3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– The Acting Prime Minister, having stated that an early opportunity will be given to honorable members to consider the Federal Capital ques- tion, I wish to know if he can now say definitely - an inspection having recently been made of some of the sites - when time will be given for its consideration?
– I am not going to bring forward any fresh business beyond that which I have already indicated while the discussion of the Budget and Tariff is proceeding.
– I should like to remind the honorable gentleman that I asked a question on this subject at the commencement of the session, and that he then promised that an early opportunity would be given to consider the matter. He now tells us that he will not interrupt the debate on the Budget and Tariff. As the discussion of the Tariff will probably occupy the remainder of the session, are we to understand from his answer that no opportunity will be given this session to deal with the Federal Capital question?
– The honorable member may think that his persistency in this matter will gain kudos for him, but it is only doing harm. I am not now in a position to say on what date the Federal Capital question will be considered, but I have not said, nor do I wish it to be inferred, that it will not be settled this session.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister in a position to give the House definite information as to what has been done in regard to securing the £25,000 guaranteed in connexion with the cancelled English mail contract? If the Government finds that the money cannot be recovered, it will be best to say so.
– I have not let the matter rest. Instructions were sent to London, through the Prime Minister’s Department, for a. prosecution to the fullest extent, but, in a cablegram which I received three or four days ago, reference was made to an important letter now on its way here, which I think will arrive by the incoming mail, and I shall do nothing further until I receive thatletter.
-Has the Postmaster General read the report of a recent speech by the honorable member for Gwydir, in which he said that the Sydney Postal Denartment is undermanned, and that officials there, especially inspectors, have to work day and night, including Sundays, to prevent arrears? Has he received a report on the subject from the Deputy Postmaster-General in Sydney?
– I have called for a report in regard to overtime, and I have discovered that many of the statements read by the honorable member for Gwydir were made before considerable changes which havesince taken place occurred. I intend to make a personal visit to the General Post Office, Sydney, accompanied by my predecessor, to inquire into the whole matter.
– I have observed in this morning’s Age a statement purporting to have emanated from the Acting Prime Minister, in which it is said that certain remarks with regard to increments made by me in my recent speech on the. Budget were most misleading and improper. The facts of the case are these: Some days before I delivered my speech, I asked the Secretary to the Treasury to be good enough to give me figures showing the sum total of the increments provided for since the passing of the Public Service Act, not because of the promotion of officers, or for extra work, but merely as increases to salaries. On the morning of the day on which I spoke, I received a note from him, saying that the figures had been prepared, and were ready the day before, but that the Treasurer required him not to deliver them to me until he had had an opportunity to go through them himself.
– That is not correct.
– Shortly before I delivered my speech, I asked the honorable gentleman whether the figures were available for me, and he told me that he had not yet had an opportunity to go through them, so that I did not get ordinary information, such as every member is entitled to receive from the officers administering Departments, until a very short time before I delivered my speech. Nevertheless, I venture to submit that the in ference which I ask honorable members to draw from the figures I gave is not misleading and improper, but absolutely correct.
– The honorable member had no intention to mislead ?
– I certainly had no intention to mislead, and I venture to say that I did not mislead.
– I think that the honorable member’s statement was misleading.
– I think not. If the honorable member will follow what I said-
– I am afraid that what the honorable member is now saying could be said in the debate on the Budget and Tariff which is now proceeding in Committee of Ways and Means. If that be so, his remarks would more properly be made in Committee than now.
– I, of course, accept your ruling, Mr. Speaker; but I did notintend to occupy more than another minute in what I propose to say. I shall adopt your suggestion, and deal more fully with this matter in Committee, merely saying now by way of personal explanation that the figures were given to me, and I believe them to be perfectly correct as a statement of the increases which have been paid to officers from time to time, not in connexion with promotions to higher positions, or for extra work, but as additions to the salaries of officers whose positions have not been altered. Moreover I said in my speech - though the Acting Prime Minister did not quote these remarks in the interview reported in the Age - that I have no objection to increments as such ; that I recognise that they must be paid to officers as they grow older in the service. The point I was endeavouring to make was that the amount of these increases would probably be found to be excessive if the figures were carefully gone into.
– Did not the honorable member say that they amounted to £2 50,000 everyyear?
– Not at all. That I absolutely deny. I do not remember my precise words ; but the figures published will show the facts.
– That is what the honorable member said, although he may not have intended to say it.
– It is increasingly apparent that controversial matter, extending beyond the limits proper to a personal explanation, is being introduced, and therefore I think that the honorable member for Flinders had better follow the course which I have suggested. It is evident that it will be desired to make some reply “to his remarks, and a personal explanation cannot be replied to. A full reply, however, can be made in Committee of Ways and Means during the debate on the Budget and Tariff.
– After the remarks of the honorable member for Flinders with regard to myself-
– If my remarks are to be replied to, I certainly claim the right to complete my explanation.
– The honorable member will not carry on his bounce here.
– No debate on a personal explanation is permissible under any circumstances. It was because I saw that the right of reply would be claimed if the honorable member for Flinders proceeded that I stopped his remarks. Under the circumstances, it would be very improper to permit a reply to those remarks - if that is what the Minister wishes to make. I say to him, as I said to the honorable member for Flinders, that the proper time to deal with this matter is during the Budget and Tariff debate in Committee of Ways and Means, when both honorable gentlemen will have the right to speak as often as they please.
– I am not going to refer to the merit’s of the case at all. But, in regard to what the ‘honorable member for Flinders has said, I should like to state, by way of personal explanation, that I was informed that he had asked for certain figures, and I told the Secretary to the Treasury to let me know what figures had been asked for, and to send them to me. They were sent to me, just as I took my seat in this chamber, and when the honorable member for Flinders asked me for them, I said that I had not opened the envelope, but that I would let him have them when I had had an opportunity to see them. I wished to look at the figures, to make sure what he was asking for.
– I rise to endeavour to clear up a misapprehension. I take it that, under cover of a personal explanation, the honorable member for Flinders is, entitled to endeavour to remove what he conceives to be a misunderstanding in the minds of honorable members as to what he said the other day. The very purpose of personal explanations is to correct misunderstandings concerning what a member may have said.
– No personal explanation can anticipate the subject of a subsequent’ debate, . and as . the Budget and Tariff are still under discussion in Committee of Ways and Means, and the Committee has not yet reported to the House, I am satisfied that it would be improper - although I have not had time to refer to the standing order governing the case - to allow remarks to be made now under cover of personal explanation which could be made in Committee. The honorable member for Flinders was in order up to the point when his matter became controversial. I could not then allow him to proceed further, because I could not permit any honorable member to reply to him.
– I accept your ruling, Mr. Speaker,
– Do I understand from the Acting Prime Minister that the members of the House are to be no longer privileged to obtain information about the Public Service from the heads of Departments until it has been reviewed by Ministers? This privilege is one which should be jealously guarded by every member, no matter where he sits.
– I ask the honorable member not to debate the question.
– It is a tyrannical despotism.
– The honorable member should move the adjournment of the House to discuss the matter.
– I appeal to honorable members to jealously guard this privilege, and ask them whether they are willing that it should be curtailed in the way proposed by the Acting Prime Minister?
– Is the honorable member for Maranoa asking a question, or is he making a personal explanation?
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister, whether the position which I have put before the House is the correct one?
– I am the Minister charged with the control of the Treasury. Every other Minister has the control of a Department, and while I do not say that an honorable member should not have the right to get whatever information he may desire, I do say that the Minister in charge of the Department is entitled to know what he does get.
– He might “cook” the information.
– I do not do that sort of thing.
– I am not referring to the Acting Prime Minister.
– I could not control my Department if I did not know what was going on in it. Only the other day certain information was disclosed in this House with the nature of which the Minister in charge of the Department ought to have been acquainted.
– There was nothing in the nature of confidential information obtained by the honorable member for Flinders.
– Irrespectiveof whether there was or not, the Minister in charge of the Department had a right to know what was the nature of that information.
– I desire to point out that the honorable member for Flinders rose to make a personal explanation.
– Will thehonorable member kindly tell me what he is about to do? Does he intend to ask a question or to make a personal explanation?
– I am asking you, sir, to satisfy me as to where honorable members stand in regard to the making of personal explanations. The honorable member for Flinders rose just now for the purpose of making a personal explanation, having reference to some comments which have been made upon a speech which he recently delivered in this Chamber. He wished to point out that he had been misrepresented by the Acting Prime Minister. I understood you to rule that it was becoming increasingly apparent that the question at issue was a controversial one, and I wish toask whether it is open to other honorable members to convert a personal explanation into a controversial question and thus prevent an honorable member frommaking a personal explanation? It is obvious that if that course can be adopted, an honorable member has only to make several contradictions of statements contained in a personal explanation in order to convert it into a controversial matter, and thus effectually block the making of the explanation.
– In reply to the honorable member’s observations, I may remark that personal explanations have been by no means rarein this House. I have never taken objection - nor did I take it this morning - to a personal explanation on the ground to which the honorable member has made reference, I shall never regard a personal explanation as other’ than a personal explanation, on account of interjections and remarks by honorable members other than the honorable member who is addressing the Chair.
The point which I raised was, that the whole question to which the honorable member for Flinders referred was still under discussion in Committee of Ways and Means, in connexion with the Budget and the Tariff. I pointed out that that discussion had not concluded, and that the Committee had not reported to the House. Therefore, as soon as the honorable member for Flinders proceeded from a matter of personal explanation to that matter I thought it my duty to call his attention to it. It would be very unfair for me to allow matter relating to a debate which was current to be brought forward in the form of a personal explanation, because to do so would preclude a reply being made to it by any other honorable member. If I permitted that I should be invading the rights of every other honorable member.
– An honorable member would be entitled to make a personal explanation, I presume, in respect of any debate ?
– Most certainly, under any circumstances.
– I also desire to make a personal explanation in reference” to an observation which was made in Committee of Ways and Means last evening by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, and which is reported in the Argus of to-day. According to the report of that journal the honorable member made the following statement : -
Sir John Forrest, when he said he was in favour of old-age pensions, and at the same time in favour of the continuance of the Braddon clause, took up the attitude of a. hypocrite. .
– Certainly not.
I consider that the observation of the honorable member as applied to me is an offensive one, and I desire to say that it contains an absolute mis-statement. It is an unjustifiable statement, because it is not based upon fact.
– How is it possible to provide for the payment of old-age pensions if the Braddon section be continued?
– Will the honorable member be good enough not to interrupt me? I merely desire to make an explanation - and consequently I want to be very concise in my remarks. I have never taken up the position that the sum of £t, 500,000, which is the amount said to be necessary to provide for a Federal system of old-age pensions, can’ be obtained from the ordinary revenue of the Commonwealth whilst the Braddon section of the Constitution continues in operation. I have said the opposite on many occasions, both verbally and in writing. In my Budget speech, which was placed before the House on 31st July last year, the recommendations of the present Government were submitted to honorable members. My proposal - which is also the proposal of the Deakin Government - is that at the termination, of the year 1910 the Braddon section shall be discontinued, and that, subject to the approval of Parliament, there shall be substituted for it the system which was agreed to by both the Commonwealth and the States Governments at the Brisbane Conference of Premiers. That system provides for the Commonwealth retaining one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue, as well as the right to impose special duties for special purposes, such as defence, old-age pensions, immigration, &c. I wish further to say - as showing that the statement of the .honorable member for Kalgoorlie is absolutely unjustifiable and inaccurate - that what is proposed in the recommendations of the Government - for which I hold myself fully responsible - is exactly in accord with what was proposed by the Prime Minister last session in a Bill for the amendment of the Constitution, which commanded the support of a large majority of the Labour Party, and which passed this House. Its object was to anticipate the discontinuance of the Braddon sec- . tion in 19 10 by substituting for it the acquisition of the power to impose special duties for special purposes, solely with the object of initiating a scheme Of old-age pensions sooner than it would otherwise have been possible for the Deakin Government to have undertaken that task - in other words, anticipating what they would be able to do at the end of 19 10.
– I do not know whether the right honorable member for Swan has made a personal explanation or whether he has asked a question.
– I made a statement.
– The point raised by the Acting Prime Minister serves to show how strictly the Standing Orders relating to personal explanations must be administered. The speech of the right honorable member for Swan trenched very much indeed upon the subject-matter of the debate which is now proceeding in Committee of Ways and Means, and, as I have already pointed out, that Committee has not yet reported to the House. ‘It would have been preferable if the right honorable member had reserved the remarks which he has just made until the House had resolved itself into Committee of Ways and Means. At the same time, he was quite justified in making the personal explanation which he has made.
– But he must not speak here as a member of the Government, as he has attempted to do by means of a trick.
– The right honorable member has made a personal explanation.
– The Acting Prime Minister wishes to repudiate the Prime Minister.
– 1 want to repudiate the right honorable member.
– I would point out to the Acting Prime Minister that if he desires to reply to the statements which have been made by the right honorable member for Swan, he will have an opportunity to do so in Committee of Ways and Means in a few minutes.
– But I wish to reply at once. The right honorable member must not speak for the Government now.
– The honorable member is a humbug.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs a question having reference to a remark which the honorable member for Perth is reported to have made in speaking in Committee of Ways and Means last evening. In the newspapers to-day, he is reported to have said that the recommendations of the freetrade section of the Tariff Commission were not accurately set out in the comparative statement which Ministers have laid before us. I wish to know whether the Minister has made inquiries with a view to ascertaining whether the comparative statement in question is an accurate one. If it contains any error, we ought to know of it at once.
– I am not aware that the statement contains any error. The schedule was prepared by the Customs officers, and was gone through very carefully. It is possible, however, that some mistake may have crept into it. I was not present in the Chamber last evening, when the honorable member for Perth made the statement to which the honorable member for South Sydney has referred, but I have given instructions that the schedule shall be again gone through. I think it would be well - in view of the allegations which have been made from time to time to have the recommendations of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission incorporated in a separate document, so that every honorable member may be able to see clearly the nature of those recommendations. They would probably not then be the subject of so much controversy.
Consideration resumed from 29th August (vide page 2612), of motion of . Sir
That duties of Customs and duties of Excise be imposed according to the following Tariff (vide page 1648)……
– I wish to say that the right honorable member for Swan assumed just now that he was speaking on behalf of the Deakin Government.
– In what words?
– He must not forget that he does not speak for that Government at the present moment.
– I rise to a point of order. When progress was reported last evening, I understood that the honorable member for Dalley obtained leave to continue his speech, and I should like to know how it comes about that you, sir, have allowed the Acting Prime Minister to intervene in the middle of that speech with a personal explanation.
– I must remind the honorable member that we are in Committee of Ways and Means, and that when the honorable member for Dalley resumed his seat last evening he had practically finished his speech.
– But you, sir, failed to put the resolution from the Chair this morning.
– There is no necessity for me to do so. As soon as I took the chair the Acting Prime Minister rose. I looked towards the honorable member for Dalley, . but he was busy talking to the honorable member for Flinders.
– That is too thin.
– I called upon the Acting Prime Minister under the impression that he desired to make a personal explanation.
– Upon a point of order, I desire to say that the attention of the honorable member for Dalley was distracted for a few moments, because I had asked him to give me two or three minutes of his time-
– Two of the honorable member’s friends just now declared that the statement that the honorable member for Dalley was talking to the honorable member when the Acting Prime Minister rose was not correct.
– I have no desire to put any honorable member out of the stride of his speech.
– But the honorable member heard two of his colleagues deny the statement of the Chairman.
– Order. I have already called the Minister of Trade and Customs to order.
– I did not hear my name mentioned at all. I should like to make a personal explanation. Upon the point of order raised by the honorable member for Parkes, you stated, sir, that when you took the chair, the honorable member for Dalley was busy speaking to the honorable member for Flinders.
– This is not a personal explanation.
– When the point of order was raised by the honorable member for Parkes, you stated that when you took the chair you looked towards the honorable member for Dalley, and found that he was engaged in conversation with the honorable member for Flinders. The right honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Franklin interjected that that was not so.
– I did not say anything.
– Then the honorable member for Flinders rose and explained why he had been speaking to the honorable member for Dalley, and I interjected a question as to how that explanation fitted in with the contradiction given bv other honorable members.
– I did not say a word.
.-I think the little discussion which we have just had has created a proper atmosphere for the consideration of the Budget and the Tariff, subjects which usually provoke some little hostility. The honorable member for Flinders is quite correct in saying that he asked me whether I would allow him to make an explanation. To that request I replied that I should be only too pleased to do so, but for the fact that honorable members, who had intended to follow me, would consider that I had completed my speech, and take the opportunity to catch the attention of the Chairman. Last evening I dealt with one paragraph of the Budget, and availed myself of the opportunity to “ stick up for a pal.” I know that any one who interferes in any trouble there may be between two honorable members, either in the House or outside, runs the risk of the ordinary peacemaker, and is in danger of “a smack in the eye.” Now, I am not anxious to have that experience ; and I only desire to say that I have as great an admiration for the honorable member for West Sydney, whom I have known for a great many years - indeed, I doubt whether any two members of the House are better acquainted than we are - as the honorable member last night expressed for the representative of East Sydney. The only difference is that apparently the honorable member’s admiration of the honorable member for East Sydney is merely of a political character ; he would seem to have some reason for personal dislike. No man who has been as long as the honorable member for East Sydney before the public, and has made so many speeches on so great a variety of topics, can avoid a little selfcontradiction sometimes ; but it must be remembered that there are some honorable members who cannot even make one speech without contradicting themselves. The honorable member for East Sydney considered it absurd that free-traders and protectionists who held anti-Socialist opinions, should be separated while there was an army, called the Labour Party thoroughly united, though the units of it might hold diverse views on the fiscal question. In the Labour Party may be found the most ardent free-traders and protectionists, but for campaign purposes they manage to sink the fiscal issue. The position of the honorable member for East Sydney was that there had been a good fight over the Tariff, and Australia . had proved more protective than it was free-trade. It was shown that there were certain anomalies in the Tariff, and the suggestion of the honorable member was that when these had been adjusted the Tariff might be permitted to stand as the fiscal policy of Australia, while free-traders and protectionists of moderate views united to fight the Labour Party. The . only federalized political force in Australia is the Labour Party. If I were a member of that party, whether Commonwealth or State, I should receive a backing irrespective of my views on the fiscal question ; but we know that is not the case with other parties. We must admire the Labour Party for their discipline, although it is a discipline to which my nature will not allow me to submit.
– Did the honorable member not on one occasion stand for selection by the Labour Party?
– Never for election; but about seventeen years ago I was nominated for selection in a local league ; . and I have never said that the Labour Party have not done good work at times in their political existence. Indeed, I willingly admit the fact; and I am only pointing out now that they are a federalized force with a definite programme. In New South Wales, an elector who takes an active interest in political affairs may be an anti-Socialist and a free-trader, while in Victoria he may be an anti- Socialist and a protectionist - on the first issue the anti- Socialists understand one another, but they cannot come to an understanding with regard to the other. A member of the Labour Party, when he meets his brother in West Australia or Queensland, immediately understands him - no explanation is required. Their policy is threshed out for them; the Labour members in this Parliament are here practically as delegates representing a programme and platform prepared for them by the electors of the Commonwealth. The position of other parties is entirely different; and the honorable member for East Sydney - unwisely, as I think, and as I have told him personally - elected to fight on the wrong issue. New South Wales is as distinctly free-trade as Victoria is protectionist.
– Is the honorable member a free-trader now ?
– I am.
– Is New South Wales freetrade?
– Most decidedly; and if the honorable member were there, and he became known as a protectionist and a representative of Batman, he would be glad to take the boat back to Melbourne.
– New South Wales returns six free-trade senators.
– That is so; when New South Wales voted as a State, it sent six free-trade senators to this Parliament; and that has been the position of the State since the inception of Federation.
– Victoria was the other way.
-Victoria has not returned six protectionists to the Senate.
– I do not know why ; but, at any rate, they returned one Labour man. The honorable member for Batman may look as astonished as he likes at my statement in regard to the fiscal faith of New South Wales, but his astonishment now would be as nothing to his anguish if he were on the Sydney wharf endeavouring to get a boat back to Melbourne at the present time.
– Surely that is an exaggeration.
– It is no exaggeration; and that is one reason why I am saying a word on behalf of the honorable member for East Sydney. That honorable member has not only to stand the fire of this House, but he has also to face the fire of the city press. I undertake to say that the honorable member has entered upon more struggles with the press than any man in Australia to-day. The honorable member for West Sydney described the honorable member for East Sydney as the ablest man in this Parliament, and, in my opinion, the honorable member for East Sydney is about the ablest man in the public life of Australia to-day. I am only a member who is keeping dark on the weather bow;” but if I have to support a man, I elect to support the ablest. But I am not so great an admirer of the honorable member for East Sydney that I can see nothing wrong in him ; I do not go on my knees and worship him as if he were a joss. As a matter of fact, I frequently differ with the honorable member, both publicly and privately; but that is no reason why I should not say a. few words in his just defence to-day. But, really and truly, the honorable member for East Sydney ought to be defended by honorable members in the Opposition corner, who, but for him, would never have had the success they enjoyed as an anti-Socialist force. Honorable members in the corner say “ Hear, hear “ to that, but I think it would only have been right on their part if, after the speech of the honorable member for West Sydney, who was the able mouthpiece of the Labour Party for the time being, they had arisen in defence of the honorable member for East Sydney. As I said last night, I certainly expected that the honorable member for Flinders would have defended a gentleman who, for the time being, is the leader of the party to which he belongs.
– The honorable member for Flinders is not game to do that in Victoria; there is not one man to take- command of the free-trade flag.
– The honorable member for East Sydney can keep his own end up.
– No man can keep his own end up if the other fellow is jumping on the other end. The honorable member for East Sydney undertook a big task when he fought the Labour Party ; and it is not for his friends to turn on him simply because they may differ from him in reference to his methods. But the honorable member for Flinders,, and others with him, when fighting the election under the antiSocialist flag, had not a kind word’ to say for the man who was leading the forces.
– All the kind words they had to say were for the Prime Minister.
– I believe, with the honorable member for Maribyrnong, that those honorable members were afraid of the press of Victoria, which had dragooned them into the position that if they were protectionists, and also supporters of the honorable member for East Sydney, they had to keep the latter fact dark. The honorable member for Flinders has committed himself strongly enough to protection ; and doubtless he will not remain, what the Melbourne Age calls him this morning, a “ gosling “ of protection, but will in a few years be a fully fledged protectionist goose. When the honorable member does proclaim himself a protectionist, then good-bye to the Age support of the Acting Prime Minister or the present Ministry. If’ the Prime Minister, whose unfortunate illness keeps him away from the House, were to find it impossible to return to active politics, the Melbourne Age would not clamour for sup- ‘ port to the present Administration, but would look to the honorable member for Flinders as the coming Prime Minister.
– That is a long way to go I
– Possibly the Postmaster - General hopes that in the mix-up of parties the honorable member for Flinders may have a long way to go before he is PrimeMinister.
– I am sure of it.
– The honorable membermay be sure, because he sees that the Tariff is of such a nature that it will not pass in. a hurry, if at all. In the last election, I not only had to fight the Labour Party,, but had to contest a constituency in which there are more Labour votes than, perhaps, in any other.
– The same used to be saidabout me.
– But our positions are different. ‘
– The honorable member’s success shows what a good man he is.
– It may show what luck I have had.
– Why do honorable members opposite always cry out about the Labour Party opposing them? The members of the Labour Party are always opposed, and they do not cry out about it.
– I do not whine or cringe. If I were disposed to do so. I should repeat what the Labour Party said about me at the last general election; but I believe in forgetting such incidents. By instinct and association my politics are very much like those of the Labour Party, and regardless of what that party may say on the matter they will continue to be. In some respects my views on political questions differ absolutely from those of the party. I believe in personal liberty, but am not so foolish as to imagine that I have selected an easy road to political preferment.
– Does the honorable member think that the Labour Party have not been prepared throughout to put their own personal well-being on one side?
– As I said last night, they are always prepared, in the interests of the party, to sink their own individuality.
– A more unselfish party never existed.
– Personally, they are unselfish, but as a party they are disposed at times to make selfish demands. The honorable member for West Sydney injures himself when he proceeds to make such an attack as that to which I have referred. No one is more pleased than I am at the progress which he has made in public life, and no one who is familiar with his career could have anything but admiration for the ability which has characterized it. Those who have read the report of the Navigation Conference must recognise that he displayed a wide knowledge of the subject with which the Conference had to deal, and that he proved the equal of any delegate. I am not prepared, however, to say that I agree with everything he said and did as a member of that Conference, nor am I prepared to pass unnoticed the attacks made by him on my party. The attitude taken up by him when he declares that he is the only free-trader in the House is in keeping with that usually adopted by the Labour Party at a general election. They are always prepared to take the whole credit for any reform, and to forget those who assisted them in bringing it about. That being so, I do not intend to allow them to escape discredit when it should rightly fall upon them. In the opinion of some honorable members of the Labour Party, the great offence committed by the leader of tha Opposition is that he declared in Bast Sydney that the passing of the Tariff would be the work of the Labour Party. I hold a similar view. If they do not assist the Opposition in securing drastic alterations, they will have to accept the responsibility for it, for without their assistance we shall be unable to prevent the passing of the Tariff as introduced. The leader of the Labour Party has indicated that he is not prepared to agree to some of the proposals of the Government, and since the honorable member for West Sydney has made a similar announcement, I am hopeful that some of the iniquities of the Tariff will disappear. There are free-traders on this side of the House who will do their best to secure their removal. I propose now to refer briefly to the Budget statement. As a rule, in connexion with such a statement, a mass of figures is hurled at us, and lengthy tables are presented which sound well, and look well, but are very often mere matters of accountancy. No one can say that the Budget statement delivered by the present Treasurer was a poem. It was somewhat disconnected, and it must be recognised that the honorable gentleman was heard at a disadvantage, since, owing to the retirement of the right honorable member for Swan from the Ministry, he was suddenly “bumped” into the office of Treasurer, and was compelled, at very short notice, to put the Financial Statement before us. We had from him no very elaborate explanation of the figures, but
I hope that they will be elucidated as the debate proceeds. It cannot be said that the Treasurer’s utterance was a pessimistic one. He certainly showed that we were enjoying a period of prosperity. In 1900 - the year immediately preceding the establishment of Federation - our imports were valued at £^41,400,000, but our imports last year were . of the value of £44,729,000, an increase of .£3,329,000. This increase cannot be explained by the assertion that our population since 1900 has largely increased. As. a matter of fact, it has been almost stationary. I take it that it is to be accounted for, very largely, by the fact that we have recently enjoyed good seasons. Our exports have expanded- to an even greater extent. In 1900 they were valued at ,£45,000,000, while in 1906-7 they were of the value of £69>737>763- In six years, therefore, the value of our exports has increased to the marvellous extent of over ,£24,000,000. The balance of trade is against us, but I think this may be explained by the fact that we have enjoyed good seasons, that we have secured enhanced prices for our products, and that large sums have been paid away in respect of some of the States loans. In Bulletin No. 6 - the latest issued by the Commonwealth Statistician - it is shown that our exports of butter for the first six months of the present year totalled 37>352,7i2 lbs. as against an export of 31,867,537 lbs. for the corresponding part of 1906, and that our exports of wheat during the first six months of 1907 aggregated 13,266,281 centals, whilst for the corresponding period of 1966 they totalled 14,226,852 centals. Although there was a shortage in our exports of wheat, there was an enormous increase in our exports of flour and wool. The quantity of greasy wool exported for the first six months of 1907 was 182,462,223 lbs., as against 110,999,573 lbs. exported during the first six months of 1906; whilst our exports of scoured wool during the first six months of this year totalled 36,815,714 lbs., as against 32,270,247 lbs. exported during the corresponding period of 1906. The Treasurer estimates an enormous increase in our Customs and Excise revenue during the present year. A very large proportion of that increase will be derived from the new duties on goods coming largely from the United Kingdom. In the case of woollen piece goods, he will receive about .£300,000 as the result of the increased duty,£150,000 from the new duties on galvanized iron, and £125,000 from the impost on wire-netting. These increased returns will come from the enormous duties levied upon products of the United Kingdom, and the tax on wire netting will press on the producers of Australia. It is estimated that the duty on kerosene will yield £190,000, but since the leader of the Labour Party has pronounced against that impost, I am satisfied it will not be permitted to stand. If there be anything in the theory of protection our revenue ‘ should seriously decrease, for the new duties we are told will cause the output of our factories to largely increase. Notwithstanding the attention which has been given to the question both by this Parliament and by various Conferences of States Premiers a scheme which will be acceptable to the Commonwealth and the States alike, as a substitute for the Braddon section has not yet been devised. At the inception of the Federation, the Braddon section was feared by the people; it is now regarded as the safeguard of the States.
– I do not understand howa free-trader can support it.
– I shall explain the reason. Wehave now a margin of only about £100,000 per annum to provide for many new services. The Government tell us that they are in favour of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions, and that they propose to grant a bounty on the production of iron. I trust that if an iron bounty be granted, a bounty to encourage shipbuilding will also be passed as its natural corollary. If it be found that the retention of one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue is not sufficient to provide for the wants of the Commonwealth, I would suggest that we should retain the existing machinery but should reduce the amount returned under it to the States. It is not suggested that the retention of the Braddon section is necessary to insure the solvency of the States; it is simply urged that the States Treasurers need a system which will afford something like a satisfactory basis for their estimates of revenue. I suggest, therefore, that if it be found that the return of threefourths of the Customs and Excise revenue to the States deprives us of what is necessary for the services of the Commonwealth we should return only two-thirds to the States.
– For how long?
– The Braddon section is an experimental provision, and I think that we ought not to wait until 19 10 - the date when it expires - before devising a scheme to take its place.
– The taking over of the States debts will be a substitute for the present arrangement.
– There seems to be great difficulty in arriving at a settlement of that question. I repeat that we might well continue to use the machinery that has proved so satisfactory, but that we should, if necessary, reduce the amount paid under it to the States. That system might well be observed until the States have greater confidence in the Commonwealth.. Whilst we rejoice that the outlook is so satisfactory, I think it is well for us to remember that we must expect lean as well as fat years. No one can say that I am a croaker when I suggest that we should provide against bad times. To remind the public that we must expect bad times in the future is not to take up the attitude of the croaker, or to cry “stinking fish.” Governments, like private individuals, are only too ready to live up to their incomes, and in boom times expend freely. But, as with private individuals, their expenditure should not exceed their incomes. The Treasurer has placed on the Estimates £200,000 to meet the annual contribution under the Naval Agreement. Some months ago the Prime Minister, when in London, represented to the British authorities that the Commonwealth desires to terminate this agreement, because it regards the subsidy payable under it as a tax upon its -resources, and thinks that the money could be better spent in other directions. The British authorities replied that, if Australia finds the subsidy a burden, they will not object to the termination of the agreement. The honorable gentleman, however, did not correctly voice Australian public opinion on the subject. He received a verv good reception on his return to this country, and I, for one, was pleased that he did, because he showed himself while in London to be a very able man. I differ from him in regard to many matters of policy, but I do not therefore say that everything he does is wrong. I acknowledge freely that his general bearing in England was such that he acquitted himself well in the eyes of the leading statesmen of the Empire, and so long as Australia can send men like him to these Conferences, she will benefit by doing so. No doubt the honorable gentleman’s present illness is due to the nervous tension Yhich he endured while representing the Commonwealth in London. He crammed into three weeks work which an ordinary man would think sufficient for a couple of years. I have been told that he addressed 130 meetings in England. The leader of the Opposition could have, addressed 230, and would have been all the better and fatter for the effort. From my point of view, he would have been even a better representative of the Commonwealth than was the Prime Minister, though I have no complaint to make about the latter in respect to the way in which he acquitted himself in England. Unfortunately, he is a man of a highly-strung, nervous temperament, and ‘he is now suffering from overwork. He tried to excel himself on each occasion, and the strain was too much. But, returning to the Naval Agreement, it is now evident that he misrepresented public opinion in regard to it. Ministers have since felt the public pulse, and tacitly acknowledge that that is so. Notwithstanding his limitations, no one reads the political barometer more closely than does the Acting Prime Minister, and the fact that as Treasurer he has placed on the Estimates ,£200,000 to meet this year’s contribution, and has refrained from expressing his personal views in regard to the Naval Agreement, show that he thinks that the public are not opposed to its renewal. It will not be long probably before we extract from him the statement that he does not believe in the termination of the agreement; and that he would be willing to increase the subsidy, if that were thought necessary. The Government is also providing ^32,000 For the establishment of a small-arms factory. I think it very necessary that the Commonwealth should provide for future difficulty by manufacturing the small arms that it requires for its defence, and I suppose that eventually we shall manufacture ammunition too. The sum of £282,000 is set down to, I presume, carry out the recommendations of the Imperial Defence Committee in regard to the defence of this country. With regard to the establishment of a Commonwealth) office in London, the Treasurer has told us that he is negotiating for the acquirement of a site there. The sooner . some definite arrangement is made, the better. . The honorable gentleman should employ the keenest business acumen in his negotiations, because Australia must have a position in a front street, and must make herself as well known to the British public as Canada has done in the past. The Dominion does not play with this matter, but spends ,£500,000 a year in advertising her resources. The investment .is a good one, returning twenty times as much every year in the steady influx of immigrants from the United Kingdom, and the demand for Canadian produce which it creates. For Australia to spend £20,000 in advertising is absurd. Sometimes no return is obtainable from an expenditure of ,£10,000, whereas an expenditure of £40,000 will give a good return, and business men concern themselves, not with the magnitude of proposed expenditure, but with the probability of obtaining a profit from it. Parliament should vote a sufficient sum to secure a substantial return ; it will be useless to vote money in dribs and drabs in the manner proposed. No reference has been made to the appointment of a High Commissioner, but I think that a High Commissioner should be appointed as soon as possible. The work done by the Prime Minister in London has not yet been forgotten, and I trust that a High Commissioner will be appointed before it is forgotten. I do not intend to canvass at the present time the merits of possible candidates for the position. It will be sufficient to do that when a definite proposal is made to us. The Treasurer told us that when in London he dined with all sorts of persons - he is not a particular sort of chap - and that on one occasion he dined with the governor of the Bank of England. The governor may have been taking risks. However, they dined together, and, in the course of a confidential conversation, the governor told the Acting Prime Minister that the. Banking Bill which the Commonwealth Government intended to introduce was a very good one. We did not hear of this Bill from the Government until the mention of it in the Budget. Then we discovered that it is a measure drafted by the honorable member for Swan.
– I think that it was a mistake on the part of the Acting Prime Minister to mention what was told to him confidentially.
– That is a matter for the honorable gentleman himself. His Budget statements are public property, and, therefore, we have the right to ask for an outline of the provisions of the. measure,, if it is to be proceeded with, and to know whether it is to be gone on with or to be abandoned. The Government proposes the establishment of penny postage, though we have not been told how it is to be provided for. However, it is a placard which reads well, and helps to fill up the Ministerial programme. I should like to put before the Committee some important figures relating to immigration’, which appear in bulletin No. 6 of this year, issued by the Government Statistician. This is a statement showing trie number of persons of each nationality or race arriving in, or departing from, the Commonwealth during the month of June, 1906 and 1907, together with the total arrivals and departures for the first six months of those years. The information is subject to correction, but is the latest official statement I can get. I find that, during the last six months, the white persons arriving in the Commonwealth numbered 33,414, and those departing 27,856, a gain of 5,558 for the half-year. Notwithstanding our resources and expanding revenue, Australia is adding only 11,000 white persons to her population each year. If immigration largely increased, there would be an excuse for increasing taxation, because the increase would not be felt, since it would be divided amongst a larger population. The present increase of population does not warrant the proposals of the Treasurer for an increase of taxation. The facts relating to the immigration and emigration of coloured persons are very gratifying. During the first six months of the year the arrivals of such persons in the Commonwealth numbered 1,975, and the departures 5.338-
– Mostly Polynesians.
– No.’ The return shows that 916 Chinese arrived here and i,533 departed, which makes our .Chinese population considerably less now than it was last December. Although our white population is increasing very slowly, our coloured population is rapidly decreasing. Great Britain is answerable for most of the white immigrants that come here. In 1907, she sent ^9,800, and 24,700 British persons left Australia. It is very gratifying to know that so many of our immigrants are (Pritish subjects. The next largest number came from France. The Germans - a very good class of citizens - :are disappearing from our midst. There are more departures of Germans from Australia than there are arrivals, I present these figures to the Committee with a view to show that it is necessary to bring under the notice of the people of Great Britain the resources of the Commonwealth, and that the sum of £20,000 is altogether inadequate for the purpose. Of course, the Labour Party would cure our lack of population bv the imposition of a land tax. They propose a sufficiently high exemption to prevent injury to small landholders, their argument being that the tax will disrupt large estates, and that it is useless to invite population to Australia until our lands are thrown open for settlement. My reply is that the .States control the administration of our lands, and that the question of land taxation should therefore be left with the States. Of course, I am aware that Western Australia is offering very liberal conditions with a view to attract settlers to that State. I wish that equally liberal conditions obtained elsewhere. But what chance has the Labour Party of securing the adoption of a progressive land tax by this House? Even assuming that the cure which they suggest would prove an efficacious one - which I do not admit - I say that in the interim almost one of our first duties should be the appointment of a High Commissioner, and the thorough equipment of our London office. I now come to the question of the European mail contract. In this connexion I think that the Government have shown a lamentable lack of business ability. Up to date the Commonwealth has not obtained the £25,000 guarantee deposited on behalf of Sir James Laing and Company. Not even a copy of the guarantee has been laid on the table of the House. The reason why a copy of it has been withheld is that Messrs. Barclay and Company undertook to” guarantee the- contractors only, for a certain period. The Government permitted the date of that guarantee to expire without demanding the amount of the bond. In doing so, they exhibited a deplorable lack of business knowledge. The Attorney-General knows that what I am saying is correct.
– I know nothing of the sort.
– Then why not lay a copy of the guarantee upon the table of the House ?
– -Why does not the honorable member move in that direction?
– I will put a notice of motion upon the business-paper to-day if the Government will ‘permit it to pass unopposed. I now ask the Attorney-General whether they will make that promise?
– The honorable member should address his question to the PostmasterGeneral.
– I will undertaketo say that what I have stated is not very far from the fact. The honorable member for Gwydir has made some very startling statements with regard to the sweating of certain officers in the General Post Office, Sydney. Such a condition of things as he disclosed is not creditable to the Commonwealth. The Government should set an example to private employers in refusing to underman public Departments, and to overwork their officers. In my judgment, the present administration of the Post Office is altogether too centralized. We pay a large salary to the Deputy PostmasterGeneral in New South Wales to act merely as a recording clerk. I maintain that he should be saddled with his full share of responsibility. He should be armed with the necessary power to cure the alleged sweating evil. At the present time, however, if he desires to spend1s. 6d. to repair a broken window in the Post Office, he has to obtain the authority to do so from Melbourne. Consequently he is dear to the Commonwealth at his present salary. The honorable member for Gwydir also made special reference to the sad case of Mr. Clarke, who was employed in the General Post Office, Sydney. The return which the honorable member produced showed that this officer had worked eighty days overtime in less than three years. Mr. Clarke had asked for leave of absence on account of ill-health, but his services could not be spared, with the result that he died in harness.
– But for the fact that he was a specialist he might have been receiving a salary of £200 or £300 more at the time of his death.
– Practically the Department worked him to death, and I think that the Government ought to make some provision upon the Estimates for his widow.
– What office did he hold ?
– He was inland mail clerk.
– A sum of money was provided upon the Estimates, but the Acting Prime Minister says that he took it off.
– The matter has not yet been finally dealt with. It is still under consideration.
– I understand from the Minister of Trade and Customs that the question of making provision for the late Mr. Clarke’s widow will be reconsidered ?
– That case shows the necessity which exists for establishing a superannuation fund.
– I am glad to hear the statement of the Minister of Trade and Customs. The report of the Royal Commissioner who was appointed by the Government to inquire into the matter of patent medicines, to which reference was made last night by the honorable member for Hunter, is a very important one. No more startling document has ever been placed before this Chamber, and in the interests of the community, action should be taken by the Government. The gentleman who is credited with having compiled the report is not upon the same side of politics as myself, ‘but that fact does not blind me to its excellencies. I wish that the press of the country would give more publicity to that report than it has done. The document deals, inter alia, with quite a number of ‘ advertisements which are working harm to the community. It is a very exhaustive document, and shows conclusively that there are many evils which ought to be immediately checked by Commonwealth action. Some time ago I stated that I had been informed that the report was written by Dr. Arthur, and that£500 had been paid for it. Personally I do not care who wrote it, because - though it certainly bears upon its face evidence that it was compiled by a medical man - it is a very valuable one. However, I am satisfied that whatever sum of money may have been expended upon it has beer well expended. During the course of this debate frequent reference has been made to the need of defining- parties in this House. To my mind, the only way in which that result can be achieved is by the submission of a direct motion which will create a line of cleavage. Whatever Ministry is in powershould hold office by virtue of its own strength, and because it Icommands the support of a solid majority. So far as I am personally concerned, my vote will not be cast to place on the Treasury benches any combination of the Conservative Party. Turning from the Budget, I desire to direct the attention of honorable members to the Tariff. Honorable members have described the Tariff as iniquitous ; but that word is inadequate to describe the most atrocious Tariff of which the Commonwealth has ever heard in the past, or is likely to hear of in the future. But honorable members should have voiced their opposition from the very start, and should have resisted the granting of the month’s Supply to the authors of such an iniquity. When that Supply was asked for, the Budget speech had been delivered, and the Tariff proposals distributed; and the proper course was to have then refused to grant Supply. Another place took the proper view of the situation;’ and it was only by a majority of two votes that the Supply Bill was passed. I do not suppose that in this House we could have successfully resisted Supply; but every honorable member who disapproved of the Tariff should have cast his vote against the Bill as a protest. Here, in my opinion, an opportunity was lost.
– Some were looking for favours to come.
– There is no favour that honorable members could look forward to greater than would follow the performance of their duty as public men ; and that duty was to resist Supply. I suggested at one time that Christmas would come and go, and find the Tariff still before Parliament.
– The honorable member does not think so?
– I do, and so does the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– My belief is that the honorable gentleman hopes that the Tariff will not be disposed of by Christmas; and that hope is likely to be realized, in view of the objections which have been raised to the duties by one honorable member after another. Not a member of the House, with the exception of the Treasurer himself, has commended the Tariff.
– The Treasurer merely threw the Tariff on the table, without saying anything.
– The Treasurer did not throw the Tariff on the table, but placed it there very quietly. Since the honorable gentleman has been Acting Prime Minister, there has not been a more polite man ; he never throws anything, not even an interjection, except, perhaps, at the honorable member for Swan. This cannot be called a scientific Tariff, and the Government do not pretend to regard it as such ; the best friends of the Government ‘ describe the
Tariff as a jumble. Sir Edmund Barton described his Tariff as “ revenue without destruction “ ; may we, in view of the events brought about by the whirligig of time, describe the Tariff before us as “ destruction without revenue “ ?
– Construction without revenue.
– It is construction and destruction without revenue. Such an ardent free-trader as is the honorable member for Coolgardie must, from the point of view of the masses of Western Australia, regard this Tariff as destructive.
– It is constructive also.
– It is constructed to destroy.
– I do not understand that paradox.
– It would appear that the Government prepared this Tariff in a very rough-and-ready way. We can imagine one member of the Government saying, “ Put 10 per cent on that, Austin, and 15 per cent. on this; never mind wasting time reading the Commission’s report - lay it on thick. There will be a good struggle ; and we will see if we cannot get Reid and his party to throw over their free-trade principles, and thus put themselves in a hole. After a long discussion members will be anxious for recess, and we shall still be in power.”
– Who said that, does the honorable member think?
– The Acting Prime Minister ; and to show that it is something more than thinking on my part, I recall the fact that the Government did not supply their Customs officers with the proper Tariff. Sealed copies were sent all over Australia, and the one received at Rockhampton was published in the localnewspapers on 9th August. On the 10th August, however, the sub-collector had to alter the Tariff materially in pursuance of wired instructions at the last moment.
– The Government were quite entitled to do that?
– Quite so; but the fact shows that the Tariff had not been constructed on a well thought-out plan. The Government were so staggered at the effect of high duties on the ordinary necessaries of life, that they sought to gild the pill by conceding some preference to the old country, apparentlyforgetting that the bulk of the goods so affected are already imported, not from foreign countries, but from Great Britain. There is some difficulty in dealing with the Tariff Commission’s reports with any coherency. We have to speak of the reports of the free-trade section, of the protectionist section, and of the Government proposals. To simplify matters I shall call those reports signed by the Chairman, the “Quick reports,” those signed by the free-trade section the “dead reports,” so that we have the “ quick and the dead.” The Government took no notice of the Fuller or “dead” reports, and they had no desire to read the evidence. The Chairman of the Tariff Commission himself, speaking in this House, 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, see a striking similarity.
The honorable member for Bendigo is a humorous sort of person, and he could not refrain from that gentle sarcasm. And it is solid proof that this is not the Tariff of either the Quick section or the Fuller section, but is the Tariff of that rightdown protectionist, the Acting P.rime Minister.
– Hear, hear ; and of the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– This only shows what a waste of time and money the Tariff Commission was. Honorable members opposite supported a six months’ recess on the ground that they desired to read the Tariff Commission’s reports; and I was foolish enough to believe that during that recess, the Acting Prime Minister, when crossing the mighty deep, would be found walking the deck night and day studying the advance copies.
– That is just what I was doing.
– Nevertheless, the honorable gentleman has ignored the reports.
– We adopted a good many of the recommendations of the Commission.
– The impression was that the cable and the post office would be kept busy supplying the honorable gentleman with copies of the reports, and that these would be studied most judiciously, attention being directed to the recommendations of the free-trade section, with a slight leaning to the protectionist section. But, as a matter of fact, the Government have gone quite beyond the recommendations of the protectionist section, and paid no. heed whatever to the recommendations of the free-trade section. Not only have the Government ignored the work of the Commission, but even a member of that Commission was so biased a protectionist as to endeavour to dragoon this Parliament. That member, who is an ex-member of the Labour Party in this Parliament, not only embodied his views with those of the other protectionist members in a report, but, as I say, attempted to dragoon Parliament. I ask the leader of the Labour Party whether hisattention has been directed to this matter?These reports are submitted for our guidance; but I ask the honorable member for South Sydney whether he thinks there is any use in issuing such reports, from either free-traders or protectionists ?
– Then I ask the honorable member to listen to the following paragraph -
One reason that may be advanced for the presentation to Parliament of a Tariff schedule containing few details is in a case where a large number of members of either House are hostile, , and Standing Orders are inadequate. Complete details may lead in such a Parliament to unduly prolonged and time-wasting discussion. This, however, should not be the case with the present Federal Parliament, in which there are more protectionists and more reasonable rules of debate.
Is it fair for a member of the Commission, whether a free-trader or a protectionist, to hint at the use of the rules of this House in order to force through a given policy?
– I call that a proposal to adapt the report to the political temper of the House.
– Is it not rather stating a fact?
– It is am effort to hamstring Parliament. A member of the Commission had no right to make such a suggestion as to the rules of debate, or to say that there was no necessity for details because there are more protectionists than free-traders in the Parliament.
– Of course there are.
– But we want details.
– Who wrote that paragraph ?
– It was written by ex-Senator Higgs. All I conclude is that Mr. Higgs realized that great efforts would be required to get such a Tariff passed, and that if details were supplied, honorable members would see no justification for many of the burdens proposed. Mr. Higgs was a member of the
Commission in order to give details; and should have known that it will be of no use to endeavour to apply the gag when efforts are made to reduce the duties on food supplies and wearing apparel, which affect the masses so nearly. Nothing would suit me better than that the Labour Party should apply the “gag” to me when I am pleading for a reduction of the duties on the food and clothing of the masses.
– No one would thing of applying the “ gag” to the honorable member. We are always glad to hear him.
– I am not always glad to hear myself; there aremany occasions when I would gladly refrain from speaking.
– But the honorable member owes a duty to his constituent’s.
– And also to the House. Mr. Higgs, in common with other members of the Commission, has done good service, but I strongly object to the minute signed by him to which I have referred. What right had he to consider the question of whether or not the majority of honorable members were favorable or hostile to the proposed duties, or whether the Standing Orders were adequate or inadequate? What right had he to suggest that honorable members should be dragooned?
– What is the date of his minute ?
– It was signed by him on 2nd May, 1907, and appears in report No. 30, “ Tariff Anomalies and Reclassification.”
– Last session I raised the question of whether the Commissioners were not going beyond the terms of their commission.
– Even Mr. Higgs’ warmest friends could not defend such a minute. If the position of parties had been different, and the honorable member for Illawarra had seen fit to write, as Mr. Higgs has done, the Acting Prime Minister would not have hesitated to draw attention to the impropriety of his action, and the protectionist press would have denounced it. .
– The leader of the Opposition said the other day that there was a majority of protectionists in this House.
- Mr. Higgs refers to the matter, and says that advantage should be taken of the Standing Orders to silence debate. He practically suggested that the
Government had simply to bullock “ the Tariff through Parliament. Doubtless he felt satisfied that his friend “ Bullocky Bill “ would push it through. He says, in effect, to the protectionists, “ Now is your time to ‘ bullock ‘ a T ariff through Parliament, and I should like to remind you that there is a handy boomerang in the hands of the Chairman to assist you in your work. “
– Mr. Higgs meant to suggest that the protectionist arguments are irrefutable.
– I find it difficult to convince the honorable member. I trust the Government will indicate their disapproval of Mr. Higgs’ action in making such a suggestion as this. Both sections of the Tariff Commission have done valuable work, and to those who ask how long we are likely to be engaged in dealing with the Tariff, I would reply with’ another question, “If we took so long to deal with the first Tariff when we had to do our own ‘devilling,’ how long will it take us to deal with the present Tariff when all the ‘devilling’ has been done for us by the Commission?” The reports of the Commission show what truth there is in the outcry that the industries of Australia have suffered under the old Tariff. Let me deal first of all with the so-called strangled industries of Victoria. I have here an extract from the report of the Victorian Chief Inspector of Factories for 1906 - one of the years during which the Commission was inquiring into the effect which the Tariff had had on Victorian industries. Mr. Harrison Ord writes in this report, “ Last year was the most prosperous 1 remember in the manufacturing industries of the State.” That is the statement, not of a politician or a pressman, but of the Chief Inspector of Factories. He goes on to say that the bare figures - do not fully indicate the increased production of the period, as the overtime worked in 1906 exceeded that worked in 1905 by 3,174 hours.
– Is not that an argument for more protection?
– The honorable member, like the cormorant, does not seem to know when he has had enough ; he does’ not know what are the digestive powers of the Commonwealth. I think that the quotation I have just made shows that the general public, who are not interested in the manufactories that are doing so well, have paid quite enough to keep them prosperous.
– The people of New South Wales are asking for more protection.
– The honorable member’s interjection reminds me of the complaint made by some honorable members, with tears in their voices, that only two consumers appeared before the Commission. Was it not reasonable to expect that every producer would be anxious to appear before the Commission as soon as the news went forth that it was appointed to determine how their position might be improved. It was practically said to them, “ If you can prove your case, the Commission will give you an opportunity to dip into the Treasury.” I am surprised that it was not found necessary to call in the police to maintain’ something like order amongst the crowd of producers endeavouring to appear before the Commission. Had I been a manufacturer I should have said that in the circumstances there -was no occasion for me to be modest. The manufacturer, after all, is in the same position as the importer. He goes into business, not for the benefit of his health, or because he wishes to become a charitable institution, but simply with the object of making as much as he can out of it. We have a right to see, however, that the manufacturers and importers are not the only sections of the community to whom consideration is given. The Chief Inspector of Factories of Victoria, in his report fbr 1906, deals with the position of a number of industries affected by the new Tariff. We hear, for instance, a lot about the woollen mills, and it is proposed to give them very substantial protection. In 1900 878 hands were employed in the mills in Victoria, but in 1906 under the old Tariff they employed 1,284. Thus under the Kingston Tariff these mills prospered, and the number of their employes was increased by over 30 per cent. The taxation on textiles under the new Tariff is greater than any other that has been imposed. Yet we find, according to this report, that the number of hands employed in shirt factories in this State has increased from 943 in 1900 to 1,325 in 1906. There again, the old Tariff was not at fault. In the hat and cap-making trade in this State in 1900 there were 909 hands employed, but in 1906 the number had increased to 1,144. Why should we be asked in these circumstances to increase the duty on hats? And so’ with boots and shoes. All these are items closely affecting the masses of the people, and, as a free-trader, I intend to fight strongly to reduce as much as possible every duty on necessaries of life.
– How many articles of food supply are taxed?
– Food supplies are taxed directly and indirectly. A duty on glass bottles, for instance, indirectly increases the. price of oilmen’s stores. All these duties reduce the purchasing power of the working man’s sovereign. In many cases they will mean the difference, not between substituting a dearer for a cheaper article, but between being able and not being able to purchase an article. Many of the goods taxed under the Tariff will not reach the people if the present duties remain. Is the Labour Party prepared to support such taxation ? They tell us that they believe in preferential trade. The bulk of the textiles and wearing apparel imported into Australia comes from .the United Kingdom, so that in respect to the increase of duty on such articles, the Government has not the excuse that it is the foreigner who is being taxed. The Acting Prime Minister is always speaking of himself as being opposed to the foreigner. Personally, if we could secure free-trade throughout the British Empire, I should be ready to support the highest protection against the outer world. I do not like to see German products coming here.
– When I advocated that the other day 1 was said to be going back on free-trade.
– I did not say that the honorable member was going back on freetrade.
– Does not the honorable member for Dalley. feel lonely, seeing that there is no one sitting behind him on the Opposition benches?
– If the members of the Opposition subjected themselves to the discipline, and displayed the camaraderie of the Labour Party, it would be all the better. When the honorable member for Dalley takes the bit into his teeth, it does not please some members of the party. But I was not sent here to sink my individuality. In asserting it, I am like the honorable member for Parkes, though I differ from him on many points. He puts on the Conservative armour, and says: “I am Bruce Smith.” I put on the Radical armour, and say: “I am Bill Wilks.”’ The honorable member for Hunter cannot be happy unless he has the support of the lot of claquers. But I have the courage to fight my battleswithout such support. However, I havequite enough to do now in criticising the
Ministry, without replying to the interjections of my quondam friends. I do not know why the honorable member drew attention to the emptiness of the Opposition benches. If he did so for a good purpose, I apologize for what I have said; but if. his object was a sinister one, I do not retract a word of it. If a keen struggle were going on in his electorate, he would be very glad to have my support, because there is a certain class of votes which I can influence. Although I am challenged from time to time because of my position, I am ready, rightly or wrongly, to fight vigorously for my principles, without finding it necessary to make excuses for mv conduct to the honorable member, or even to the leader of the Opposition. The reports of the Victorian Inspector of Factories show no justification for the alteration of duties which has been made. I should be willing to vote for the removal of anomalies, but it is too much to ask us to increase the duties on such things as hats, boots, shirts, and clothing generally. The number of hands employed iri the ‘clothing factories of Victoria was only 5,601 in 1900, whereas it is now increased to 6,300, which shows that the industry is a flourishing one. Why, then, should we increase the duties on clothing? One protectionist who came before the Tariff Commission, said, in reply to a question, “I do not want to sail too closely to the wind. I want plenty of room. I want a duty of 35 per cent.” He wished to get enough protection to drown himself in’; and that is the desire of the protectionists behind the Government. Ministers say, in reply to such requests : “ You ask for an ocean; we will give you two.” In almost every instance they have raised the duties beyond the rates asked for by protectionist manufacturers. If this Tariff had been brought forward prior to the last elections, there .would be no jibe uttered about the fewness of the free-traders in this Chamber. The States of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania would have voted solidly against it; only Victoria would have sent representatives to support it. Even the protectionist newspapers say that there is to be a big struggle on the Tariff. No doubt that is true. But it should have been brought forward prior to the elections. Then the people would have declared their opinion in regard to it. The passing of the Government proposals will not settle the fiscal question. I believe that the next elections will be fought on the fiscal issue. In my opinion, the leader of the Opposition made a mistake in commencing to fight Socialism before the fiscal battle was finished.
– Will not the increase of the parliamentary allowance come up at the next elections ?
– No doubt honorable members will have to. justify what has been done in that matter, and I think that those who had the pluck to defend and vote for the increase will be returned ; I do not know how those who had not the pluck to oppose the increase, and yet intend to take it, on the excuse that’ they must obey the law, will get on. I tried to have inserted in the Bill a provision which would have prevented them from taking it, but in that I was not successful. Before the Committee sanctions increases of duty, those increases should be justified on the ground that further protection is necessary to give employment to factories which are idle, and to keep in existence factories which would otherwise disappear. The Government, however, has made no attempt to justify increases. It has not even accepted the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Commission - the Quick section - and has so completely ignored the recommendations of the freetrade section that that may well be called in distinction, the dead section. The Tariff Commission, however, has furnished us with evidence which shows the true position of the manufacturers of the Commonwealth. It has been said that very few consumers gave evidence before it. The manufacturers came before the Commission because they have something to gain by an increase of duties. The consumers, on the other hand, are not organized. They have no 66 Bourke-street to drum them up, and no paid secretaries to look after their interests. They consider that they do their duty in electing representatives to fight their battles here. I, for one, intend to fight the battle of the consumer. I do not say that the manufacturer, because he looks after himself, is a robber. I leave both the manufacturers and importers to do what’ they can for themselves; but it is my duty to stand up for the consumers, who constitute the bulk of my constituents, and the masses of the Commonwealth. They look to the freetrade members of the Committee to see that the necessaries of life are not taxed at too high a rate. The honorable member for Barrier has in has electorate a large number of persons earning their living in connexion with the mining industry, and even if he were not a free-trader, he would vote against imposts on mining. He will fight fiercely for the removal of the duty on such timber as is needed for mining. Similarly, the battle of the consumers will be fought by other honorable members. The’ Labour Party will not be blamed for the Tariff unless, as a body, it helps the Government to force it through. It will not be blamed for it if its individual members assist the free-traders to reduce the duties. The Acting Prime Minister,, speaking at a banquet given to him in Sydney a fortnight ago, by certain manufacturers, said that this is to be no half-and-half Tariff, but a thorough protectionist affair. The same night the Minister of Trade and Customs said, “We shall be reasonable people.” Two days afterwards, the Acting Prime Minister declared that he would not ibc too stubborn. I do not wish to make trouble amongst Ministers, but, obviously, although the Treasurer is in a good humour because he has fooled himself into believing that he is the strongest member of the’ Government, the Minister of Trade and Customs is in this matter the stronger, because, on his saying that “we. must be reasonable,” the Treasurer, notwithstanding the declaration that he would have no half-and-half measures, felt bound to say, “ I shall not be stubborn.” Whether he will or will not be stubborn will depend on the numbers behind him. If he has sufficient support, he will be as stubborn as possible; if not, he will be most plastic. In my knockabout days, a “half-and-half” meant half “English” and half “Colonial”; but the Tariff is certainly not a halfandhalf affair in that respect. There is nothing in it for the Britisher. Of course, protectionists do not really care whether imports come from Germany or from Great Britain. If I were a protectionist and believed that the admission of cheap labour products from other parts of the world would interfere with our local manufactures, I should be perfectly justified in endeavouring to exclude them. The preferential proposals of the Tariff are, from a protectionist standpoint, so much humbug. The true protectionist cannot be a preferential trader in the sense that we understand such a trader. But he can be, and he is, a great bargain hunter. At the present time, he desires to strike ‘a good bargain with the old country. In effect he says: “We will sell you as much as we can, but- we will buy as little from you or anybody else as possible.” It is idle for protectionists to declare that they favour the imposition of a duty of 40 per cent, upon goods from the outside world and of only 35 per cent, upon British goods.
– A margin of 5 per cent, often represents a good profit.
– I hope that the Minister of Trade and Customs will realize that I am endeavouring to advance arguments in support of the position which I take up. Let me point to the difference in the Customs taxation per head as between 1900 and 1907-8. In New South Wales the taxation per head in 1900 was £1 6s. 4jd., but under the present Tariff it is £2 10s. o 3/4d. - an increase of about 24s. In the case of a family of five, this would be equivalent to an increase in Customs taxation during the year of about £6. In other words, including the retailer’s profit, it would probably represent a reduction of wages to the extent of about 4s. per week. To a State like New South Wales, which has become accustomed to a low measure of taxation through the Customs, the increase from 26s. to 50s. per head is a very big one indeed. Is it any wonder that the people of that State are up in arms against this Tariff? Even in the old days, when the present Minister of Trade and Customs was a young man fighting the battle of protection in that State, and when the admission that one was a protectionist was tantamount to saying that he belonged to the dark ages, 15 per cent, was the high-water mark of the most ardent protectionist advocates. In pre-Federation days the Customs taxation per head in Victoria amounted to £1 19s. 3d., whereas under this Tariff it amounts to £2 7s..
– Does not the honorable member know that Coghlan, the free-trade statistican of New South Wales, stated that at that time living was cheaper in Victoria than it was in New South Wales.
– He never made any such statement. He said that the people of New South Wales spent more, because they had more to spend.’
– He said that living was cheaper in Victoria at that time than it was in New South Wales.
-Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania will pay less Customs taxation per head under this Tariff than they ‘did in pre-Federation days; but South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales, will pay more. In New South Wales, I venture to say that the increase will easily spell from 4s. to 5s. per week. It is idle for protectionists to urge that the free-traders in this House are going back upon the fiscal truce. There was no truce entered into of the character which has been suggested. The leader of the Opposition merely pledged himself to remedy existing anomalies-a pledge which he intends to honorably fulfil. I hope that that fact will be recognised by ‘ everybody. I need scarcely point out that the largest increases in this Tariff have reference to the. division relating to textiles. Twothirds of the importations under that heading come from Great Britain. What, then, becomes of the protectionist avowals in favour of preferential trade? There is absolutely no justification for increasing the duties upon these commodities against the foreigner, seeing - as I have already stated - that two- thirds of them are of British origin. Yet in order to evidence their love for the people of Great Britain the Government have doubled the duty which was formerly levied upon these commodities. I look to every member of the Labour Party - which is supposed to be the custodian of the interests of the poorer classes of the community - irrespective of whether he favours free-trade or protection - to vote in favour of a reduction of these duties. The Government have doubled the duty against the British manufacturer in the first instance, then they have doubled it upon the consumer, and finally they have said, “We will increase the impost against the foreigner by 5 per cent.” A similar remark is applicable to apparel. Twothirds of the importations under this heading are the product of Great Britain. Here again there is no justification for taxing the foreigner. Yet the Government have raised the duty upon apparel from 25 per cent, to 40 per cent. I now come to the item of galvanized iron. This article was imported into the Commonwealth in 1906 to the value of ,£1,069,000, of which the United Kingdom supplied ,£1,032,000 worth. Practically, therefore, the whole of the importation is the product of Great Britain. What have the Government done in this case? They have actually quadrupled the duty which formerly operated.
– “ It is all very well to dissemble your love, but why did you kick me downstairs?”
– I have had two or three kicks at the honorable member for Flinders, but I notice that the Age thismorning gives him a far bigger kick than, any I have given him. What I desire to say to the honorable member is that he has made a very open statement. He has declared that he wants ‘ ‘ effective protection.” At the last election I knew that I should be asked whether I was a free-trader or a protectionist. I saw the storm coming, and thought it would be just as well to have an umbrella with me. Consequently I stated on the floor of the House that, so far as the Tariff was concerned,” when the storm came, up would go my umbrella. I know when to put it up just as well as do most men. I told the electors that I had sat in this Chamber for two Pailiaments, and that I had seen freetraders fighting for’ protection to industries within their own electorates.
– What colour was the honorable member’s umbrella?
– It was a green one with a yellow lining. At the last election my return’ was strongly opposed by protectionists, as well as by the Labour Party. I .told the electors that I realized there was no hope of securing a free-trade Tariff such as was formerly operative in New South Wales. When the first Tariff was under consideration, with the honorable member for Parramatta, I fought for free-trade, notwithstanding that some of the biggest industries in the Commonwealth are located in my electorate. I did noi bid for the support of Mort’s Dock, or the chemical works, or the timber yards. I fought in a straightforward fashion, for free-trade. At the last election I told the electors that I would oppose the imposition of higher duties upon the necessaries of life, but in respect of the other items in the Tariff, I said that I wanted a free hand. Consequently I have not been returned pledged either to protection or free-trade. Having been granted a free hand I intend to vote in favour of reducing the duties upon the necessaries of life to the lowest possible point. During the course of this discussion we have heard a good deal about the subject of wire netting. When the first Tariff was introduced that item was upon the free list. Upon that occasion I did not hesitate to charge Sir Edmund Barton,
Senator O’Connor, and the present Treasurer with having neglected the interests of New South Wales. I pointed out that this industry had been established in that State, that it employed hundreds of men, but that, notwithstanding these facts, wire netting had been placed upon the free list. I urged either that the Ministers in question had abandoned their protective principles, or else that the right honorable member for Adelaide, who at the time was Minister of Trade and Customs, had proved too strong for them, in that they had neglected to make an article manufactured in their own State a dutiable one. Now, however, the position is reversed.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– When the Committee adjourned I was showing that while the Government profess a desire to give preference to Great Britain they have doubled and quadrupled the duties, in some instances, against the products ‘of the old country. As to wire netting, this commodity was free under the first Tariff, although this is a New South Wales industry, and there were three representatives of that State in the Barton Government. I did not advocate a duty on wire netting, but I saw at the time that, while the industry employed hundreds of men, the nail industry in Victoria employed less than twenty men, and yet a duty was imposed on nails. In the. Victorian factory a few men were employed making nails with imported material by means of imported machinery ; but this was raised to the dignity of an Australian industry, deserving of the protection of a duty. Indeed, an effort was made to impose a higher duty than that originally recommended, but the proposal did not meet with the approval of the Committee. I find free-traders voting for the protection of industries in their own electorates, and protectionists advocating the favorite policy for those whom they represent, and neither having any regard for the interests of others. “ Personally, I am a free-trader, but I refuse to sit here and neglect my constituency, when I see free-traders and protectionists alike paying strict regard to the fiscal interests of their electorates. The duty on wire netting means an impost of £125,000 per annum - rather a serious item for the consumer. The Melbourne Age did me the honour at the time of the election to make a pretty strong attack upon me because I contended that protection meant protection for Victorian industries, whereas any protection which might be afforded should be for the whole Commonwealth. Manchester, Birmingham, and other towns in England have their special industries, and, in the same way, there are certain cities and localities in Australia where special industries have grown up ; and we find, that in all our fiscal proposals there is a disposition to regard with favour the industries of Victoria, while neglecting those of New South Wales, simply because the latter happens to be a free-trade State. In regard to the necessaries of life, I shall prove a resolute free-trader ; but as to other items I shall insist on sharing any loot that the Tariff may afford. I regard the protective duties on secondary industries as so much plunder, and I am going to seethat New South Wales has its share. I have been twitted many times about my references to the Mort’s Dock Company, and I wish tosay here that there will not be found, at times, a better free-trader in a ten days’ march than Mr. Franki, the manager of that company. Mort’s Dock is a fine institution, and a few years ago it employed more men than it does now. In my opinion, the cause of the decline is not the want of protection, but the absence of uptodate administration. I have no desire to introduce personal matters, but I may say, that Mr. Franki lives for the works, and the works alone, and, as an elector of mine, and only as an elector, he is entitled to my consideration. In the constituency of Dalley, however, there are thousands of working people who naturally feel the pinch of the Tariff; and it is in their interests I must fight. Mr. Franki, in the matter of metals and machinery, is a protectionist, but a strong free-trader when he has to deal with timber for pattern-making, and so forth; and to accommodate him from both points of view is rather a difficult order. There is no doubt that Mort’s Dock would be a much larger and more prosperous institution if it had up-to-date management. Around Port Jackson there is a number of smaller engineering establishments conducted by active and energetic men ; I should like to see many more such works. It is a fact that some of these smaller firms which, though poor in capital, are rich in enterprise and energy, have competed successfully against the bigger firm. If there is any plundering to be done under a Tariff, I agree that there ought to be protection for the iron industry, which is the basis of all other industries. If I were a protectionist I should start with that industry, and end there for a considerable time. The Government have proposed to assist the industry by means of a bonus; and that is a suggestion which I, as a free-trader, opposed for years. But in the House I have found honorable members, who call themselves free-traders, voting for rural bounties amounting to £500,000: - bounties on the production of cotton, fibres, peanuts, and other commodities. If we are to have bonuses, let us have a bonus for an industry which employs the class of men. we desire to encourage to come here, and the class of men who are already here, who earn a standard wage, and live under good conditions ; and in my opinion we can achieve that end by a bonus on the production of iron. If an import duty be imposed, engineering establishments are immediately affected by the tax; and I should, therefore, prefer an iron bonus, accompanied by a bonus on ship-building, an industry well worth encouraging in Australia.
– -Would it not be better to have a national industry of ship-building?
– I am not in favour of nationalizing industries. I know that the Labour Party are in favour of nationalizing what they term monopolies; and my difficulty is that if I vote for high duties, I help to establish monopolies and thus pave the way to nationalization. The more assistance that is given by way of duties, the more encouragement there is to the formation of monopolies.
– That is inevitable.
– I do not desire that there should be monopolies, and, therefore, I am not in favour of high duties. My opinion is that we ought not to render any assistance in the formation of monopolies, and, if monopolies exist, they ought to be regulated, and not nationalized. In reference to the wirenetting industry, the Labour Party, instead* of condemning the Premier of New South Wales for his recent action, ought to applaud him for taking what is a first step towards nationalization. If the Premier of New South Wales feels it his duty to buy wire-netting for pastoralists, it ought “to be equally his duty to provide food for the people. If he is to be a purveyor for the public, why should he stop short at wire-netting ? If I were a member of the Labour Party I should say, “Well done, Carruthers; you have taken the first step towards Socialism”; although I do not know that Mr. Carruthers realizes that that is the effect of the course he has taken. ‘ The nail industry of Victoria, which employs only a few hands, has been given increased protection to the extent of 50 per cent., whereas the wire-netting industry, simply because it happens to be located in New South Wales, appears to have been neglected. In Victoria so much is thought of the wire-netting industry that it is to be carried on by prison labour at Pentridge. Mr. Bent, the Premier of Victoria, has imported machinery for the work, and that machinery is now being erected. What .does the Commonwealth Government think of that step?
– The Premier of Victoria has said he would do many things which he has not done.
– At any rate, the machinery has been imported, and is now being erected. When a deputation waited on Mr. Bent, about fourteen months ago, in favour of the establishment of the industry, he was told, in answer to a question, that it was not carried on in Victoria, but in New South Wales, whereupon he said, “ Oh, well, we shall have it carried on in Pentridge.” That is a true Federal spirit ! If there had been one wire-nail factory in Victoria, employing one man and a boy, Mr. Bent would not have dared to suggest the carrying on of the industry by means of prison labour. But it is of no use talking about a Federal spirit, because I find that honorable members think only of their own States when it comes to the pinch. Another item is that of paints and colours, eleven-tenths of which are imported from the United Kingdom; and yet such is the love of the Government’ for Great Britain, that they propose to double the duty. The Government believe so strongly in preferential trade .that they are prepared to double the duty, and give a preference of 5 per cent, to British imports. To my mind, they are simply gilding the pill, with the object of enabling higher duties to be imposed on the masses of the community. I think that the Government will bid adieu to the proposed duty on earthenware, for the leader of the Labour Party has announced that he is opposed to it. Directly the honorable member announces his opposition to a duty we find the Acting Prime Minister saying that he will not stubbornly cling to it. He says, in effect, “ I will not stick to it.”
– I never said that.
– We shall see what the honorable member will do.
– There is no dictation by the Labour Party.
– And there never has been.
– Eighty per cent. of our imports of earthenware come from Great Britain, and yet a heavy tax is imposed upon that item. Kerosene, which was previously free, is. now to yield a revenue of something like £190,000 per annum. This tax will fall upon the poorest of the poor. It cannot be said that it will encourage the industry in Australia. It is true that there are shale deposits in New South Wales, butI hold that the impost is not a justifiable one. I think we shall find that the duty will not be pressed by the Government, since the leader of the Labour Party has intimated that it objects to it. Had this Tariff been submitted just before, instead of immediately after, a general election, the position would have been different. It has been suggested in thepress that an appeal should be made to the people. I am not enamoured of general elections, but I would sooner appeal to the people on such a question as this than upon any other.
– The honorable member oughtnot to be so foolish.
– I would rather go before the electors on the Tariff issue than upon the question of whether or not it was justifiable to increase the allowances to Honorable members. In passing, I should like to inform the honorable ‘member for Darwin that the Governor-General of Java is paid £11,000 per annum, whilst members of the local Legislature receive £2,400 a year. In such circumstances he surely could not do better than take the first boat to Java. To return to the Tariff, I wish to draw special attention to the. fact that grocery lines are seriously affected under it. The duty upon glass is an indirect tax upon oilmen’s stores, such as sauces, pickles, salads, and so forth. The timber duties will also operate against trade. Two-thirds of our imports in the textile division comes from Great Britain, and on these the duties have been doubled. The duty on apparel- most of our imports of which come from Great Britain - has been increased from 25 to 40 per cent., whilst there has been an increase in the duty on galvanized iron and other British products. Then, again, we have a duty on matches representing twice the actual value. This may be regarded as a small item, but the duty is so high as to be a matter of some concern to the householder. The revenue from the new Tariff will be regulated by the enhanced cost of many of these goods, which must necessarily result in a decreased consumption. The first Prime Minister of Australia, who was an adept at coining phrases, when outlining the policy of the Government, spoke of the pattering of bare feet on our pavements. It seems to me that if this Tariff is to prevail, we shall soon hear practically nothing but the pattering of bare feet on our pathways. Some people may think ii well to do without boots, and to go back to a primeval state, but many of us believe that there is comfort in boots, and every one likes to send his children to school well clothed and booted. This Tariff, however, will so increase prices that many will find great difficulty in doing so. I have already shown that the boot trade in Victoria under the old Tariff increased very considerably, and that the number of employes in the industry in 1906, as compared with the number so engaged in 1900, showed an increase of 30 per cent. The honorable member for Batman knows something about leather, and believes that there is nothing like it.
– I know that in New South Wales children may be seen going to school without boots.
– If we pass this Tariff a great many more children will have to go without boots.
– What is the increased duty on boots?
– The duties have not been increased.
– I have in mind more particularly the duty on infants’ shoes.
Mr.Tudor. - I think that the Tariff Commission recommended that there should be a uniform duty in respect of certain sizes.
– I propose now to refer to the item of “ Metals and machinery.” We all admire the pluck of Mr. Sandford, of the Lithgow Ironworks, but, as a freetrader, I have always felt constrained to oppose an iron bounty. It would appear strange, however, that I should oppose an iron bounty representing an expenditure of £320,000, while other freetraders support a Bounties Bill providing for an expenditure of something like £500,000 to encourage such industries as the growth of peanuts, the production of sunflower seeds, and so forth. In the circumstances, therefore, I am determined te? fight for an iron bounty, coupled with a ship-building bounty, at the earliest opportunity. Honorable members will recognise the extent to which I am “ rocky “ on free-trade. I am “ rocky “ in the sense that I am not going to see other free-traders doing a little in this direction for their own electorates while I do nothing. Referring again to the question of preferential trade, I may say at once that I consider the Government proposals to be mere makebelieve. The rest of the British Empire supplies 63 per cent, of Australia’s imports, while we send to other parts of the Empire 61 per cent, of our total exports. The great volume of our trade, therefore, is with the rest of the Empire. The duties on imports from Great Britain under this Tariff have been considerably increased - some of them have been doubled, some cf them quadrupled, while in other cases’ 20 per cent, duties have been imposed. Notwithstanding this, the Government pose before the country as lovers of the mother land, and send Home to the Imperial Conference representatives who declare! that they desire, on behalf of Australia, preferential trade relations with Great Britain. As a matter of fact, they simply sought to drive a bargain with Great Britain to supply a market for our staple products, while we, in return, should take from her as little as possible. Mr. Chamberlain wanted to secure the markets of Australia for ‘ the manufacturers of Great Britain. He saw that in several directions production was declining in the old land, and he thought that the adoption of his. scheme would stimulate it. He proposed that in return Great Britain should provide a market for our products.
– Does not a protectionist country purchase anything from abroad ?
– Of course it’ does. But if the Government honestly favour preferential trade they should come forward with something like a genuine scheme. Freetraders always oppose protection, not because they object to the establishment of industries in Australia, but because they believe that under such a system money is taken out of the pockets of the people for the benefit of the few. Many admit that protection helps the capitalist, but not the worker. The leader of the Labour Party has come forward with a scheme to give effect to the policy .of the new protection. We learn now that not a member of the Labour Party will vote for protection unless some conditions are imposed on the manufacturers who reap the benefit of that policy. .In other words, we are to have protection in bandages. The Labour Party are determined that a system shall be adopted which will enable all classes to participate in the benefits of. the policy. When I vote for protection it will be for “protection in bandages.” .Every time that I vote for an increased duty, I shall tighten the bandage round the manufacturer, so that the operatives employed by him will .receive some share of the benefit of that protection. The Labour Party suggest that the bandage to be applied to the manufacturer shall be that which will insure the payment of a proper wage to his workmen. They admit that the manufacturer, like the importer, is prepared to make as much as he possibly can out of his business. I am not here to help either at the expense of the general community. The proposal made by the leader of the Labour Party is, after all, only an expedient, and I do not think it is likely to effect the object which he has in view. I believe it will be just as ineffective as the ‘Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill has proved. The Labour Party have declared themselves in favour of the nationalization of monopolies. In view of their latest proposal they ought to go a step further, and say : “ We believe that all big industries should be nationalized.” In that event there could be no doubt as to whether or not the bandage would be effective. If they came forward and said : ‘ ‘ Our object is to nationalize all industries, we could understand very well what they had in view. I differ from them as to the wisdom of the nationalization of industries. It is unwise, and not in the interests of the country generally, that the Government should conduct these great industries. It would be a direct step towards Socialism, and I should oppose anything of the kind. The new Tariff has been spoken of as a fence round Australia. I hold that it is something, more ; it is a barricade which, unlike a fence, is very difficult to get over. The honorable member for Bass, who is a Government supporter, last night riddled the Tariff. He pointed out item after item to which he was opposed, saying that he believed they would prove injurious to Tasmania.
He said in effect, “ In so far as these duties injuriously affect Tasmania, I am against them. As for the other items, they affect New South Wales and the mainland States, and, therefore, I shall support the Government so far as they are concerned.” The new protection of which we have heard so much is, I believe, an after-thought, and has been proposed to ease down the effect of the Tariff on the public. I know that the people of New South Wales are up in arms against the proposals of the Government. Those who are crying out against them are not merely the old-time freetraders. Members of the official. Labour Party, and the average protectionist worker and his wife, are against them. They have no desire that the severe rates of duty to which I have referred shall be sanctioned by Parliament. Unquestionably there will be a long discussion on the Tariff.
– The honorable member knows that the discussion must be a long one. But it is difficult to say whether he is the more sorry or glad at the prospect. As a Ministerialist, he must be glad, because delay will suit the interests of his party, while, as a protectionist, he may be sorry. In New South’ Wales, the Customs taxation has been increased from 20s. to 50s. per head, so that we have something to complain of, whereas in Tasmania, Queensland, and Western Australia, it has been reduced. Nevertheless, the people of Western Australia do not like the new duties. The Prime Minister, however, has one supporter there, who says that he has done right. Some one named Jim Griffiths, of Western Australia, has written a letter to the honorable gentleman, saying that this is the ideal Tariff. The representatives of the State will not say that it is ideal. There are many other arguments which I could marshall against the proposals of the Government, but I shall not do so now, because I wish to give other honorable members an opportunity to publish their views to their constituents. There should be no duty on the necessaries of life; and, furthermore, if the country is to be looted and plundered, I shall see that it will not be only the manufacturers of Victoria who will gain. If protection is to be increased, the interests of all the States must be considered. The leader of the Opposition has not said that he will not fight against the Tariff. On the contrary, he has openly and squarely declared thai he will fight for the reduction of duties. He pledged himself not to attempt to destroy industries established under protection, and promised to vote for the adjustment of anomalies, of which this Tariff is full ; so full that those responsible for it say that there must be a Commission to provide for equity and fair dealing under it. It is admitted, even by the supporters of the Tariff, that it contains as many anomalies as were in the old Tariff. The Tariff is by no means scientific, though it might be called “skyentific,” the duties in it are so high. The Government, without regard to the recommendations of either the Quick or the Fuller section of the Tariff Commission, has increased rates all round, and its proposals must be threshed out thoroughly when dealt with individually. I regret that the party to which I belong did not take the proper stand on the last Supply Bill, and oppose the granting of money while a Tariff like this was before Parliament. Even in the protectionist State of Victoria the wives of the workers are protesting against the high duties, because retailers are increasing their prices. I have not yet ascertained from the Government how much duty was paid on tobacco cleared during the four weeks immediately preceding the introduction of the Tariff, but it is well known that the sum was an enormous one, and it is difficult to believe that there was not a leakage of information in regard to the proposals of the Government. I make no accusation against the Minister, because I think that that should not be done unless the charge can be proved. But it .would seem that a leakage has occurred. To-day 9d. extra is being charged for tobacco on which only 6d. was paid in duty. In common with other manufacturers, the makers of tobacco are using the Tariff for their own ends.
– Prices have been increased on articles which bear no duty. That is not honest.
– At one time, according to the honorable member for Riverina, the only dishonest persons in the community were the importers. I am glad to hear his admission that manufacturers can be dishonest, too.
– Nine-tenths of the tobacco is imported.
– I am speaking of the increase of price on tobacco on which no increased rate of duty has been paid. The honorable member for Bass, although a protectionist, has also pointed out that prices have been increased by the Tariff. I hope to have the pleasure of addressing you, Mr. Chairman, on many future occasions in regard to items in the Tariff, because I shall oppose it vigorously, unless the Government back down, and Ministers say, “We have made a mistake; we are willing to -take off the increases, to accept a moderate Tariff, and to show that we are true preferential traders.” I do not expect them to do that, and certainly every free-trader must oppose the Tariff as if stands.
– I do not intend to occupy much time at this stage in discussing the fiscal question, because I realize that there will be ample opportunity to deal with each item of the Tariff as it comes before us; but I have a few general remarks to make. I was returned neither as a protectionist nor as a freetrader, and, therefore, have a free hand in regard to the Tariff. I realize that at the last elections Australia spoke for protection. That is shown by the fact that a Government which has not more direct supporters than it contains Ministers, still remains on the. Treasury benches.
– The Government has only six direct supporters. It is being kept in power by the non-fiscalists.
– The Labour Party would get rid of the present Government if it could put into power one more to its liking.
– Had not Australia spoken for protection, the Deakin Administration would not be still in power.
– It is kept in office, not by protectionists, but bv the Labour Party.
– When the Barton Administration brought down its Tariff, the leader of the “Opposition challenged the Government in regard to it, and if he thinks that Australia has not spoken for protection, there is nothing to prevent him from challenging this Government; but no motion of censure has been moved.
– Because the non.fiscalists, who keep the Government in power, are too numerous.
– I think that Australia has spoken for protection, and. therefore, I shall not offer factious opposition to the Tariff, nor shall I captiously criticise the Government proposals. At the same time I do not admit that the people have indorsed every item in the Tariff. I do not say that Australia has spoken for the Lyne
Tariff, although it has spoken for protection. There is a large number of protectionists, especially in the democratic portion of the community, prepared to bring about the manufacture in Australia of such goods as it is thought can reasonably and legitimately be manufactured here. It is not with them a question of rates of duty. They are ready to impose whatever rates are necessary to insure the local manufacture of certain goods, and on the other hand, they desire that goods which cannot be manufactured here shall be admitted free. Therefore they are opposed to a large number of the items in the Tariff, because these items are revenue producing, and they . are not in favour of the raising of money through the Customs to permit the Governments of the States to carry on without direct taxation, and to repeal such direct taxation’ as they already have. Whilst I am prepared to support the Government, to a certain extent, in regard to duties halving a protective incidence, I shall vote against all items which are merely revenue producing, because I am in favour of direct taxation, even for Com- monwealth purposes. I regret the presence of revenue-producing items in the Tariff, and I am sorry that in the financial statement of the Treasurer there was no foreshadowing of direct taxation. Those who, like myself, believe in direct taxation, must take every opportunity to refute the assertion which has been made, both outside and inside the Chamber, that, although the Constitution has given this Parliament the right to impose direct taxation if it chooses to do so, there has been a distinct understanding that it shall not impose it. That assertion has frequently been made in this House. I say that no such understanding was arrived at with the democracy of Australia*. When the Constitution Bill was before the people in New South Wales they were assured from every platform that if it were adopted this Parliament would have a perfect right to impose direct taxation. In South Australia, the Commonwealth League, of which Senator Sir Josiah Symon was then President, issued a leaflet to the following effect -
The question of land or other taxation is left under the Bill to the electors of the Commonwealth, who are free to adopt any system of taxation they please, so long as it is equal all over the Commonwealth.
– Has the right of this Parliament to impose direct taxation ever been disputed?
– In speaking the other day, I understood the honorable member for Flinders to say that whilst he admitted that this Parliament has the right under the Constitution to levy direct taxation, there was a distinct understanding that it would not exercise that right, save in time of national emergency. I venture to say that direct taxation possesses many advantages over indirect taxation. That statement, I think, is indisputable. If we imposed direct taxation we should have less extravagance in the matter ‘of government.
– How does the hon’orable member make that out?
– Anybody with a knowledge of political economy - and I take it that the honorable member has no knowledge of that subject, or else he would not have asked such a stupid question - must know that the easiest way to raise revenue is through the Customs House, and that the easier it is to raise revenue the more extravagant we are likely to be. On the other hand, if all the money required for the purposes of government had to be raised by’ means of direct taxation so that the people would know exactly what they were paying, there would not be so much extravagance as there is at present. I am not one of those who have joined in a sweeping condemnation of the action of certain traders in Australia iri increasing their prices after the introduction of the Tariff. I believe that amongst the wholesale merchants and the retailers of the Commonwealth are to be found a number of dishonest men - men who are prepared to take a dishonest advantage of any Tariff proposals. But there is not a larger percentage of dishonest individuals amongst these classes than is to be found amongst any other class of the community. To my mind the loftiest calling in the world is that of a minister of the Gospel, but I believe that there is a number of ministers of the Gospel who are a disgrace to their cloth. In precisely the same way, a number of those who are engaged in business as wholesale merchants are not honest and straightforward. But, regarded as a class, the wholesale merchants are just as honest as is any other body of men, and, consequently, it is not fair for us to lay all the blame for the enhanced price of articles upon their shoulders. We must also recollect that the wholesale merchants have to charge the public not only upon the money value of the goods which they import, but also upon the amount which they are required to expend in the first instance by way of duty. If we are raising £10,000,000 through the Customs House, the merchants require to get back not only the amount which they have expended upon the goods themselves, but at least 10 per cent, more which they are required to pay by way of duty. The sooner we realize that it is not the foreigner who pays the Customs duties the better. Even protectionists might fairly admit that. There may be many advantages connected with a protective system, but the idea that we. can collect a large revenue at the Customs House - a revenue which is paid by the foreigner - is the acme of absurdity. I have already declared that I am in favour of direct taxation. I hold in my hand an extract from a speech which was delivered by the honorable member for Parramatta when a member of the ‘New South Wales Parliament. It reads - .
It is not the thrift” of the country but the legalized theft of the country that we want to tax - the men who have taken through the medium of land values something which they did nothing to create, who have taken from the people the result of their own flesh and blood, who have taken it by the machinery of the law and appropriated it to their own personal use. That is the kind of value, and that is the substance we want to tax.
The income tax does not necessarily reach these people. It only reaches those who are cultivating their estates; but it does not reach the estates which are locked up, and which are contributing nothing to the revenue. . . . Because somebody has been fool enough to give the best portion of our -lands away, and some lucky men have come here and picked the eyes out of the country, we are to be told that we ought to respect the rights of these persons and pay huge sums of money and make huge concessions in point of time before we can lay claim to any possibility of getting a livelihood from them. As some one has. said, “In the name of the prophet, figs “ !
No doubt the honorable member would indorse those statements to-day, but in more elegant and classical English. I regret that the Government have not seen their way to submit proposals in favour of direct taxation. I also deplore the fact that no provision has been made for the creation of a Federal old-age pension scheme. The time is ripe when we should initiate such a scheme.
– The honorable member will admit that the* wherewithal is an element ?
– The necessary money for the payment of these pensions can be found in Australia. When we recollect that a country like England pays an enormous sum annually in connexion with naval and military matters, and that we pay relatively nothing, it is almost an insult to suggest that we cannot find the necessary funds with which to finance an old-age pension scheme. When the next Budget is presented - something, of course, may happen of which we have no knowledge at present - if it does not contain provision for the establishment of a Federal scheme pf old-age pensions, I shall be very sorry if it is not seriously assailed by the members of the party to which I belong. I am very glad that, in connexion with the Tariff proposals of the Government, we are to seriously discuss what is known as the “new protection.” The fact that we are to discuss such a question is in itself an admission that in the past protective duties have not proved a panacea for all evils of an industrial character. To-day we say that not only the manufacturer but also the worker must be protected. With that I agree; but it is proposed to go further, and attempt to insure that the consumer is also protected. I am prepared to support the proposal, hoping that it may (be successful, but whether that will be the result, time only can prove. I agree with the honorable member for Dalley when he suggests that we might go one step further. If we are prepared to say how much the duty- shall be in order to secure the local manufacture of a commodity, to say how much wages shall be paid to the employes, and also what the cost of the manufactured article shall be to the consumer, why, in the name of figs, to use the words of the honorable member for Parramatta, should we not go one step further, as a community, and make the article. This seems to me the logical outcome of the new protection. I do not know that there is much to be said against the manufacture of articles by the community. I should like once more to draw attention to a debate which took place some years ago in the New South Wales Parliament, on a motion submitted by Mr. Crick, to the effect that all the articles required by the Railways Commissioners should be manufactured within the State, and on an amendment, moved by Mr. Frank Cotton, to add the words “ and in the Government workshops.” I am delighted to say that that amendment was supported by all the eloquence and vigour of the honorable member for East Sydney, who pointed out that if the amendment were adopted, the unnecessary profit of the middleman would be saved, and the pur- chaser and the manufacturer brought closes together.
– Has the honorable member nothing to say as to the merits of that proposal?
– I am merely stating, what was the argument used on that occasion by the honorable member for East Sydney. I am glad to say that the amendment was also supported by the honorable member for Parramatta, who, at that time,; represented Lithgow, in the local Parliament. The honorable member for Parramatta said -
I admit at once it is a measure of protection, but I disclaim that it is a fiscal protection. It is a protection of the right kind - in a word,, it is logical protection. You distinctly say by the motion you will not submit this material tothe operation of a Tariff at all, and if theGovernment would do the same in respect toeverything on which they now impose a duty I could understand their protection. It would be then logical, straightforward protection, instead’ of making people pay through the nose.
At Toowoomba recently the honorable member for East Sydney said that if we wereto adopt protection, it would be better for the State to manufacture the articles, when we should have a guarantee that’ they werenot produced [under sweated conditions. Can we blame th>; man in the street for believing there is something in Socialism, when so distinguished and able a man asthe leader of the anti-Socialist party isprepared to say that Socialism has, at least, the two advantages that it does away with the unnecessary profit of the middleman, and is a definite guarantee that commodities are produced without sweated, labour. This is the- honorable gentleman, who is going to devote the last years of his life to heroic attempts to squash Socialism.
– Why attach somuch importance to the honorable gentleman’s opinion ten or fifteen years ago, and attach none to his opinion now ?
– The speech at Toowoomba was made only four years ago; Perhaps it might ill become me to say much of the action taken by Mr. Carruthers, Premier of New South Wales, in referenceto the consignment of wire, netting, because the case is sub judice; but still I think I may say a word or two. I am quite prepared to support the Government in any measure they may deem necessary in orderto vindicate the law, but if the result of an appeal to the High Court be to show that a State Government can introduce wire netting, .or anything else without paying duty, I shall not shed tears, because I realize that such would be one of the first steps towards Socialism. I understand a definition of Socialism to be that the means of production, distribution, and exchange shall be in the hands of the Government ; and should Mr. Carruthers win, he will have done a great deal towards bringing about State distribution. If the Premier of New South Wales may import wire netting duty free, then the claim of Mr. Price, the Premier of South Australia, to similarly import the electrical machinery necessary for the lighting of the streets of Adelaide will be irresistible, seeing that if that claim be allowed, it will mean the saving of at least £30,000. If the State Premiers should be proved to be in the right, then the State representatives of the Broken Hill district will leave no stone unturned to insure that Oregon timber, on which so iniquitous a duty has been imposed by the Government, shall be imported free in the interests of those engaged in mining.
– I thought the honorable member was going to oppose every duty likely to result in revenue?
– So I am, but I may not win, and if Mr. Carruthers should be successful in the law proceedings, he will surely endeavour to do as much for the miners, as he is now doing for the settlers.
– Not at all; Mr. Carruthers bases his claim on the ground that the wire-netting is for the State, whereas the timber would be for the mine-owners.
– As I said before, I am prepared to support the Government in the vindication of the law, because the Premier of New South Wales, under the circumstances, ought to be treated on exactly the same footing as the meanest subject in the Commonwealth. But if he wins,’ I - shall not put on ‘ sack-cloth and ashes, because it will be a magnificent triumph for direct taxation and Socialism, for which he will have done more than -could all the organizing genius of a Tom Mann, or all the fervid eloquence of the most ardent Socialist’ in Australia. I do not intend to deal with many items of the Tariff; but when the item of Oregon timber is being dealt with I shall have a few words to say.
– Is the honorable member going to vote for” a reduction of the duty ?
– Yes; I am in favour of Oregon timber being admitted free. While I am prepared to support the Government in the imposition of a reasonable duty on mining machinery, which can be fairly made in Australia, I think that other machinery, which cannot now, or for some years, be manufactured here, should be admitted free.
– Say, a duty of 5 per cent.
– I should be prepared to support a duty higher than 5 per cent, on machinery which can be reasonably made here, if the other machinery is admitted free. Otherwise the duty would be merely revenue-producing, and I do not see why those engaged in mining should be penalized more than are those engaged in other industries. If we do not desire to have the mining industry, and prefer the match-making industry, for instance, let the fact be stated, so that we shall know where we are. If, on the other hand, we do desire to see the mining industry prosper, we should be prepared to support a reasonable duty on the condition I have named. In my opinion, the duty on kerosene ought to be removed. I understand that one of the objects of the appointment of the Tariff Commission was the removal of anomalies; but, in view- of the proposed duty on kerosene, I should say that for every anomaly removed, a whole family of new anomalies has been introduced. A duty on kerosene, it seems to me, is a class tax at any time. The man in the city, who uses gas and electricity, escapes the impost, and it is the man in the country who has to pay it ; this seems to me very unfair, seeing that country life is already hard enough, without our imposing further disadvantages. It would not be so bad if a duty of Jd., id., or 3d. were imposed on kerosene all round, but, according to the proposal before us, kerosene in bulk is admitted free, while kerosene in tins has to bear a tax, thus further penalizing . the man in the country. In some of the distant suburbs, outside the radius of gas and electricity, kerosene may be delivered at the door in bulk.
– Not by the Standard Oil Company.
– It is being delivered by the opposition company, and there is nothing to prevent its sale in bulk in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Newcastle, and such like cities. But is it reasonable to assume that it could be so delivered in Broken Hill, Milparinka, or Tibooburra? It must be admitted that this tax will press heavily on people in country districts. Kerosene has its industrial uses. Many engines are now being driven by it, arid the impost will be an additional burden on those using such machinery. I would remind honorable members that kerosene is also used largely in connexion with the poultry industry. It is used for incubators, and also in keeping down insect life in the poultry pens. Every effort should be made to develop the export trade in poultry. At the present time the industry is almost as large a one as is the wire nail making industry, and it certainly is as important as is the growing of peanuts or the making of matches. We are able to supply the local demand for eggs, except during a few months, when they are very scarce, and the export trade in poultry shows a tendency to increase. South Australia is exporting annually £100,000 worth of eggs to Western Australia and New South Wales.
– Then Western Australia has been keeping the industry going in South Australia?
– In a short time Western Australia will doubtless supply its own requirements in that respect, and poultry raisers in South Australia will then give further attention to the London and South African markets. I propose now to refer to the duty on magazines. It is difficult to understand why it should have been imposed.
– What was the recommendation of the Tariff Commission?
– I am unable to say at the moment, but I should like to learn why the Government have imposed a duty of 6d. per lb. on magazines- one-fifth of which comprise advertisements. The idea is a brilliant one, worthy of a great Government ! Magazines coming into this country may be divided into two classes. In the one division we have high-class publications, such as the Nineteenth Century and the Fortnightly Review. Those magazines will come in free since they depend for their success, not so much upon their advertisements as upon their high subscriptions and their circulation. I do not suggest that they go only into the homes of the rich - because a man may have a lot of money and not much brains - but they enter the homes of the cultured. These magazines will escape the tax ; but the second class of publications, such as the Strand, Cassell’s, Pearson’s, Weldon’s, and other popular and attractive publications, will be penalized. On the other hand, rubbishy papers like Comic Cuts and Tit-Bits will come in free. It ‘ is the attractive, brightly written, wellgotup magazines that are largely used as advertising mediums, and these are to be penalized. As an illustration of the way in which this duty will operate, I should like to point out that the Rapid Review “for this month was admitted free of duty, the number of pages of advertisements appearing in it being one less than the number necessary to bring it under the impost; but next month it may have an additional page or two of advertisements,, and in that event it will be dutiable. The impost is an absurd one. It may be that the desire of the Government in imposing it was to encourage Australian writers. If that be so they ought to have applied the duty to the higher class productions.
– The idea is apparently that we should be satisfied with our own knowledge.
– Apparently it is. It seems strange that we should allow the highest class of literature, as well as the rubbish, to come in free, whilst attractive magazines, which provide much information and entertainment for the people, are to be dutiable. This duty will apply to some of our first-class scientific journals. I understand that the Printers’ Journal, a hia;h class publication, will be penalized. I hope that this duty will be removed, and I should be glad if the Government would indicate their intentions in the matter in time to allow of orders being placed for the usual Christmas editions of English periodicals that are distributed here. The Government say they believe in preferential trade with Great Britain, and they have in this case an opportunity to prove their bona fides. I am opposed to preferential trade, but do not wish it to be understood that I “am, therefore, disloyal to the motherland. There is no country outside Australia whose- progress I should more heartily, welcome. I love England. I was born there, and in no sense could. I be disloyal to it. Not only do I love England with the love of. the native born ; I also revel in her history. I admit that there is a great deal in the history of England of which Englishmen themselves are not very proud. There are some pages of English .history upon which Englishmen look with a good deal of horror. Many ‘ Englishmen are prepared, for instance, to admit that the treat- ment which the great majority in the old land extended to Ireland in times past was not such as a majority should have meted out to a minority. Nor do I think any Englishman warmly approves of the action of the British Government in forcing opium on China at the point of British bayonets. The magnificent reception which General Botha recently received in the streets of London is strong testimony to the fact that the people of England feel that they were unjust when they drew the sword against the farmers of the Transvaal.
– The Boers first used their rifles against us.
– Having . said that, I desire to repeat that I consider there is much in the history of the motherland of which we may well be proud. She has stood again and again for freedom, liberty, and righteousness, when those great principles were being crushed in the dust in other countries by the iron heel of despotism. I feel, however, that no scheme of preferential trade between England and Australia that will be satisfactory to the people of the two countries can be devised. Speaking on the Address-in-Reply, I said -
When the Minister of Trade and Customs was speaking in reply to the honorable member for Parramatta, I interjected, “ What about preferential trade? Cannot we manufacture everything here “ ? The Minister said, and I was amazed to hear it, that it would be some years yet before the people in Australia could produce all the machinery they required.
– I did not say anything of the kind. What I said was that it would be some years before we could manufacture everything we wanted.
If there be anything in that reply it means that the Acting Prime Minister considers it necessary that we should make for ourselves all the machinery that we require. If that be so, if all the machinerywe require can be manufactured in Australia, I would ask what in the name of Heaven is the advantage to England of the socalledpreferential duties? I think that the honorable memberfor Batman correctly voiced the opinion of the protectionists of this country when he said that we can produce these things for ourselves. Speaking on the Address-in-Reply, I asked the Acting Prime Minister if he thought that we could not produce in Australia all the ironware, woodware, and woollen goods that we need. He did not reply to my question. . I now ask the Minister of Trade and Customs if he believes that these things can be produced here. If they cannot. there is an opportunity to give England a valid preference in regard to them, but if they can, and the Tariff is so constructed that they will be produced here, of what good will it be to offer the manufacturers of Great Britain a preference from which they will get no advantage? British manufacturers desire to send their goods here. It is not sufficient for them to be told that we have imposed lower duties on British goods than we have imposed on foreign goods, if the duties on English goods are sufficiently high to prevent such goods from being sent here. I should like to see Australia manufacturing all her requirements, but it is chicanery for those who are trying to bring about that state of things to make it appear that they are desirous of giving preference to the mother land. In the course of a big debate in the House of Commons, Mr. Asquith shortly replied to the preferentialists of England by asking them if they were prepared to tax the food supplies of the mother country, the corn, butter and frozen meat imported into Great Britain from foreign countries. - If the food supplies of Great Britain which are imported from foreign countries are not taxed, of what advantage will preference bo to the people of Australia? I believe in loyalty to the mother country, but all that the preferential trade proposals will mean, if they have any effect at all, will be that an industry like the mining industry will have to pay more for special machinery imported from Germany instead of from England, merely that the Australian exporters of wheat may get a better price for their grain in the mother land. A better way to show our loyalty would be to deal seriously with the defence problem. If we provided adequately for the naval and military defence of Australia, so that we could say, “We do not need the support of the British Navy,” that would.be doing a great deal for the Empire, and would reduce the expenditure of Great Britain. We could do more in Australia if our population were larger. I should like to see conditions improved here, so that the number of families may become larger. The chairman of directors of the Kalgoorlie Electric Tramways Limited, in a recent address to the annual meeting of shareholders, said, amongst other things -
In Kalgoorlie wages were very high and the trades unions were very powerful. He was glad to see that the Western Australian Government was taking measures to promote immigration.. A larger population must in time bring down the wages.
I have no doubt that a number of persons are advocating immigration in order to secure the reduction of wages. I am not advocating immigration in order to bring about that result, but I should like to see conditions improved, so that more children may be born here, and more persons attracted from elsewhere. At the present time, as Mr. Beale shows in his report on drugs and medicines, many children die prematurely. From a pamphlet which was issued just before the general elections, entitled “ Talks for the Times,” and headed with the very good motto -
Protection, progress, prosperity, the encouragement of Australian industries and the employment of our own people,
I take this extract - “Why, Bert, old fellow, all the good things seem coming together to us farmers.” “ How is that?” asked Bert Buckram, as he held out his hand to his neighbour, the genial Doherty. “ I haven’t seen many of the good things lately.” “ No, but they are coming,” said Doherty. “So is Christmas” answered Bert, determined to be just a little contrary. “ Ay, but Christmas hasn’t nearly come, and the rain has, and so has the prospect of this preferential Tariff of Chamberlain’s in favour of Australian wheat.” “ And what good is Chamberlain’s policy going to do us Australian farmers, think you?” “What good?” said Doherty. “Why, every good. It’s going to put 2d. a bushel on our wheat in the London market, for a time, at any rate. If I have a 2,000 bushel crop this year, as seems likely, that means a snug little nestegg for me, at all events.” “ May be ! May be so !” answered Bert. “ But if your gain in the price of wheat makes the poor, half-starved devils in England so much hungrier, there is not very much to chuckle over.” “True for ye, Bert; but I hope it doesn’t mean that,” said Doherty, with a genuine ring of sympathy in his voice. “What else can it mean?” asked Buckram. “Lots else.”
That is a statement from a pamphlet which bears the hall-mark of the Mecca of protection, 66, Bourke-street, Melbourne. One of those engaged in this dialogue had been reading up. the subject and said - “ I’ve got the figures in this little book. It is rubbish to say that a corn duty makes dear bread, or that taking it off makes cheap bread.” “ What does, then?” “ Why, cheap land, cheap railways, cheap ocean freights, labour saving machinery, and millions of square miles ofnew country under wheat crops. That’s what makes cheap bread, and that’s what the London Times, and the Daily Telegraph, and Mr. Balfour, and Mr. Chamberlain, and Lord Lansdowne, and the rest of them have found out.”
I suppose that Lord Lansdowne, Mr. Balfour, and Mr. Chamberlain are the longlost brothers of the protectionists of Melbourne. The dialogue continues - “ You’re right, Mick. . No doubt of it ; you’re right.” “ Of course I am. These patent universal harvesters, see what they do for us; and the treble-furrowed plough ; and the cheap land. Why, you and I can now make a very good thing out of it when wheat stands at 30s. a quarter in London.”
One of these men then wants to know where the Australian manufacturers come in. He says - “ Why, Mick, I thought you believed in protecting Australian manufacturers against the cheap labour of England.” “ So I do, Bert - always, every lime.” “ Well, if you take off 15 or 20 per cent. from our Tariff duties, you make the goods free. Then, where’s your protection?” “ But we wouldn’t take them off, old chap. We must put the 15 or 20 per cent. on the goods of the foreigner and leave England as she is. That would almost shut out America and Germany from our markets and give the trade to England.” “And what would that amount to, Mick?” “ Well, Bert, at present we get about £32,000,000 worth of goods every year from England. We also get about£14,000,000 worth from foreign countries - mostly from Germany and America. If we shut out most of the imports from these places and took the goods from England, we should increase the trade with the motherland by 40 per cent. or so. Surely that is something.” “ Well, Mick, old chum, you make out a good case. But, by the Lord Harry, you always do. You protectionists are demons to read, think, and quote figures. You knock the foreign trade chaps sky high. They are always going for something that will benefit the trades and coves abroad. Buying and selling is their game.”
Mick then goes on to say that there are only two free-traders left in the land, one of whom is known as Bill Squeezer, and the other as Tom Wrencher. Mick continues - “ But Squeezer’s close-fisted and Wrencher lost what little brain he used to have in an accident. So the free-trade fellows get hold of coves like them.” “Well, Mick, my boy, there’s one thing that Chamberlain’s plan might do. It might stop the coming here of American ploughs by the hundred. My son’s in the implement business in town. He tells me that the low duties have half ruined his thriving trade. He was doing well under the old Victorian Tariff. Now he is pretty low down, and all because of a new trick the Yankees have found out.” “What is that, Bert?” “I’ll tell vou. They have had sent over to them some of the best patterns of our Victorian ploughs. They have imitated them. They are found first class for American farmers also. They make them in such large quantities that they can afford to pay the 121/2 per cent. duty here and land them at a lower price, as surplus stock, than some of our old Victorian makers. This is quite a new thing. You remember the old Victorian price was the lowest that we farmers have ever known. However, some late labour-saving inventions in America have done this, and the result is bad for my boy. He has nothing to fear from England or from Germany ; but the Yank beats him for the time - for the Yank works ten hours a day and the Australian works only eight.” “ Yes, Bert, but how would Chamberlain’s preferential policy help the implement trade?” “ Why, plain as a pike-staff. Clap on 20 per cent, to the present duty and it brings it up to 32^, about the same as the Canadian. That would shut out American competition, and give the honest maker here a show….. “
A little later Mick continues thus - “ The chaps who fix up these Tariffs might have agreed to let cotton goods come in free, and that would be another benefit arising to us farmers from this preferential trade policy.”
I am opposed to the preferential, proposals of the Tariff, because it is impossible to develop any trade between Australia and England which will be satisfactory to both countries upon preferential lines.
– Why “impossible”?
– Simply because Australia wants to manufacture what she requires locally, and the people of England are not prepared to tax their own food supplies. Under these circumstances preferential trade is absolutely impossible. In conclusion, I trust that the Tariff wall that we are1 about Ito erect around Australia will prove of permanent benefit to our people. At the present moment, we are rejoicing in bountiful harvests. We have experienced a! glorious season, and there is prosperity on every hand. At the present time, we could afford to indulge in the experiment either of free ports or of a high Tariff. I only hope that when times of adversity overtake us - as they inevitably will - we shall find that the legislation which we are about to enact1 will stand us in good stead. I trust that the highest hopes of the protectionists of this country will be more than realized, and that every misgiving on the part of free-traders will be more than falsified. I take it that all of us are Australians first, and that we prefer the welfare of the community before anything else. If what is known as the “ new protection “ proves successful - and in order to do that it will require to protect not only the manufacturer but the worker and the consumer, and in the term “ worker” I include those who are engaged in industries which do not directly receive protection - we shall have accomplished something by which we shall have earned the everlasting gratitude of the people. If that policy should prove successful, I venture to say that we shall hear very little more about Socialism. The songs of Socialism will have become but al funeral dirge. On the other hand, if that policy be not successful, I venture to say that the path of the man who pleads for Socialism will be made easy. Socialism will then come. If the policy to which I refer proves successful, Socialism will be dead, but if it be not successful, the people of Australia will rise in their strength and demand that their legislators shall cease tinkering with Tariff legislation, and shall bring forward some scheme which will touch the very foundations of our civilization. In such circumstances, I predict that all the forces of a subsidized press, all the powers of vested interests, and all the prejudices of ignorance will not be sufficient to prevent an island continent from being devoted to an experiment in Socialism.
.- I wish to make a personal explanation. I desire to remove a misapprehension which exists in the mind of the honorable member for Dalley. I was very much surprised that in replying to an interjection of mine he should have seen fit to suggest that it had been prompted by a purely sinister motive. The honorable member has a keen sense of humour, and, as he had previously remarked that he felt like “ a cockatoo on a burnt ridge looking for a place to lob,” and as I had noticed that at that moment the benches behind him were unoccupied, I jokingly asked, “Don’t you feel rather lonely just now?” The honorable member apparently regarded that remark as particularly offensive, and was at some pains to reprove me very severely. There is no member in this House for whom I have a greater respect than I have for the honorable member for Dalley- In fact, I do not know an honorable member to whom I owe more for assistance at election times than himself, and I regret very much that it should be thought for a moment. I would say anything to offend him. I trust the honorable member will accept this explanation in the spirit in which it is offered, and also my assurance of regret if I. have in any way hurt his feelings by a remark which was practically whispered, and intended for no other ears but his own.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN laid upon the table the following paper -
Public Service Act - Recommendation and certificate in connexion with the appointment of Bertram Jones and Leslie Bartlett Davies as Deputy Examiners of Patents, Melbourne.
Private Members’ ‘ Business - Public Servants’ District Allowances in Western Australia - Immigration of Domestic Servants.
Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I learn from the newspapers that the Acting Prime Minister has determined to move that private members’ business be no longer taken on Thursdays, owing to the necessities of the situation.
– That is only during the debate on the Tariff, I suppose.
– I think the proposal is a very ‘desirable innovation, because, although there are several matters of importance on the notice-paper, it seems to me that none of them can come to finality during the present session. As justifying ‘ the course taken by the Acting Prime Minister, I may point out that we have already sat on thirty days during this session, and we have advanced only so far as honorable members themselves can see. From now until the 21 st December there are only fifty-nine working days, counting Friday as a half day. The people outside - not merely the trading community, but the public generally - expect us, as soon as possible, to deal with the items on the Tariff so that they may know what the .position is, and be able to settle down to business. Therefore, I regard the suggestion of the Acting Prime Minister as a good one, and I hope that it will be supported by honorable members. There is another matter to which I have been requested, in a letter from the public servants in Western Australia, to call attention. Some time ago the Public Service Commissioner decided that, owing to the ‘ increased cost of living in Western Australia, he would recommend, the Government to give an allowance, of 5 per cent, on the remuneration of the public servants in that State. Up to that time, as honorable members probably are aware, public servants on the gold-fields had been in receipt of a certain allowance owing” to the cost of living there. But the Public Service Commissioner decided that the cost of living all over the State, even in the capital city of Perth, was 5 per cent greater than in other portions of Australia ; and he, therefore, recommended the Go:vernment to allow a 5 per cent, increase, representing about ^7,000, to all the public servants in the agricultural and other portions of Western Australia, who, up to that time, had been paid only the same salaries as those paid to corresponding officers in the eastern States.
– The report of the Tariff Commission shows that wages in Perth are 12s. a week higher on the average than elsewhere.
– That may be so, but that does not apply to the public servants.
– I am speaking of industrial wages.
– The higher industrial wages are a recognition by the public engaged in private enterprise, that living in Perth is dearer than in the capital cities of the eastern’ States. What I desire to point out is that the Public Service Commissioner, when granting an allowance of 5 per cent, to public servants in Perth, did not take into account the position of officers in other portions of the State who previously had been receiving an allowance. This is tantamount to a ruling that the officers of the outlying portions of Western Australia had been receiving 5 per cent, too much; because, while the Public Service Commissioner recommends an increase to officers in Perth, he did not give an increase to officers outside that city. As far back as the 16th July I asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs the following question -
As the cost of living in Western Australia was greater from 1901 to igo6 than it is now, owing to the disappearance of the sliding scale duties and to other circumstances, does he propose to grant those public servants who were in the service from 1901 to 1906 any allowance to cover the enhanced cost of living during that period; and, if not, why?
The answer dictated to the Minister by the Public Service Commissioner, was as follows -
The . proposed allowance is based upon the present cost of living, and can be varied or withdrawn as circumstances warrant. It is not usual in such cases,’ nor is it intended in this, instance, to make the payment retrospective.
I do not consider that a proper answer to the question. It is a clear evasion of the point in issue. Notwithstanding representations made in this House from time to time, the Public Service Commissioner ignored the fact that the cost of living was excessive in Western Australia. He waited until he himself went over, and found from practical experience that the cost of living was greater there He then recommended the allowance of 5 per cent., but he ignored the higher expenses which those men had incurred during the period when the sliding scale of duties was in force - when rent and other charges of living in the capital were largely in excess of what they are to-day. I point out the unfairness of giving to the officers in the city and the agricultural portions of the country an allowance of 5 per cent., and not giving a corresponding increase to men stationed in remote and more forbidding portions of the Commonwealth. District allowances were framed in each State, and not merely in Western Australia, with the cost of living in the capital city as the basis; and if the cost of living in Perth is recognised as 5 per cent, higher than in the other capitals, it follows that the cost of living under the sliding scale must have been 5 per cent, higher than the present cost of living as between Perth and the other capitals. I do not think a Minister has a right to allow a plain question such as I put to the Public Service Commissioner to be answered in such an evasive manner. I asked why there should not be some allowance for the enhanced cost of living in the past, when, indeed, it was largely in excess of what it is to-day, but the Commissioner ignores this salient point. If it be right now to raise the officers’ allowance by 5 per cent., there must be far greater reason for giving some compensation to men in the Service in respect of a time when the cost of living’ was greater. I have no wish to detain the House, but I hope that the Minister will in future revise answers supplied by the Public Service Commissioner, and see that they have at ail events some relevance to the questions put by honorable members. This matter is One into which the Government might very well inquire. It would not cost very much to give effect to my proposition. . They have provided for a vote of £7,000 for these increases, and it would not cost very much more to allow all the officers to share in the increased grant, and so to remove the feeling that there has been any differentiation in the treatment of the- various officers concerned.
– I do not agree with the honorable member for ‘Coolgardie that it would be wise to abandon the system of taking private members’ business on Thursda’y afternoons. The practice might be suspended for a week or two without giving much cause for complaint, but I disagree with the reasons offered by the honorable member for the adoption of the course suggested by him. He says that the people consider that we should expedite the consideration of the Tariff. I would remind him that it is also expected of us that we shall discuss fully the Budget proposals of the Government, which cover an expenditure of millions of money. In connexion with the Budget debate, we have an opportunity to criticise the administration and maladministration of the year.
– If we abolish private members’ day, we shall, have more time to devote to that matter.
– Quite so. The honorable member said that Ave should proceed with the discussion of the Tariff with as little delay as possible. Today we have had only two speeches, and day after day has been occupied by three or four honorable members. Long-winded gentlemen devote several hours to a discussion of matters not affected by the Tariff or the Budget, and the position is rather trying to those who have sat . here for two or three weeks awaiting an opportunity to be called. Personally,, I claim the right to discuss the Budget, but’ I think, judging by appearances, that I shall have to sit here for another fortnight before I shall be able to get a call. Owing to the adoption of a system, which failed on two occasions in the House of Commons, one may sit h’ere for two or three weeks without being called, while the general Budget and Tariff debate is proceeding. At the end of that period, another honorable member who has been absent all the time may be called on after being present for only five minutes, simply because he happens not to belong to the party of which the previous speaker is a member. It is about time that something was said about this custom. I hope that the Government will not, at a later date, urge the application of the closure, so that those who have not yet spoken may not have the same opportunity for discussing the Tariff as others have had during this debate. We have so. many leaders and deputy leaders, acting Ministers, and so forth - so many colonels - that the rank and file have to wait a long time before they get an opportunity to speak. There seems to be no room for the rank and file. I enter my protest against the practice.
– 1 should like to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he has observed in this morning’s issue of the Argus a paragraph in which it is incidentally mentioned that 250 girls are coming to Victoria “ consigned “ to Lady Talbot. I wish to know whether any application for a permit has been made to the Government - whether these girls are being brought from England under contract or, at all events, what little game is being played? What steps are being taken by the Government to remove in England the misapprehension caused by the circulation of false statements as to the openings for employment in Australia? Dr. Arthur’s league in New South Wales has published in England advertisements so utterly untrue that men have been brought to New South Wales under the most unfair conditions. The Government should take steps to see that the true position is put before the people of the old land. There are more girls in Victoria than can find work. In every State there are mistresses with whom nogirl will. live.
– And there are many girls with whom no mistress could live.
– Possibly so, but that does not prove anything. I remember the case of a large number of girls who were induced to come out from England to a sister State, and many of whom were absolutely ruined. Many of them could not obtain work, and were starving. What followed I need not mention. In New South Wales the Government are paying the police 10s. per head in respect of every immigrant for whom they obtain employment, but Australians, or men already here, have to look out for themselves, and in many cases cannot get work. Lying statements to the effect that plenty of work at high wages is available in Australia are being published in the old land. It is time we had a High Commissioner to supervise immigration ‘to Australia, and put the truth before the people.
– I join with the honorable member for Robertson in protesting against any attempt to curtail the right of members to have a certain part of every Thursday devoted to the consideration of their business. It is somewhat early in the session to make such a proposition. There are honorable members who have important business on the paper, and who should have an opportunity of bringing it forward this session. I remind the Minister that some private business which was down on the paper for previous Thursdays has been deferred at the special request of the Acting Prime Minister, on the distinct understanding that he would not interfere with their right to proceed with it when another opportunity occurred. But now that they have selected other dates, they are asked to forego their right of bringing forward their business. There is an important matter which I wish to have discussed. I do not feel inclined to be pushed aside, and if I am deprived of my right to bring it forward on a Thursday, I shall have to occupy considerable time in dealing with it on the Budget.
– I have’ to assure the honorable member for Coolgardie that I will bring his remarks under the notice of the Public Service Commissioner, who will be alsked to furnish the information which has been asked for. With reference to private members’ business, while some inconvenience may be caused by the re-arrangement suggested, at the same time it must be remembered that the public are eager that the Tariff shall be disposed of as soon as possible. While the Government have no wish to suppress criticism, and indeed while we invite it, we desire to impress upon honorable members the necessity of proceeding quickly with the Tariff. The honorable member for Robertson has referred to the closure. The threats to which he has alluded exist only in his imagination. No such thing would be tolerated by the House. The desire of business people to see the Tariff disposed of is very great, and the quicker we can deal with it the better it will be. In the case of any special hardship an honorable member” will be afforded an opportunity when the Tariff is disposed of to bring forward his business.
-we know very well what that means.
– It means exactly what I say. As to the matter brought forward by the honorable member for Darling in reference to the 250 girls, I can assure him that I will bring his remarks under the notice of the Acting Prime Minister, so that inquiries may be made. I think we shall be all glad to extend a welcome to these immigrants. I hope the only question of contracts in relation to them will be one of matrimonial contracts. I hope that next week the honorable member will receive the information which he desires.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070830_reps_3_38/>.