shall be given. That is a most extraordinary arrangement. The woollen industry and the hat-making industry are protected by practically prohibitive duties, and yet the Government proposes to give a rebate to the full amount of the duty on machinery installed in woollen and hat mills. The mining and farming industries, however, are left to struggle along as best they may without benefit from the Tariff, and handicapped by duties on their requirements. I should like an explanation from some member of the Ministry on this subject. A common argument of the protectionist school is that the imposition of duties on. such articles as mining machinery, although a disadvantage to the working miner, provides employment for other persons ; but I contend that a duty imposed to create employment reduces employment in some other direction. That contention is strikingly borne out by the evidence of a Mr. Shallcross, who gave evidence before the Tariff Commission in respect to what is technically known in Western Australia as a mining proposition.” A company was prepared to commence operations in that State with a view to making a profit out of certain low-grade ores, but when the figures had been gone into carefully, it: was discovered that when duty, at the rate of 12 J per cent., had been paid on the machinery which’ would be required, the employment which could be given would have to be substantially reduced. We, who come from Western Australia, knowthat there are a large number of low-grade propositions awaiting development, but that they cannot be developed because of the cost of the high-class machinery required to treat the ore. I frequently said to engineers who were giving evidence before ‘ the Commission, “ In Western Australia certain low-grade propositions await development. If we allow those who wish to work them to obtain, free of duty, the best equipment for their mines. will you not gain an advantage by getting work in connexion with the details of the machinery?” I rarely got a satisfactory answer to that question. But, as a matter of fact, hardly any mine in the State has been equipped without a great deal of locally-made machinery being used. Various mining managers assured us on oath that if they could get in Australia at reasonable prices the machinery which they required they would purchase here, and that they go abroad only for such equipment as is not produced in the Commonwealth, or is not obtainable here at a reasonable cost. If the attitude of the Australian engineers is supported by this Parliament, it will mean largely the killing of the goose which lays the golden eggs for them. They are apparently so blind to their interests that, rather than allow a portion of the equipment of mines to *be admitted duty free, getting the rest of the work for themselves, they would prevent mining development altogether. A little consideration of this question ought to convince even protectionists that it would be profitable to reduce to the vanishing point the duty on the requirements of Western Australian mines, because whatever is imported in the way of equipment will stand at a low ratio to what will be required locally. Having carefully done my work as a Tariff Commissioner, my opinion is that what our secondary industries need is, not more protection, but a larger consumption, which can be obtained only by the development of the great natural resources of the country, which are hardly yet touched. It is incredible that any one can be so foolish as to imagine that while our immense natural resources are lying idle our population can become prosperous by following the example of the old ladies in a certain village, who conceived the brilliant scheme of becoming wealthy by taking in one another’s washing. That is what the protective policy of Australia practically means at the present time. Many protectionists are prepared to seriously interfere withthe development of our mining and agricultural industries to encourage secondary industries, forgetful of the fact that, to the extent to which they hamper the primary industries, they injure the secondary industries. I regret that, for the present, free-trade is impossible for Australia. As a labour representative, I hold that the interests qf labour could be fully preserved under that policy by a democratic Government. But a democratic freetrade Government cannot be hoped for in Australia at the present time, and, as one who desires to consider the interests of the workers, I am therefore driven towards that phase of fiscalism .which, when modified according to modern proposals, assumes a much less objectionable form than it originally had; I refer to what is called’ the new protection. Its existence is due to a large extent to the criticisms and arguments of those who, like myself, objected . to the old form of protection, which meant merely the erection of a ring fence round the community, leaving the worker and the consumer absolutely at the mercy of economic forces which frequently operated to their disadvantage. But combined with a policy which seeks the welfare of ‘the worker, and sees that the consumer is not fleeced, I admit that protection, as a fiscal theory, rises to a much higher plane than it ever did before. I am prepared to assist in carrying out a plan of giving effect to those ethical principles which ought always to have the freest and fullest application in any civilized community. The interests of the consumer, and’ the welfare of the worker are two principles which, I believe, are embodied in the new protection, although the present Government, unfortunately, have not in this connexion shown the zeal we anticipated a few months ago. I cannot fail to recollect that up to the present the attempts of the Labour Party to initiate the new protection in relation to the stripper harvester industry have failed ; and the fact that this failure is due to the apparent indifference of the Government would, to my mind, fully justify the Labour Party in assisting to change the present Government for some Government’ who would give us those conditions we have undoubtedly associated with the protective policy generally. 1 still believe that in time to come we shall have that free exchange of products that is the ideal of every free-trader. That will not be brought about under the old system, but under the new, when the democracies of the various countries of the world have obtained the same control over their industries which we, in Australia, enjoy. I believe that amongst other things the new protection will make for that-direct control of industry which I, as a Socialist, desire. In that respect, I cannot oppose a proposal to impose such duties as will not militate against the interests of the workers, as will not interfere with the interests of the consumers, and as may be necessary to level such disadvantages as the manufacturers have proved to exist in the competition between themselves and the outside world.
– Does the honorable member believe the new protection scheme, as stated by the leader of the Labour Party, to be practicable?
– I can see obstacles in the way ; but I certainly think the most practicable scheme would be such as I see is advocated in the United States. That is, the appointment of a permanent Commission, with power to investigate all cases in which it is alleged that the manufacturers have not enough protection, that the workers have conditions too hard, or that the consumer is unduly exploited. A Commission with power to deal with those phases of the question would, I believe, go a long way towards modifying the disadvantages of a protective policy. I can only reiterate that while, in view Of the financial conditions in Australia, no consistent attitude is possible for any free-trade member of this House, I shall use my own judgment in accordance with the principles I have enunciated, in bringing about conditions in connexion with the Tariff which, in my opinion, are best calculated to advance the interests of the community as a whole, and, above all, conserve the welfare of the masses of the community whom I am primarily sent here to represent.
.- In the first place I wish to explain my position as a member of this House, and as a protectionist. Over three years ago, when I became a candidate for - Federal honours, I stood as a protectionist, and I was asked whether I was an extreme protectionist. I replied that I was not an extreme protectionist of the Victorian school, as I understood it then, and I certainly am not as I understand it now. I am in favour of protecting all industries to a certain extent; but I am afraid that the result of making the Tariff too high would be the establishment of monopolies, which is one of the great dangers we have to guard against. Whether we can, by the new protection, or by some other method, avert that danger I do not know ; but if I am found voting against some of the high duties which have been suggested by the Government, it will be understood that I am acting independently, as I have always done.- I have been accused of being a humble follower of the Government. When I came to this House, the present protective Ministry was in office, and I took my seat on the cross-benches, because I am not a party man in any shape or form’. I do not believe in party politics as politics are administered in this House or in any Parliament in Australia at the present time. For the last twenty years I have been studying politics; and- I am convinced that, until we get rid of our present method of doing our business, we shall have continual blots on the prosperity of Australia. I shall not deal with the question of elective Ministries at the present time, because there is a motion dealing with the subject on the notice-paper. I may say, however, that when that motion is submitted, I shall be most happy Jo support it; and notwithstanding that some honorable members opposite laugh at the idea, I say that elective Ministries are within practical politics now. If any private business in Australia were conducted on the same principles as is parliamentary business, those interested would be in the Bankruptcy ‘Court in a very short time.
– As the honorable member believes so strongly in the no-party system, may I suggest that he should practice no-party principles a little in this House ?
– I have always acted independently. I vote for a motion if I am in favour of it, and I vote against, if I am opposed to it.
– So do we all ; .is the honorable member the only honest man in the House?
– The honorable member for Parramatta asked me why I did not show my independence sometimes, and I replied that I always do so.
– I suggested that the honorable member should divest himself of any party feeling, since he objects to party politics.
– As I say, when I entered this House, I took my seat on the cross-benches, and .when the Ministry changed I desired to occupy a seat in the same position. However, the Labour Party were so numerous, that they required all the seats for themselves, and I had therefore, to sit somewhere else. In the State House of Tasmania, I adopted a similar attitude as a member. Having said so much ‘ in regard to my views on protection, I deprecate the remarks made by some honorable members this year, and in former years, in regard to the manufacturers of Australia. I contend that our manufacturers, as a body, are as honest and upright as any other class in the community. No doubt there are some bad ones amongst the manufacturers, just as there are amongst the employes, and, indeed, in every walk of life. But I repeat that as a body the manufacturers of Australia compare favorably with any other section of the community. If there were no manufacturers we should have no wages paid to employes, and there would be none of those consumers of which some honorable members seem to think so much.
– Supposing we had no mines in Australia, what would happen? -
– If we had no mines, ‘ so long as we had bread and water we could live, whereas if we had all the mines and no bread and water, we could not live. I have nothing to say against mining ; and that leads me to deal with another question. I was at Broken Hill a few weeks ago, and on seeing the beautiful mines there, I thought of what some honorable members and some newspapers say in regard to Australia being a desert. No doubt Broken Hill was a desert before the discovery of the minerals ; and it would be well for legislators and for the newspapers not to speak ill of Australia, but to remember that though some parts of the country may appear to be desert, ‘ they may yet be found to contain great wealth. I was saying that if we had no manufacturers there would be no wages paid to the workmen; and we have also to consider the farming community. One honorable member opposite said that a community of farmers could live without the cities. But it would be a very hopeless and helpless sort of existence for the farmers, if they had no cities to which to send their produce. They might be able to lead a Robinson Crusoe kind of existence; but if Australia is to be a prosperous and happy country, there must not only be a large number of farmers, but a large number of factories, with factory hands to consume the farmers’ produce. Whether we go to the railway station and see the grain arriving, or to the market and observe the arrival of the garden produce, we realize that in Melbourne and the other cities there is a large consuming community maintained by employment in factories. Therefore, it is better for us to endeavour to build up factories in Australia, so that there may be consumers here. Some honorable members say that what we require is an outlet for our produce; and, in my opinion, the nearer home we have that outlet, the better it will be for Australia. There are a great many questions dealt with in the Budget, but it is not my intention to consider them all to-night, but simply to deal with a few, and more especially those of interest to the State I represent. The honorable member for Parramatta referred to the bookkeeping system; and I have no doubt that if the people of Australia had thought this system was to be maintained, and. that we should continue as six separate States, there would have been no Federation. As the honorable member for Parramatta said, there never will Le true Federation until that system is abolished. How that abolition is to be brought about it is not for me to say to-night, more than that I believe that trie larger States, who benefit so largely from the smaller States, could very easily give up a little of their revenue for the benefit of the latter. The honorable member for North Sydney last year pointed out very clearly how the larger cities and States were receiving much benefit from the smaller States; and it is always the case, where there is free interchange, that people go to the larger centres for the goods they require. So it is that Victoria during the last five or six years has doubled its output to the other States. The people of Tasmania, and also the people of South Aus.tralia, go to trie nearest largest centre ; and the same may be said of the people of New South Wales in relation to Sydney. Under the circumstances, the largest States could well afford to give up a part of their revenue for the benefit of the smaller States. I know that from a States’ point of view that would not be fair ; but if we are a federated Australia, with “ one flag, one destiny,” as used to be predicted by the- advocates of Federation, we should abolish all. border lines, and have a Federation on truly broad and liberal principles. As I said last year, when Victoria, before Federation, was managing its own affairs, and collecting a large revenue through the Customs, there was never raised in the State Parliament the argument that Melbourne was contributing, most largely to the revenue, and that, therefore, it .was not right to spend money in Ballaarat, Bendigo, and other cities. The revenue was placed in a common purse, and distributed as occasion demanded. If we are a true Federation we should adopt the same principle. Tasmania receives credit for goods that are imported into Victoria and transferred through the Department of Trade and Customs to Tasmania; but no account is kept of a large quantity of goods shipped from this State to Tasmania.” Nearly every person who comes from the island State to Victoria purchases goods here, and takes them away in his luggage, with the result that no Inter-State certificate is issued in respect of them. The Premier of Tasmania has on several occasions drawn attention to this leakage, so that it is unnecessary for me to dwell upon it. I wish, however, to point out the hardships suffered by most of the smaller States, as compared with the larger ones. In my opinion the receipts should be distributed upon a per capita basis. It was upon the understanding that that course would be adopted that Tasmania joined the Federation. When some of the public men from the mainland visited Tasmania to advocate the cause of Federation, they pointed out that it would be an excellent thing for that State to be connected with a strong body like the Commonwealth. Mr. Wise, with great eloquence, advocated the cause of Federation, and asked the people of Tasmania, who desired that Australia should become one great, prosperous, and glorious nation, to vote for the Constitution Bill. He declared that, as the result of the union, the weaker States, if they were at any time in need of help, would have the assistance of the stronger ones : but as long as the bookkeeping system is continued, no help for Tasmania will be forthcoming. Coming to the question of expenditure, I would remind the Committee that a different principle is adopted. Provision is made on the Estimates for the expenditure of large sums in Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide, but I find no provision for necessary improvements at the Launceston post office, which I have long advocated. I am not one of those who complain about Federal expenditure. The position has been seriously misrepresented. I am sure that any one who had occasion to meet officers engaged in the administration of the Electoral Act at the last general election will be prepared to admit that the Federal Government did not display undue liberality in their treatment of them. As a matter of fact, those officers received a lower remuneration than is usually paid to men discharging similar duties in connexion with the States’ parliamentary elections. The fact that our expenditure has increased year after year is due to the transfer of additional Departments to the Commonwealth. In these circumstances, therefore, it is unfair for people to make a general statement to the effect that the expenditure of the Commonwealth is characterized by extravagance. They should be prepared to support their assertion by pointing to concrete cases of extravagance. Much bookkeeping, which, prior to Federation, was unnecessary, has now to be carried on in connexion with the conveyance of our mails on the railways of the States, and the sugar bounty has also helped to swell our total expenditure. As a matter of fact, however, the money distributed by way of the sugar bounty is contributed in the first instance by the sugargrowers themselves in the shape of the Excise duty. The honorable member for Brisbane the other night declared that he could prove that there had been extravagance in connexion with the Federation, and said that some years ago, when he was a member of a Queensland Ministry, that State suffered a loss of £500,000, which was due to that cause. The facts go to show that the loss of revenue in question resulted, not from Federal extravagance, but from Inter-State free-trade. It is unfair that such a statement should be allowed to. go uncontradicted. It might cause those who have not looked carefully into the question to believe that because of Federal extravagance Queensland in one year had suffered, a loss of £500,000. Inter-State free-trade has resulted in an annual loss of £250,000 to Tasmania, but as against that she enjoys the benefit of being able to send her produce, duty free, to the mainland. It was clearly understood, when the people were asked to vote for Federation, that with the establishment of the Commonwealth we should have Inter-State free-trade, but whether the’ loss which Tasmania suffers under it is made good by the privilege she enjoys of being able to send her produce into Australia free of duty is a question on which I am unable at present to express a definite opinion. There is one item in the Estimates of which I cannot approve ; I refer to the item of .£20,000 for advertising Australia. lft our newspapers refrained from writing down Australia, and many honorable members, instead of attacking the Commonwealth, showed more confidence in it, I think it would be unnecessary to spend this money. If that course were adopted greater advantages would be secured than we can hope to derive from the expenditure of this amount. I do not know how it is proposed to expend it, but I do not favour so large an outlay.
– Does not the honorable member think we should show confidence in Australia by building the Western Australian railway line?
– We should show our confidence in Western Australia by doing so. I have no objection to the proposed survey of that line. Although I voted against the Bill, I told the electors of Tasmania at the last general election, that I believed that, as the result of the survey, valuable country might be opened up. I expressed the hope that some of the country so frequently referred to as a desert would prove to be rich in mineral deposits, and that the survey might give rise to another Broken Hill.
– And yet the honorable member voted against the Bill !
– We do many strange things in this country. One item in the Estimates relates to the making of a survey for a cable between Tasmania and the mainland. A representative of Western Australia told me the other day that he considered that provision for such an expenditure should be made in a separate Bill - that it should be dealt with just as the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway survey was treated by the Government. I would point out, however, that since the Commonwealth has taken over the Post and Telegraph Department it is just as necessary that it should lay a cable between Australia and Tasmania as it is that it should construct a telephone line between Melbourne and Sydney. The difference between this proposed expenditure and the expenditure in connexion with the survey of the Western Australian line is that the Federal Parliament has not yet affirmed the principle that the Commonwealth should enter. upon the construction of railway lines, whilst on the other hand we have taken over the whole of the services relating to the Post and Telegraph Department. I should not have objected to vote for the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill had the Parliament, affirmed the principle that the Commonwealth should proceed with the construction of railway lines. I had proposed to refer to several matters relating to the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department during the year, but since the PostmasterGeneral is not present I shall avail myself of another opportunity to do so. I should like, however, to allude to the treatment of telegraph messenger. At one time a boy, entering the service as a telegraph messenger, had an opportunity, by diligence, to rise to the highest position in the service. Under the present system, however, boys employed as messengers are. turned adrift as soon as they reach eighteen years of age.
– At a time when they are too old to learn another trade.
– That is so.
– It is a ridiculous system.
– I agree with the honorable member that it is. Under it, there is no incentive, to do good work. A boy knows that as soon as he reaches eighteen years of age, he will be turned adrift, and consequently he has no ambition. I know of boys who entered the service in Tasmania, as telegraph messengers, and have since risen to some of the highest positions in the Department in that State. No doubt the position prior to Federation was the same in all the States. The present system ought to be abolished. I do not know who is responsible for it.
– It is provided for in the Commonwealth Public Service Act.
– The Act ought to be amended, for the system is a most objectionable one. The honorable member for Flinders stated last night that boys who entered the service six years ago have had yearly increments since then, and are still doing boy’s work. I think that the honorable member must have been under a misapprehension, because, although I have been in some of the public offices in Melbourne, as well as in other cities, I have never seen men of twentyone and twenty-two years of age engaged on boys’ work. The honorable member said that he had the authority of an officer of the Treasury Department for the statement, which lie made, and since that assertion will appear in Hansard, the sooner it is corrected - if it be erroneous - the better. On the other hand, if it be correct, then the system should be altered without delay.
– This House last year passed a Bill amending the .provisions of the Public Service Act relating to the employment of telegraph messengers, but the Senate rejected it.
– I know that several good lads have been turned adrift from the Department at a time when they were too old to think of learning a trade. Some of them were in the service prior to the Department being transferred to the Commonwealth.
– There are some hard cases in the Post and Telegraph Department, and there must always be some since we cannot find positions for these boys as fast as they reach man’s estate.
– At the present time we have two systems of government in Australia - government by the States, and also by the Federation. I was one of those who opposed Federation, because I believed that if an alteration in the existing system of government were necessary it was desirable that we should enter into a unification and thus obviate the necessity for maintaining fourteen Houses of Parliament. In Tasmania we were assured by the advocates of Federation that the adoption of the Constitution Bill would almost synchronize with a reduction in the number of members in the State Legislature, and with a considerable decrease in State expenditure. I told these gentlemen that provision to that effect should be incorporated in the Bill itself, but I was assured that the changes which I have outlined were as sure to follow the accomplishment of Federation as the night was to follow the day. I refused to be misled, and told the advocates of the Bill pretty plainly that States members were not likely to voluntarily commit political suicide. As a result Australia is very much over-governed to-day. Honorable members are aware that the Premiers of the various States frequently assemble in conference for the purpose of discussing matters with which this Parliament alone is competent to deal. What would be thought if the Mayor and councillors of the city of Melbourne assembled for the purpose of debating what action the Government of this State should take in respect of any particular matter? There would at once be an outcry. If the city rulers require to make any representation at the present time they do so through their parliamentary representatives. A similar course should be adopted by the States Premiers. They should approach this Parliament through the representatives of the respective States. They decline to do that, I presume, because they fear that it would derogate from their dignity and importance. But I do not agree with them. I have consistently supported the creation of a Federal scheme of old-age pensions. But if this Parliament thinks it is impossible to initiate such a scheme the sooner we cease talking about it, and thus misleading the indigent poor of the community, the better. In reference to this question, unfortunately a dual control is at present inevitable. The larger States of the Union have already adopted old-age pensions schemes. But these pensions are not being granted upon a Federal principle. A person has to be continuously resident in a State for twenty years before he is eligible to receive a pension. If a break occurs in his residence during that period he is prevented from participating in the fund. I maintain that if a man has lived in Australia for twenty years he should be eligible to receive an old-age pension, irrespective of the States in which he may have been resident. Unfortunately a dual control is also exercised by the States and the Commonwealth over such matters as immigration and quarantine. I shall not support the transfer of the Northern Territory upon the terms suggested by the South Australian Government. If a man in business was suffering an annual loss of £100,000 upon some property he would be very glad to get rid of it without insisting upon the payment of any deficit which he might have incurred in respect of it. If the Northern Territory is a burden upon South Australia, and that State is willing to hand it over to the Commonwealth upon the condition that we shall make good use of it, I shall be prepared to support its transfer.
– At present it is a menace to us.
– That may be so. We should endeavour to secure its settlement, no doubt, but I would point out to the honorable member that there are other parts of Australia which are just as open to attack as is the Northern Territory. There are a few items connected with the Tariff to which I desire to direct special attention.
I shall certainly require a lot of information before I shall be able to support some of the extraordinary increases in the duties which are proposed. For instance, the duty upon matches ‘has been increased from 6d- to is. 6d. per gross.
– Consider what an asset that industry would represent to the Commonwealth.
– To my mind the increase is an .inexplicable one. Further, I believe in offering preferential treatment to the goods of Great Britain. This Tariff does not offer the mother country a sufficient preference. Upon carpets the duty was formerly 15 per cent., but it has been increased to 20 per cent, without any preference being granted to Great Britain. I think that we should extend to the mother country a preference in the matter of carpets.
– Nearly all our carpets are made there.
– A lot of them come from cheap-labour countries of the East. Under the old Tariff, guns were dutiable at 10 per cent., but that duty has now been altered to 10s. Consequently, it represents a tax upon a man who wishes to purchase a cheap gun, and not upon the individual who can afford to buy an expensive weapon. Until this Tariff was introduced, I was under the impression that the duty which harvesters were to bear was decided last year. The rate then approved was £12 per machine, but that amount has been increased by the Government to £16 10s. I do not intend to support a larger impost than I voted for last year.
– The present duty has not kept the foreign harvester out of Australia.
– I am quite prepared to manufacture anything in my line of business if I am granted a protection of £12 in a value of £45 against the outside world. Further, I cannot understand why a duty has been imposed upon saws for machinery, which were formerly admitted free. It is well known that very expensive saws, known as “ breaking-down saws,” are imported from America. The Government propose to tax these to the extent of 20 per cent, in the case of Great Britain, and of 25 per cent, in the case of the foreigner. These saws are not made in Australia, and probably never will be.” In my opinion, it is a great mistake to impose such a dutv. I would also point out that type, which was formerly upon the free list, is now dutiable at 25 per cent.
I understand that there is a type foundry in Australia, but if it be granted a protection of 15 per cent, surely that should be sufficient. The question of the duty levied upon mining machinery has been dealt with, by the honorable member for Perth, and it is therefore unnecessary for me to dwell upon it, further than to say that I do not believe in taxing it so heavily as the Government propose. Under the old Tariff electrical machinery bore an impost of 12 J per cent., but that has been increased to 25 and 35 per cent, under the present schedule. To my mind, 15 or 20 per cent, is a very fair protection to afford the industry. I have received several letters from various States in regard to the duty upon chairs. One importer informs me that he has received an invoice for a shipment of chairs which cost him is. id. each, and upon which the present duty is 7s. 6d. each. These chairs used to be landed here for about 2s. each, but under the new Tariff their price has been increased to more than 9s. each. To-day hundreds of cases of chairs are arriving in Australia, and the importers do not know what to do with them. It would be cheaper for them to return these consignments to America rather than to land them here. Of course, some of these chairs can be made in Australia, but certainly the Austrian chair cannot. The chief trouble experienced in this connexion has reference to shipments which are now upon the water. To-day I received a letter from Adelaide in reference to a shipment which has just reached that port. The Customs authorities naturally experience difficulty in providing the necessary accommodation for- large consignments of furniture which need to be bonded, so that a determination should be arrived at as early as possible, Then there is a duty of £5 5s. each on bicycles. The manufacture of bicycles is an industry which will prosper in Australia, and if there were no bicycles now on the water. I should not complain of the duty, because I am in favour of prohibiting the importation of cheap bicycles, which are dangerous to those who ride them. The man who imports a good bicycle under this Tariff will not pay proportionately more for it that he did before, whereas the importer of a cheap bicycle will have to pav a duty of .£5 5s., as against the former duty of about 15s. A gentleman told me the other day that recently, when he sent down £5 to pay duty on eight bicycles which he was im- porting, he was told by the Customs officials that the duty payable was £40, an immense increase. I was glad to learn from him that he intends to employ a number of hands to make bicycles locally ; but at the present time he does not know what to do with the bicycles which’ he has imported, and with others which are now on the water. I am sure Parliament has no desire to take advantage of importers who have goods on the water.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs has refused to grant any concession.
– I think that ‘a concession should be granted in these cases.
– If the importers get their goods under the old rates they will sell them at increased prices just as though they had paid the new rates.
– That statement is one not .easily proved. While some shopkeepers have increased the prices of goods in stock, many have acted loyally towards their customers, and are still selling at unaltered prices. I find that theatrical costumes, which were formerly dutiable, are now to be admitted free, though I do not know why they should be, since they are imported by persons who come here solely to make money.
– By admitting them free the ‘ Customs Department will save the trouble of arranging for a rebate on exportation.
– The danger is that many of the costumes imported will be sold here. The arrangement is a very unsafe one. I find, too, that the duty on paraffine wax has been increased from £d. to id., a very serious matter to a branch of the candle-making industry. Two candle factories in Launceston have been closed by the competition of factories on the mainland, and a third will be closed unless the rate on paraffine is reduced. Under the old Tariff, the duty on china was 20 per cent., and it is now 25 and 35 per cent., while the duty on earthenware was 30 per cent., and is now 30 and 35 pi;r cent. It takes a very clever man to decide what is china and what is earthenware, and, I think, that to save Customs officials and others a lot of trouble it would be a good thing to apply the same rates of duty to both items.. The honorable member for Swan said the other night that he is willing to give up the £173,000 received from the Excise duty on sugar, and to allow sugar1 to be produced without Customs interference, just as wheat and potatoes are produced. But, having been Treasurer, he must know the difficulties of the smaller States with regard to revenue, and should have taken their position into consideration before making this suggestion.
– I do not object to revenue being raised by means of an Excise duty, but I do not like the arrangement as one for’ keeping up a White Australia.
– I do not see the difference. The honorable member said that there would be a considerable saving in the cost of administration if the Excise duty were removed. But supposing that administration cost from £10,000 to £15,000, there would remain a net revenue of at least £160,000 from the sugar Ex:cise, and it would be a serious thing for the smaller States if that were given up. A better way to save money would be to- put an end to the bookkeeping which now obtains. The honorable member did not suggest that. At the present time a number of officials are employed in the Post Office, examining parcels to ascertain the nature of their contents, and the duty payable upon them. Their services might be dispensed with if the bookkeeping system were abolished. When we come to deal with the duties in detail, I shall exercise, my right to vote on them as I think fit, as an independent member. I hope that the rates to which I have drawn attention will be considerably reduced, and that the Tariff will be made protective as well as revenue producing. That is necessary in the interests of the States. If we impose prohibitive rates, like the duty of 7s. 6d. on chairs, we shall receive no revenue, and the financial position of the States will be worse than it is at present.
.- The honorable member for Bass said that he will vote on the Tariff as an independent member. His defection lessens the Ministerial party by one, because he was formerly a direct supporter. He has riddled the Tariff with his criticism, even more severely than other honorable members have done. In compliment to the manner in which he has addressed the Committee, I might say that he has gone through it from Dan to Beersheba. We have had two solid speeches to-night, one from the honorable member, and the other from the honorable member for Perth, a member of the Tariff
Commission and of the Labour Party. Altogether three members of the Tariff Commission have addressed the Committee. Its chairman, the honorable member for Bendigo, in an admirable and wellthoughtout speech, dealt with the Government proposals from the point of view of a protectionist, but continually grumbled at the manner in which the recommendations of his section of the Commission have been ignored. The honorable member for’ Illawarra refused to accept the Tariff as based in any degree upon the Commission’s recommendations, and the honorable member for Perth indorsed his remarks, so that on the testimony of these three gentlemen, the Government have paid no attention to the reports of a body whose investigations extended over a period of two and a half years. Apparently all that was done in framing the present Tariff was to increase the former rates of duty. We heard it stated that the Tariff, as we now see it, was decided upon at the last moment. A week ago I drew the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs to the fact that the Rockhampton Bulletin, on the 9th August, published, from information supplied by the local sub-collector, what purported to be the Tariff, and next morning was compelled to publish a new Tariff, because of alterations which had been made by telegram. I did not mean to suggest that the sub-collector at Rockhampton had been unfaithful to the Government in improperly disclosing information which had been sent to him confidentially, because I do not think that he made public the Tariff proposals sooner than they were made public by Customs officials elsewhere. But the action of the Rockhampton Bulletin shows that in his case, as in Tasmania, alterations were sent at the last moment. Apparently the Government forwarded sealed drafts of the Tariff to its officials throughout the Commonwealth, and, at the last moment, despatched alterations embodying their preferential proposals, being frightened, I suppose, that the high rates of duty originally proposed would create too great an outcry, and therefore reducing certain of them by 5 per cent, in favour of Great Britain. There seem to be many ways of making a speech on the Budget and Tariff. Generally a Budget discussion is a pretty big affair, but a debate on a Budget and Tariff combined is something still bigger. However, I shall do my best to assist you, Mr. Chairman, in maintaining order, whatever may happen. One recipe for a
Budget criticism is to occupy about half the time allotted to a speech in personal reflections and to devote half to political reminiscences, throwing in a little bit of ginger for perhaps ten minutes. Last night the members of the Labour Party cheered the utterances of the honorable member for West Sydney. The honorable member, with whom we on this side may have much in common socially, and, perhaps, politically, last night made a violent attack on the leader of the Opposition. Of course, a politician is entitled to fight as strongly as he can on behalf of his principles, both on the platform and in Parliament; and I have no doubt that, if the right honorable member for East Sydney were here, he would be able to take his own part; and the battle would be one worth witnessing, because both the honorable members to whom I have referred possess ready tongues. I enjoy a debate with “ginger” in it; but I do not approve of an opponent, who not only attacks you with a saw-like lance, but who when he gets it inserted, turns it .round and round, and in the absence of the right honorable member for East Sydney, I should like to say a few words on his behalf. The honorable member for West Sydney, in his vehement remarks last night, referred to the leader of the Opposition as he was eleven years ago; and I confess that I should like to see the George Reid of 1896 doing work in the Commonwealth in 1907 as effectively as he formerly did it in the State.
– Does the honorable member think that the Opposition Corner Party would support the right honorable member for East Sydney?
Mir. WILKS.- I shall say frankly what I think if the honorable member will allow me. I know that at the present time I am like a solitary cockatoo on a- burnt ridge; I am “on my lonesome.”
– Come over here.
– I decline to wear the livery of the Labour Party, after having beaten that party at the elections, when they fought more strongly against me than they would have fought against any Conservative. The honorable member for West Sydney applied a number of epithets to the leader of the Opposition, and, under the circumstances, I fully expected the honorable member for Flinders, who appears to be a branch of what, though not a homogeneous party, is, nevertheless, a party, would have said at least a word or two on behalf of the absent gentleman. Certainly some very strong statements were made by the honorable member for West Sydney in reference to the leader of the Opposition. At the present moment the right honorable gentleman in his own State has practically the whole press against him. It is easy to stand shoulder to shoulder with a man when he is “ up,” but, .if we believe in him, we ought to stand by him when he is “down”; and I should be false to my principles, and to years of political friendship, if I did not do my best to support the leader of the Opposition at the present juncture. The right honorable gentleman, rightly or wrongly, told the electors of Australia that, although he was a free-trader, he would respect the recommendations of the* Tariff Commission, and adjust any anomalies that might be discovered, and that he would be no party to the destruction of the protectionist policy of Australia. Having carried out that promise, he is ‘submerged. That promise was made in the interests of representatives of Victoria, who should be the first and the last in the defence of the right honorable gentleman. The honorable member -for Flinders, who is supposed to represent the protectionists of Victoria, might have recognised that Mr. Reid had been faithful to his promise. The question whether that promise was advisable or inadvisable is another matter. The honorable member for Flinders might have acknowledged that the leader of the Opposition had acted the part of a man, and had not acted the traitor, as the Melbourne Age and other newspapers* had said he would at the first opportunity. The honorable member for West Sydney taunts the leader of the Opposition with the fact that the latter did not fight for free-trade at the elections; but, rightly or. wrongly, the right honorable gentleman made it known that his object was not to fight on the fiscal question ; and he kept the promise he had made. As for myself, I am bound by no promise ; and I shall do my best to reduce the Tariff to the lowest proportions. The honorable member for West Sydney seems to be annoyed because the leader of the Opposition said that the fate of the Tariff rests in the hands of the Labour Party. But I repeat the assertion of the leader of the Opposition, because it is absolutely true that, if the Labour Party removed their support, the Government could not hope, to pass the Tariff, noi could, they hope to continue their Ministerial existence. The honorable member for West Sydney pointed to the Opposition benches, and exclaimed with a melodramatic flourish, “See how thinned are the ranks of Tuscany.” Those words were used, not with regret, but with an air of jubilation, and with apparent gratification at the fact that the Opposition were unable to carry out a free-trade policy. As to our thinned ranks, I do not think the term “thin” can be applied to either the leader of the Opposition or to the honorable member for Parkes, who are- pretty “ solid “ free-traders. The honorable member for Wentworth may be thin, but he compensates for that by his vigour. The honorable member for West Sydney also observed that, apparently, he was the only free-trader in the House. But there are other free-traders within these walls; and, though the honorable member regards himself as the only noble Spartan who is prepared to hold the gate, he will find that the honorable member for Dalley will do all that lies within him to bring about a reduction of this Tariff. When the honorable member for West Sydney charges the leader of the Opposition with abandoning his fiscal faith, I retort by saying that the Labour Party take credit for much legislation in respect of which they do not deserve it. They do this with just as’ much avidity as they now desire to avert the discredit attaching to the proposed Tariff. There never was an election during which the Labour Party did not take the full credit for any popular legislation which might have been passed, although, times out of number, such legislation would not have been possible without the support of men like myself. And yet, as I say, the Labour Party contested my seat for Dalley with as much earnestness and vigour as they would have fought the most Conservative candidate. Indeed, the Labour journals declared that the party would sooner destroy me politically than any other candidate in the Commonwealth; and this was done, it must be remembered, not because I had not assisted in liberal legislation, but for quite other reasons. It is perfectly fair for the leader of the Opposition to say that if the Government carry this Tariff, it must be with the aid of the Labour Party. Three or four weeks ago, I said that, in my opinion, so long as the honorable member for East Sydney was leader of the Opposition, the present Government will remain in power. And I still believe that to be the fact, not because the Labour Party like the present Government-
– Yes, they do.
– But because they hate the leader of the Opposition more than they hate any one else.
– Not hate.
– I mean, of course, that they hate him politically.
– Most of the members of the Labour corner would rather see the honorable member for East Sydney than the honorable member for Flinders at the head of a Government.
– That may be. Three years ago the honorable member for West Sydney attacked the present ActingPrime Minister more severely even than he attacked the leader of the Opposition last night. On that occasion, the honorable member for West Sydney bombarded the Acting Prime Minister with criticism, and withered him with irony, and yet the Acting Prime Minister now declares that the Labour Party think well of him. As a matter of fact, the Labour Party only think well of the Acting Prime Minister as long as they can keep the leader of the Opposition out of office.
– I tell the Acting Prime Minister frankly that the position is as I have stated. Only a few years ago, when the present leader of the Opposition, as Premier of New South Wales, proposed a land and income tax, in order to reach the privileged classes, the present Acting Prime Minister opposed the. proposal. Then, when the present leader of the Opposition as Premier of New South Wales, proposed to remove about £1,000,000 of Customs taxation fromthe masses of the people, that proposal also was opposed by the Acting Prime Minister.
– It is not what a man was, but what he is.
– The honorable member for West Sydney went back sixteen years, but I do not need to go back more than five or six. Then, I remind honorable members that the leader of the Opposition was the first Premier of New South Wales to nominate a Labour man to the Legislative Council of that State ; also that that action was adversely criticised by the Acting Prime Minister, and his party of that date. And yet the honorable member for West Sydney, a Labour man, now attacks the leader of the Opposition. The truth is that the leader of the Opposition straightforwardly and manfully fought the Labour Party at the last election. No doubt, as he himself saw, he had taken on a. big contract; but he was the only one who could have hoped for success.
– His efforts had not much effect.
– Four or five Labour men were unseated in Queensland.
– But the Labour Party gained four or five seats in New South Wales.
– I have referred to the attack which the honorable member for West Sydney made last night upon the leader of the- Opposition, and I wish now to allude to some statements made in this House three years ago by the honorable member for Perth, who said -
We have the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who is reported in the Melbourne Age as denouncing the Political Labour Council as “not only a failure; it is an absolute fraud.”
This was the criticism of the Political Labour Council indulged in by the PostmasterGeneral, who is supported to-day by the Labour Party. The Hansard report continues -
– Not the Council. Nothing of of the kind.
– I am surprised that anything which appears in the Age should be repudiated by the honorable member.
– I denounced the political methods.
At the last general election the Prime Minister used even more severe language than the leader of the Opposition has done in his criticism of the Labour Party. My leader declared openly from the platform his opposition to the Labour Party, but I must say, in passing, that I believe he had last year a somewhat closer passage at arms with the honorable member for West Sydney in his own electorate. Some little soreness appears to exist, but I believe that it is always well to forget the unpleasant incidents connected with an election campaign. The leader of the Opposition at the last general election strongly advocated the policy of anti-Socialism. It may be said of him, as it has been said of the late Sir Henry Parkes and Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, that he is a few years before his time. The gentlemen I have named were all attracted to public life simply by a laudable ambi tion. Some have more ambition in this respect than have others. The right honorable member for Swan, for instance, is so ambitious that he desires to be in every Ministry. He left the present Administration, I believe, because he thought that it was about to go under, and he wished to be in the next. The right honorable member and I differ on political questions, but I hope that he will not think I am rude in referring to him in this. way. I may say at once that had I been in Western Australia in my younger days I should have considered that he was the right man to follow, since he has always had plenty of courage in connexion with big undertakings. I have no desire to belittle him, but I have sat here year after year, and have seen him first in one Ministry and then in another, and I should not be surprised to see him peeping through a Labour porthole if he has a chance to do so. After all, there would be nothing wrong in his doing so. He has a justifiable ambition - the desire for authority and power, and to be well thought of by his fellows.
– He would be in better company over here than he is in the Opposition corner.
– I believe that he thinks so. Severe as was the Postmaster- General’s criticism of the Political Labour Council some time ago, the Government Whip - the honorable member for Bourke - said something worse of the Labour Party. The honorable member for Perth, on the occasion to which I have already referred, said -
Then, again, we have the honorable member for Bourke referring to the Labour Party in this way -
To have the Labour Party in power would be as bad as letting loose the animals in the Zoological Gardens.
– We opposed him at the last general election.
– And yet the Labour Party now support him. The man who said that to have the Labour Party in power would be as bad as letting loose the animals in the Zoological Gardens is now acting as the keeper of the Labour Party.
– The honorable member knows very well that the statement made by the honorable member for Perth in regard to what I said was contradicted the following day.
– I know that the honorable member does not admit the correctness of the statement. If there has been any thing wrong in connexion with the attitude ofthe leader of the Opposition during the present session, it is that he has been a little too generous. . Even the Acting Prime Minister appears now to be struck on him. These two honorable gentlemen have been for years at daggers drawn; yet the other night the Acting Prime Minister said that “the leader of the Opposition had made a lovely speech. As soon as I heard that statement I recognised in it a warning note - I knew that the leader of the Opposition must be treading on dangerous ground. When the Acting Prime Minister compliments a free-trader we may assume with some confidence that, like the honorable member for Flinders, that free-trader is becoming not too strong on the fiscal question. I would remind the honorable member for West Sydney that the leader of the Opposition has always acted quite openly and has condemned the Labour Party from the public platform. Evidently he thought that in raising the banner of anti-Socialism he had reached the magnum opus of his life. I use that term because I know it will tickle the fancy of the honorable member for West Sydney, who invariably ornaments his labour speeches with Latin quotations. The honorable member for Paramatta has just asked me why I refer to this question. The honorable member for West Sydney gave him a bad time, but I shall let him answer for himself. It is because the leader of the Opposition is not present, and was not present when the attack was made upon him, that I feel constrained to make some reply on his behalf. When a man has followed a leader for a number of years, the least he can do is to stand up for him in his absence. What I admire about the Labour Party is the fact that one cannot touch one of their “ Johnnies “ without touching the lot of them. My knowledge of them leads me to believe that they must have a pretty severe time in the caucus; but although they may fight there, they take care not to fight in the House or on the public platform. If, for instance, one attacks the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the honorable member for Darwin, who sits beside him, will at once defend him. But on our side of the House it is a case of “ Go as you like, and go for yourselves.” I admit that I am “on my lonesome.”
– The honorable member looks fairly lonely.
– The honorable member need not concern himself about my looks.
I have, at all events, a freedom which he does not enjoy.
– The honorable member is so free that he is looking around to see where he can lob.
– I am looking to see where I can lob the honorable member.
– The honorable member for Dalley is not a bad sort.
– I am much obliged to the Acting Prime Minister. Unlike the honorable member for West Sydney, I cannot say bitter things. I am inclined to think that he must have found that acetic acid is on the free list, and that he is determined to use it freely. I would suggest that we should’ subject it to a 40 per cent. duty, so that the honorable member will in future distribute a little less vinegar. The right honorable member for East Sydney is fighting a battle, and I can go with him along nine-tenths of the road. I have gone with him along ninetenths of the journey at a time when he was popular, and I fail to see why I should not stand by him when he is unpopular. All I have to find fault with in reference to newspaper criticism is that the newspapers do not say enough against me. I observe that some politicians thrive on newspaper antagonism. Look at the Acting Prime Minister. No man thrives more on the opposition of the press than he does. He sticks to his office in spite of everything that is written against him. But there is such a thing as over doing criticism. The honorable member for West Sydney, for instance, overdid his criticism of the leader of the Opposition last night. It. was not merely an attack upon the leader of the Opposition for his attitude in Federal politics, but virtually a plea in aid of the Labour Party which is now fighting a battle in New South Wales.
– Is the honorable member alluding to the attitude of the Labour Party towards Mr. Carruthers in reference to the wire netting?
– I cannot understand any labour man objecting to what Mr. Carruthers did in that case.
– Does the honorable member favour the idea of a burglar going to the Customs House and taking what he likes?
– I know nothing about burglars. They are the honorable member’s friends ! I should not know one if I saw him.
– The honorable member is evidently supporting one at the present time.
– The Labour Party instead of opposing Mr. Carruthers for what he did should praise him, for he has simply taken a quick and sudden step in the direction of Socialism. He also took a step towards removing a tax from the producers .
– Does the honorable member support his action?
-Every Socialist should be of opinion that Mr. Carruthers did not go far enough. They should have urged him to go even further, and import food and clothing through the instrumentality of the State for the benefit of the people.
Debate on the Budget. - Mr. Beale’s
. -In moving -
That the House do now adjourn.
I think that honorable members will give me credit for not having tried to bring about late sittings. I have agreed to adjourn at times which I thought were reasonable, but while the debate on the Budget continues - and I hope that it will not continue much longer - I think it is fair that on Thursdays it should not be interrupted by private business. I do not wish to press that suggestion if honorable members will not approve of it, but I feel that I am not asking too much in requesting that private business shall not intervene during the progress of the debate.
.- I wish to take this opportunity to bring before the House a matter to which attention should be directed as early as possible. I apologize for detaining the House at this hour, but I can see no other opportunity of bringing the question forward. I wish to refer to a report by Mr. Beale on secret drugs, cures, and foods. As long ago as the 29th August last year I asked a question of the Prime Minister as to the appointment of Mr. Beale, who, as is well known, is chiefly interested in the manufacture of pianos, as a Commissioner to inquire into drugs and cures, and as to his qualifications for such an inquiry. The reply which I received was to the effect that Mr. Beale intended to visit England and Europe, and had kindly placed his services at the disposal of the Commonwealth Government free of charge, and that consequently Mr. Deakin had commissioned him to make inquiries into these matters. Without further reference to Parliament, apparently, Mr. Beale was appointed a Royal Commissioner on the nth December, 1906. A few days ago the report which I hold in my hand was furnished to honorable members and laid upon the table of the House. I found a COPY in my letter-box in the Opposition room. I wish to know what is to be done with the report. It is a voluminous document of 455 pages, the printing of which has’ cost £477 8s. It is marked “Vol. 1,” but if Mr. Beale is to issue any more similar reports, the printing of his reports will run into something like £I,000
– There may be several more volumes.
– As it is Mr. Beale has dealt with only a small portion of his subject. I am not criticising the report from the point of view of its value, but I wish to know what is to be done with it. It certainly deals with, matters which axe important from the point of view of the national well-being. It deals with evils that strike at the very root of our national existence. But is it to be generally circulated amongst the public ? In my opinion, it ought not to be. Care should be taken in that respect, because the report, reveals secrets and methods which, if placed in the hands of unprincipled persons, might cause much mischief, as has already resulted from the dissemination of similar information in Great Britain. Therefore the report should not be circulated amongst the general public, but should be used in a guarded manner. There is another question to which I wish to allude. Some time ago, the ex-Postmaster-General, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, issued an injunction against the circulation through the post of letters emanating from a certain firm. I do not know what his reason was. I am curious as to why this prohibition has been rescinded. I find that the New Zealand Government has been setting us an example, which we may well follow. In the New Zealand Gazette, there is a notice forbidding the circulation of postal correspondence, consisting of documents issued by twelve different firms. Amongst them is the name of this very firm which was brought under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral, who thereupon refused to allow letters addressed to it to pass through the post. What was the reason for that order being subsequently countermanded? I believe there is in existence to-day an authority under which these people are permitted - subject to certain conditions - to circulate their’ letters in the same way that they previously did.
– After the delivery of their letters had been stopped ?
– Yes. In this report Mr. Beale points out that political pressure is frequently brought to bear in matters of this kind. He says -
The British drug packers are represented in’ London by an association defensive and offensive; have a periodical devoted to their special interests, whose advertising pages are filled to overflowing with the most impudent of their nostrums, and they keep their own barrister, as “ Warren’s Blacking “ kept the poet. They can fight in the open with unblushing cheek, or engineer underground with consummate skill. . . . A representative of a widely circulated Australian paper said to me recently, “ Parliament will not interfere with the patent medicine trade, no matter what any one brings forward.” “ Why not ; other Parliaments have interfered, and are determined to proceed?” “Because we may pot any of those members of Parliament into their seats, and they know that our columns must be filled. Perhaps you do not know that New Zealand passed an Act” - (he was wrong, it was an Order in Council, afterwards unconditionally revoked)-“ requiring the formula: to be submitted. The London drug firms threatened the New Zealand newspapers with cancellation of advertising, pressure was brought to bear by the papers, and the Act was repealed.”
The report teems with evidence of this sort. .
– Of what Parliament is that statement made ?
– Of the New Zealand Parliament. As I have already pointed out, that Parliament has thought better of its action, and has prohibited certain firms from circulating their letters through the post. This report points to the influences which are brought to bear upon legislators. ‘ What I wish to draw attention to is the nature of the Commissioner’s report. Either it is a very valuable report, or it is worthless. If it is a valuable report; some attention should be paid to its recommendations. Consequently, I draw the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to the subject, and ask him what action he intends to take in .reference to it.
– I wish that the honorable member had given me a little notice of his intention to refer to this matter. I have not looked into Mr. Beale’s report, because I have not had time to do so. All I know is that that gentleman was appointed a Royal Commissioner to inquire into the matter of patent medicines. I have heard a good many people who have read his report say that it is a most valuable one.
– Has he any special qualifications for the work which he undertook?
– He was a member of a Royal Commission in New South Wales which obtained evidence of a very startling character upon a similar subject, and I think it was that fact which led up to his appointment as a Royal Commissioner for the Commonwealth.
Mr.Johnson. - Is he a medical man ?
– No; but he has obtained a quantity of very valuable information if action is taken in regard to it.
– I have received a letter from a firm of lawyers warning me not to distribute it. But I received that communication after the distribution had taken place. At the present time there is a gentleman haunting the precincts of this House in reference to the matter. I declined to see him, because if lawyers are already at work I am not going to see individuals. I quite agree with the honorable member for the Hunter that the report is either worthless, or it is a very valuable one. As soon as I have time to do so I shall ascertain what action it is proper to take - even before the Prime Minister returns - and shall get some professional man - if I can find one - to give me an opinion as to the value of the report.
– What about the medical men of this House?
– So much has been said about the matter that I should like to get the opinion of some reputable professional man - I do not care whether or not he is a member of this House, but I think it would be better to obtain the opinion of a medical man who is not a member of it - regarding the value of the report. As to the honorable member’s statement about the prohibition upon the delivery of letters, I may say that I have not seen the papers relating to the matter, and I do not know whether the firm to which he refers are permitted under certain conditions to forward their letters through the post.
– The Prime Minister must know the nature of the trade carried on by these people. It is evident to every passer-by.
– I am not a professional man, and have never been brought into contact with them. The honorable member refers to the business of the Freeman and Wallace Institute. No doubt the Minister of Trade and Customs can give him the particulars of the case, but I have not seen the documents relating to it.
– I understood the honorable member to complain that the Post Office officials stopped certain correspondence, thinking it improper, and that, on influence being brought tobear, it was allowed to continue.
– My impression is that the undertaking was given that certain things would not be repeated ; but if the honorable member asks me for information next week - not too early, because I have many things to attend to - I hope to give him a satisfactory answer. As regards the general question, in my opinion, the States have the power to interfere ; but before taking any steps I shall ascertain from the Attorney-General what the position of the Commonwealth is.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070829_reps_3_38/>.