3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I call the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to the fact that some honorable members are distributing in their constituencies the difference between their former allowance and that now paid to them, and I wish to know if he will undertake to introduce a Bill which will prevent what is bribery and corruption of the most objectionable character?
– That is severe criticism upon members of the Labour Party.
– Yes; but it is deserved by all who are doing what I complain of, whether they belong to the Labour Party or to the other parties in the House.
– Perhaps we ought to repeal the Parliamentary Allowances Act.
– I cannot promise, at the present time, to introduce a measure such as the honorable member refers to.
– Then we shall have to move in the matter.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will he lay upon the table of the House a copy of the guarantee of Messrs. Barclay and Co. given to the Commonwealth Government in reference to the recent attempted mail contract?
Motion. (by Mr. Liddell) agreed to -
That a return be laid upon the table of the House showing -
The cost of maintenance and working of the trunk telephone line between West Maitland and Sydney.
Annual receipts from the line’ since its inauguration.
Annual profit and loss in working same.
Consideration resumed from 5th September (vide page 2941) of motion of Sir William Lyne -
That duties of Customs and duties of Excise be imposed according to the following Tariff (vide page 1648)………. . .
.- Although this discussion has been, in the opinion of some persons, unduly prolonged, it cannot be ignored that those who have spoken have supplied the Committee with an immense amount of very valuable information which will be of great assistance to honorable members in considering the various items of the Tariff, and in dealing with the questions arising out of the Budget proposals. We must all hail with satisfaction the increase of trade to which the Acting Prime Minister alluded. According to his figures, the oversea trade of Australia increased from £87,344,912 in 1900 to£119,467,269 in 1906. The fact that this great increase took place under Federation affords a telling reply to’ the adverse criticism which, in my opinion, has been unjustly showered upon Commonwealth administration. When we remember the difficulties attending the early days of Federation in Germany; the United States, and Canada, we must admit that in Australia Federation has been accomplished with the minimum of friction and inconvenience. Last year our revenue amounted to £12,832,266, of which£9,648,662 was raised by duties of Customs and Excise, an increase of nearly £1 , 000,000 on the . revenue of the previous year. But while the past has been so satisfactory, we shall have many difficulties to face in the future. The estimated return from Customs and Excise for the current year is£10,509,000, or £877,114 more than,was obtained last year; but it is estimated that the expenditure this year will exceed that.of last year by£980,691. That means that a sum equal to that returned to the States last year in excess of their three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue - £805,766 - as well as £174,925 of new revenue, will this year be spent bv the Commonwealth. It is estimated that the surplus returnable to the States this year will be £103,992 ; but the probabilities are that they, will not get that amount. To meet the demands of Federal expenditure, we shall have to raise an additional sum by means of Customs and Excise duties amounting to £250,000, and to do so we must, under the Constitution, impose taxation which will return ,£1,000,000. That is one of the chief difficulties of our situation. Although the principal States have overflowing treasuries, ‘we are compelled to tax the people four times as heavily as is necessary to. meet Commonwealth requirements, and to hand to the States three-fourths of the revenue so raised. It is a very unfortunate thing that at this early period of Federation the Commonwealth Parliament should have to bear the odium of such heavy taxation. We have now reached a crisis in our history. Up to the present time we have not expended the one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue to which we are entitled under the Constitution, but additional revenue has now become necessary. This position of affairs emphasizes the need for an early and final adjustment of the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States, to which reference has been made by several honorable members, and notably by the honorable member for Flinders, and which it is hoped will make them financially independent of each other. Until such an arrangement is made, there is sure to be friction. Several schemes have already been propounded, and the subject has been debated exhaustively at Conferences of Commonwealth and States representatives ; but we have now reached an acute stage which demands an immediate settlement. One proposition which, has been advanced is that the States shall receive annually sums equivalent to the interest payable on the debts incurred prior to Federation. That arrangement seems to have been contemplated by the framers of the Constitution, and would appear a very fair one.
– Under it some of the States would receive more per head than would be paid to others.
– The question whether the payments shall be in proportion to the revenue received from the States, or on a per capita basis, is one which must be dealt with. Every honorable member must be seized of the importance of our national development. It is to the credit of the Labour Party that it has a definite policy in regard to Commonwealth finance. The members of that party hold that when the Commonwealth requires more than its onefourth of the Customs and Excise revenue it should impose direct taxation. Those who do not favour direct taxation are faced with the difficulty that, under the Braddon section of the Constitution, if additional revenue is needed, four times as much will have to be imposed as is required.
– The Braddon section has currency only until 1910.
– Yes, but the position of our affairs at the present time is such that there must either be -an immediate settlement of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States, or we must refrain from increasing expenditure.
– It will be necessary to arrive at some equitable and reasonable arrangement.
– At the’ present stage I do not propose to deal with the various items mentioned in the Budget. I regret that only the small sum of £20,000 has been provided for immigration purposes, and I also deplore the fact that no definite proposal has been put forward by the Government in respect of the appointment of a High Commissioner. As a protectionist, I believe that we should develop our industries, and that we should manufacture in Australia everything that can possibly be manufactured here. But we shall be giving effect to only half a policy if, whilst imposing protective duties for the purpose of developing our industries, we neglect to undertake a vigorous scheme of immigration. The Prime Minister has been eloquently advocating a policy of immigration ever since 1904. At the Sydney Conference of Premiers he spoke for a considerable time upon that question, and with very great effect. It has been his custom to quote Canada as the great example of what can be accomplished by a vigorous system of immigration.
– If we create the demand, the skilled labour will come.
– But, unfortunately, the party to which the honorable member belongs will not permit immigrants to be brought to Australia. In my judgment, we ought to be spending from £100,000 to £250,000 annually upon a vigorous immigration scheme. It is only by encouraging a desirable class of settlers that we can insure our national safety. There is no country which is so entirely dependent upon population for its effective defence as’ is’ the isolated and unprotected continent of Australia. I do not propose to discuss the Tariff proposals of the Government at any length, because I shall be afforded an opportunity of dealing with the various items at a later stage. But I wish to declare myself a protectionist. I am not going to say whether or not the “policy submitted by the Government in this connexion is a satisfactory one. It is generally agreed that the new Tariff contains many anomalies, but in the framing of a Tariff containing no less than 400 or 500 items that was inevitable. I have taken the trouble to read many of the reports presented by the Tariff Commission, and I must admit that in many instances they have made out a strong case for the imposition of increased duties. I need scarcely add that wherever it can be shown that an industry is in need of assistance in the form of protective duties, I shall be prepared to support them. I cannot understand why there should be so much clamour for low duties in a country like Australia. Countries which occupy a much mote favored position have found it necessary to impose high protective duties - to shelter their industries from the competition of the older nations of the world. From the stand-point of low duties, the new Tariff compares very favorably with the Tariffs of Canada, Germany, and America. Upon many leading items the duties proposed by the Government are lower than those operative in the countries I have mentioned. In the United States, which is rich in all the raw materials necessary for the development of the iron manufacturing industries, it has been found necessary to impose high duties to prevent the competition which those industries had to face in respect of metals and machinery. A similar course has been adopted in Canada and Germany. I admit that if I were a resident of Canada I should be prepared to support the imposition of lower duties than ‘ I favour in Australia. My reason is that Canada is wedged between the two most powerful nations of the world, whereas Australia occupies an isolated position. It is idle to disguise the fact that we are called upon to make some effort to preserve our national existence. The time has come when we shall have to defend ourselves from attack by the teeming nations of the East. It must be recollected that we are within four or five days’ sail of two-thirds of the population of the world.’ Within the short space of a quarter of a century, one of these Eastern nations has advanced from a position of comparative obscurity to that of one of the foremost naval nations of the earth. That is a very brief period in the life of a people.
If we are to deal with national affairs in a statesmanlike way we must pay just as much regard to the future as to the present. Viewed from that stand-point, I maintain that the framing of a Tariff which will provide employment for our people and result in the development of our national resources is inextricably interwoven with the question of defence. If Canada finds it necessary to expend large sums annually for the purpose of peopling her empty spaces, surely it is ten times more imperative that Australia should adopt a similar policy. But we cannot undertake any comprehensive immigration scheme unless we are prepared to provide employment for the new arrivals when they reach our shores. I represent ‘an agricultural constituency, and I am prepared to support the imposition of protective duties which will assist in the establishment of national industries. I hope, that the exercise of common sense will enable me to cast my vote in favour of duties which will not fall oppressively upon our rural sources of wealth, but I wish it to be distinctly understood that the national interest will always be my first consideration. The preference proposals of the Government, I hope, will be postponed. During my recent campaign I advocated a policy of preferential trade. I believe that such a policy must eventually be adopted. In the course of time we shall find the various portions of the British Empire trading with each other in a reciprocal way, and to their mutual advantage. But in my opinion the preference proposals of the Government are quite inopportune. In attempting to build up Australian industries, we have to recollect that our first duty is to our own people. From the Budget I gather that of the total imports into Australia last year - import’s valued’ at £44,729,506, no less than £33,311,697 worth came from Great Britain and its dependencies, and £26,000,000 worth from Great Britain alone. It will be seen, therefore, that our chief competitor at the present time is Great Britain. When the conditions of labour in the two countries have been adjusted, I hope that we shall be able to reduce our duties upon goods of British origin. I hope that I shall live to see the day when we shall have free- trade between the Britishspeaking portions of the Empire. That result, however, can only be brought about after the rates of pay and the hours of labour, as between Australia and other portions of the Empire, have been assimilated. I am aware that the Government have always favoured the principle of preferential trade. For several days at the Imperial Conference the Prime Minister urged the Imperial authorities to adopt a system of reciprocal preferential trade. In my opinion, Mr. Asquith - although I entirely disagree with his fiscal views - took up a very statesmanlike attitude when he opposed the establishment of a system of preferential trade at the present juncture. Honorable members may well derive some education from his utterances upon this question. In my judgment, since the last general election, the whole position in regard to the question of preferential trade has undergone a complete change, owing to the definite attitude taken up at the Imperial Conference by the representatives of the Imperial Government. Mr. Asquith put the question in a nutshell in his eloquent and able reply to the speech of our own Prime Minister. He said -
Tf this Imperial Conference had produced no other results - and I am glad to think it is going to produce a number of very definite and very desirable ones - I think the mere fact that it had assembled round this table during the course of these three days the representatives of the great self-governing communities and the Imperial Government, for a free and frank interchange of opinion on matters of this kind, enabling one to realize as we can never do until we are brought face to face in friendly intercourse with one another, one another’s points of view, and, if we differ,’ to see that that difference arises not from mutual misunderstanding but from a clearer and fuller understanding of one another’s position, would in itself have been well worth while as a result to be attained.
Those remarks were intended to convey that there was no antagonism between himself p.nd the various representatives assembled at the Conference, and that he desired to get into closer and more friendly relationship with them. Upon the question of preferential trade his remarks are well worth reproducing. He said -
So that you see under the system of preference, or the mitigated form of protection which it is proposed your Tariff should now take, it is essential for your purpose in the exercise of your fiscal independence, and in the maintenance as you conceive it to be of your economic interests, to exclude the British manufacturers to a large extent from your markets. I say I do not make it a matter of complaint, but I note it as a fact taken for granted by every one round this table.
I f we have given, as we have given, and as I have shown, complete fiscal autonomy to our Colonies, and if they have made, and are making, the fullest use of that independence in what they conceive to be their own interests, let me say that we retain that autonomy for ourselves, and I do not believe that there is a man here who will dispute not only our right, but our duty to do so. We retain it for ourselves, and just as you, examining the special local conditions with which you have respectively to deal in your various communities, have come to the conclusion - rightly or wrongly I do not say - that is a matter we must leave to the verdict of history - that for the proper and rapid development of these communities the adoption of Protection is necessary or at any rate expedient, so we here, having regard to the special conditions and interests of our population, have come to the conclusion that the maintenance of Free-trade in its fullest and widest sense is not only expedient but absolutely vital to our economic interests. That is not a sudden or hastily formed opinion on the part of the British people. They came to that conclusion 60 years ago.
That extract, I think, clearly defines the position of the Imperial Government, and points to the course we should adopt in this Parliament. So far as my investigations have gone, I understand that Sir Wilfrid Laurier, when it was decided to grant preferential treatment, to Great Britain, introduced a special Bill and schedule; and a similar measure might, I think, be introduced here when the proper time arrives. At present, however, I contemplate only the establishment of a proper protectionist policy. Having defined my position as briefly as possible, I have no desire to occupy any more time. When the proper occasion arises I shall be prepared to exercise my vote on the various items in the way I think best to promote the establishment of Australian industries, and the interests of the community generally.
.- On the last day of the third week of’ the debate on the Budget and Tariff it is hardly’ possible for me to introduce any new subjects, or to present old subjects in a new phase. Yet I am desirous of presenting to the Committee, for the second or third time, some figures disclosed in the Budget, and of offering some comments thereon. I shall best consult the convenience of honorable members if I defer what I have to say on the items of the Tariff until the first item is called on in Committee. That will be the proper time for the full disclosure of opinions in regard to the various items, and the proper time to lay before honorable members any information we may possess on special subjects. I desire, however, to make some reference to the Tariff in order to pay a very proper compliment, and, indeed, a debt of gratitude to the Tariff Commissioners, for the very important work they have done. That was work of a phenomenal character, which extended over two years and a half ; and the result is that honorable members have a mass of information from both the protectionist and the. free-trade point of view. We also have to thank the honorable members for Bendigo, Perth, and Illawarra for the very intelligent and lucid expressions of opinion they have given in the present discussion. I see that the only reference in the speech of the Governor-General to the Tariff Commission’ is contained in the fourth paragraph, as follows -
The reports of the Royal Commission on the Tariff already forwarded are under review.
I presume that the Prime Minister drafted the speech of” the Governor-General; and yet that is the only reference he makes to the work of the Commissioners, who were paid nothing beyond their travelling expenses. I should have thought that in the Governor-General’s speech there would have occurred some such words as - “A valuable and exhaustive report of the Royal Commission will be laid before you, and it is commended to your careful consideration.” That would have been some recognition of the work done by the Commission. I should ill discharge my duty this morning if I did not personally thank those gentlemen for their very valuable services. I have read the whole of the’ reports, and have perused 90,000 questions and answers ; but I remind honorable members that even that number of questions and answers only brings us up to vol. IV., under date November, 1906. It will be recognised that there are many thousands of .questions and answers that some of us have never seen ; but honorable members will agree with me that the labours of the Commission ate worthy of our earnest consideration and thanks. I ask the attention of the House for a few moments while I refer to the circumstances which have led to the present review of the Tariff. The Barton Ministry was formed in the early days of 1901 ; and’ in that year the present Treasurer, the present Prime Minister, and the honorable member for Adelaide, whose absence, owing to bodily infirmity, we all deplore, sat on the platform at West Maitland when the Government manifesto was issued, declaring the policy of Ministers to be “ revenue without destruction.” After that manifesto, and indeed because of it, I joined the Ministry. If there had been announced an ultraprotectionist policy or a policy of prohibitive protection I should not have joined the Government. The Tariff now laid before us will certainly, in regard to some of the items, procure further revenue, but in its major portions it is a Tariff so high that, in course of time, it must become absolutely prohibitive.
– Very little of the Tariff -will be prohibitive, seeing that it is no higher than- the Tariff introduced in 1901.
– The Tariff of 1902 was modified in Committee. When the honorable member for Adelaide, as Minister for Trade and Customs, in introducing the Tariff, referred to its protective character, and described the Ministry as a protectionist Ministry, the honorable member for Kooyong, the ex-member for the Grampians, Mr. Skene, and the exmember for Flinders, Mr. Groom, crossed the floor, because they recognised that in that Tariff a step had been taken which was not warranted by the West Maitland speech. We have now before us a Tariff which out-Herods Herod, so to speak, in the matter of fiscal proposals ; and I desire to indicate the vote I shall be prepared to give on almost all occasions. I shall vote for revenue whenever revenue can be got, and I shall vote for a Tariff which will restore any manufacture or industry which has been injured or destroyed. It was with that view that I voted lately in reference to the alteration of the Excise as affecting the brandy distillers of Australia.
– I hope the honorable member will vote for the encouragement of some of the new industries.
– Let me go on in my own way-. I refer to the brandy distilleries as an example of the folly we are committing in our fiscal system, although I was a party to it. I knew that the brandy distilleries had been built up under the protection’ of State legislation - that people had been invited to invest their capital in the industry - and the duties and excise were fixed in the first Commonwealth Tariff with a view to encourage the continuance of the industry, seeing that it also gave agriculturists an inducement to produce barley. We have discovered since that the quantity and quality of the barley produced for distilling purposes are not worth the least consideration. I do not know whether honorable members are aware of the fact, but I have discovered that ^250,000 represents the capital invested in this industry. It would have been far better from a financial point of view to return to those distillers the capital they had invested, rather than give them such a large portion of the revenue as is represented by the difference between the Excise and Customs duties. That portion of the revenue represents just about ^250,000 a year ; and yet very little has been done towards encouraging the production of the small quantity of barley used by distillers. Year by year we are losing the difference between the Excise and the Customs duties. “ The” spirit duties represent one of our largest items of revenue; and yet that is contributed not in order to maintain a large number of working people at good wages, but merely to encourage the production of a few bushels of barley.
– And the liquor has in no way been cheapened to the people.
– Nevertheless, we discharged what we considered to be our duty to the distillers, and restored their “business. What I have said now will, I think, indicate the spirit in which I shall approach the Tariff when the items are before us. I recognise that those engaged in industries thai have been destroyed here were induced to enter them by reason of local legislation, and although I was no party to that legislation I shall be prepared to cast my vote in the direction of restoring such enterprises. I do not say that in regard to any absolutely new industry, the introduction of which might be beneficial to the Commonwealth, I shall not give a very liberal interpretation of my own views as to what are revenue and what are protectionist duties. I think I may now pass away from the subject of Customs and Excise to a consideration of the main features of the Budget. I wish to be as brief as possible and to adhere closely to the programme now unfolding itself in my mind. I shall allude first of all to the one solace in the Budget statement delivered by the Treasurer - the solace that the Commonwealth as a whole is progressing. Passing from that subject, I shall dwell upon those items in the Tariff which are alarming to the community, and are a source of grave concern to the Treasurers of the States. I shall then allude to penny postage - the pet project of the exPostmasterGeneral - and proceed to refer to the cost and failure of the White Australia policy.
– The failure of that policy ?
– How have the mighty fallen !
– The failure of that policy is not a source of gratification to me. On the contrary, I have supported the policy, and am as much concerned in it as are most honorable members.
– Is my honorable friend prepared to advocate a change in that policy ?
– No; the change to which I shall refer - a change in the financial aspect of the question - will come about automatically. I do not think it necessary to qualify the views that I have expressed on the subject. They are already well known. I look with horror to the possibility of the occurrence in Australia of circumstances such as have revealed themselves in the southern part of the United States of America. I have watched closely the great efforts made there to bring into possible association with the white races the .emancipated coloured peo-‘ pie of the southern States. I have read Booker Washington’s work, as well as that of an eminent New York barrister, which bring vividly before us the possibilities of this great question. Honorable members will recollect that Carnegie gave $600,000 to Booker Washington because he is hopeful that he is on the right course with regard to the treatment of the coloured people of the States when he urges that they should be taught to respect labour and handicraft. But the race question is fraught with such danger to the United States that we must Le prepared to make sacrifices - and we have done so - to prevent the occurrence here of that which has existed in America. We may accomplish little at great cost, but that little achieved is as nothing compared with what remains undone. I was a member of the New South Wales Convention of 1898, which recommended the ^passing of legislation to restrict the influx of Chinese into the Australian States. The States Legislatures adopted our recommendations, and their legislation providing that no vessel coming into Australia should carry more than three Chinese passengers, and that every Chinese entering Australia should pay a tax of £100 proved sufficient to keep down the influx. The education test under the Commonwealth
Immigration Restriction Act has also led to the exclusion of Eastern races, and it must be admitted that we have accomplished much. For all that, the White Australia policy, as I shall show presently, has been costly, and at the same time has proved a failure. I intend also to refer to the adjustment of Inter-State accounts, and this will lead me to speak of the depletion of the States Treasuries. I must add a few words with respect to the cost of Federation, and I hope to conclude my speech with a very brief reference to the failure of the Government to disclose a policy adequate to our present financial position. I wish in the first place to amplify what was said by the Treasurer in respect to the progress of the Commonwealth. I find indications of that progress in the thrift of the people, the strength of our banks, the growth of our private wealth, the accumulations which are constantly taking place, and happily in the extended areas brought under cultivation, as well as in the enlarged value of our trade, and the enormous amount by which the value of our exports last year exceeded that of our imports. In the increased imports of last year; we have indications of our progress which must surprise honorable members. The increase in our imports shows that, notwithstanding the higher rates of duties prevailing in Australia during the last six years, manufacturers have been unable to set up machinery or to establish factories sufficient to meet the local demand. This inability has been due either to lack of capital or, what is still more likely, to a predilection for certain imported goods, pointing to the fact that even if we imposed an absolutely prohibitive Tariff on those goods, the people would be prepared to go without them. An examination of the returns shows how often a prohibitive duty will mean, in effect, a prohibition against people clothing themselves as they please. The importsof apparel and textiles, metals and machinery, earthenware, wood, wicker and cane work, jewellery, paper, stationery, vehicles, and musical instruments during last year were considerably in excess of those of the previous year. Honorable members may draw their own conclusions. Our Customs and Excise revenue shows an increase of , £649,177, and this verifies the report of the Treasurer that the people are able to consume more than they were before, and that the Commonwealth must be enjoying aperiod of progress and prosperity. We sometimes speak of “ the great Commonwealth,” and in connexion with that phrase Ialways like to remember that James I. of England and VI. of Scotland in his first speech to the British Parliament spoke of himself as “ I, the servant of this great Commonwealth.” Greatness is, after all, a matter of comparison. I have always regarded England as being a great country since Cromwell told the French king to leave the poor Waldensian Christians alone. In those days the population of England was 6,000,000, and its revenue when poor King Charles I. was hunting for shipmoney, was only £1, 000, 000 per annum. Australia, which, if we go back to the days of Botany Bay, is certainly a little more than a century old, but only sixtyyears old if we date its history from the fifties when it began to make great leaps and bounds on the road to progress, has now a population of over 4,000,000, and a revenue of , £30, 000,000, whilst it has an accumulation of private wealth amounting to , £1,200,000,000.
-And still we grumble.
– I do not know who grumbles, but I think we ought not to fail to put before the people the fact that we are better off than we have been. I may be button-holed in the street by a man’ who insists upon telling me that we are a poverty-stricken people, but in Tasmania I am always preaching a different doctrine. I tell the people that we are exceedingly well off. I say to them “ You are increasing your exports, you are pulling down your old barns and building larger ones ; all over the country there are signs of prosperity.” I hold that we should avail ourselves of this annual opportunity to indicate to the people our increasing wealth and to induce them to give some thought to their wonderful progress. The oversea trade of the Commonwealth increased during 1906 by £19,000,000. Last year our exports were £25,000,000 in excess of those of any previous year. Wool was largely represented in those exports, and a great part of it came from districts which, until they are opened up with roads and railways, can be put to no better use than the rearing of sheep, despised though that branch of industry may be by some persons. But the best indication of our commercial, and,I hope, individual prosperity is given by the post and telegraph revenue, which, in the first year of Federation, was£2,400,000, and, last year, ,£3, 200,000, an increase of nearly 50 per cent. Then the various life insurance societies and companies of the Commonwealth have now accumulated £35,000,000, assuring .£120,000,000 on the lives of 400,000 persons, which means that one in every ten of our population is insured. Those are marvellous figures for a young country like this, and are worthy of being proclaimed from the housetops. The people themselves, too, are by their thrift adding to the national wealth, no fewer than 1,174,000 persons having money invested in the Savings Banks. The deposits in these banks have increased since Federation from ^31,000,000 to ,£39,000,000, an increase of ,£8,000,000 in less than seven years. The increase of what is called industrial life insurance business is also very gratifying. By the payment of 4§d. per week from the age of eighteen years, a worker can secure for himself, at the age of sixty, an annuity of 5s. per week; and I think it would be well if the Treasurer would inquire whether it would not be possible to supplement these annuities in some way which would’ give to these thrifty people’ an adequate old-age pension. Professional actuarial advice on the subject is necessary. No satisfactory old-age pensions scheme will be obtained until the actuary has been called in. I have not given as much attention to the subject as I should like to give to it; but I think that competent actuaries could devise a scheme whereby the Government could supplement the savings of thrifty persons, and perhaps obtain payments from employers which would greatly reduce the monetary difficulty which now has to be faced in connexion with the establishment of a Commonwealth old-age . pensions system. The agriculturists of Australia have improved their conditions under Federation. When Federation was inaugurated, there were only 8,500,000 acres under cultivation, whereas now there are 9,500,000 acres; the yield of wheat has increased from 38,500,000 bushels to 66,000,000 bushels, and that of oats from 1.0,000,000 bushels to 30,000,000 bushels. The output of butter has increased from 101,000,000 lbs. to 140,000,000 lbs. The butter industry was established in Victoria by means of a bounty,, but without such assistance an export trade was opened up from Tasmania, and Tasmanian butter has obtained the highest price in the London market. I hope, and believe, that, while our producers and manufacturers have benefited so largely, the wage earners have also benefited. Indeed, statistics tell us that agricultural labourers are now earning 25 per cent, more than they were earning fifty years ago, and engineers, gas fitters, and mechanics, 50 per cent. more. Whether our legislation be good or bad - and I am afraid that the electors are of opinion that much of it has been bad - the forces of commerce, trade, and production are so strong that the country must progress from year to year. The Treasurers of the States, however, are naturally appalled at the financial proposals of the Commonwealth. They are alarmed at the statement that last year ,£800,000 of additional revenue was expended by the Commonwealth. This year ,£900,000 more revenue is to be raised, of which the Commonwealth is to expend the whole of its share. The Commonwealth expenditure this year is to be ^1,000,000 in excess of its expenditure last year. That is a very serious matter, and it behoves us to look very carefully into the financial situation.. I shall not deal with the items of expenditure seriatim, because that will take too long ; but I shall refer to a few of them. It is proposed to expend .£25,000 on advertising the resources of the Commonwealth in Great Britain. I am opposed to that expenditure. In the first place, it is a mere flea bite. ‘ For two years I was Agent-General for Tasmania, and while in London made inquiries at the newspaper agencies and elsewhere, with a view to ascertaining what could be done to advertise Tasmania’s resources and attractions pictorially on every railway station, post office, and civil institute in the United Kingdom. I was told that ,£100,000. would not pay for adequate advertisement. Only recently we heard that the- firm of Messrs. Pears spend £300,000 or ,£.400,000 a year in advertising.. It would not be necessary for the Commonwealth to have six- placards, on every railway station; but- unless it advertised very extensively, the expenditure would produce little or no return. Why do we propose to advertise? To attract tourists? The. floating palaces which now come to our ports, from abroad convey passengers at such low rates of passage money that. they are responsible for a. large influx of visitors. But if we are going to advertise Australia for the purpose of attracting immigrants, we are treading upon very dangerous ground. During the last few months I have had to make inquiries from persons engaged in various branches of trade in
Melbourne on behalf of intending immigrants at Home. In nearly every instance the reply which I received was that if men are earning £2 10s. weekly in England, they are better off than they would be if they were in receipt of £3 10s. weekly here. We shall be making a mistake if we advertise Australia for the purpose of inducing this class of immigrant to settle’ in our midst. On the other hand, if our object is to attract to our shores small capitalists, with £200 or £300, we find ourselves handicapped, in that the States Governments control the lands of Australia. I come now to the proposed appointment of a High Commissioner, and to the erection of Commonwealth offices in the Strand. When I was acting as Agent-General for Tasmania, I told the Government of that State that I deprecated the idea of their AgentGeneral becoming a mere commercial agent. If the people of the Commonwealth anticipate that a High Commissioner will be able to find them a, new or a better market for their produce, they will be doomed to disappointment. What has any AgentGeneral done for Australia ? If honorable members were to visit Leadenhall-street, London, they would see an office containing a little square of glass, with a boy’s nose behind it. That is the office of the Victorian Government. In it will be found a sheaf of Indian corn and some large wax models of apples, &c. In the office of the Agent-General for Queensland will be found samples of honey, meat, and pearl shell. Not one of these commercial agencies has achieved any real good for its Government. We all know that our enterprising ‘ producers, backed up by the commercial men of Australia, have made their own markets at their own cost, and without any State assistance whatever. In this connexion, I may remark that one family in Tasmania has made the market in England for the fruit exported from that State. Its members bore the cost of the experiment, and for years were mulcted in heavy loss. But now the whole people are sharing in the advantages conferred by their enterprise. We want no commercial agents to find a market in the old country for our wool, our gold, or our metals. They find a market for themselves. In the same way, our butter, if properly graded, will establish a market for itself. I well recollect the reports which I used to forward to the Tasmanian Government regarding the varying prices of metals in London.
– They were very long reports.
– I had to make the most of them. If £400,000 had been placed at my disposal for investment purposes, I naturally took good care to point out how wisely I had invested it.- I find that the reports ‘from the Queensland Agent-General embraced the same sort of information in respect of pearl shell, honey, and tinned meat. But Sir Horace Tozer does not claim for a moment that as a commercial agent he has conferred any real advantage upon the producer. I shall require a very good case to be made out for the appointment of a High Commissioner upon diplomatic grounds before I shall support the Government proposal.
– Whilst acting as AgentGeneral for Tasmania, did the honorable member tell the Government of that. State that its London office was a fraud ? .
– I did, and I relinquished my position. Before I went to England I told the Government that they expected too much. I hold that the mercantile men of the community can do better than the Government. I should like honorable members to tell me of anything which a Government has done which could not have been better performed by private individuals. Personally, I was very gratified to meet the representatives of other parts of the world in London. Many of them were fluent speakers ; and from an oratorical stand-point no better man could Le appointed High Commissioner of the Commonwealth than the present Prime Minister. But I would point out that the position is a purely ornamental one, and that its maintenance will involve us in an annual expenditure of £20,000, whilst the erection of the proposed offices in the Strand will cost an additional £100,000.
– I could make the show pay upon a lot less money than that.
– Our departmental expenditure since Federation has reached almost alarming, proportions, but I am not prepared to say that it has not been warranted. The expenditure upon the Department of External Affairs has increased from £33,000 to £76,000, and that upon the Attorney-General’s Department from £3,000 to £31,000. The cost of the Department of Home Affairs has advanced from £12,000 to £73,000 and the expenditure upon Defence has increased from £712,000 to £940,000, exclusive of an outlay of£400,000 a year upon public works, a great portion of which were Defence works. In addition, we have to contemplate the payment of increments to civil servants, which will mean an additional expenditure of , £50,000 a year, and if the clamour of the various Departments for more officersbe recognised, the increased annual expenditure will not be short of£100,000. During the past seven years we ‘have spent about , £2,000,000 upon public works, chiefly in connexion with the Post Office and the Defence Departments. All this money has been paid out of revenue. I hold that we should sanction no more expenditure unless we can continue to meet it out of revenue. I come now to the question of penny postage. I venture to say that we have now reached a stage at which it is not necessary for us to spend large sums of money in subsidizing mail steamers. The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company runs steamers regularly to Australia under contract with the Imperial Government. That company is obliged to give us twenty-four hours’ notice of the intended departure of its vessels, and it is also bound to carry our mails at the rate fixed by the Postal Union. In addition, the Orient Steam Navigation Company is running a fleet of vessels to and fromour principal ports; and still another line is projected by the Pacific Company . I believe that this Company worked in conjunction with the Orient Steam Navigation Company in the initial stages of the latter’s history. In January next this company will commence running a new line of steamers to Australia. The first vessel to be despatched will be the Asturias, which has a gross tonnage of 12,000 tons. We do not need to take any note of vessels like the Miltiades, and others belonging to the White Star Company, which occupy about forty-five days on the voyage to England, via the Cape. The steamers to which I have referred must travel regularly, irrespective df whether or not they pay. Consequently, I hold that we should be able to get our mails carried for £40,000 a year, instead of spending £150,000 in this connexion. The saving which might be effected by arranging for the carriage of our mails ora the poundage system, would, to some extent, compensate for the loss that would be occasioned by the adoption of penny postage.
– Most people now do their business with England by cable.
– How few business men nowadays ever purchase a draft at sixty days upon London? Most of the business is done by cable.
– What about the man who has no money ?
– He does not send letters to England. The masses do not forward much correspondence to the old country. Consequently, I say that if we adopt penny postage we shall be spending money for the benefit of the business and commercial classes of the community, who can well afford to do without State assistance. What does it matter to the average man whether the English mail arrives upon Monday by a Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company’s steamer, or whether it reaches our shores by an Orient Steam Navigation Company’s steamer upon Tuesday ? It seems to me that a weekly English mail service is almost too much for us. The expenditure of the Post Office has increased, during Federation, from £2,200,000 to , £3,200,000. Last year the surplus was , £440,000; for 1907-8 the estimated surplus is , £325,000, notwithstanding the estimated loss of £117,000 for the half-year, which would follow the adoption of penny postage. But what I wish the Treasurer and the Postmaster-General to remember Ts that we shall presently have to take over all the properties of the transferred Departments, and that this will prove a very serious expense.
– It must not be forgotten that the Postal Union will probably adopt international penny postage, and that we shall have to fall in line whether we like it or not.
– Oh, no.
– If we do not fall in line, we shall have to withdraw from the Union.
– It must not be forgotten that in the House of Commons the other day it was stated that, although Great Britain makes a profit of , £4,000,000 per annum out of the Post Office, she was not prepared to adopt universal penny postage. As to the possible loss which would follow the adoption of penny postage in Australia, it has been estimated by the Government at £234.000 for a year ; but I think I am right in saying that in Victoria the system involved a loss of £100,000 for the first year, and that, therefore, the loss to the Commonwealth would probably be £300,000. This is a question on which I am obliged to speak from a local point of view, because £20,000, which would form Tasmania’s share of the loss, is an important consideration for that State. Already the taxation in Tasmania has been greatly altered in its incidence. While in 1900 the Tasmanian Treasurer collected 55s. per head of the population through Customs and Excise, he now collects only 36s. per head. While in 1900 the people of Tasmania were paying about 13s. per head in direct taxation, they are now paying 27s. 6d. per head. It will- be readily understood, therefore, that an additional burden of £20,000 would be severely felt.
– What about the leakage in the revenue of Tasmania in consequence of people buying their apparel in
– That subject, of course, comes .under the head of Inter-State adjustments. At present, I desire to remind honorable members that, whereas, in the first year of Federation, the Commonwealth Treasurer divided a surplus of £1,158,000 amongst the States, and that he last year divided £800,000, he will this year, owing, not to shrinkage in the revenue, but to Commonwealth expenditure, have a balance of only £103,000. During the first five years of Federation the duties of Customs and Excise collected in Victoria on goods consumed in other States was £1,158,000, while the similar revenue collected in New South Wales was £400,000. The two sums together amount to more than £1,500,000; and for the current year it is estimated that the amount collected will be £800,000. Here we have between £2,250,000 and £2,500,000 collected as duty on goods consumed in the other fourStates during the period of Federation. That means that the trade of those other four States is being depleted ; and in ten years the trade, of which those other States have been deprived, will amount to £25,000,000. If, therefore, we representatives of Tasmania ask the representatives of the two largest States to reconsider the position, we are only asking for bare justice. At the inception of Federation it was declared that the large and strong States were the lambs, and that the weak and small States were the wolves, who would eat up the surplus revenue of the former. It was perfectly true that the revenue from Customs and Excise in the larger States was in excess of that in the smaller States, and to obtain a view of the position, we may compare New South Wales with Tasmania. Under a uniform Tariff, it was estimated that the New South Wales people would pay £2 per head, while the Tasmanian people would pay only £1 per head. That was -a large disparity ; and we could not expect New South Wales to approach Tasmania on the subject. But what has come about now? This year, the respective amounts paid per head in Victoria and: New South Wales are. within is. 6d. of each other, while the amount in Tasmania, the weakest State, is within 8s. 9d. of that of the richest State - New South Wales. The Treasurer ought to have taken advantage of the golden opportunity which has been offered to put forward proposals for a per capita division of Customs and Excise ; and I have always blamed him for not doing so. The honorable member for North Sydney last year called attention to the fact that we had had five years’ experience, and that the States were now as close together, in the matter of Customs and Excise revenue, as they were ever likely to be. Western Australia began with a revenue of £8 per head, whereas now it amounts to or’ly £3 l6s- or £3 18s. per head.
– This year is no? nearly so favorable as was last year.
– No, but my figures, about represent the position. The States are gradually assimilating in regard to population and so forth. Of course, noone would ask Western Austalia to give up her revenue, and some adjustment may be arrived at in regard to that State. But it would be only bare justice on the part of New South Wales and Victoria to endeavour in some way to meet the weaker States, which have suffered owing to the larger States being made the entrepots for goods consumed- in other States. .Senator Pulsford, of New South Wales, has also expressed the opinion that the time has arrived for dealing with this question; and the figures relating to it were laid before honorable members the other day by the honorable member for Parramatta. Tasmania desires nothing more than is her due, and she certainly will not come cap in hand, however distressed her circumstances may be. The State of Tasmania has managed to weather storms before, and no doubt will be able to do so again. It is well, however, to remember that there is a weak member of the family, financially, and that some thought should be given to her.
– There is not only Tasmania concerned.
– There are four other States interested, and I was sorry to hear the leader of the Labour Party, a day or two ago, say that he was not prepared to find any Customs revenue for the purpose of assisting Tasmania. I shall not say that such an expression of opinion was parochial, but rather that it was addressed to a class. I sincerely hope that when we come to closer quarters in connexion with the Tariff, we shall be ready to so vote as to gain revenue without’ injuring the people.
– Has the honorable member ever thought of a way to meet the case of New South Wales and Western Australia ?
– No, I have thought of no scheme except that which the honorable member for East Sydney suggested when Federation was under discussion, namely, that there should be a sliding scale - levelling up the weak and levelling down the strong States in a certain number of years. That scheme, however, would have proved most unfair to New South Wales, and, therefore, it did not receive support. The mischief is that New South Wales is the only loser, apart from Western Australia, while all the other States would be gainers. When it was decided that payment should be made at certain periods to the States, it was always contemplated by me, at any rate, that in time the States, would so nearly approach in the matter of sacrifice, through Customs and Excise, that there could be a per capita distribution. I do not suppose that the States Treasurers would agree to such a distribution, but I believe that if the States were polled the Federal spirit cf the people is such that they would agree. I said earlier that I would present certain facts which had led me to the conclusion that the White Australia policy has been a partial failure. We have already spent £2,500,000 in connexion with the kanakas and the sugar bounties. There is, in favour of Queensland sugar growers, the sum of £1,000,000 as the difference between the Excise and the duty; and. when Federation was under discussion I always held that, in view of the fact that Tasmania would get her share of the Australian market, Queensland, which was a large grower of sugar, had to be considered. If we deduct that £1,000,000, we find that the White Australia policy has cost us up to the present about £1,500,000; while this year nearly £600,000 will have to be paid in bounties.
– We received from the Excise duty on sugar something like £750,000.
– The honorable member must not forget that in several of the States prior to Federation the duty on sugar was £6 per ton. What have we to show for our expenditure of £1,500,000 to give effect to the policy of the White Australia? We have deported 4,000 kanaka “boys,” and for humanitarian or other reasons have allowed 5,000 to remain in the States.
– The records show that we had 9,000 kanakas in Australia.
– There are only a few hundred left in the Commonwealth.
– If the honorable gentleman will look up the figures, he will find that I am not far out.
– The honorable member is.
– Where are the Chinese, Japanese, and Syrians who were in Australia prior to the accomplishment of Federation? They are still here. There are over 80,000 of these aliens in the Commonwealth, and we cannot touch them under the legislation we have passed. What becomes, then, of our White Australia policy? Its operation has been limited to the removal of 4,000 kanakas from our cane-fields, and the States are now spending money in introducing labour to take their place. Having regard to the cost of what .we have accomplished in this direction, it must be admitted that our efforts have resulted in failure.
– The kanakas were recruited on the understanding that they would be returned to their islands within a certain period, and we have simply repatriated them.
– If the honorable member thinks so much of these niggers, why does he not take them to Tasmania ? The people on the mainland are quite agreeable to let her have them.
– That has nothing to do with my argument. Tasmania does not desire that kanakas shall remain in Queensland, or any other State, and she has contributed to the cost of their deportation. I repeat that in this connexion ive have done’ little, and cannot hope to accomplish more. Although we reiterate year after year the facts relating to the cost of Federation, they are forgotten almost as soon as they are uttered. An error corrected this week is repeated at our street corners during the next. At the Federal Conventions it was estimated by Sir Frederick Holder and others that the cost of Federation would be about 2s. 6d. per head of the population. The true cost of Federation - that is to say, the cost of new services - is at present is. 10 1/2d. per head of the population. But we have spent 7s. 2d. per head of the population in other directions in which we were not instructed to incur such an outlay. We had no warrant for that expenditure, other than the exercise of our own will as the representatives of the people, and thus the total cost of Federation is, roughly, 9s. per head of the population.
– What proportion of that amount represents, expenditure on new works and buildings?
– The greater proportion of that 7s. 2d. per head of the population represents new works. We have taken out of the revenue about £2,000,000 to provide for the construction of public works which, if undertaken bv the States, would have been paid for to a large extent out of loan moneys.
– Good old loans.
– I am not regretting the fact that, so far as these ‘new works are concerned, we -have found a newer-
– And a better way.
– We have found a newer, and, perhaps, a better way of providing for them. But we must not forget that in consequence of this the Treasurers of the States have been called upon to raise more revenue since the amount of surplus revenue returnable to them by the Commonwealth has thus been reduced. I refer to this matter because I think it necessary to remind honorable members that we must begin to go slowly. We are going too fast, in so far as new works are concerned, and I hope that Parliament will decide that we can have no works of construction until we have found the money for them. We know that the Labour Party, and, I think, a Ministerial Party in this House have indicated that the necessary revenue is to be obtained by means of land taxation. It is proposed that a new source of revenue shall be provided by means of a tax on estates exceeding in value £5,000. So surely as we proceed to raise revenue in that way, so surely shall we compel the Treasurers of the States to wring a tax from owners of. estates valued at £5,000 and under.
– I think that Tasmania is as wealthy as the other States, yet she can furnish an illustration of what would follow from the imposition of such a tax. Her experience shows that if we g( beyond a certain point in the imposition, of direct taxation, and then desire to obtain more revenue, we must level down instead of up. In Tasmania our income tax applies only to the higher grades, and has exempted the poorer classes of the community. But so surely as the higher grade is drained, so surely shall we force the Treasurers to come down on the smaller land-holders and subject them to taxation. That must be one of the effects of such legislation.
– Should we not burst up the big estates by such a tax and secure an increase of population which would give us a higher revenue?
– It is to be hoped that our population will increase, but we must not forget that progress is slow in that direction. The Labour Party talk of imposing a land tax with a view of bursting up large estates, and if that be the object the tax must necessarily be heavy. What are we going to do with the thousands of acres of land now devoted to pastoral pursuits, and which, pending the construction of railways and the granting of other facilities to those desirous of settling upon them could not be devoted to agriculture?
– A man could get all over Tasmania in a day.
– What has that to do with the question?
– Tasmania could be stowed away in a quarter of my electorate, and would not be noticed.
– Could agriculturists be settled on one-fourth of the honorable member’s electorate at the present time?
– Yes; there are railways running all over it.
– Then the people of the honorable member’s electorate are very fortunate. Any railway constructed by the Commonwealth would be useful for State purposes, and it is to be hoped we shall have at some time or other a useful policy of railway construction. I think it unlikely, however, that the States Governments will give us control of their railway systems, nor do I think it possible that they will consent to transfer their debts to the Commonwealth. I may say in passing that, when we do take over the whole of the debts of tie States, the time will arrive for the appointment of a High Commissioner who thoroughly understands the duties expected of him. The States are chary of giving us any further power.
– They do not trust us.
– That is so, and therefore we shall find that they are not prepared to let us take over their debts or their railways.
– We have power to take over States debts amounting ‘ to £200,000,000.
– That is so. I wish to draw my remarks to a close by expressing my deep regret that we should have reached the seventh year of the Commonwealth without having had from the Treasurer anything more than the disclosure of a policy of raising revenue from Customs and Excise. I shall deplore the time when other revenue .from the Commonwealth will be necessary. It was hoped, prior to Federation, that the Customs and Excise revenue would be sufficient for the Commonwealth, and that if. we should require ‘ revenue from other sources, it would be due only to the stress of extreme circumstances, such as the outbreak of war. We are now approaching a time when we shall be absolutely short of funds. There will Le nothing to return to the States out of the one-fourth of Customs and Excise revenue that we are entitled to retain, and during the coming year we shall have to find large sums oT money in excess of that which we are now called upon to provide. Something like £1,500,000 per annum will be required for a Commonwealth System of old age pensions, and the provision of interest on the cost of administering the Northern Territory and the building of a railway, to the west will mean that we shall have, in the course of two or three years, a deficiency of £2,000,000. We have, therefore, a very serious problem to solve. The Treasurer, when proposing additional expenditure, should have given the House that which the honorable member for Flinders demanded almost at the outset of the debate - a statement of the true financial policy of the Government. If any private individual were to take the course which’ the Treasurer is adopting, of incurring liabilities without making any provision for meeting them, we know very well how the Bankruptcy Court would regard his conduct. If we were attempting to do this in any one of the States - and I have had some experience of State administration - there would be an outcry against which no Government could stand.
– I am afraid that the honorable member is too pessimistic.
– I have always been optimistic, and may say, in the presence of those who know it, that my optimism has invariably proved well founded. I have always believed in my own success, as well as in the success of those with whom I have been associated and the success of the Commonwealth ; but I do not believe that we should have such a heavy expenditure. Our attention has been drawnto the fact that we are increasing our expenditure on the probability of our securing this year an increased revenue. But year after year, as new factories open their doors, that revenue must be less. Our revenue during the last financial year was, in round numbers, £900,000 in excess of that for- the preceding twelve months, and we may expect this year to have, as the result of the new Tariff, a further increase of £800,000. Next year, however, if the policy of protection be worth anything, we shall have more factories, and the volume of our imports will be reduced. So that, while we are increasing our expenditure, our revenue is automatically decreasing.
– We shall have more population and more prosperity.
– Our population is not increasing very rapidly, and we” are forcing the States to husband their resources in the matter of land revenue.
– If we find employment for our people, we shall soon have a large population. The Tariff is no higher than that introduced by the Government of which the honorable member was a Minister.
– It is much higher. No doubt, the giving of increased occupation may be some compensation for the mischief “which will be wrought by an excessive Tariff. But I deprecate most the action of Ministers in keeping back their policy. In doing so they are not treating fairly the country whose servants they are. They would be blameworthy if they had no policy, or if the stating of their policy might give an opportunity to their opponents to work mischief; but Ministers are not likely to be displaced from office for some time to come, and the public are right in feeling a want of confidence in them for not stating their policy.
– One is almost inclined to apologize for speaking in this debate, because of the great length to which it has been protracted. But the subjects with which we are called upon to deal are very important. Personally, I think we made a serious mistake in deciding to discuss the Budget and Tariff proposals together. In my opinion, the Budget should have been dealt with on its merits, and, for the short time which I propose to speak, I shall direct my attention chiefly to it, because I consider that the finances of the Commonwealth are in a critical condition. I do not desire to go over ground which other honorable members have travelled, but I feel bound to point out that, notwithstanding the increase of revenue in past years and the large estimated increase for the current year, our expenditure is increasing at an even more rapid rate, and that if the proposals which Ministers have placed before the House - in regard to which they must be taken to be in earnest - are adopted, there will be a deficiency of over £2,300,000. The honorable members for West and South Sydneyhave told us that no Commonwealth oldage pensions system can be established until the Braddon section of the Constitution ceases to operate, unless we impose direct taxation. But the position would be worse if the Braddon section were repealed and the Commonwealth undertook to pay interest on the debts of the States. The pre-Federal debts of the States amounted to £201,000,000, on which the interest comes to £7,254,000, and since Federation £41,000,000 more has been borrowed, on which the interest amounts to about £1,500,000. We now return to the States something over £7,000,000, and, therefore, if we made ourselves responsible for the whole of the interest charges now met by the States, we should have to pay £1,348,000 more than we now pay away under the Braddon section. Furthermore, these honorable members are opposed to revenue duties, and the honorable member for South Sydney is now saying in New South Wales that he will vote to cut down the revenue duties which have been proposed. Therefore, it will be impossible to establish a Commonwealth old-age pensions scheme without adopting some drastic method of direct taxation.
– It need not be drastic.
– It must be drastic. A graduated land tax with an exemption of £5,000 would not yield nearly enough to pay for Commonwealth old-age pensions.
– The honorable member for West Sydney admitted that, and said that he would vote for succession duties.
– Yes. The leader of the Labour Party has made a similar admission. He says that a Commonwealth land tax is advocated by him, not to obtain revenue, but to bring about the cutting up of large holdings, and that it would not return enough revenue to pay old-age pensions. There could be no greater cruelty than for candidates for election to this Parliament to proclaim before every election that they will vote for a Commonwealth old-age pensions scheme when it is known that not the slightest attempt will be made by them to establish such a scheme. Notwithstanding what was said by the honorable member for West Sydney the other night, the Labour Party,’ which has kept Governments in power almost continuously since the inauguration of Federation, has made no serious effort to establish a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions. Last year the Bill introduced by the Government to provide for an alteration of the Constitution, which would have allowed the establishment of an old-age pension scheme by the levying of special duties, was defeated in the Senate by the action of Labour representatives.
– That is not correct. More Labour members voted for’ it than against it.
– It was defeated because Senators Turley and Stewart, both Labour representatives, voted against it.
– Did not four Tasmanian senators vote against it?
– Yes : but they are opposed to the establishment of a Commonwealth old-age pensions system, believing that each State should be permitted to make its own arrangements in regard to old-age pensions.
– Is the honorable member in favour of a Commonwealth oldage pensions system?
– Yes ; and I supported the Bill.
– How would the honorable member provide the necessary funds ?
– I supported the proposal to obtain them by the levying of special duties. I mention these facts because the honorable member for West Sydney charged the Opposition with having baulked the establishment of a Commonwealth old-age pensions system, whereas the Labour Party, although at three elections it has advocated the establishment of a pensions fund, has made no real attempt to bring it about. So far as Tasmania is concerned, Federation has put it into an awkward position financially, but, like the honorable member for Denison, I would rather see that State leavethe Union than become a pauper at the mercy of the other States. Unfortunately there has been no honest endeavour to place the finances of the States on a proper footing. The proposal made by the honorable member for Swan at the Brisbane Conference was the first reasonable offer made by a Commonwealth Minister to the States. It provided a basis for a fair and satisfactory arrangement. The honorable member was acting with the authority of the Prime Minister.
– That is so.
– Nevertheless,the present Acting Prime Minister repudiates the arrangement. Surely there is such a thing as Ministerial responsibility, and if an arrangement was actually entered into by the Prime Minister, it is exceedingly strange that the Acting Prime Minister should be allowed to repudiate it. But perhaps he does so with the consent of the Prime Minister himself. We all deplore the illness of the Prime Minister, and the people of Australia have cause to regret that during his absence he should have so many mouth-pieces.
– If the Braddon section of the Constitution were abolished, and we had the handling of the whole of the Customs revenue, Tasmania would get her fair share.
– If the Braddon section were discontinued to-morrow, the party to which the honorable member belongs would not be any closer to the realization of a Federal scheme of old-age pensions than they are now, unless they were prepared to adopt a revenue Tariff. It is preposterous to suggest that in order to raise £1,500,000 with which to pay old-age pensions, the Government should impose duties which would yield a revenue of £6,000,000. When I read that honorable members, like the honorable member for West Sydney, are stumping New South Wales, declaring that they intend to cut down the revenue duties in this Tariff, I say that there is absolutely no hope for an old-age pension scheme such as they propose.
– Every country derives a great deal of money from revenue duties.
– Prior to Federation most of the States expected to receive in Customs revenue an amount sufficient to pay interest upon their indebtedness.
– For a long time New South Wales derived only about £1,400,000 or £1,500,000 through the Customs.
– It is very unfortunate that in any reasonable adjustment . which may be made, New South Wales will practically be called upon to contribute to the other States. In spite of the little electioneering placard put forward by the honorable member for West Sydney, I think that New South Wales is quite prepared to act fairly to the smaller States, which are feeling the effects of Federation most acutely. But no reasonable man can ask New South Wales to adopt a scheme which will compel her to pay a bonus of £80,000 a year to a wealthy State like Victoria. A glance at our financial position will show that the proposals of the Government represent a capitalized sum of about £72,000,000. The amount required to pay old-age pensions is £1,500,000, which, if capitalized, would represent a sum of £43,000,000. The transfer of the Northern Territory - the agreement in this connexion was deliberately signed by the Prime Minister and the Premier of South Australia, and presumably a proposal for its ratification will be submitted during the present session - will involve an expenditure of £12,000,000.
– We shall have something to say about what the honorable member wrote concerning the Territory.
– I am always prepared to accept the’ fullest responsibility for my actions. . The construction of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway will entail a further outlay of £5,000,000-
– I do not think that it will cost £4,000,000.
– I am willing to assume that it will cost only £4,000,000. Then the estimated value of the transferred properties is £12,000,000. Although this entry is merely a bookkeeping one, so far as the taxpayer is concerned, the moment we settle the terms upon which’ those properties shall be taken over, we shall have to pay interest upon them. If we add together the various sums to which I have called attention we shall get a total amount of about £72,000,000. The interest upon this sum would be £2,520,000 annually. I have not included in my calculations any expenditure upon the Federal Capital or the appointment of a High Commissioner, or upon our naval and military defence. Honorable members will admit that the position is an exceedingly unsatisfactory one. We have reached the limit of our expenditure. At the present time we are returning to the States only three-fourths of the revenue collected within their borders.
– Tasmania is receiving less than her three-fourths share.
– That is so. We have proposals before us which will involve an annual expenditure by way of interest of £2,500,000 or £3,000,000, and we have a surplus of only £100,000. “Unless we can enormously increase our revenue, there is not the slightest hope of giving effect to these proposals. I do not think it is seriously intended that the Braddon section of the Constitution shall be discontinued unless we take over the States debts. If that section be terminated in 19 10, the States debts must be transferred to the Commonwealth. If that is done, the whole of our Customs revenue will be absorbed in carrying out public works and in paying interest upon the debts taken over.
– Does the honorable member think that any attempt would be made to terminate the Braddon section without taking over the States debts.?
– No. These proposals, therefore, are simply so many placards unless we are in a position to give effect to them. I say that the protestations of honorable members opposite in favour of old-age pensions ‘ are a sham unless they are prepared to adopt a revenue Tariff. The financial position of Tasmania is becoming very serious.
– She is twice as well off now as she was before Federation.
– But I am talking of her Treasury. I am not attempting to deal with the units of the community. I have no sympathy with those who are always decrying Australia. I do not believe that there is a country in the world where the people of all grades are so well off as they are here.
– Then what are people “ squealing “ about?
– During the year 1906-7 Tasmania received £10,209inex- cess of the three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue to which she is constitutionally entitled, but during the present year it is estimated that she will receive £23,000 less than her three-fourths share of the Customs revenue. When I tell honorable members that the Tasmanian receipts from Customs to-day are 60 percent, less than they were prior to Federation, whilst the Customs receipts in New South Wales have been doubled during the same period, they will realize the. serious position of the former State.
– But according to free traders the people of Tasmania still have the money in their pockets.
– The Treasurer of Tasmania has recognised that fact by taking a good deal out of their pockets. When Federation was accomplished, the direct taxation of Tasmania amounted to 12s. 6d. per head. To-day, according: to the Tasmanian Premier, Captain Evans, it is 31s. per head. The people of that State are paying in the form of direct taxation more than double the amount per head that is paid by the citizens of the wealthier States.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was pointing out that if the proposals of the Government are carried out, they will necessitate an annual expenditure of about £2,300,000, for which we have made absolutely no provision. It is essential that the Tariff should be disposed of at the earliest possible opportunity, in order that we may allay the unrest which at present prevails throughout the States. No matter whether we regard the Tariff from a protectionist, a free-trade, or a revenue point of view we agree that the sooner both consumers and commercial men know what duties are to be paid the better it will be for all concerned. Personally, I am opposed to the proposed heavy increases in the duties. I was prepared to stand: by the Kingston Tariff; and I was one who did not regard the appointment of a Tariff Commission as a wise step. In my opinion, Ministers must take the responsibility ; and, therefore, I differ from some honorable members on this side who appear to think that the Government were bound to accept whatever Tariff the Commission recommended. Such a view is entirely opposed to the principles of constitutionalgovernment and parliamentary practice, and we cannot expect any Government to accept the verdict of any Commission as expressing the deliberate wish of the House. Seeing that Ministers must take the responsibility for the Tariff, they are quite right in submitting their own proposals. We all know that there must always be great differences of opinion in the various States. Although Tasmania does not receive the revenue from Customs duties which some of us think it is almost necessary she should receive, we cannot get away from the fact that if our desires were realized, there would be an enormous surplus in New South Wales. It is impossible to regard this question from the stand-point of one State alone. Instead of attempting to regulate the differences by the amount of the duties to be levied - which has been found practically impossible - it would be infinitely better to deal with the revenues as the revenues of all Federations are dealt with, and distribute them on exactly the same basis as that on which the contributions are made. Of course, we know that the two great difficulties in the way are presented by New South Wales and Western Australia. ‘ When we went into figures, we found that, with a per capita return, New South Wales would have to contribute to the whole of the other States, and that, of course, placed the scheme outside the range of practical politics. I believe, however, that the people and the leaders of the people in New South Wales would be prepared to deal fairly, and even generously, with such States as Tasmania, Western Australia, and Queensland, on which Federation has placed an exceedingly heavy burden. But it would be preposterous to expect New South Wales to contribute £80,000 or £100,000 to a State like Victoria. A contribution of the kind is not desired by Victoria; and I do not think we could fairly have a distribution based on such lines. The experience of Federation is that in many of the States the whole of the revenue is necessary for the Federal expenditure. When the States debts are taken over, then the Commonwealth will, in reality, be making a return on aper capita basis. The moment we take over the debts, and the States are relieved of the burden of interest, we shall reallybe returning Federal revenue to the States, to the extent of that interest, on a per capita basis. Personally, I think that the sooner we take over the States debts the better it will be for Federation. One of the great, I was going to say, baits, but I shall say inducements, held out to the States which were not anxious for Federation was that the States debts would be taken over, and a considerable saving made as a consequence; and, therefore, I am of opinion that at the earliest possible opportunity the Commonwealth ought to assume the responsibility in this connexion. I think, also, that when the present friction between the States and the Commonwealth has died away, the question may be approached with much better hope of success than at the present time. We should be best studying the interests of Australia, from both a Commonwealth and a State point of view, if we avoided all causes of friction.
– The same remark applies to the States.
– That is so;I am speaking from both points of view. We here represent exactly the same people ; and no greater injury could be done to the Federation or to the States than is being done by those who, whether private members of Parliament or Minister’s, are endeavouring to stir up friction. I hold the opinion that a course which has been adopted by politicians, both State and Federal, is, to some extent, responsible for the present state of feeling. It is a great mistake for. State members or Ministers to interfere in Federal elections, and it is equally a mistake for Federal members or Ministers to interfere in State elections; such interference must cause some degree of friction which might otherwise be avoided.
– Federal Ministers were driven to take the step by the action of States Ministers.
– I am condemning the practice on both sides; and I know that I gave offence to some of my personal friends when I refused to interfere during the last State elections in Tasmania. The history of Federations has shown that there must necessarily be friction from time to time between the States and the central authority, and we are best serving the public interest when we endeavour to avoid as far as possible all causes of friction. I do not propose to deal with the items of the Tariff on the present occasion, seeing that we shall have to go over the whole ground when we have the details under consideration. But there is one duty to which I should like to refer as one of the most important, namely, that upon sugar. The whole of the sugar duties are on a wrong basis. I have never been able to see why we should levy an Excise duty upon sugar any more than upon wheat, butter, potatoes, grain, or fruit. The sooner we treat sugar as a great national industry - one of the greatest of our primary productions - the better. The consumer is paying too much. at the present time for the sugar industry. I am not speaking in any spirit of hostility to the industry itself. I believe its best friends are those who look the position fairly in the face. We have reached the stage when the importation of sugar is practically ceasing, and Australia is supplying the whole of her own demands. I have obtained from a manufacturer, who is, I suppose, the largest consumer of sugar in the Commonwealth, figures which show the exact position. The latest quotations of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to him - and they apply to Melbourne, Sydney, or Hobart - are as follow: - For foreign sugar, £1211s. 8d. ; for Australian sugar, £1511s. 8d., bags in, f.o.b. Sydney, in bond. To that has to be added the £6 import duty on foreign and £3 Excise duty on Australian sugar, which gives £1811s. 8d. as the total price in each case. That is what the manufacturer who uses sugar as a raw product in carrying on an equally important industry has to pay. He is paying £6 per ton more than should be paid for his raw material. In the case of the consumer, the merchants’ contracts are £20 per ton, duty paid, f.o.b. Sydney, less 6 per cent. The same company offers to supply sugar in South Africa in. June at £11 . 5s. per ton, c.i.f. Durban,’ inclusive of seller’s commission. Therefore, in South Africa, which does not produce sugar to any great extent, the Australian product can be bought for £11 5s. per ton, whereas in Australia, where we are producing it, the public are charged £20 per ton.
– Is that for the same sugar ?
– Yes. Those are not conditions which can be maintained. I want to give the sugar industry exactly the same assistance as I would give to any other primary producing interest in Australia. I would remove from it the £3 Excise duty, which it has no right to pay, and give it a 25 per cent, protective duty. That is the extent of protection which I would give to any industry in Australia.
– It is not the industry that pays the Excise. The consumers throughout Australia pay it.
– I take it that the consumer pays, not the Excise, but the import duty of £6 pet ton.
– That covers the Excise.
– In Australia, where we grow sugar, we are paying - according to the figures I have just quoted - £9 per ton more for it than is paid in a country where it is not produced. I recognise that the sugar industry is a great one.
– Is it the farmer or the Sugar Refining Company that gets the high profit?
– I believe that wherever a monopoly is built up the primary producer gets by far the smaller share of profit. He receives far less than I should like to see him obtain. The total number of hands employed in the industry in December, 1906, was 36,197. If we add the 5,079 employes in the factories, refineries, and mills, we get a total of 41,276 people employed ‘ in the . whole Australian sugar industry. The consumers are paying, in the import duty alone, over and above what they would pay if there were no duty upon sugar, £1,212,000 per annum. That is the price that the people of Australia are paying as a bounty on the sugar industry. It amounts to £30 per head per annum for every person employed in it. Those figures demand the serious consideration of the Committee. When we are compelled to contribute as a bounty £30 per annum for every man and boy employed in an industry, we are paying far too much for it. When we consider that sugar is the raw material of another equally important industry, the position ought to be faced immediately. The Government last year made a concession to the preserving industries to the extent of refunding to them the whole of the duty on sugar used in preserving jams, jellies, and fruits exported from Australia. Up to that time they had been receiving £5 back, and, therefore, losing £1 ; but the Government then very fairly agreed to refund the whole duty. The point, however, is that nearly 80 per cent, of the sugar bought by the manufacturers is used for preserved fruits, jams, jellies, &c, manufactured for Australian consumption. .Consequently, the whole of that industry pays a 50 per cent, duty on its raw material. There is no other industry in Australia handicapped to that extent.
– Would the honorable member allow them the full rebate on all sugar used for that purpose?
– Prior to Federation the Tasmanian manufacturers were given all sugar used in their industry in bond free of duty. I believe the same was done in Victoria. If it can be shown that in the Tariff there is a 50 per cent, duty on the raw material of any manufactory in Australia, I guarantee that that duty will be considerably reduced, even if the. article is not placed on the free list. One of the fundamental principles of protection, to which I have never heard free-traders object, is that the raw material for manufacture should be obtained as cheaply as possible. I will show the Committee what the duty amounts to in this case. A man may expect a crop- of three to three and a half tons of apricots per acre. It takes one ton of sugar to one ton of fruit to convert it into preserves. Consequently, that man is taxed to the extent of from £18 to £21 per acre per annum on a primary industry. That is not fair. I do not think that any honorable member desires that such an unjust duty should be levied on those engaged in a primary industry. I recognise that the sugar industry occupies a peculiar position - that prior to Federation, kanakas were largely employed in it, and that the Commonwealth Parliament, with the consent of Australia, declared that they must go. The kanakas have practically left Australia, and I may say that, personally, I am glad that thev have. Since this change has been effected is there any reason why the sugar industry should not be treated just as we deal with the industries of wheat, potato, maize, or apple growing - or indeed with any other primary production ? Let us sweep away the Excise and the bounty, and give those engaged in the industry a 25 per cent. duty. In that way we; shall save Australia an expenditure of something like £750,000 per annum and give those who use sugar as a raw material in their in dustry an equal chance with any other manufacturer in the open market..
– Does the honorable member suggest that we should repeal the Sugar Bounty Act and the Excise Act ?
– 1_ do. There is no reason why Parliament should handicap the sugar industry with an Excise duty.
– The honorable member proposes to give the sugar planters freetrade in white labour.
– i do not wish to see any industry built up by the introduction of coloured labour. i would remove from those engaged in the industry every disability just as i would free those engaged in other industries.
– They have not freetrade now in regard to white labour.
– They have not; but that is under a bounty system,, by which we are introducing a complicated and unfortunate anomaly in connexion with production. My desire, is that the sugar industry shall be placed on an. equal footing with others. i wish to take from those engaged in it all penalties in the way of Excise duty, and to give them. a. fair and reasonable duty,, just as i should be prepared, to give assistance to those employed in any other branch of primary production. When we remember that we are imposing a 50 per cent, duty on what is a necessary of life, as well as the raw material of another important industry, and that the people of Australia are paying at least £1,200,000 per annum under the White Australia policy, we must recognise that, it is time to take this question into consideration and to deal with it fairly. i should, be prepared to deal fairly, if not generously, with the sugar industry in Queensland. There is only one other item, in the Tariff to which i intend to refer, and that is. the item of woollens. Shortly before leaving Tasmania, i visited the largest woollen factory that we have in the State. The proprietor quite recently doubled his plant, and since then has increased it by 40 per cent. When i inquired how the new Tariff suited him, he replied, “ i do not want any further duty on woollens.”
– Perhaps he does not want any more competition..
– He showed me his books, and told me he could not take an order for a. pair of blankets before the end of 1908.
– He does not want anymore competition.
– That is not the position. Mills that turn out good material have an abundance of work. If there is in Australia to-day a woollen mill that is not turning out a satisfactory article, then the conductors of it are responsible for any slackness of trade from which it may suffer. As I was leaving, I said to the Tasmanian woollen manufacturer to whom I have referred, “ Then you are quite satisfied with the old Tariff?” He replied, “ No, I should like to see every manufacturer of blankets, flannels, and tweeds compelled to put on his goods a statement in plain English showing the proportions of wool and of shoddy which they contain.” I agree with that proposal. I believe that if we left the duties exactly as they were under the old Tariff, every mill at present in Australia would work full time, and that there would be room for more factories to open their doors. I know that men from Victoria and New South Wales have sought to place an order for 10,000 pairs of blankets, to be delivered in 1908, and that, although they offered a satisfactory price, they have been unable to do so - the mills having booked orders for some time ahead. When we find that those who turn out firstclass articles at remunerative rates are more than fully employed, surely we must admit that we should leave them alone for at least a little while longer. I obtained recently from a member of this Legislature, who has had, perhaps, a wider commercial experience than has any other honorable member, a statement showing exactly what the new duties on woollens will mean to the consumer - who, after all, is entitled to some consideration at our hands. The statement relates to goods, the invoice price of which in England is £100. Allowing £3 for casing and £10 for Customs primage,we have the total increased to £113. That would be the price of the goods landed at a Melbourne, Sydney, or Hobart wharf. If we add 40 per cent, the cost of clearing the Customs, the total is increased to £158 4s. Then we have to add 5 per cent, for exchange, and other charges, which brings the total to £163 4s. Merchants’ profit on a cash sale is set down at 10 per cent, or £16 6s. 5d., and this raises the total cost to £179 ros.10d., whilst retailers’ additions for profit and expenses, representing 25 per cent., amount to £49 17s. 7d., bringing up the total cost to £229 8s. That is a very considerable in crease in the original cost. i hope that when we reach the schedule we shall reduce duties whenever we ‘think they are more than is necessary and give only that fair and reasonable protection which 1 believe the people of Australia are prepared to extend to our manufacturing interests. i have been struck by the inconsistency displayed by some honorable members in dealing with mining and agricultural machinery, Honorable members who last year did not hesitate to vote for a proposition to double the duty on agricultural machinery are raising a loud outcry against the proposal to tax mining machinery. 1 am prepared to put agricultural machinery and mining machinery on precisely the same basis. 1 fail to see any consistency on the part of an honorable member who strenuously opposes the taxation oflarge mining companies, such as those carrying on operations at Broken Hill, Mount Lyell, and Mount Morgan, whilst at the same time he is prepared to double the duty on agricultural machinery. Had i to differentiate, i would rather put a duty on the mining machinery required by large and wealthy companies than tax the tools of trade of the farmers. In my opinion, it would be unjust to admit mining machinery duty free, and to place a tax of 20 and 25 per cent, on ploughs, harrows, and other tools of trade of the farmer. For my part, i shall do all i can to secure fair and reasonable treatment for both the agricultural and the mining industries. Last year i was one of the forlorn hope which endeavoured to prevent the increasing of duties on agricultural machinery, and i shall, to the utmost of my ability, endeavour to bring back those duties to the rates imposed by the Kingston Tariff prior to the amending Act of last year. i urge upon the Ministry not to embarrass our primary producers, who create the wealth of Australia. i was very much struck with the speech of the honorable member for Grampians. One of the greatest evils with which we have to deal is the aggregation of population in our cities. i read recently that something like 75 per cent, of the population of Canada resides in her country districts, whereas 78 per cent, of our population lives in our cities, towns, and larger townships.
– Surely not 78 per cent.
– From 75 to 78 per cent. The Government should encourage person’s to go into the country to become primary producers. The effect of the Tariff, however, will be to bring more people into the towns. In dealing with the primary producers of Australia, we should remember that protective duties are of no assistance to them. Of what use to them are import duties on wool, wheat, butter, and other products of which they have a large surplus, which must be sent out into the world’s markets, there to face the fierce competition of other countries?
– Has the duty on stripper-harvesters increased their price to the farmers?
-i do not know.
– Parliament had to pass a provision regulating the prices to be charged; but now the manufacturers are asking for higher duties, or, in the alternative, to be allowed to increase their prices.
-i should like to know why it is that the maker of the Sunshine harvesters, which are splendid machines, can ship them to the Argentine, and there compete successfully with Canadian manufacturers, and yet be unable to do so in Australia with a protective duty of £16 each in his favour.
– That is not the point. The increase in the duty on stripperharvesters did not increase their price.
– It reduced it.
– The duty did not reduce their price. That was regulated by Parliament.
– All duties should be accompanied by similar regulation.
– Parliament in increasing the duty on stripper-harvesters provided that certain selling prices should be observed, and that those employed in the industry should receive fair wages, and be required to work only reasonable hours. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has shown us that the makers have not carried out their part of the contract.
– The employes’ association has just sent a complaint to the Minister.
– Parliament would not have increased the duty had it not been for the distinct pledge given by the Government that fair wages would be paid to the employes in the industry. There could . be no more contemptible violation of the law than that referred to last night by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, about which I heard something during a recent visit to South Australia. Manufacturers have avoided paying fair rates of wages by branding their men as incompetent. They have said, “ The men employed in our workshops are not able to earn the rate of wages fixed for competent men.” In this way they have taken an unfair advantage of their workmen, and have paid into their own pockets profits which should have been shared with their employe’s.
– We shall soon stop that.
– It should have been stopped before. When it was known that fair rates of wages were not being paid, Excise duties should have been charged. We have been told that the Tariff is to be based on what has been termed the new protection. But the honorable members for Hindmarsh and Boothby have shown that our attempt to protect the workmen against their employers has already broken down.
– Not in every case.
-I know that some of the manufacturers have complied with the spirit of the law.
– Most of them have done so.
– Not most of them.
– Yes; most of them in the other States.
– An injustice which follows from the faulty administration of the law is that fair employers are handicapped in their competition with unfair employers. The Government should have taken action in this matter long ago. The officers of the Department, who are the men really responsible, should have seen that the law was obeyed. Manufacturers who sneak out of an award by compelling their men to sign on as incompetent are not worthy of amoment’s consideration from either Government officials or members of Parliament. It may be said that the men need not have signed on as incompetent. But those who are working for weekly wages, with wives and families depending upon them, are not free agents. We know that when the manufacturers of a town are in league, the dismissal of an employe from one establishment is equivalent to driving him out of the town, because he cannot get work anywhere else. I had not intended to enter into this matter at such length. In conclusion, I desire to say that, so far as I am concerned, no tax shall be levied on the primary producers of this country if my voice and vote will prevent it. I am not prepared to support such a system of taxation as is proposed in the Tariff now before us. There are thousands of people in Tasmania to whom an increase of taxation will be a very serious matter indeed. There are people with large families to whom an increase in household expenses, of from 3s. to 5s. per week means all the difference between a reasonable degree of comfort and comparative poverty. If there is one class of people more than another which is entitled to the sympathy of this Committee, it is those men and women who are trying to rear large families of small children on low wages, and whose employment is not constant. When we talk about protecting the interests of factory workers, let us remember that we are legislating for 4,000,000 of people. The total number of those employed in factories, and of the persons dependent upon them for a livelihood, is not more than 400,000 persons. Surely, the interests of the greater number ought to l)e considered by those who are supporting this Tariff. It is all very well to say that we can compel manufacturers to pay fair wages. In the United States- the best employers of labour are the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers, the Astors, and the Millers. They are ready enough to pay trade union rates of wages, and to employ their workmen under trade union conditions, but they take good care to recoup themselves out of the pockets of the general community. By setting up a high wall of duties, we are actually creating monopolies for the benefit of manufacturers in our large cities. It is not enough to compel them to pay fair wages, though I shall endeavour to make them do that. But the mischief of a Tariff like this is that we shall place it within the power of those people to take out of the pockets of the general consumer not only the increased wages paid to the employe, but a great deal more. Those of us who feel a sense of responsibility towards the people of this country cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the Tariff is oppressive to those who have no means of protecting themselves, and who are dependent for their daily bread on employment that is often fluctuating and ill-paid. These are the people to whom an extra 6d. or is. per week in ‘ the cost of many of the necessaries of life may mean a depriva- tion of the little comforts which they have been accustomed to enjoy.
.- I listened with a great deal of pleasure and attention to the speech of the honorable member for Denison. One feature of it which impressed itself upon my imagination was his reference to the great wave of prosperity that is at present flowing- over Australia. I am an optimist so far as the future of Australia is concerned, and am glad to know that we are at present exceedingly prosperous. But that is not the great point which we have to consider. It is not that we have accumulated a large store of wealth, and that our industries are generally flourishing. A more gratifying fact is that not only is wealth beingincreased, but that the condition of all sections of the people is being improved. That is a point upon which we all congratulate ourselves, and about which we naturally feel proud. Mark Twain is credited with having said on a recent occasion, “I assure you, gentlemen, that I am not so dishonest as I look.” If this new Tariff could speak for itself, I think we should hear it say, “ I assure you, gentlemen, that I am not so honest as I appear to be.” Why? The increase of duties is so enormous that men who have sent away orders to Europe in good faith, believing in the honesty and rectitude of those who rule them, have found, when they came to pass their entries through the Customs, that, instead of having to paytens of pounds, they have got to pay hundreds. Now, while that does not indicate any positive dishonesty ‘ so far as the Government is concerned, the effect is certainly dishonest so far as it affects the general public.
– Has not such a thing happened in connexion with the introduction of every Tariff?
– That is one of the reasons why we should arrive at a Tariff settlement which will be final, or which, at any rate, will endure for many years.
– Pass this Tariff, and it will be sufficient for a long time to come.
– We have in power a Protectionist Government, supported by a’ protectionist majority in this House. It is one of the obligations of a predominant party, pursuing a certain line of policy, to carry out that policy in such a way as to commend it to the common sense of the community. But had this Government acted with the express intention of converting men by the thousand from being out-and-out protectionists into being protectionists of a very moderate character, they could not have proceeded in a better way. So far as concerns the electorate of Echuca, which returned me to this House by a majority of between 1,100 and 1)200, I venture to say that if, after the introduction of the Tariff, I had been compelled to contest the same constituency as a moderate protectionist against a gentleman who ‘ was an out-and-out protectionist, I should have been returned, not by a majority of between 1,100 and 1,200 only, but by 3,000 to 4,000.
– The people up . there must be an extraordinary class of protectionists.
– They are reasonable people, and they are producers, and that is one of the reasons why they have such an opinion about the Tariff. Now, what was it the country demanded in reference to Tariff reform? The great cry was that we should correct anomalies in the old Tariff. There certainly were many anomalies in it. But .there are also many anomalies in the present Tariff. Indeed, I am inclined to think that there are more anomalies in it than there were in the previous one. I have the authority of the Acting Prime Minister for my statement, because in the Australian Mining Standard, he is reported to have said - “ The Tariff is for the good of Australia,” he remarked, and with the next breath he excused himself for the many imperfections it contains by stating that “ there were many anomalies which would be rectified by Parliament. We did not have the assistance of business men, because, if they had been consulted, they would have smelt a rat and defeated the objects of the’ Tariff.”
The truth of the last statement is apparent to everybody. But in framing the Tariff the Government should have paid much more respect than they have done to the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, upon whose labours such a large sum of money has been expended-. Indeed, it would be interesting to learn exactly what that Commission has cost the Commonwealth. During recent years we have heard a good deal in reference to strangled industries. Of course that is a cry which everybody appreciates.
– The Tariff Commission could find no strangled industries.
– If a single industry could be found which was being strangled owing to the operation of the Tariff, I am satisfied that every member of this Committee would be glad to afford relief to that industry. But the honorable member for Illawarra has emphatically declared that, throughout its investigations th§ Tariff Commission was unable to discover a single strangled industry.
– Does the honorable member intend to adopt all the conclusions of the honorable member for Illawarra?
– Certainly not. Nevertheless that honorable member spoke as a member of the Tariff . Commission. He affirmed that upon the sworn evidence of witnesses, the Commission was unable to discover a single case in which an industry was being strangled.
– What does the Chairman of the Commission say upon that point?
– If the Attorney-General will permit me to proceed, I think that I shall be able to throw a little light upon the subject. I had imagined, in my innocence, that when the Tariff was introduced the Minister in charge of it would have supplied this Committee with information as to what anomalies had been corrected, and what industries were being strangled. But we were supplied with no data of that sort. The Acting Prime Minister simply threw the Tariff upon the table in much the same fashion as one would throw a bone to a dog.
– No; I threw it to a puppy.
– That observation is a rather offensive one. I do not know that the Acting Prime Minister ought not to be called upon to withdraw it. I always treat him with respect, and I am entitled to receive similar treatment at his hands. The honorable gentleman smiles while the industries of the country are being strangled owing to the operation of the new Tariff.
– New industries are springing up in all directions.
– What are the salient features of this Tariff ? In the first place its proposals constitute a very big departure from the recommendations of the Tariff Commission. I do not suggest that the Government should have been absolutely wedded to those recommendations, but I do’ urge that they should not have departed from them so ‘ ruthlessly. The Acting Prime Minister has affirmed that those recommendations have been departed from in only 93 instances. But I hold in my hand a letter signed by the honorable member for Bendigo, which was published in the press, and in which he says -
The Prime Minister now declares that he has made . ninety-three variations. The whole thing is a sham. I have been making a careful analysis of the Ministerial Tariff, and have compared it with the consolidated Tariff recommended by the protectionist members of the Commission, and I find that there have been increases of duties proposed in no fewer than 201 items and articles, including the preferential duties.
– The statement is not correct.
– Honorable members are. certainly entitled to have reasons placed before them for the course which the Government have adopted. The Tariff Commission had more or less solid grounds for the recommendations which they made, but the Ministry, so far as we are aware, have no substantial reasons for the scheme which they have adopted. Then, I complain that the new Tariff strikes a blow at all our primary industries. I find that the earnings of the primary industries of Victoria amount to £22,719,000 annually, those of the mining industry to £3,354,000, and those of the manufacturing industries to £10,306,000. Of course everybody would like to stimulate manufacture, but in developing this country it behoves us to give the greatest attention to those industries which are of the greatest importance - in other words, to those which are producing the most wealth. How does this Tariff affect our primary industries? I venture to say that there is not a farmer throughout the Commonwealth who is not injuriously affected by the duty imposed upon wire-netting.
– And the farmer derives no benefit from a protective policy.
– It is impossible to confer a benefit upon him unless we grant him a bonus’ upon what he exports. Every butter factory in. Australia is crying out because of the duty which has been imposed upon butter boxes, salt,. &c. I have received a whole batch of communications from the managers of different factories asking me to use my utmost endeavours to secure the remission of the impost upon butter boxes. They feel that it is unfair that they should be called upon to pay this tax seeing that their industry cannot possibly be benefited by the operation of a protective Tariff.
– They make more row about that than they did when they were robbed of their bonuses.
– Honorable members on the other side always seem to imagine that two or three wrongs make a right. I have indicated an obvious wrong to a great producing industry, and no presentation of other wrongs will ever rectify that wrong. In this connexion, there is a clear course of duty imposed upon every honorable member. Every article of food and clothing which these persons need is taxed. It is the declaration of every Legislature in Australia that it wants to settle people on the land. Undoubtedly that is the desire of this House; but we are proceeding in this fashion - that when men do settle on the land, every implement which they need to use is taxed. However disagreeable that may be to farmers and graziers- who are already established here, I venture to say that they will not feel the impost half so much as will the new settler. Both the corrugated iron and the timber for his house are taxed. Every implement which he needs for the development of his land, and every article of food and clothing are dutiable. Why? For the encouragement, it is said, of the manufacturing industries of the country. Up to a certain point we can give the manufacturers protection which will stimulate them to. greater effort, and enable them to employ men at good wages, so that they can maintain their families in decency and comfort. But the Tariff goes beyond that. It is unfair to the more important producing industries. Take, for instance, the duty on the stripperharvester. Originally the duty was 12½ per cent, ad valorem, and last year it was fixed at £12 per machine, very much in opposition to the desire of the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, who contended that it ought not to be one penny higher than £10. In spite of his opposition, Parliament, in its wisdom, determined that the duty should be fixed at £12 per machine. No reason has been advanced for again raising the duty to the amount for which the Acting Prime Minister contended last year, and that was £16 per machine. It is all very well for honorable members to say that we can fix the price of an article, but a great deal of such legislation fails when it is put to a crucialtest.
– The price is too high now.
– Yes. Human nature is the same all the world over -
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds
Makes ill deeds done !
If it is put in the power of a man to make a charge he will exercise, that power, and it is a very difficult matter for legislation to cope with. Of course, honorable members made a gallant effort to deal with the question, and claim they have succeeded to a certain extent. I grant that they have; but why have they so succeeded? Simply because for the time being public attention has been focused on this particular question. The manufacturers will be very scrupulous and possibly appear to give some advantages to the public while they know that its eye is focused upon them. Those advantages, however, will not be conceded when the public have been lulled to sleeps - when, in course of time, different circumstances tq engage their attention have been evolved. From a protectionist point of view, the Tariff is not one which commands our respect. If a protectionist policy is to succeed, it will be because it gives -increased employment to the working men. If it has not that effect, then it is a failure. Previously the attention of the Committee has been drawn to the imposition of duties on varnishes and other articles required in connexion with the docking of ships. What has been the result? Because of the imposition of those duties certain ships have gone elsewhere to be docked, and the men who might have been engaged in the cleaning and- renovating . of them have had to go without the wages which otherwise they would have received. I have a considerable number of letters from persons engaged in carriage-building, engineering, and industries of that kind. The letters go to show that their industries, instead of being helped by the Tariff, are actually being retarded. Some manufacturers, notably the carriage-builders, urge that because of- the increased price they have to pay for their raw material, thev will have to charge a higher price for their vehicles. The result of the imposition of the duties is to diminish the volume of trade, and every such diminution means a lessening of the sum total of employment to be given. There is no getting away from that proposition. From every point of view the Tariff has been strongly condemned from all parts of this Chamber. I do not propose to detain the Committee at much greater length in regard to these matters. I trust that when we come to deal with the items every honorable member representing a producing electorate will see that radical changes are made in the direction of relieving the unjust strain which is now touching people at all points. Amongst the letters I have received is one relating to infants’ foods. We all want to increase the population of the country, and to cheapen the food of infants. But what do we find? We find that a duty of 20 per cent, has been imposed upon infants’ foods’. Because of the imposition of that high duty, and the increased price cif the article, many a mother will not buy this kind of food, which, in many cases, is absolutely necessary to the preservation of infant life. That is not a small consideration. I carry my imagination back to the year one in the Christian era, when a certain king sent out men to slav the babies of the land. Here we have the Acting Prime Minister forcing upon us a duty which perhaps may bring about the death of many infants, because it is the means of increasing the price of the. very food which, in many cases, is absolutely essential to the preservation of infant life. I do not propose to go further with my indictment. I hope to see passed a stable Tariff on sound protectionist lines - a Tariff which will provide moderate protection on raw materials, or permit raw materials to come in absolutely free. Let there be a small duty, and as the material approaches the finished article, let the duty be increased, so that everybody engaged in the handling of the goods may be protected in proper ratio. In this way many industries will receive encouragement; and we shall experience the full benefit of that policy of protection which Australia has deliberately adopted.
.- I had hoped the other night that the Acting Prime Minister would inform us that he intended to introduce what is called the “ gag,” or devise some method of preventing the otherwise interminable orations to which we have been compelled to listen. If some method “of the kind is introduced when the items are under consideration, I am sure the Acting Prime Minister will receive support from all “sides of the House; and we may then hope to reduce the debate to reasonable proportions. There is no doubt that the people of the country are suffering in consequence of the prevailing uncertainty in connexion with the Tariff, and even a bad certainty would be better than the present uncertainty. I know that there is a general dislike to the “ gag,” because of a feeling that it interferes with freedom of speech ; but we must exercise common sense, and I trust the Acting Prime Minister will take my suggestion into consideration.
– Would not self-denial be better?
– It would be much better; but I am sure that, personally, I cannot be blamed for occupying much of the time of the House.
– We are exercising selfdenial on this side.
– That is so, arid I must compliment honorable members opposite on their discretion. Only a certain number of honorable members are to blame for the length of their speeches ; but when even the finest orator in the world “ spreads himself “ for four or five hours, it appears to Be almost an abuse of the prerogative of free speech.
– An infliction.
– Yes; almost an infliction.
– That is what honorable members on the Opposition side have been doing.
– I do not think that the Opposition corner can be blamed for long speeches ; indeed, I do not like to blame anybody in this connexion. Some are more endowed with eloquence than others ; but, still, I think that the speaking is being overdone, and that the wishes qf the country would be met if the Government could contrive to limit the speeches on the items to a quarter of an hour.
– A most unChristian act !
– On the contrary, I think it would be really a Christian act, seeing that it would protect a number of honorable members on this side from having to listen to much speaking that the country would be better without. I am sure I shall have the support of the Hansard staff in the suggestion I have made. We have to discuss . the Budget and the Tariff together, and do our best under’ the circumstances. I desire only to accentuate a few points which seem to have been overlooked or to have been referred to only incidentally. The most important point is the great need for the encouragement of immigration, about which we talk a great deal,- but in regard to which we never seem to do anything. The question that I have to ask is, where are we. going to obtain the money for the purpose of promoting immigration? The present indebtedness of the various States and the municipalities must amount to very nearly £300,000,000, and the private money invested from abroad in companies, placed on deposit in banks, and so forth, must amount to quite another ,£300,000,000. Thus we have, in round figures, £600,000,000 as the cost of putting 4,000,000 people into Australia. Now, none of us, I ami sure, think that the placing of another 4,000,000 people in Australia is at all an unreasonable aspiration; and I have estimated that the cost of settling those people here would amount to at least £300,000,000.
– Surely it would not cost so much?
– I do not see why it should not. I have made a most careful calculation, and, in my opinion, it would cost £500 to place a farming family of five on the land, or, in other words, £100 each.
Colonel Foxton. - In America immigrants bring- more than that amount with them.
– I am glad to hear that, because it presents one way out of our difficulty. I know that with our borrowed money we have built railways, and provided public buildings and much of the machinery of civilization.
– If we give people the chance to come here, some of them will bring money with them.
– As I say, that would solve the question to a great extent, but I am surprised to hear that the people who go to Canada are possessed of any such sum as I have indicated.
Colonel Foxton. - I was thinking more . of immigrants in the United States of America.
– I am much surprised at the information, because I understood that the people who are introduced bv the Salvation Army, and similar bodies, are penniless.
Colonel Foxton. - But the penniless people are compensated- for by those who bring money. ..
– Whether the money be provided by the individuals themselves, by the States, or by organizations, we require another 4,000,000 people in Australia, and a large sum will be necessary to pay the cost. This is a consideration which ought not to” escape attention. So far, in Australia, we have rather discouraged people with private means from coming here. That discouragement began about the year 1891, when the Labour Party began to be organized.
– That was when the banks all burst and stole about £27,000,000 of the people’s money !
– Stole it? I do not think that is so. I know that it is said that the land is so locked up that people are not able to find room to settle; but my experience is the other way about. There is plenty of land available in Australia for settlement of a closer character.
– A man can have 160 acres for nothing in Western Australia.
– It is an extraordinary statement that there is a shortness of land for settlement, in view of the fact that only 7 per cent, of the land of Australia has been alienated. That means that 93 per cent, ot the land is still in the hands of the Crown, and surely some of that 93 per cent, must be available, and might with irrigation be made valuable. To say that 93 per cent, of the area of Australia is of no use for closer settlement, and that we must re-settle the 7 per cent, which is now in the hands of private individuals, savours of the crying of “ stinking fish.” All that is required to make available the land which is still Crown property - some of which, I admit, is now under lease, falling in at various periods - is a proper expenditure on railway and irrigation works, especially the latter. I do not wish to blame the present Government for not taking steps in this direction, because they have to work hand-in-hand with the various States, and so far there has not been a great deal done by the States. The Victorian Government have been constructing the Waranga Basin ever since I first entered politics, some four years ago, and even before that. They do not seem to be getting much “ forrader.” It is like all Government works, in that it does not seem to be satisfactory work at all. The Government ought to take this suggestion into consideration, and see whether they cannot get some of the Crown lands used, before they re-settle the land which is being put at any rate to some use at present. What we ought to do is to follow the lines of the Canadian policy. If we did, we might get Canada’s results, which of late years have been most excellent. They are getting immigrants at the rate of about 125,000 per year. If we could do the same we should be getting far beyond the talking stage of closer settlement, and towards actual achievement. One honorable member suggested that it was the bursting of the boom, and the “ collaring “ of the people’s money in 1893 which caused the sudden cessation of the growth of the population of Australia. I think the collapse of the boom may have been partly the cause, but if honorable members will study closely the figures given on page 141 of the Budget Papers, they will see that the cessation of the influx of population to Australia occurred in the ten years ending in 1 90 1. The annual rate of increase fell in that period from 3.52 to 1.72. That might have been partly owing to the collapse of the boom, but it was mainly owing to the restriction of private enterprise. I am not blaming our friends in the Labour corner. They have their own views on that point.
– There was no Labour Party here then except Mr. Trenwith.
– The Labour Party started in Queensland, as I very well remember, in 1883. Mr. Tom Glassey was the first Labour man, and I do not think’ his colleagues treated him, too well.
– He did not treat them too well.
– The honorable member will remember all about that question. That was really the start of the Labour Party in Australia. They, in their wisdom, . think that the proper course to follow is to restrict private enterprise.
– Nothing of the kind.
– Their policy at any rate is to impose conditions on the employment of labour. I call that restricting private enterprise.
– Anything is a restriction in that case. Sanitary laws are restrictions.
– I am not saying that it is a bad thing. I rather favour the Victorian Wages Boards system. But until the employing class accommodate themselves to the changed surroundings, they are prevented from going into enterprises which they used to undertake. That is, in effect, a restriction of enterprise. I believe that, on the whole, we are working towards a better state of affairs. The Victorian Wages Boards system is quite the best which has come under my notice. It is the most pliable that has been evolved up to date. It enables us to meet a most varied set of surroundings.
– It saves big lawyers’ fees.
– Yes. I am veryglad to hear the honorable member say that. By means of Wages Boards, where employers and employes meet to deal with all the ramifications of trade, we are more likely to arrive at a real working agreement than in any other way. I am entirely in favour of industries being forced to provide proper surroundings for, and to pay remunerative wages to, employes. The only way by which we can escape Socialism is to see that the employes are properly and fairly treated. I am thoroughly in favour of that policy, but so far it has had the effect of curtailing the enterprise of the employing class. That is a common-sense view of the question. I am afraid that we are about to proceed a step further, because I have heard the Minister of Trade and Customs say that he is giving attention to what is called the “ new” protection.
– He will not give us any idea of what it is.
– It is very difficult to evolve anything fresh in this connexion. I deprecate the placing of any further restrictions on enterprise at the present time. If the Government will listen to a friend in this matter, I would advise them that the employes should be protected in their working conditions and wages through the existing means of Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts. Those are gradually working towards a more perfect system, and by them the working class can be protected without imposing any further restrictions on enterprise. To surround industry in this country with a wholly new set of circumstances would have a very deterrent effect. People would lose heart altogether if they saw that employes were to be protected, not only by the existing Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts, but, in addition, by an Excise dutv which could be imposed by the Minister of the day almost at his own caprice. That would be a dangerous power to put in the hands of one man.
– After listening for three weeks to this debate, I have come to the conclusion that everybody is so anxious to protect the interests of the worker that hardly any legislation is really necessary for that purpose.
– We are here to do the work of the country, and when 90 per cent, of the population are working people it is only natural that we should view their surroundings with a good deal of care and attention. I have taken a leading part in all these discussions and movements, and believe that we are gradually seeing daylight ahead. Nevertheless, if we are about to force upon the industries of the Commonwealth another new set of restrictions, such as have been indicated during this debate, enterprise will be curbed and the interests of the community prejudicially affected. The conditions of our workers can be well looked after under our existing laws. I recognise that, in order to fit existing circumstances, they will have to be amended in many directions. We cannot expect . them to be perfect at the outset, but gradually- an effective system will be evolved. If, however, we are to introduce a method of penalizing employers who, although observing the various laws now in operation, do not do exactly what the Minister of the day expects of them, people will be deterred from engaging in fresh enterprises. As I have said, I feel that we should endeavour to utilize our Crown lands. New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland have power to resume estates at their proper’ market value, and the 7 per cent, of alienated land in Australia can thus be dealt with if it be found that the road to settlement is being blocked. The remaining 93 per cent, should be dealt with by the Government by means of irrigation and other schemes for their improvement. We find that, after all, the Federal Parliament has not much scope in its measures to attract people to our shores. I am very glad that the honorable member for South Sydnev has plainly announced that the Labour Party favour immigration.
– In the abstract.
– In reality. .
– In the abstract, just as some members of the Opposition corner favour protection.
– When speaking to this question, the honorable member for South Sydney said last week -
The point is that we desire to see .1 large increase in population in Australia, and thai that increase cannot be secured unless we make land available for settlement.
I was somewhat inclined to think that our Labour friends were not disposed to look kindly upon immigration - that they took the narrow view that every immigrant introduced means another competitor against those already in Australia.
– They are gradually getting away from that idea.
– They have no such idea.
– I am glad to hear it, but one or two recent occurrences have rather shaken my confidence in the sincerity of their professions. On Friday last, for instance, statements were made in this House which seemed to show unnecessary anxiety on the part of the Labour Party with regard to the introduction of a few servant girls from England. That did not indicate very strongly that they were in favour of immigration.
Colonel Foxton. - And they are also anxious about the introduction of white labour for the cane-fields.
– That is so. The deportation of kanakas has displaced a great deal of labour, and the gaps so caused must be filled in some way.
– They say that there is an abundance of labour already in Australia.
– There is available labour of a kind, but the few at present out of work in the cities and towns of Australia do not wish to leave them. I have received from all parts of Australia letters in which it is said that the greatest difficulty is experienced in obtaining a supply of labour. I know of a great deal of work that is being kept back owing to the lack of hands to carry it out. When we remember that something like 4,000 kanakas have recently beeri deported from Queensland, and that the various States Governments, as well as private land-holders, are cutting up land for settlement, with the result that labour from outlying districts is being drawn towards the coast, it is not surprising that there should be a shortage in the interior. On the Darling Downs the greatest difficulty is being experienced in obtaining farm labourers for the harvest, and in the western part of Queensland it is almost impossible at present to obtain the services of drovers. If we have there another drought - which appears possible, although we must admit that this is the dry season - a great number of sheep will have to be shifted, and it is difficult to understand how the necessary labour for this work will be obtained. There is at present all over Australia a great demand for workers, and that being so, I am pleased to hear that the leader of the Labour Party is really in favour of the introduction of a steady stream of labour.
– Subject to the condition that land is made available for settlement.
– The honorable member for South Sydney said that that would be one way of attracting immigrants to Australia. As long as the honorable member believes that immigration is desirable we may safely leave the matter in the hand’s of the Ministry, for we know that it will be attended to.
– The Labour Party will not admit that there is a shortage of labour.’
-I think I can show that there is a very serious shortage. We can never hope for a time when every man and woman will be in employment.
– We want a Commonwealth Labour Bureau.
– The perfecting of the Labour Bureaux of some of the States might well receive attention. The Labour Bureau of New South Wales is certainly working well and doing excellent work, but that of Victoria sadly needs to be brought up to date. The fact remains - and it is almost notorious - that there is a great difficulty all over Australia in procuring suitable labour, and I feel sure that any system that would cause a large flow of population into the Commonwealth would have a very good effect.
– What ground has the honorable member for saying that there is a shortage of labour?
– That is our experience all over Queensland.
– I have just said that I have had from all parts of Australia letters in which complaint is made of a shortage of labour.
– Of labour that is cheap enough to suit?
– The price has nothing whatever to do with the question.
– What are the wages offering?
– They are wages which in the past produced a plentiful supply of labour. As the hour at which we usually adjourn is almost at hand, I trust that the Minister will agree to progress being reported.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Fisheries Conference-Resolutions adopted by the Conference (held at Melbourne 19th to 22nd August, 1907).
Ordered to be printed.
Mail Contract. - Copy of the guarantee of Messrs. Barclay and Co. given to the Commonwealth Government in reference to the recent Mail Contract.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I am very reluctant to intrude a personal matter upon the House, but in connexion with the papers referring to the award by the Imperial authorities of the Albert Medal to Diver Hughes, which have been laid upon the table, I should like to say that, when acting for the Prime Minister, I promised the honorable member for Coolgardie, and others, that I would take steps to have that brave man’s name brought prominently before the GovernorGeneral to secure recognition of his bravery. The papers do not disclose the fact that 1 took the steps which I promised to take, though I understand that when they were laid upon the table the Acting Prime Minister’s Department was aware of the steps which I had taken. I made the recommendation to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral that some special recognition should be given to Diver Hughes, and I have been informed that in placing the matter before the Imperial authorities His Excellency the Governor-General referred, not only to the recommendation of the Governor of Western Australia, but also to my recommendation as acting head of the Commonwealth Government at the time. I should be very sorry for it to be thought that I had been neglectful of my duty, or had not kept my promise to the honorable member for Coolgardie and others. That I may not be thought either neglectful or unfaithful is my sole reason for mentioning the matter.
.- I carefully perused the papers the other night, and my recollection is that they disclose the fact that the honorable member did everything that he” undertook to do.
– Hear, hear.
– I did more than is stated in the papers.
– I understand that the honorable member made a recommendation to the Royal Humane Society. I am not aware that he was asked to do that, although it was a very proper thing to do. I do not think that it was necessary to ask for the assistance of the Governor of Western Australia in this matter. I understand that all Commonwealth business with the Imperial Government passes through the Governor-General to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
– Honorary distinctions are recommended by the Governors of the States.
– That is for services rendered to the States. The bravery of Diver Hughes’ act was recognised, not merely by the people of Western Australia, but by the people of the Commonwealth, and therefore I approached the honorable gentleman as acting head of the Commonwealth Government. I imagine that anything that the Governor of Western Australia desired to have done would have been done by himself.
– The Governor of Western Australia communicated with the Governor-General.
– And the honorable gentleman also made a recommendation to the Governor-General.
– Then what is his complaint ?
– That there is no reference in the papers to the fact that I moved the Governor-General.
– My recollection is that the fact is distinctly referred to.
– That is so.
– I read the papers carefully, and I am under the impression that everything which the honorable gentleman was asked to do was done by him, and is recorded. If not, it is to be regretted. I thought that the papers which have been laid on the table disclosed everything.
.- Is it true, as stated in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, that the Government intends to abandon the proposal to introduce penny postage ?
– The PostmasterGeneral has said so.
– I Have not.
.- I do not know what wrong I have done to the honorable member for Swan. If his statement means anything, it means that I have suppressed departmental papers.
– The honorable member has suppressed something that he knew.
– I have not suppressed anything. All the information available has been laid on the table. I told the Under-Secretary to let me have all the papers, and I presume that he did so.
– He knew what I did.
– I know nothing about the matter, but I thought that the papers laid on the table disclosed all the facts.
– They do not refer to my recommendation to the GovernorGeneral.
– I think that they do. At any rate, I know nothing about the matter, and had no object in suppressing the honorable member’s name in any way. If the Under-Secretary has kept back any information, it has been done without my knowledge; but I am inclined to think that all the information in the Department is disclosed in the papers. I hope that the honorable member will not think that I have tried to suppress anything that he has done.
– I am not concerned about that ; but I am desirous that it should be known that I did what I said that I would do.
– That is made known.
– I assure the honorable member that I laid all the papers handed to me on the table of tne House. With regard to the intentions ot the Government regarding penny postage, I understand that a reply given to a deputation by the Postmaster-General was not fully reported, and thathad it been fully reported there would have been no misunderstanding. The Government have not abandoned their intention to provide for penny postage, but will bring a proposal relating to it before Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 September 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070906_reps_3_38/>.