3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– On behalf of a number of members of the Chewton Rifle Club, who are anxious to take part in the annual competitions under the auspices of the Victorian Rifle Association, I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether a supply of up-to-date rifles, or new barrels, will be to hand in sufficient time to enable them to be used upon the occasion in question?
– Earlier in the day, the honorable member was good enough to intimate to me his intention to ask this question. Inreply, I may inform him that 19,000 Martini-Enfield rifles have been ordered. These would have been to hand in sufficient time to enable them to be used at the approaching Victorian Rifle Association Competitions, but, consequent upon some alterations which it was found necessary to make, their delivery has been delayed, so that I do not think that their arrival can be expected earlier than November. With regard to the supply of new rifle barrels, I may say that when the shortage was discovered an unsuccessful effort was made to obtain a stock from India. There are only 100 new barrels in this State, and 1,000 have been applied for. Sixteen hundred have been ordered. The first 200 of these will be delivered in England during the current month, and’ the residue in October. They shouldbegin to arrive in Australia in October.
– I wish to ask the Act ing Prime Minister whether, in pursuance of his promise of 29th August last, and in view of the danger to be apprehended from the circulation of the report of Mr. Beale upon secret drugs, he has yet procured the opinion of a medical man upon that report?
– I have obtained the opinion of the Crown Law officers as to what course of action should be taken in regard to the distribution of Mr. Beale’s report, but I do not think it would be wise to lay that opinion upon the table of the House just now, because it relates to a matter which affects not only the public generally, but also members of Parliament. That is - the reason why I do not wish to give the information which the honorable member desires. I have not yet obtained the opinion of a medical officer upon the effect which the circulation of the document might have upon the public, from the stand-point from which the honorable member regards the matter.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister withholding its circulation in the meantime ?
– I am withholding its circulation for a time. I do not know why honorable members opposite are so anxious for the report to be withheld from the public, but, in view of .certain facts, I am withholding it.
Congratulatory Messages - Alleged Anomalies
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister is it a fact, a3 stated in the Argus this morning, that the congratulatory message received by the honorable the Acting Prime Minister from Moojebing was a “ fake,” and, if so, does he consider it a fair and ‘ proper thing to attempt to bolster up the Tariff with faked messages of approval ?
– In reply to the honorable member, I may say that I know nothing about this matter further than that I received the telegram in question. That fact, in itself, was quite sufficient to warrant me in supplying the information which I did.
– I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he is in a position to make a statement to the House regarding the intentions of the Government in respect of the Tariff schedule? I learn from the newspapers that it is admitted by Ministers that anomalies in the Tariff will have to be rectified, and, in view of the unrest permeating the community, I ask the honorable gentleman to make a statement as to Ministerial intentions, if he can adopt that course without violating parliamentary etiquette?
– I do not intend to revise the Tariff before we proceed with its consideration. ‘ When we reach the items of the schedule, I shall give honorable members the” fullest information so that they may know exactly what .we intend to do.
– The Acting Prime Minister knows perfectly well that he cannot carry some of the items.
– With reference to the reply which was given by me to a question asked by the right honorable member for East Sydney on 21st August last, I am informed that the record of BrigadierGeneral Gordon’s war services as contained in the Imperial Army list is not correct, and I desire that the following be substituted for the reply given -
Brigadier-General Gordon, CB., Commandant, Commonwealth Military Forces of New South Wales. Present at Karee Siding, Vereeniging, Johannesburg, Middleburg, Wonderfontein, .and several smaller engagements; was in command of column 1,600 strong, all mounted,- in advance - from Bloemfontein to Kroonstad; engagements near Broadford and east of Smaldeel ; accompanied Generals French and Hutton on the march- from Kroonstad - to Pretoria.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether he has any objection to lay upon the. table of the House the papers relating to the construction of the Brunswick post–office ?
– I am not aware that there are any papers in existence relating to that matter, but I will make inquiries in reference to it.
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he has received any reply from the Government of South Australia - to his communication in respect of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Act?
– If the right honorable member will be good enough to give notice of his question,’ I will be prepared to lay upon the table of the House to-morrow, the whole of the papers relating to this matter. As far as my memory serves me, the necessary papers have been forwarded to the South Australian Government, but so far we have received no reply to our. communication. It may be that the whole of the papers connected with the matter were not forwarded to the South Australian Government, but I think that they were, and I do not think that any reply has been forthcoming.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member I desire to state - 1 to 3. The honorablem ember is under a misapprehension. The Commission paid to the New South Wales Public Works Department is not merely for paying accounts, but for expenses of supervision, travelling, advertising, plans, &c, in connexion with Commonwealth works carried out by that Department throughout the whole of the State. The permanent officer referred to does not compile the statement of amounts due to the State, and could not perform the services for which the Commissioners pay without the creation of a large Commonwealth works staff, operating over the State, to assist him.
Refund of Duties - Manufacture of Wire Netting
– In. reply to the honorable member’s questions -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable gentleman’s questions, I beg to state -
The importations of wire netting for three years ended 1906 were - 1904, 3,287 miles, value£123,252. 1908, 8,853 miles, value£331,935. 1906, 13,855 miles, value£519,508.
So far as is known, there is only one factory, Messrs. Lysaght Bros., in New South Wales. The output cannot be stated, but it is understood that at” present the factory is capable of turning out 200 miles a week. In three months it would be able to do300 miles a week, and next year 600 miles a week, which it was calculated would meet the requirements of Australia. Messrs. Lysaght Bros, are prepared to enter into an undertaking not to increase prices as the result of the increased duty.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the Acting Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable gentleman’s questions, I beg to state -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting Prime
Minister, upon notice -
Referring to the negotiations regarding the continuance of the Naval subsidy of£200,000 per annum - Is there any correspondence supplementary to the papers ordered by the Senate to be printed on 10th October, 1906, and, if so, will he lay the same upon the table of this House ?
– There has been no further correspondence.
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether he has read the statement contained in the petition presented on Wednesday last from the members of the Child Study Association of Australasia that “New South Wales loses 4,800 under one year of age annually, and 16,000 children under six years of age every year, and of those who survive 37 per cent, are defectives, degenerates, and imbeciles”; and if he can say whether these alarming statements are correct; and, if so, to what cause are they attributable; and, if not correct, will he cause the statement to be contradicted?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
My honorable colleague the Minister of Home Affairs states that he has not seen the petition referred to, and that he has asked the Commonwealth Statistician to report as “to the statements therein mentioned in the honorable’ member’s question.
The report has been obtained and states -
The deaths in New South Wales of children under one year of age have never been as high as 4,800. The average annual number of deaths under one year in that State for quinquennial periods from 1871 to1905 was as follows -
That New South Wales does not lose per annum anything like 16,000 children under six years of age is obvious from the fact that the total deaths at all ages are not greatly in excess of that figure. Deaths under six years cannot be given, “as statistically the grouping taken is “ under 1,” “ 1 and under 5 years,” five years and under 10,” &c, &c.
The total deaths in New South Wales under five years for the last ten years are as follow -
It is impossible to state what percentage of children surviving eachyear are defective, degenerates, and imbeciles. The number under five years of age who are idiots, deaf or dumb, and blind at the census of 1901 was only 29 - quite a negligible percentage of the total children under five years who are living, viz., 159,000. Probably the 37 per cent, was intended to be 0.37 per cent., or 37 in 10,000.
– As a question of order, sir, I should like to have yourruling asto what should be done with a petition received by this House, and certified to by an honorable member, containing alarming statements, which are manifestly incorrect.
– The certificate of any honorable member to a petition which he presents, is simply his certificate to the fact that a certain number of signatures are appended to it, that it is respectfully worded, and that it contains a request. An honorable member’s certificate goes no further than. that. It does not touch the accuracy of statements contained in the petition, nor is this House in any way responsible for the statements contained in any petition presented to it. I believe that the petition to which the honorable member refers has not been printed. We accept no responsibility for the accuracy of any statement which it contains.
– Should I be in order, sir, in moving that the petition be erased from the records of the House?
– The only record in relation to the petition is that it was received. If the honorable member desires that that record should be erased, he can give notice of motion to that effect ; but, of course, he would have to obtain the support of the prescribed number of honorable members for such a motion.
– Is not the petition as read recorded in Hansard ?
-I have not looked up the matter, but I believe that the petition is not in Hansard.
– I will give notice in due course.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Customs and Excise Tariffs - Royal Commission on -
Papers respecting -
The “B” Reports as to certain items exempted by the 1902 Tariff.
Items upon which Reports “A” recommended no duty, but on which Reports “B” suggested a duty. (Amended copy of Paper presented on ‘5th instant.)
Ordered to be printed.
Public Service Act - Provisional Regulation - Amendment of Regulation No. 104 - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 88.
Consideration resumed from 6th Sep tember (vide page 2993) of motion of Sir William Lyne -
That duties of Customs and duties of Excise be imposed according to the following Tariff (vide page 1648)
When progress was reported on Friday afternoon, I was directing attention to the great need that Australia has for immigration. Honorable members will realize clearly that as the Australians are perhaps the greatest producing people in the world, they must be fully occupied at the present time; and as we hope to create extra work for our people through the instrumentality of the Tariff, and a proper system of pro tection, I feel sure that that extra work cannot be done unless we have extra hands to do it. This question of immigration is the most important one that Australia has to solve. I have received letters from all parts of the continent pointing out the great scarcity of workmen. I should like to quote from a letter that has been published in a’ newspaper upon this question. It is signed by Messrs. Sargood Brothers, who, in addition to being large importers, are now, I am glad to say, doing a great deal of manufacturing work locally. The gist of the letter is as follows -
Our experience during the last twelve months is that we cannot obtain sufficient labour to meet the demand. At present we have a large number of machines idle. We have consequently advertised and used every endeavour to obtain the necessary labour to keep all our machines going, but without success, owing to the scarcity of skilled workers. We are not alone in this respect, and our statement can be verified by many other manufacturers in this branch of the trade.
– What branch of the trade is referred to?
– The textile branch of manufactures.
– It relates to the making up of clothing.
– Thatis so. I think the statement I have read emphasizes my contention that there is at present a great scarcity of labour. If we are going to encourage, as I hope we shall, the expansion of our industries, where are we to obtain the necessary labour ? That is a point that deserves the most earnest consideration of the Government. If we are to stimulate the growth of manufactures, I am sure it will be our desire to do so in a whole-hearted manner, and, therefore, the labour phase of the question is one that we cannot afford to overlook. A great opportunity to secure an increased population was missed a few years ago when General Booth came to Australia with the object of arranging to carry out a great colonizing scheme which he had in hand. We thought at the time that he would possibly introduce into Australia a lot of the riff-raff of Europe, and, naturally, we were opposed to such a class of immigration. Time has shown, however, that he had something very different in view. I propose to read a short extract from an interview which a representative of the Herald had with General Booth, and which was published ori 29th July last. In that interview, General Booth is reported to have said -
I am now going to turn my eyes towards Canada.
The report continues -
Speaking of Canadian emigration, he said that after 22,802 emigrants hadbeen sent over to the Dominion by the Salvation Army, appeals poured in from every corner, saying “ Send us more people of the same character, and settle the under the same conditions.”
Then, again, a few days ago, we saw the following cablegram in the daily newspapers -
In pursuance of its project, the “ Army “ will buy ten townships in the province of Ontario, where it is proposed to settle the immigrants from Great Britain. The purchase of the land is conditional upon its approval by a joint commission consisting of representatives of the Salvation Army and the Canadian Government.
There is no doubt that the Salvation Army and similar bodies are valuable adjuncts to the carrying out of proper immigration proposals, and if another opportunity of securing the co-operation of the Army in such a scheme should present itself, we should not hastily decide to ignore it. Mr. Rider Haggard, some little time ago, was commissioned by the British Government to inquire into the settlement of immigrants in Canada and the United States, and I propose to read one or two salient passages from his report -
By this fashion -
That is by empowering some organization, be it the Salvation Army, or any other well-established and approved charitable or religious institution, to administer the loans and settlements under proper Government authority - the cost of local official direction, which would, I believe, prove almost fatal to the scheme as a business proposition, may be obviated.
This important preliminary step would be carried out for us for practically nothing by the Salvation Army. They attend to the settlement of immigrants who come out under their auspices, and look after them perhaps even better than the Government could hope to do. Mr. Haggard went on to say -
I, who have seen, know the truth in Canada, where, week by week, they behold this same Salvation Army disembarking its quota of emigrants, and taking them, thousand after thousand, without scandal or hitch of any kind, every man to the situation that has been found for him.
In a report on the same subject the writer says -
I would deal in support of our contention with only one of their colonies, viz., Fort Amity. This is situated 257 miles from Denver City, Colorado. It is on the main line of the Santa Fe railway, and has a depot, &c. The land was bought from the Amity Land and Irrigation Company. The amount allow ed to each colonist is 20 acres, every purchaser being allowed to make his own choice. The price of the land, without improvement, was £10 and £15.
Honorable members will observe that the Army authorities did not hesitate to buy land at a fair price, and it must not be forgotten that the land in question had to be irrigated, since the rainfall of the district was insufficient. It would seem that the price of land in Canada is really higher than it is in Australia, and, therefore, I hold that we should not be afraid to take action so long as we have satisfactory organization and management.
– Does the honorable member think that the price mentioned by him as having been paid for the land was $10 and $15 instead of £10 and
– The report states that the price was £10 and £15.
– Was that the price per acre or per block?
– That is a very pertinent question. It may be that Mr. Haggard was referring to the price of each block, and not to the price per acre. We have in Australia vast areas of Crown lands which by means of irrigation schemes could be devoted to closer settlement. Land so treated could be subdivided into 20-acre blocks, and would provide for the settlement of a very large population amid comfortable surroundings.
– Where is there such land inVictoria?
– There are frontages to the Murray from Swan Hill downwards.
– The land cannot be of any value, since it has not been mopped up.
– That seems an unfair suggestion to make. More than 93 per cent, of the land of Australia remains unalienated. Is it reasonable to assume that the whole of that area is valueless ? ‘
– Which would the honorable member prefer to possess, that which is locked up, or that which is not?
– I should naturally prefer to possess the land already alienated; but the question put by the honorable member is a most extraordinary one.
– It is not, since I assert that the good land is already locked up.
– Undoubtedly the pick of the land has already been taken up.
– Who, doss the honorable member suggest, should carry out the irrigation works ?
– In Canada and the United States the Government construct the head works for the conservation of water, and in the case of the Salvation Armycolonies the officials of that organization supervise the distribution of the water. Each settler has to pay for his. supply.
– Why is that not done in Victoria ?
– It should Le done. As showing the progress made, the total equity of redemption for thirty-two colonists amounts to £7,450, and’ the total value of land, live stock, improvements, &c, belonging to the colonists amounts to some £19,000. That shows that the question can be. and has been, tackled in a business-like manner. All we are doing is to talk year after year about immigration, which, I admit, is a grand platform word. Nothing rouses an audience more than the mention of “ immigration “ or “ irrigation,” and yet we do not seem to get any further forward. I should like to see the Government take really practical steps in this direction, leaving the lockedup lands to be dealt with, as they are being dealt with now, by the States. The Government should launch out, and see if they cannot get some organization to assist in “the work. I have no particular fancy for the Salvation Army, except that it could follow up the good work that it has done elsewhere. As a business man, I consider that it is always as well to see what people are doing somewhere else, and then to follow them and obtain the value of their experience. Then we can do the work in the most up-to-date fashion adopted in other parts of the world.
– And avoid their mistakes.
– And avoid their mistakes. That is the way in which we can succeed at the least possible cost. I should like to see some practical step taken now on this question of immigration. We have talked about it long enough. It is nonsense to propose to create a great amount of extra work when we have not the hands to do the work that is now offering in this country.
– The trouble is the dual control.
– The dual control is of course a very great trouble. I am very glad that the Government have provided, for this year at any rate, for the paymentof the Naval Subsidy of £200,000 to the British Government , for the protection afforded us by the British Fleet and the facilities offered for training our men. Opportunity is given for 500 Australians to be trained as seamen. Looking at the question from a mere bargaining point of view, Australia has made a very good bargain, but that point of view is about the last which any good Britisher ought to take. Still it is a viewpoint that must be considered. The £200,000 is money very well spent. We must make provision of some sort for our, local defence, but in that direction we shall have to proceed very slowly. It must be a long while before we can do the blue water work ourselves. Meanwhile, if we can get the British Navy to do it for us at the small cost of ,£200,000 a year, we ought to look at the arrangement a great many times before we cancel it. The agreement seems an excellent one. I do not .like it to be said that Australia is not doing her part. Statements of that kind always seem to be seized upon, I will not say by our enemies, but at any rate by those who are not friendly to us on the other side of the world, and are made a great deal more of than those who originate them expect. I notice a sneer at Australia in the last edition of the London Punch to hand. With regard to the launching of the Belle- rophon, a fine new British man-of-war, Punch states that the Australians have this time excelled themselves in generosity by sending a. bottle of Australian wine to smash on the bows of the ship. Of course, that is a very good joke, but when one is away from one’s country, travelling in England, as I do sometimes, that sort of joke hurts a good deal, and I do not like it. I always reply that Australia has done all that she has been asked to do. The naval agreement was drawn up by’ Mr. Chamberlain, acting for Great Britain, and Mr., now Sir Edmund, Barton, on behalf of Australia. No doubt they had the whole circumstances of the case and all possible information before them, and came to an honorable agreement. It was put before the Australian Parliament and ratified, and has been carried out to the letter. It is entirely wrong to blame Australia for not doing her part, because she is doing, first of all, all that she was asked to do, and, in the second’ place, far more than any other dependency of the Empire. Yet it is almost impossible to persuade anybody in the old country that Australia is. doing more than Canada in the defence of the Empire. I am. very anxious to see Australia make a start in naval defence in the form of submarines and torpedo boats, so that we may eventually take a self-respecting position, and; do our own fighting. Still’, it must be a good many years before we can expect to take the seas in anything like a respectable way. I wish to make it absolutely clear that it is to assist in the great work of the defence of the Empire that I desire to see the naval agreement continued, and also to see Australia make a beginning with her navy and naval defence. That will be in the interests of the great scheme of the naval defence of the Empire. It must be in the interests of the’ Empire as a. whole for us to have good coaling stations, well defended, and a fleet of torpedo boats and submarines capable of dealing with any chance cruiser that may come along. For the reasons I have stated I am pleased that the agreement with the British Government is not to be hastily cancelled. I desire to refer shortly to the question of the taking over of the States debts. One remark made by the honorable member for Parkes in that connexion last week greatly impressed me. He very ably brought out the fact that States debts to the extent of £80,000,000 have to be converted within the next ten years, and showed that the cost of conversion at present prices - the loans being at par, and having to be converted at a very much lower price - would mean, on a 3 per cent, basis, a loss to us of about £18,000,000. I think that is a little more than will have to be paid, because, fortunately, those loans are nearly all at a higher rate than 3 per cent. Therefore, it is not likely that we shall ‘have to pay such a large sum as ,£18,000, 000 for their conversion, even if the money market does not improve. Still, from that point of view alone, the question is one which the Commonwealth Government ought to take seriously in hand, and look straight in the face, because those loans are maturing, and if the money market remains as it is now, ‘ I can assure honorable members, as one having a good deal to do with financial matters, that it will be almost impossible to convert them at anything short of a disastrous rate. The question ought to be looked at very carefully. We have a considerable time in front of us yet. What we should do is to take time by the forelock, so that, when the due date arrives, it will not be necessary for us to go cap in hand to the money-lenders, and ask them to renew the loans on terms disastrous to Australia. With the exercise of forethought, I feel sure that the loans can be renewed on fairly advantageous terms. la the case of any future loans I hope we shall adopt the system which is now being adopted by the Victorian Government, of making the stock mature at short dates, but retaining the option to redeem it either then or -at any later period which may suit the Government. The public have taken up those loans very well at the same price as debentures that mature at a fixed date. The system has the advantage that the Government can choose the time when they will repay the advances. That is a point which I emphasize, in> order that there may be no possibility of its escaping notice when the time comes for the issue of any fresh loans.
– What about -a sinking fund?
– I have not gone very thoroughly into the question of a sinking fund, but I think I may make a suggestion. A suggestion has been made that there ought to be a continuous Commission sitting on the Tariff. Anything more awful for Australian manufacturers and merchants of all kinds than to have the Tariff question constantly ripped up by a continuous Commission 1 cannot imagine.
– Who suggested a continuous Tariff Commission ?
– That suggestion has been made by two or .three honorable members, including, I think, the Acting Prime Minister.
– Nothing approaching it !
– I am glad to hear that, because the continuous irritationwould be terrible. If - we do require a Commission, “it is one to ascertain how best the States debts may be taken over, and in what way advantageous terms may be made for the renewal of the loans amounting to £80,000,000 which become due in the next ten years. This is not a question we can expect a Treasurer, however able, to grapple with,- because it is one that requires constant attention. Mr. Bent, the Treasurer of Victoria, has certainly made most admirable arrangements, for the renewal 0 the next two Victorian loans which become due; but he has taken all the money off the market in that State. Nothing could be obtained from the Savings Bank of Victoria, because every penny of the money of that institution is hypothecated until those loans mature and are removed from the market. I am sure it would not be possible to get much money in Victoria, though I fancy Mr. Bent has had “feelers” out in the other States. In saying this, I am not betraying any confidence, because Mr. Bent has not spoken to me about the matter; but I may say that I have no doubt on the point. As I say, I know that the Savings Bank funds of Victoria are hypothecated for the renewal of Victorian loans which become due shortly, and that removes a great deal of the money which would otherwise be available. We are face to face with the renewal of loans to the enormous sum of £80,000,000 within the next ten years, and we are taking no practical steps so far as I can see - though the Treasurer may be doing something without letting any one know - to anticipate that time. I think it might be as well to appoint a small Commission to look into the matter, and also to consider the question of a sinking fund. I do not know whether the Government propose that there should be a Commission to consider the question of the transfer of the States debts, but honorable members of this House, including the honorable member for Kooyong, the honorable member for Mernda, and the right honorable member for Swan, have each gone into the matter thoroughly, and have afforded us very valuable information. This is not the sort of matter which can be settled in a day; it ought to be dealt with most thoroughly if we desire to save Australia from being placed in a very unpleasant position.
– Ought that not to be the work of the officials of the Treasury?
– The Treasury officials might do the work, but it would be hardly fair to ask them to do so, considering the magnitude of the question. I do not think the .House would be prepared to accept -the statements of the Treasury officials, unless they were indorsed by the Treasurer or a small Commission such as I have indicated.
– The honorable member recognises, I suppose, that until some arrangement is made between the Commonwealth and the States, the latter are likely to resent any interference with their debts.
– That may be so., but I think that one of the objects of the creation of the Commonwealth was the taking over of the debts of the States ; and in this connexion I am of opinion that the precedent of Canada ought to be followed. I know that Canada does not borrow a great deal; but I always feel that the Commonwealth stock would command a rate which cannot be commanded by anyState stock. One consideration that caused me to vote for Federation was that a good consolidated Commonwealth stock would command a price which would mean a considerable saving of interest to the people of Australia.
– Does the honorable member not think that Commonwealth’ legislation has lowered the value of the States’ stock ?
– That may be.
– The States will not come to any arrangement, and that is the cause -of the trouble.
– I do not think that we should pay too much attention to the States in a matter of this sort. We are here to do our work, and, under a proper scheme, to take over the States debts as the loans’ mature.
– Surely we shall arrive at a solution in a friendly way.
– I hope so. If, as the Treasurer says, the States are going to be quite unreasonable-
– I do not say that. What I say is that the States, so far, will not come to any arrangement. I do not want to do anything except in an amicable way regarding the taking over of the debts.
– The Treasurer is quite right in that desire. We should not do anything to irritate -the States, but there may come a time when the Commonwealth will have to do its duty regardless of what the States think. Of course, that time ought to be put off as long as possible; but I hope the Treasurer will look into this matter, which is of vital consequence. What the honorable member for Parkes says is, in my opinion, quite correct. If we had to renew the loans of ,£80,000,000 to-day, it might cost a very. large sum, though I do not say that it would cost £18,000,000. We do not desire to be placed in any difficulty such as I have indicated, because it would be a reflectionon our business ability. People would say that we Australians cannot look after our own interests ; and we ought to take care that that impression is not created. The honorable member for Parkes> asked whether Commonwealth legislation had not had some effect in depreciating the value of State stocks. The other night I said that while we’ are passing experimental legislation of a class which does interfere with business enterprises in Australia, I believed that that legislation would do some good. If the result of that legislation is to stamp out sweating and similar evils, and give the working men a proper wage and proper surroundings, it is worth paying a little for it.
– We only took the advice the honorable member gave us in 1901.
– I .am very glad to hear that. The final question _on which I desire to touch is that o? the Tariff itself. As honorable members are aware, I was returned to this House as a pledged protectionist; and protection presents my view of the position. I desire to see Australia do its own work as far as possible. I am, and always have been, an enthusiastic Australian ; and I do not think that any nation is complete without an iron industry. That is the basis df all other industries ; and I hope to see it fairly stimulated by our legislation. Then Australia ought to be the home of woollen manufactures. Whether Australia will eventually export woollen goods I am not at present prepared to say, - but, at any rate, we ought to give our manufacturers protection sufficient to enable them to cater for our own market. The question as to the amount of that protection is one we shall have to debate when the items of the Tariff are before us ; and I do not desire to deal with it in detail now. My view, broadly, is that the Tariff Commission, having sat so long, and having so thoroughly investigated the matters submitted to them - I am now referring’ to the protectionist wing of the Commission - -are in a good position to judge as to the protection it is necessary to extend to any industry. In the. case of woollens they have recommended a duty of 30 per cent. As they have gone thoroughly into all the matters with which they have dealt, I feel that if no reasons are adduced for doubting -the wisdom of their findings, I shall be justified in following their recommendations. I do not wish the Minister of Trade and Customs to give the Government away in this matter, but I feel sure that in dealing with the recommendations of the Protectionist wing of the Tariff Commission.,
Ministers, anticipating a good deal of trouble in carrying those recommendations, as business men left a big margin. It is very likely that that is what I should myself have done in the circumstances ; if I wished to carry a duty of 30 per cent., I should ask for a duty of 40 per cent. If I desired to sell a mob of sheep at 15s. a head, I might probably ask 16s. or 17s. per head. This is a very common ‘ business practice, and I have no doubt that it has been followed by Ministers in framing the Tariff. I believe that if duties at about the rates recommended by the Protectionist wing of the Tariff Commission are accepted, we shall provide a sufficient measure of protection to enable our manufacturers to do our own work in Australia. Dealing with the proposed duties on tea and kerosene, I think I may say that I was one of the first to recommend that” duties should be imposed on these articles and the revenue set aside to provide for old-age pensions. The idea has been considerably discussed since, and I need not detain the Committee by discussing it at length at this stage.
– Would not a land tax be better ?
– Hardly, I think, and I shall tell the honorable member why. When I was in the Victorian State Parliament, it was frequently complained that old-age pensions were continually referred to as charities. I think we are all agreed that when a poor man or woman is compelled to take advantage of the provision made for old-age pensions, we should, if possible, avoid the suggestion that they have become dependent upon public charity. I suggested in the State Parliament that a small duty should be imposed on tea and kerosene for the purpose of providing an old-age pension fund. I know that in the business in which I am engaged it is the practice to provide tea and kerosene for employes.
– The residents’ of Toorak would have to pay very little, as they use the electric light.
– That is quite likely. I think that in Victoria 16 persons out of every 100 who are over the age of 65 ) ears are in receipt of oldage pensions, and the other 84 would be contributing their quota by the payment of taxation on tea and kerosene to support those who have not been so fortunate in life.
– Are they not all contributing to Customs revenue now ?
– They are. But I think that if the suggestion I made were adopted, the taxation would not amount to very much, and it would do away with any feeling that persons in receipt of old-age pensions contributed nothing to the fund from which they, are paid.
– The duties proposed in the Tariff on tea and kerosene are not levied for that purpose at all, but in order, as far as possible, to have work done in the country.
– I understand that they are imposed with the object of having the packing done’ in Australia, and, from that point of view, I entirely approve of the proposals. Many circumstances surrounding the imposition of these duties require to be looked into, and I shall leave their further consideration until’ we come to deal with the special items in the. Tariff.
– Does the honorable member think that the States would agree to our devoting the whole of the revenue from duties on tea and kerosene to the payment of old-age pensions?
– If the Commonwealth took- over the payment of old-age pensions, it would be really a question of putting money from one pocket into another, and the States authorities, taking a common-sense view, would not greatly care whether the Commonwealth Government or they themselves did the work.
– The Government proposed, in effect, last year what the honorable member suggests, but, though carried in this House, the proposal was rejected by the Senate.
– I am very glad to hear that it was proposed.
– Certainly not. I did not vote for the Government proposal on that understanding. A proposal was made for the imposition of special duties, but particular duties were not named.
– I remember that there was some discussion on the matter, but I forget the details of it.
– It was a proposal for the imposition .of special duties, and not for the imposition of duties on tea and kerosene.
– I shall conclude my remarks by saying a word on the question of the new protection. It seems to me that protection does not necessarily lead to a rise in the price of commodities. What protectionists say is that when a protective duty is imposed, the result is to retain the market for the local producer, but that, after a time, and in some cases a very short time, local competition becomes keen, and the price of the protected article is not raised to the consumer.
– Prices have already been raised in Victoria.
– My father was one of the founders of the candlemaking industry in Australia, and, at. the start, it was discovered that, notwithstanding the fact that we had the advantage of a considerable duty, competition in the industry soon became very keen, and the price of candles went down.
– So it did in New South Wales.
– Exactly. I think that is the experience of protection everywhere.
– I notice that the members of the Opposition are very quiet while the honorable member is saying these things.
– I think there are a few topics upon which we do not thoroughly agree. As protection does not tend to increase prices to the consumer, I feel sure that it is not likely to lead to anygreat increase in wages.
– How does the honorable member account for the rise in the price of wire netting?
– That is an abstract question.
– I cannot go into every detail. It is possible that the local manufacturer of wire netting is taking advantage of his position.
– The price of wire netting has been going .up gradually during the last eighteen months.
– It went up with a jump a fortnight or three weeks ago.
– As the honorable’ member for Maranoa is probably aware, there is at present in Australia an enormous demand for wire netting.’ The present demand cannot.be supplied. I was informed the other day that the Australian demand for wire netting has overtaken the supply, not merely of New South Wales, but of the world. .The rise in price of the article can, therefore, be explained by the application of the law of supply and demand, and not as a ‘ necessary consequence of protection. Even if the increased price were due to the duty imposed under the new Tariff, it should be remembered that there is only one manufacturer of the article in Australia, and there is, therefore, an .absence of local competition in the industry.
– According to some honorable members, it is a monopoly which must be taken over by the State.
– I understand that Mr. Bent has taken over the manufacture of wire netting, and intends to employ prisoners in the industry. The questions raised by this and other duties are very debatable, and can be better dealt with when Ave are discussing the separate items in the Tariff. Mere general statements are not of much value,, but I feel sure that when we come to debate the different items, I shall be in a position to redeem my platform pledge to support a policy of protection.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [3.59].- If I consulted my own inclination, I should refrain from addressing myself tothe question before the Committee, because I recognise that it is in the highest degree desirable that we should get to businesswith the Tariff. We should do so for this reason, if for no other, that considerable loss is being incurred daily by the commercial community as a result of the dislocation of business and the natural disinclination to pay duties which, in the course of a month or two, may be reduced, since that would place those who paid the higher rates of duty now levied on various articles :at a disadvantage as compared with those paying the reduced rates, and might render the sale of the articles taken out of bond unprofitable. For those reasons, I shall .be disinclined to .prolong unnecessarily the debate. But there are one or two matters which it is due to my constituents that I should mention. I do not propose to traverse the very cogent arguments which have been addressed from this side of the Chamber to the question of the Budget and the financial position of the Commonwealth generally - argumentswhich appeared to me to be strikingly conclusive from the stand-point of the speakers. I allude more especially to the speeches of the honorable members for Parramatta, Parkes, Bendigo, and Flinders. I do not propose to go over the ground which they trod, but I desire to associate myself strongly with the views which they’ expressed. It is somewhat difficult to understand why those views have not been more fully replied to from the Treasury bench and the Ministerial cross-benches.
– We cannot get in a word edgeways.
–We have not yet had a chance to -speak We have been waiting for two weeks to get a -chance.
– There have been ten speakers from the Opposition side in succession. ; Colonel FOXTON.- I am sorry that that has been the case, and I shall look forward with great interest to the replieswhich will be given, if the promise of the honorable member for Darwin is going to be redeemed, and Ministers and other prominent members on the other side answer the very cogent arguments which have been advanced from this side. In that respect the debate has been rather a surprise to me, because I cannot resist the feeling that the Government are relying upon their majority.
– Brute force.
Colonel FOXTON.- I will not use that expression. Apparently the Government are relying upon the majority in the corner which constantly supports them in anything which may be brought forward, in order that they may be retained in office to carry out its behests. I propose to express a few views in regard to the Budget and the Tariff from the Queensland stand-point. I took an active part in the general election, and, so far as I was able to gather, the fiscal issue was absolutely sunk. There was no outcry for a highly protective or prohibitive Tariff. It may be aptly and tersely described as having been a contest between those who wanted to bring about “ Socialism in our time” and those who were opposed to the enactment and realization of that principle. In view of that issue, which was the prominent feature of the elections, the fiscal question was entirely sunk. I scarcely ever referred to the fiscal question. Sometimes I found it necessary, in reply to an interjection or in explanation of an argument which I was using, to mention the fact that I was a protectionist. Iam a protectionist, but I am by no means a prohibitionist. As a Queenslander, I hold that in any Tariff which may be passed we are not justified in sacrificing the primary industries for the sake of fostering those secondary industries which must necessarily be more or less exotic. That, I may say, is the stand I shall take in connexion with the details of the Tariff. At the general election we heard a great deal about the necessity for an adjustment of the anomalies which were alleged to exist in the old Tariff. But, if I can judge the opinions which have been expressed throughout Australia during the last few weeks, I venture to say that the anomalies in the new Tariff will far and away transcend those which were to be found in the old Tariff.
– We are bound to have a number of anomalies in a new Tariff, but we hope to wipe them out.
Colonel FOXTON.- In time?
– We hope that the Committee will remove the anomalies
Colonel FOXTON.- I shall deal with ithat matter later on.
– “ Anomalies “ is a very elastic term.
Colonel FOXTON. - Yes; it is nearly as good as Mesopotamia for some purposes. Before dealing with the Tariff, let me state the view which I ‘take of the financial statement. The most serious and disquieting feature which has been presented during the debate has been the light and airy way in which the Treasurer has intimated that it is absolutely impossible to continue the operation of the Braddon section. Upon the continuance of that section, or the substitution of a provision which will be equally beneficial to the States, will really depend the credit, and I might almost say the solvency, of the States. The fourth portion of the Customs and Excise revenue which the Commonwealth is entitled to retain is practically now exhausted. In only one year has Queensland received more than its three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue, and this year I understand that the amount to be received by that State will be considerably below the average amount which it has received, and which has been very considerably below the three-fourths portion. This is a very serious matter to the various Treasurers, especially the Treasurers of States which, unlike Victoria and New South Wales, are unable to manage with the reduced payments. I have had personal experience of the very great difficulty in which State Treasurers are placed whenthey find that the actual receipts from the Commonwealth are below the amounts which they had reasonable justification for expecting. Although the Treasurer says that it will be impossible to continue the operation of the Braddon section, still he does not say, nor has any Minister since risen to explain, what financial system, as between the States and the Commonwealth, is to take the place of that which was solemnly agreed upon as part of the compact when the Constitution Bill was accepted.
– There is good reason for that. They do not know.
Colonel FOXTON.- To methe position is most extraordinary-
– Of course honorable members opposite know everything, and we know nothing.
Colonel FOXTON.- No, we want to know. Ever since this debate was initiated I have been expecting that the request preferred by the honorable member for Flinders would have been acceded to, and that the Committee . would have been informed of what it is proposed to substitute for the arrangement which, the right honorable member for Swan explained the other day, was made the basis of the understanding which he, on behalf of the Commonwealth, and with the full sanction of the Prime. Minister, entered into with the States Premiers atthe Conference in Brisbane. That arrangement was practically agreed to by the whole of the States.
– it was not agreed to.
– Not only was it agreed to, but the right honorable member for Swan has stated that he had the written authority of the Prime Minister for making that arrangement.
– Did not the States Premiers accuse the right honorable member for Swan of intriguing in order to get the arrangement agreed to?
Colonel FOXTON. - That accusation was made iri respect of the proposed transfer of the States debts. I am speaking oi the adjustment which must take place in the financial relations of the Commonwealth to the States, if the Braddon section of the Constitution be discontinued or upon its expiry.
– One Acting Prime Minister has repudiated the arrangement which was made by another.
Colonel FOXTON. - The arrangement entered into with the States Premiers by the right honorable member for Swan whilst he was filling the offices of Treasurer and Acting Prime Minister was made with the full cognizance and approval of his leader.
– And with the approval of the Cabinet.
Colonel FOXTON.- Yes. Of course everybody deplores the fact that, during the whole of this discussion, and for a short time prior to the introduction of the Tariff, the Prime Minister has not been in the position to supervise the policy of the Government, so far as it has been disclosed in this Chamber,
– He said yesterday that he did not know that there was such a thing as a new Tariff.
Colonel FOXTON.- Of course he was speaking jocularly, but the remark illustrates the fact that for the time being he has been entirely dissevered from public affairs. During his temporary retirement, a new proposal has been sprung upon the House by the Acting Prime Minister, who declares that the arrangement which was entered into with the States Premiers at Brisbane cannot be carried out, and that the continuation of the Braddon section is impossible. The discontinuance of that section would be a very serious matter for the States.
– Surely the honorable member does not want the Commonwealth to be further hobbled? He must not forget that the States are represented b this Parliament, as well as by the States Parliaments.
– The Commonwealth has nobbled 25 per cent, of the Customs revenue of the States.
Colonel FOXTON.- As I have already indicated, the expenditure forecast in the Budget will- with the exception of about £100,000 - absorb the whole of the onefourth share of the Customs and Excise revenue which the Commonwealth is constitutionally entitled to retain. Yet, as part of the Government policy, other large expenditures are contemplated in connexion with measures which certain sanguine individuals expect to see carried during the current session. Where is the money to cover this expenditure to come from? If it is intended that the additional revenue which will be required by the Commonwealth - perhaps not this year, but certainly next year, and in increasing amounts during the following years - shall be raised by direct taxation, the dissatisfaction which undoubtedly exists throughout Australia will be intensified to such a degree that Nemesis will certainly overtake those political parties who force such a state of things upon the country.
– Australia will never submit to the duplication of direct taxation.
– Then the party to which the honorable member for Brisbane belongs will be on top, so that things will be all right.
Colonel FOXTON.- I should be very sorry to see any party come into power as the result of the infliction of such a great wrong upon the people of Australia. I am of opinion - and that is one of the reasons why I feel it necessary to raise my voice on behalf of the State which I represent - that prevention is better than cure,It is better that this state of things should not be brought about, even though its preven- lion may result in the retention of power by the present occupants of the Treasury bench. .
– Does not the honorable member think that there will be very little difficulty experienced in arriving at an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, seeing that they are both interested in securing a settlement of the problem?
Colonel FOXTON. - The question of the Minister of Trade and Customs is a very pertinent one, but the answer to it is, that whenever an attempt has been made to adjust matters between the States and the Commonwealth, friction has unfortunately arisen. As year succeeds year, instead of getting nearer to a solution of these difficulties, we are apparently getting further away from their settlement.
– The very course suggested by the Minister of Trade and Customs was being adopted by the right honorable member for Swan when the Acting Prime Minister repudiated the whole arrangement!
Colonel FOXTON. - Exactly. At the present time, there is a greater gulf to bridge between the States and the Commonwealth in regard to the adjustment of their financial relations than existed last year. If effect is to be given to the ideas of the Acting Prime Minister - if the Braddon section is to be discontinued, and if we are not to substitute for it an arrangement upon similar lines-
– The Acting Prime Minister has not said that.
Colonel FOXTON.- We do not know what he proposes in this connexion. The whole ground of our complaint is that he does not say what he intends to do. If he is going to break thecompact which was solemnly entered into prior to the accomplishment of Federation, I should like to know how far he intends to go in that breach.
– He cannot go further than the House will permit him to go.
Colonel FOXTON. - That is quite correct, but so long as the Government can command a majority of honorable members who are willing to listen to his dictum in regard to this matter, he can go very far.
– We have the numbers.
Colonel FOXTON. - Exactly. Reason makes no impression whatever upon those honorable members who support the Go vernment. Their one argument is, “ We have the numbers,” which, as the honorable member for Parkes says, really amounts to the possession of brute force.
– I have been waiting during the past three weeks for some arguments to be adduced by honorable members opposite.
Colonel FOXTON.- I think that those members of the public who read Hansard will be the best judges of whether or not sound arguments, utterly destructive of the financial policy of the Government so far as the finances of this year and next year are concerned, have been advanced from this side of the Chamber. The public will be the best judges. Possibly, I am not a perfectly competent judge, being, to some extent, a partisan ; but the honorable member who interjects, being also a partisan, is equally disqualified from forming an impartial opinion upon the point. The whole intention of the Government at this juncture appears to be to enter upon a policy of exasperation in regard to the States.
– I think not.
Colonel FOXTON. - I think so; and they appear to be regardless of the consequences.
– Does the hon orable member mean the policy supported by the right honorable member for Swan?
Colonel FOXTON. - No, I mean the policy so unfortunately supported by the party which maintains the present Government in office. Up to the point when the Prime Minister found it necessary to relinquish the active performance of his duties, he was able, with the support of the right honorable member for Swan, to exercise a restraining influence. B.ut now that the Acting Prime Minister has free play, without any check upon him, he has, whether intentionally or not, entered upon a policy of exasperation towards the States.
– Swashbuckling, that is the word.
Colonel FOXTON.- The mere intimation from the temporary head of the Ministry that he proposes, with the aid of the party which supports the Government, practically to wipe out the Braddon section of the Constitution, and to remove the protection which that section gives to the States, is enough to cause consternation throughout Australia.
– The head of the Opposition corner party said the same thing.
– The honorable member for Flinders raised the first note of alarm on that subject.
Colonel FOXTON. - I am entirely in accordwith the views of the honorable member for Flinders in that respect. But I am entirely in opposition to the views enunciated by the Acting Prime Minister.
– They are both alike.
Colonel FOXTON.- Then why did the Acting Prime Minister tell the honorable member for Flinders that he was talking nonsense ?
– That was with regardto quite another subject.
– I think he was right in that case.
Colonel FOXTON. - Besides, even supposing thatthe honorable member for Flinders was in accord with the views of the Acting Prime Minister - and we will make that supposition for the sake of argument - it would only intensify the evil by indicating that that honorable member intended to support the policy of the Acting Prime Minister and the party which is behind him, in reference to the iniquitous proposal which has been put before the public.
– One is a private member, and, therefore, to some extent, irresponsible, while the other is theacting head of the Government.
Colonel FOXTON.- Exactly. If any honorable member - even the honorable member who is so persistently interrupting me - were to give expression to certain views inimical to the States, it would not concern me very much. I should not regard it as a matter of vital consequence. But when such views are expressed by the acting head of the Government, supported by a majority in this House, and when he proposes deliberately to undermine the Constitution-
– Nothing of the kind; let the honorable member read the Acting Prime Minister’s statement.
Colonel FOXTON.- I want to know exactly what the Minister’s statement meant ?
– It is in Hansard.
Colonel FOXTON.- When the Acting Prime Minister makes such an announcement it is time for those who desire to see, not only the Commonwealth, but the States maintaining a condition of prosperity, to closely examine the position.
– Would not the honorable member do as much for Queensland as, any State member would?
Colonel FOXTON.- I would try.. It is this aggression against the States - I do not think that is too strong an expression to use - that has caused the uneasiness. In every direction apparently this Parliament has laid itself out to encroach on the functions of the States.
– As though the people of the States and those of the Commonwealth were altogether different peoples.
Colonel FOXTON. - Quite so; I shall have a word or two to say on that point a little later. The result is that dissatisfaction is prevalent throughout. Australia. Murmurs, and at times something a great deal stronger than murmurs, of secession are heard, not at the street corners, but actually in the various States Legislatures.
– The Premier of New South Wales talks of revolution.
Colonel FOXTON. - He does. I am not with him there, but the fact that he talks in that way indicates the feeling entertained against those who are respon-; sible for these encroachments and aggressions on the part of the Commonwealth. It must not be thought that the people who are expressing this dissatisfaction, and some of whom are talking about secession are anti-Federalists, or that they are opposed to the maintenance of the Commonwealth. That is not so. Some men who are taking a prominent part in the movement” of execration against the Commonwealth - that is not too strong a term - are leaders of political thought in the various States. Many of them are men who have hithero held aloof from the expression of these opinions in public. They were formerly as strong Federalists as any member of this House.
– They think that the Commonwealth is a very good ship in the hands of a very incompetent crew.
– They think they have a very good electioneering cry.
Colonel FOXTON. - It is not those who were opposed to Federation who are most prominent in this movement. It is those who have been strongly in favour of Federation, but who have been bitterly disappointed at the results.
– Because in many cases their own candidates were not returned. .
Colonel FOXTON. - The honorable member may speak for the little corner in the south from which he comes, but I am referring to men who have very much higher aims in politics than the mere returning of a particular candidate; I am, speaking of men who look at matters from a patriotic point of view, and above all, from an Australian point of view.
– What has caused the change of opinion ?
Colonel FOXTON. - The constant ten dency on the part of this Parliament to encroach upon functions which are specially reserved by the Constitution to the States..
– Name one instance.
– What tendency ? Mention a case.
Colonel FOXTON.- There are plenty of them.
– Will the honorable member name one?
Colonel. FOXTON. - I shall if honorable members will give me a chance to do so. There is no occasion for any display of feeling. A number of Acts passed by this Parliament - and passed not without warning, from those who opposed them - have, in the opinion of some of the best lawyers in the Commonwealth-
– The honorable member just now spoke of patriots; he now comes down to “ lawyers.”
Colonel FOXTON.- Cannot a lawyer be. a patriot ?
– It is a big drop from a patriot to a lawyer
Colonel FOXTON. - I do not ask patriots for legal opinions.
– A good many of the Labour Party are seeking admission. into the ranks of the legal profession.
Colonel FOXTON.- Honorable members have asked me to name one or two measures passed by the Commonwealth which constitute an encroachment on Staterights. To begin with, I “think- it very’ doubtful whether the Sugar Bounty Bill was “not an encroachment upon the rights ofthe State of Queensland.
– An encroachment upon’ the right’s of the State?- ‘
Colonel FOXTON.- It was a violation of section 55 of the Constitution.. The Bounties Bill which we recently passed’ is another case in pointy whilst the Excise TariffBill is yet another:
– Does’ the honorable member say that the Sugar Bounty Act goes beyond the Constitution?
Colonel FOXTON.- I invite the. honorable member to read section 55 of the Constitution.
– If we repealed that Act, what a howl there would be;
– The honorable member for Brisbane says that the passing of that Act constitutes one of the grievances; which the States have against the Commonwealth.
Colonel FOXTON.- When honorable members asked me to name one or two Bills in support of my contention that we had given cause for dissatisfaction amongst the States they practically challenged’ my statement. I have nothing to say against the Sugar Bounty Act in so far as it affects’ the question of policy, but it is a bald legal question whether or ‘ not’ ‘ thisParliament has not displayed a tendency to overstep the bounds which should properly’ divide its functions from those of the States:
– Why do not the. States test the question ?
Colonel FOXTON.- The question may be tested..
– I understood the honorablememberto refer to thepassing of the Sugar BountyAct asone reason for dissatisfaction” with the Commonwealth Parliament on the part oftheStates.
Colonel FOXTON. - Then the honorable member has misapprehended my statement. What I say is that the general tendency of this Parliament to encroach upon the functions of the States is a cause of complaint. Whilst this Parliament in its wisdom thought fitto give a bounty to growers of sugar employing whitelabour,it likewise thought fit. to levy upon theman excise of £1 per ton in excess of theamount of the bounty. There was nothing verygenerous about that action. I was not referring to the measure in question asconstituting a source of grievance On thepartof, Queensland, but I wished to, emphasizethe point that the general tendency of this Parliament’s encroach upon the functions of the States has given rise to the dissatisfaction now so prevalent:
– The honorable member is getting very near the glaciarium’; he hadbetter be careful.
Colonel FOXTON.- I do not think so.
To emphasize my point, I mightalso, have referred again to the intimation made by the Acting Prime ‘Minister with regard to the proposal of the ex-Treasurer to the Conference of Premiers at Brisbane.
– Why does not the honorable member quote the exact words used by the Acting Prime Minister? Thev are to be found in Hansard.
Colonel FOXTON- I remember very well the words used by him. Whilst an honorable member - I think it was the right honorable member for Swan - was speaking, he interjected that the continuation of the Braddon section or the proposition which the ex-Treasurer, on behalf of the Government, had made to the Conference of Premiers at Brisbane was an impossibility. Those were his words.
– Quite true.
– Quote the exact words.
Colonel FOXTON.- I have given them. I remember the interjection.
– Hear, hear; we all remember it.
Colonel FOXTON.- It is idlefor the honorable member to trv to wriggle out of his statement. If the Minister of Trade and Customs desired to reply to the arguments advanced from this side of the House why has he not done so? Why has he not openedhis mouth during this debate except to interject, and to interrupt other honorable members ? After the deputy leader of the Opposition had spoken, the Minister of Trade and Customs should have replied. Why has he sat at the table and merely tried to interrupt those who attack the Government ?
– The honorable member is on a bad wicket when he loses his temper.
Colonel FOXTON.- It is idle for the honorable member to suggest that I am losing my temper. It would take much more than what has occurred to cause me to do so. But one strongly resents the action of a Minister who sits at the table continu- ‘ ously interrupting, and who does not see fit to rise and say one word in defence of the Budget or the Tariff proposals of the Government.
Mr.Bruce Smith. - Trying to avoid the consequences.
Colonel FOXTON.- Quite so. He appears to be relying simply upon the force of numbers. It was hoped that Federation would remove many of the difficulties which were constantly arising between the States. To a certain extent it has done so; but at the same time it has created one more authority, and so opened a new field for friction, jealousy, and misunderstanding. I have not the least doubt that, although some of the States may not be entirely blameless in regard to the friction and misunderstanding which have arisen between them and the Commonwealth, the various Federal Governments have been principally ‘responsible for the trouble. It must be borne in mind that the creation of the Commonwealth was a departure from the status quo. It behoved every Com mon wealth Government to be extremely careful not to do anything that would create even the suspicion of a desire on their part to encroach upon the functions of the States. Their actions could have been so restrained, but unfortunately the States, almost without exception, have imbibed the opinion - and the great body of the public do not imbibe an opinion without some justification for it - that there is on the part of the Commonwealth a constant endeavour to encroach upon the functions of the States.
– But the honorable mem- ber does not think that there is such a desire on the part of the Commonwealth?
Colonel FOXTON.- I do.
– In what regard?
Colonel FOXTON.- Does not the honorable member know that throughput Australia many meetings have been held’ to protest against the Parliamentary Allowances Act?
– That Act does not encroach upon the powers of the States.
Colonel FOXTON- Quite so; but at those meetings there have been indications of dissatisfaction, on the part of the people with regard to other acts of the Commonwealth Parliament. The copies of the resolutions passed at such meetings and forwarded to the Government support my contention. Does the honorable member denythat there is a feeling of dissatisfaction ?
– I admit that, unfortunately, the feeling exists. The honorable member says it is justified, and I ask him in what regard it is justified?
Colonel FOXTON. - A great public feeling of that kind does not grow up without some justification or cause for it. That is the true test. No honorable member in this House is the judge of whether it isjustified or not. The public have that feeling ; there it is, and it has to be reckoned’ with.
– What feeling does the honorable member say the public have?
Colonel FOXTON. - Dissatisfaction with the Acting Prime Minister is one veryprominent feeling.
– That is not correct. The honorable member was referring just now to some feeling, and I asked him what it was.
Colonel FOXTON. - I shall not repeat the statement for the sake of the honorable gentleman. It must be borne in mind that the electors in those constituencies which are charged with being. anti-Federal are also the electors of members of this House. If that feeling of dissatisfaction exists among them, it will find expression eventually in the return of members to this Parliament.
– Most of those men are the fellows who were defeated at the last election.
Colonel FOXTON. - I can point to many who do not come within that description, and who are at the head of affairs in the States. Not only are those electors the constituents of members of this House, but the States members and States Governments, who are taking a leading part in this agitation, are in closer touch with them than are the members of this House, for several very good reasons. In the first place,, in every State except Victoria, where practically the same conditions exist with regard to both State and Federal members, the members of this House are, during a large period of the session, at a very much greater distance from their electors than are the members of States Houses. They are for lengthy periods dissociated from their electors except upon those matters which form the subjects of correspondence. The State member is in much closer touch with the people on that account. He is also in much closer touch with the individual elector, because his electorate is a very much smaller one, and, speaking generally, he knows practically every man in it, or something about him. That is not the cass in regard to the very much more extended electorates represented by members of this House. Lastly, and principally - and this applies especially to the States Governments, as distinguished from the Government of the Commonwealth - States members and States Governments, are in very much closer touch with the electors than are Commonwealth members and the Commonwealth ‘ Government, because there are only a few subjects upon which the Commonwealth Parliament can legislate, or which can be administered by the Commonwealth Government, affecting the individual elector. Shortly* put, they are the Post Office Department, Defence Department, and the Customs House. Apart from those, every other Federal power expressed within the thirty-nine articles of section 51 of the Constitution is indirect, and almost impalpable in its operation as regards the individual elector. On the other hand, the functions performed by the State member for his constituency comprise the thousand and one matters which are closely interwoven with the daily life of the people. These are a few of them, which I have jotted down - schools and education generally, land, mines and the Mining Departments, railways, police protection, public works, administration of justice, local government and the allied branches of administration, the Agricultural Department, rabbit and marsupial legislation, and numberless other items. All these bring the State member in constant touch with his electors. Honorable members maydepend upon it that, if the States Parliaments, Governments, and electors are crying out against the Commonwealth, there is something in it, and that a reflex of that opinion will be ultimately found in this House.
– I can hand to the honorable member a copy of Hansard containing the remarks of the Acting Prime Minister with regard to the proposed continuation of the Braddon section.
Colonel FOXTON. - This is not what I was dealing with.- I was referring to a totally different occasion.
– That is the only occasion on which I referred to the subject in detail.
Colonel FOXTON.- I was not speaking of detail. What I quoted was an interjection. Conferences of Premiers have been held, and I have heard it said in this House that those who took part in them were - I forget the exact expression, but it was something like “ traitors to the Commonwealth. ‘ ‘
– Who said that?
Colonel FOXTON.- It was said by some honorable member in the Ministerial corner, although I have not given the exact words.
– To whom was it applied ?
Colonel FOXTON.- It was applied to those who took part in the Premiers’ Conferences. The .statement was to the effect that’ the Conferences were anti-Federal. “Traitors” is a stronger word than was used, -I admit; “but I cannot at this moment recall it, but it was one bearing much, the same meaning. Those Conferences have been held for the purpose of adjusting matters between the States and the Commonwealth, and between the States themselves, and for resisting what the States Legislatures and Governments regarded as. encroachments by the Commonwealth upon States functions. I am in doubt myself whether it cannot be said that the mere fact that there has been a necessity for such Conferences indicates that there is something wanting in our Constitution. It is a remarkable fact that after nearly forty years of Federation in Canada, the first Premiers’ . Conference which has been held in that country was held early this year. At a dinner tendered to the delegates, Sir Wilfrid Laurier made use of the remarkable expression, that “ The mere fact that that Conference had had to be called indicated that there was something wanting in their Constitution.” If Sir Wilfrid Laurier were in Australia, and cognizant of all that takes place at Premiers’ Conferences in this part of the world, and of the necessity that exists for them, Iwonder what he would say about our Constitution?
– We cannot have anything better than a High Court to determine the limitation of ‘the powers of the Commonwealth and States.
Colonel FOXTON.- Quite so.
– At the same time occasional Conferences of Premiers with the Prime Minister ought to have good results.
Colonel FOXTON. - But the remarkable fact remains that under the Canadian Constitution they have managed to work for all these years, and that, when it was found necessary to adjust certain matters at a Premiers’ Conference, a man of Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s standing should give expression to the view that it indicated that there must be something wanting in their Constitution.
– There was friction in the earlier years of the Canadian Dominion.
Colonel FOXTON.- Butthat friction was got over without conferences.
– What good have the Conferences here done ? .
Colonel FOXTON.- Conferences might do a greatdeal of good, but they, are not likely to do much when what is agreed at them on behalf of the Commonwealth Government is repudiated shortly afterwards.
– There has been no repudiation ; the States Governments did not agree to what the Commonwealth Government proposed.
Colonel FOXTON. - If the Acting Prime Minister will permit me to say so, I am much more inclined to take the view of the right honorable member for Swan than that givenexpression to by the present, Acting Prime Minister.
– Thank you. That is very kind of the honorable member; but at the same time he is wrong when he speaks of repudiation on the part of the Government.
Colonel FOXTON. - It is a mere matter of opinion.
– It is a matter, of fact.
Colonel FOXTON.- I hope the Acting Prime Minister will not say that it is a matter of fact as between himself and the right honorable member for Swan.
– No; but it is as between myself and the honorable member for Brisbane.
Colonel FOXTON.- Not at all; I am merely quoting what was said by the right honorable member for Swan the other night. That honorable member and the Acting Prime Minister were at variance then ; but I had hoped they had composed their differences. It seems, however, that that is not so.
– The right honorable member for Swan said that he associated the one proposal with the other.
Colonel FOXTON.- The right honorable member for Swan said that what he had agreed to at Brisbane had the sanction of the Prime Minister.
– He said that the two questions were associated - Colonel FOXTON.-The Acting Prime Minister said that it would be impossible to carry out the suggestion of the right honorable member for Swan.
– I did not; I said it would be impossible to extend the operation of the Braddon section.
Colonel FOXTON. -That was the question with which the right honorable member for Swan was dealing.
– That is not so ; it is absolutely not so; the honorable member is mistaken.
Colonel FOXTON. - I do not make any mistake. However, it is of no use quibbling over the matter.
– There is no quibble.
Colonel FOXTON.- What was said on the occasion referred to, and also the proceedings of the Conference, are reported in black and white ; and the public may judge for themselves whether or not an arrangement was arrived at between the representatives of the Commonwealth and the representatives of the States for a continuation of the principle of the Braddon section.
– That is the idea I got from the report of the Brisbane Conference.
Colonel FOXTON.- Of course.
– The honorable member is wrong from beginning to end.
Colonel. FOXTON.- No, I am not.
– Well, we shall see.
Colonel FOXTON. - We have been waiting to see. When the Acting Prime Minister was ‘not present in the chamber, I said we had been waiting for a member of the Government, or some of their supporters, to reply to statements -made from, this side, but that the. Government had not said a word except by way of interjection. Qf course, in making that remark, I except the Acting Prime Minister, who was compelled to say something when he introduced the Tariff. ‘ Otherwise, no member of the Government has thought fit to reply to the speeches which have been made by pro,minent members on this side; on the contrary, honorable members opposite have, contented themselves, as the Acting Prime Minister is now doing, by interjecting and interrupting honorable members on this side.
– We are not obstructing the Tariff, like honorable members opposite. “Colonel FOXTON.- I am not obstructing the Tariff.
– The honorable member is doing so.
– The reason the Government make no reply is that they are anxious to get on with the Tariff.
– Hear, hear !
– It is time some of the members of the Government opened their mouths, anyway.
Colonel FOXTON. - I should now like to say a word about the Tariff - that bantling which has been born with all its teeth, and’ is now biting everybody all round. Apparently, no one has a good word to say for the Tariff. When a bantling is born, the nurse usually has something to say about it, but even in that capacity, the Minister of Trade and Customs has not seen fit to use the expression, “ How like its ma!” I find that the Prime Minister, when in England, at the Imperial Conference, used the following pregnant words in reference to the imposition of a protective Tariff -
The proper method was to study each industry and its needs, or each kind of production bv Itself in a business light, and to see how far it was likely to pay the country to foster it or ignore it. If it was a good business proposition the experiment of fostering it should be undertaken without fear. If it was an unattractive business proposition it should be left alone.
These are, I think, very excellent precepts ; but, so far as I am able to see, the framers of the Tariff before us, if they have not completely ignored those principles, have done so to a very large degree. The Tariff provides protection for even remote possibilities in the way of secondary industries, while primary’ industries, which have been shown to be natural to the country, are left severely alone, or are not -given anything like the same degree of protection.
– Primary industries are strangled. :
Colonel FOXTON.- Some of them are likely to be strangled, if my information be correct.
– In Queensland, too?
Colonel FOXTON.- Yes, that is quite correct. Some of the secondary industries which I have spoken of as remotely possible will, as compared with the “great primary industries, employ an infinitesimal .number of artisans. Yet those engaged in the primary industries are to be called upon to pay extra duties, until, at all events, these small secondary industries are established. That, in my opinion, is not a fair way in which to approach the question ; but the method may be accounted for by the reason indicated in a speech, made by the Acting Prime Minister ;i+ Wagga the other day, in which he said -
Since the Tariff has been published I have got experts in consultation with the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs, and with Mr. Lockyer. These experts are giving detailed information as to what machinery can be made here in a reasonable and proper way, and when -I come to theparticular items to which exception . is. taken I- can have . them rectified on the experts’ decision.
Now, the Tariff Commission sat for over two and a half years, and has done splendid work. Although reference has already been made to the work of the Commission, I do not think that the services of the members have received adequate recognition at our hands. In spite of the time spent by the Commission in preparing their recommendations, the Tariff was delayed from week to week, and even month to month, after the House met, in order that, as we were told, details might be completed. And, even now, the Acting Prime Minister, according to the quotation I have read, says that experts have been called in for the purpose. of adjusting the Tariff on proper lines.
– Why say that the Tariff was delayed from month to month, when it was. brought in within a month of the assembling of ‘Parliament ?
Colonel FOXTON.- I shall withdraw “ month to month,” and leave “ week to week.” The point is immaterial, but I was under the impression that the delay was for two months; at all events, we had to go on with other business pending the appearance of the Tariff. In my opinion, those experts ought to have been called in long ago if the testimony of the experts examined by the Tariff Commission was held to be insufficient.
– What would have become of the Tariff?
Colonel FOXTON. - What is done elsewhere with regard to Tariffs?. The present Tariff appears to have been prepared in a haphazard way, and placed on the table in a haphazard way, judging by. the speech of the Acting Prime Minister at Wagga’; indeed, it seems to have been .laid on the table in order that it might be formulated by the House. This is a most extraordinary attitude for the Minister in charge of it to take up. The revision referred to should have been carried out beforehand for the reason that in the meantime whatever anomalies there may be in the Tariff must be the cause of very great loss to individuals, and it might almost be said to sections in the community, during the whole of the time that the duties are under consideration by Parliament.
– We shall always be ready to remedy any anomalies as soon as we can get to them.
Colonel FOXTON.- Yes, but _ there would have been fewer anomalies in the Tariff if the experts who are being called in now had been called in before. They need not have been informed of the decisions which would be arrived at from their evidence any more than the witnesses who gave evidence before the Tariff Commission were informed of what the reports of the Commission would be. Had the evidence of the experts been read by the Government together with the reports and evidence submitted by the Tariff Commission, the Tariff might have been submitted in a definite form, for which the Government could make themselves responsible. Apparently that course has not been followed. Another expression made use of by the Prime Minister was that the Tariff “should be made palatable to all classes of the community.” That is a statement with which every one can agree. I do not know whether the Government are satisfied that all classes of the community regard this Tariff as palatable. I should regard the experience of the Minister of Defence at the Agricultural Show the other day as an indication that he was. in the presence of a very large number of representative men who did not find it at all palatable. Notwithstanding the comfort which I have no doubt the Acting Prime Minister will be able to find in the telegrams he has received from such important centres of population as’ Moojebing and Maningamarley, not to speak of Sacramento City, California, the honorable gentleman must be satisfied in his own mind that the dictum of the Prime Minister that the Tariff should be palatable to all classes of the community has not been given effect in its integrity. (
– The way to frame a Tariff satisfactory to all classes of the community has not yet been discovered.
Colonel FOXTON.- I do not know that so much annoyance has been caused by any previous Tariff submitted in Australia. I have seen several Tariffs introduced in the State from which I come, and there was never at any time anything like the amount of feeling displayed in connexion with those Tariffs that has been experienced in connexion with the- Tariff we are now discussing.
– The honorable member knows that in Queensland the practice was to put on one turn of the screw at a time.
– And that is the proper way. That is what is done in- Canada.
Colonel FOXTON.- I find that the Acting Prime Minister has himself been called upon, I suppose by some of his consti- tuents, to present a petition against his own Tariff. I do not know what the honorable gentleman’s feelings must have been when he did that.
– The honorable gentleman did it with a very bad grace.
Colonel . FOXTON. - I think it will be generally admitted that Australia has pronounced for protection, but I deny that it pronounced, at the late general elections or at any other time, for a Tariff such as that now before us, the leading feature of which, in regard to a large number of items, is prohibition.
Colonel FOXTON.- Undoubtedly it is. I take the case of bicycle frames, which I quoted to the Minister of Trade and Customs the other day. A thousand bicycle frames were or will be reshipped from this country after being landed, as the result of the duty imposed on these articles bv this Tariff.
– The honorable member for Yarra would not call that prohibition.
Colonel FOXTON- It was not a question of importing those goods from elsewhere; they were actually here, and were sent back to America or England, whence they came, because it would not pay to land them, since the duty imposed is more than twice the profit that could have been made on the goods duty paid. Another firm wrote to me saying that it was impossible for them to pay the duty imposed on a shipment of chairs, which they landed, and which amounted to about 407 per cent.
– The two duties to which the honorable member refers are in accord with the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, to which the honorable member has just referred” with approval.
Colonel FOXTON.- The members of the Tariff Commission are not infallible.
– The honorable member has been finding fault with the Government for calling in experts to supply them with information.
Colonel FOXTON. - I have complained that the experts should have been consulted before the Tariff was tabled. If the Government were not satisfied with the reports of the Tariff Commission they should have obtained the advice of their experts before submitting the Tariff.
– They were supposed to be considering the matter ever since the Prime Minister and the Acting Prime Minister went home to the Conference.
– The honorable member for Flinders supposes a great deal.
– The Prime Minister said that, all that work would be done during his absence.
Colonel FOXTON.- The persons to whom the chairs to which I have referred were consigned actually requested the officer of the Customs Department to burn or destroy them on the wharf, as they would prefer to .see them burnt to having to go to the expense of shipping them back whence thev came. Is not that an example of prohibition ? Other instances of the kind can be referred to later on.
– Would it not have been a very easy matter to leave the chairs- in bond until we had settled what was to be the duty on such goods?
Colonel FOXTON. -Apparently the Government have a majority of honorable members behind them who are willing to swallow everything put before them, and people have to reckon with that fact when considering whether they shall pay a duty of 7s. 6d. on a chair worth is. 6d. Apart from the view of my honorable friends on this side who are free-traders, it must be admitted that the policy practically, adopted by the Commonwealth is a wise one, because far greater advantages are to be derived from the operation of a protective policy over the whole area of the Commonwealth than could have been derived from the adoption of such a policy in any one of the States.
– What are the honorable member’s fiscal opinions?
Colonel FOXTON.- The wider the area covered by a protective Tariff the greater the benefit to be derived from it, since it means a wider market, and a wider field and greater variety of production. Even free-traders must be satisfied that this is so, because the larger area allows for a larger degree of inter-State freetrade. It is the free interchange of commodities between the States of the United States of America that has made that country what it is. In just the same way, and just as the scope of the market is widened, and the variety of products which ‘ are the result of ‘protection in the widened area are increased, the question of adjusting the duties equitably is made more complex. It is in. this connexion that I think the Government have failed to. rise to the occasion in the preparation of this Tariff. In some instances I can quote, the raw material is taxed1 at a higher rate than the finished product. I need not go into details at this stage.
– That is an anomaly which can be altered.
Colonel FOXTON. - There is evidence ot a degree of carelessness in the preparation of the Tariff when such items can be referred to. If duties of this character were carried, and demands were made for still higher protection amounting to absolute prohibition, the Commonwealth would find itself in the interesting position describedby some one who, when asked to explain the enormous prosperity which existed in a particular community, said that it was due to the fact that they took in one another’s washing. We cannot afford to agree to prohibition. So far as I can see, it is opposed to all true principles of finance. We must have interchange with other countries. We have our wool, minerals, and other valuable products to offer to other countries, and we must get something from those countries in return. A. clear adjustment of the protective duties at a rate which will be sufficient to encourage production, but not entirely to prevent competition from outside, should be the desideratum.
– The honorable member is getting on to a good wicket. I am with him now.
Colonel . FOXTON.- I am surprised to learn that the honorable gentleman is with me, unless he can explainit by the fact that he did not see the Tariffbef ore it was tabled.
– Does not the honorable member think that it is just as well for our wool to be made into blankets here ?
Colonel FOXTON.- Yes, but not under the conditionthat no other blankets are under any circumstances to be found in Australia.
– We want sufficient protection to protect us from the cheap pauper labour of the world.
Colonel FOXTON.- That is so, I admit, but the price to be paid under a practically prohibitive Tariff will be far greater than is justified by the benefit derived from the establishment of the industry.
– Surely the honorable member, as a protectionist, will admit that competition will regulate that very quickly ? We have all the raw mate- rials here
Colonel FOXTON.- That would be so if we had absolute freedom of immigration.
During the whole period, when the United States was so prosperous, there was practically no restriction upon immigration.
– The restriction are very much greater there than here.
Colonel FOXTON.- No.
– A man cannot enter the United States unless he has some money.
Colonel FOXTON.- Before a man can enter he has to show that he is not apauper, and is not likely to become a charge upon the country. The number of immigrants to the United States shows that the restrictions which have been imposed since that time are less than those which obtain here. When the Minister interjected I was speaking of a time anterior to the imposition of those restrictions. The great prosperity which has attended the policy of protection in the United States has been due to the fact that there has always been an immense stream of labour coming in to meet any possible demand which an industry might make as a result of its development under a protective Tariff.
– It is most de sirable that we should aim at getting industries established so that there will be a great call for labour.
Colonel FOXTON. - Some industries are calling out for labour now, but cannot get it. When we have a prohibitive Tariff what will happen? People will be paying an unnecessarily high price for the protection which an industry is getting. I forget the exact amount which a man has to show that he possesses before he can enter the United States, but I am inclined to think” that it is 20 dollars. Suppose, however, for the sake of my argument, that it is 100 dollars.
– I think it is £20.
Colonel FOXTON.- Perhaps that is the case. At any rate, before a man can enter that country, he has to show that he has a little money, is not likely to become a charge upon a charitable institution, and is not suffering from any disease, such as phthisis, which is likely to spread.
– If a man goes to the United States under a contract he cannot enter at all. Thousands of persons have been sent back from United States ports every year, and the bulk of them have been deported because they had arrived under a contract.
Colonel FOXTON.- That can be got over very easily. Whether a man be under contract or not, I hold that no white man, no man of European extraction, should be excluded from our shores if he. can show that he has a little money with which to start his new life, that he is not suffering from a disease which is likely to be a menace to the population, and is of good character. It will be necessary to go as far as that if, in adopting a high protective Tariff, we attempt to increase largely our industries.
– Under the’ immigration policyof Queensland the only restriction related to persons who were not in sound bodily health.
Colonel FOXTON.- Yes, and Queensland was never so prosperous as she was then, with a protective Tariff. That brings me to a point to which I have to refer, and I am very glad that the PostmasterGeneral is present. When the honorable member for Illawarra was commenting upon the balance-sheet and general prosperity of the Denton Hat Mills Company under the old Tariff, and indicating that there is no necessity for the increased protection which obtains under the new Tariff, I interjected a remark.
– We are not proposing an increased protection.
Colonel FOXTON.- Not on hats ?
– No, except as regards foreign hats. Surely the honorable member does not want foreign hats to come here ?
Colonel FOXTON.- I hope that the honorable member will not try to lead me off my track. I entered the chamber as the honorable member for Illawarra made that reference to the Denton Hat Mills Company. I interjected that they were unable to supply orders as they got them, and the ‘ Postmaster-General interjected that my statement was absolutely incorrect.
– I can instance a man in Charleville who sent an order for Australian hats to Melbourne, but could not get it executed.
Colonel FOXTON. - I am not in the habit of making statements which I do not feel that I have good ground for making. I should not have interjected as I did had I not been thoroughly satisfied that my statement was strictly correct.
– There are plenty of hat mills besides the Denton Hat Mills.
Colonel FOXTON. - I was speaking of the Denton Hat Mills at the time, and I had no information that I could give to the Committee as regards any other mills.
I had. my information direct from agentleman whose truthfulness I feel quite sure cannot he questioned.
– Will the honorable member give his name ?
Colonel FOXTON- I have no objection to give the name of my informant. I took down exactly what he told me; He informed me that he had called at the office of the mills, the. manager of which had promisedto supply him with a range of samples in a week or ten days. After waiting a. month he wrote.’ asking when he might expect the samples, to which communication a reply was received, stating that the mills were so full of orders and hatmakers were so scarce, that they could ‘ not deliver before eight months or so. He then wrote, saying that he would be content to await his turn with other houses, even to the extent of eight months. A reply , was forthcoming that the orders which the mills then had on hand were as much as they could cope with for many months, and that they were regretfully compelled, upon that ground, to decline any further orders.
– Did he try to get his order filled by anv other hat mill ?
Colonel FOXTON.- I cannot say.
– Because one mill may have done wrong, is that a reason why every other mill should suffer injustice?
Colonel FOXTON. - The honorable member appears to be . rather dense. I am making an explanation in justification of the statement which I previously made. I am not discussing the general question of hat mills. I have stated the facts as they were narrated to me by Mr. Kirkland, a Brisbane merchant, who occupies a very high position in that city, and who is Chairman of the Merchants’ Association there.
– I will obtain an explanation from the mill, and’ hand it to the honorable member. I have no doubt that it has a very good explanation.
Colonel FOXTON.- Does the PostmasterGeneral deny the truth of my statement?
– Not for an instant. But I say that the honorable member’s statement, proves nothing. A firm may have a hundred reasons for refusing to supply samples.
Colonel FOXTON.- The PostmasterGeneral does not deny the truth of my statement?
– Not for a moment.
Colonel FOXTON. - Then why did the honorable gentleman interject that I was stating what was absolutely incorrect?
– The honorable member’s explanation does not prove that the Denton Mills are refusing orders.
Colonel FOXTON. - The simple question involved is whether or not my statement is correct. The Postmaster-General has said that it is absolutely incorrect.
– My honorable friend misunderstood me. I did not intend for a moment to reflect upon his word. I merely desired to convey that the fact that the Denton Hat Mills cannot supply orders does not reflect the real position.
Colonel FOXTON. - If the PostmasterGeneral had put the matter in that way possibly I should not have taken the trouble I have to fortify myself with the facts.
– I did not doubt the honorable member’s bona fides for a moment.
Colonel FOXTON. - The PostmasterGeneral, having declared that Mr. Kirkland’s statement does not prove that the Denton Hat Mills are refusing to supply orders, I ask him, does he know a gentleman whose initials are H.A.K., and who signs himself “ pro secretary”? At all events, the following is a copy of a letter forwarded by the Denton Hat Mills to Mr. Kirkland: -
We were duly favoured with your letter of February 26th. We are sorry that you should have been disappointed at the contents of our last, but we would state that you are quite under a misapprehension in thinking that we had undertaken to send you a range of samples withina week or ten days.
Whilst we have ample accommodation and power at the factory to deal with a largely increased turnover, the difficulty is that the sunply of labour in certain branches of the trade is limited, and having already a large clientele in the various States we naturally study first those who have done a satisfactory business with us for years.
The orders which we havenow onhand are fully as much as we can cope with for many months, exclusive of the repeat orders that are regularly arriving, so that, much as we regret it, we are compelled on this ground to pass your firm, as were we to encourage you to send us orders we fear our inability to deliver to time, which would be a disappointment to you, as well as unsatisfactory to ourselves.
That is the company’s explanation of why they refused to supply his order. Lest another inference may be drawn from it, I may mention that Mr. Kirkland informs me that he told the people connected with the mills that he was prepared to pay cash on delivery. I have, I think, established the truth of my statement in reply to thePostmasterGeneral. I have supplied hint with that proof which he promised to obtain for me. Passing away from this subject, I desire to point out that Queensland has had a considerable experience in connexion with immigration. The result of that experience goes to show that, as a general rule, it is not practicable to put large numbers of men from the older countries of Europe upon the lands of Australia - certainly not upon lands so far north as Queensland - immediately upon their arrival, even although they may be possessed of farming experience. It takes them some years to become accustomed to their new conditions, and my own opinion! is that they should be gradually drafted to the land from industries which are overcrowded.
– Did not some of the earlier settlers at Moreton Bay succeed very well?
Colonel FOXTON. - I think not at first.. Even those immigrants who selected land in Queensland for 2s. 6d. an acre, and who had five years within which to pay it, had: in many instances spent practically the best part of their life-time before they got their heads above water, from a financial stand-point. They were compelled . to struggle for fifteen or twenty years, and during a large portion of that time they had to live upon pumpkins and wallaby - upon the roughest kind of fare - and’ were provided with covering which was verylittle better than that enjoyed by the aborigines. These immigrants were principally Germans. It is true that their pluck and stamina pulled them through, but, nevertheless, their experience showsthat it takes a generation to establish a family under such conditions. In my judgment, it is preferable to allow men to settle upon the land after they have acquired a certain amount of colonial experience, either as farm hands or in some other walk of life. In Queensland to-day we want labour, and cannot secure it. During thecourse of this debate it has been suggested that both the Excise and the bounty payable in respect of the production of sugar should be abolished, andthat a protective- duty should be substituted for them. Thereare many persons in Queensland who think- that the adoption of such a course would be an excellent thing. Others hold a different opinion, because, although they would then be at liberty to employ coloured labour to any extent that they chose, they argue that it is now too late for the Commonwealth to place the Queensland sugargrowers upon the footing which they occupied a few years ago, seeing that thousands of their skilled coloured labourers have been deported. Unless these kanakas were re-introduced, it would be impossible to put the Queensland planter upon the footing that he formerly occupied in regard to coloured labour. To supply the places of thousands of kanakas who have been deported, a few white men, comparatively speaking, have drifted north, and are doing well. Undoubtedly white men can do the work, though not all white men are fit for it. It takes a good strong man to do the work required of him in the tropical portions of Queensland, but still there are men who can do it, and it is worth while to pay good wages to those who are fit for it.
– Is not the industry on a better footing now than ever it was?
Colonel FOXTON.- Certainly not ; it is suffering from a scarcity of labour.
– The statistics are against the honorable member.
Colonel FOXTON.- Not at all. The labour question was a serious issue last year, and it is going to be still more serious this year. I know of a district in which there is a central mill where 30,000 tons of cane stood over.
– In what district?
Colonel FOXTON- In the Mossman district. The farmers last year had smaller returns than they had in the previous year. Not only has the shortage of labour had an injurious effect upon the sugar industry, but men have gone from the south of Australia, and particularly from’ southern Queensland, to the sugar districts, attracted by the high wages, and have consequently decreased the labour supply elsewhere. This exodus has partially depleted the Darling Downs of its labour. It was> mentioned the other day by the representative of one of the Darling Downs constituencies in the State Parliament, that the labour difficulty there was a serious one. He stated that the next harvest on the Darling Downs would be attended with serious difficulties on account of a scarcity of labour, owing to the fact that large numbers of men had gone to work in the. sugar industry. So that not only is the supply of labour for the sugar industry insufficient, but that insufficiency is having an injurious effect on other districts.
– North Queensland cannot be such a bad place when men will leave the Darling Downs to go there.
Colonel FOXTON.- They only go temporarily, attracted by high wages.
– There were no kanakas to build our railways in Northern Queensland. They were built by white men.
Colonel FOXTON.- I do not deny that. I am merely mentioning- facts, to show that within reasonable limits we require practically unrestricted immigration on the lines I have indicated-, to meet the requirements of our great industries. If we are to adopt a strongly protective policy which has the effect of attracting men to our great cities, and of enormously benefiting city industries, we must take steps to fill up the ranks of labour in our agricultural districts.
– The honorable member is not arguing in favour of kanaka labour?
Colonel FOXTON.- Certainly not.
– The honorable member’s party said that the sugar industry would go down when kanaka labour was taken away from the growers.
Colonel FOXTON.- The industry is certainly injured by our inability to supply the place of the kanakas by white labour.
– The output of sugar is not decreasing, it is increasing.
Colonel FOXTON.- That may be so in the south, but it is not so in the north, unless as the result of good seasons. The fact that 30,000 tons of cane were left standing is the strongest proof honorable members can have of the condition of the industry. A group of farmers connected with a Central . Mill would not have allowed 30,000 tons of cane to remain unharvested without good cause.
– That fact has been questioned in this House. The honorable member for Herbert showed that the cane was not left standing because labour was not available.
Colonel FOXTON.- How did he prove it?
– He said that the cane got burnt.
Colonel FOXTON.- Mv information is that it was left standing because the farmers could not get men to cut it. I am intimately associated with the undertaking, and know that the returns were something like 40 per cent, less than they were in the previous year, notwithstanding the better season. The accounts passed through my own-hands:
– Some of the honorable member’s colleagues, I think, said that the industry would cease when the kanakawent.
– As long as the industry receives a bounty from the Commonwealth it will be carried on all right.
Colonel FOXTON.- As long as there is a duty of £6 per ton on sugar, and the growers can get labour to cut their cane, the industry will stand.
– Even with coloured labour, in Queensland, the industry would require the £5 per ton protective duty.
Colonel FOXTON.- Quite so- in order to enable it to compete with the cheap labour of countries where sugar is almost exclusively grown.
– Where would the. industry be without this bolstering?
Colonel FOXTON. - Numbers of growers are going out of the industry. Of course-, in the more southerly sugar districts, the prospects as to a supply of labour are more favorable, but I am speaking of the extreme north. The Mossman Mill is the most northerly mill in Queensland.
– The honorable member is speaking of the part of Queensland where we were told that the white man dared not go.. But still he is there !
Colonel FOXTON. - The honorable member for West Sydney has stated that his party is in favour of immigration to supply the needs of Australia. But when any practical proposal is made, what do we find? We have protests from deputations against men being introduced to supply the wants of the sugar industry. The honorable member for Herbert, whose name has just been mentioned, stated that he could get 500 men in Melbourne who were willing to go and work in Queensland. There may have been a few men who were willing to go, but how many of the 500 to whom the honorable member referred were not only unemployed, but unemployable, even in the south?’
– They were ready to go, but there was no work for them.
Colonel FOXTON.- Theremay have been ho work at that particular time.
– They could not live on air’ until the planters were willing to employ them.
Colonel FOXTON. - The honorable member forgets that efforts to secure labour had to be made some months in advance. The men were not wanted at once. It was a very easy thing for the honorable member for Herbert to trot out the fact that 500 men were ready to go when there was no work for them to do. They were wanted at harvest time. Where are those men now ? There is; plenty of work for them, and will be for the next six months. Are . they ready to go now, or were the 500 mythical ?
– There is certainly plenty of work for them now.
Colonel FOXTON.- Undoubtedly there is. It is, however, a fact that opposition to an immigration policy exists below the surface. On the surface some honorablemembers are entirely in favour of immigration, but whenever an effort is made’ to introduce labour, there is on their part an attempt either to prevent it or to throw cold water on the project.
– By means of deputations to Ministers.
Colonel FOXTON. - That is so. Surely since we have in most of the States Wages Boards established, or about to be established, the introduction of labour could not be attended with any danger tothe labourers already here. To suggest that a certain man who is introduced on a particular day is going to compete with a certain man already engaged in a certain: industry at that particular time is to take: a short-sighted view of the situation. The. immigration into the United States last year totalled, I think, 1,050,000, and I saw the other day a statement that these immigrants carried with them an average of£500 per head. We know, of course, that a very large number had in their possession nothing like that sum of money.
– The shipload of which I formed a part was in a very different position. I do not suppose that we had amongst us 500 shillings. .
Colonel FOXTON.- But other immigrants who came out by different vessels during the same year would go to make up the average. At all events, the figures I have quoted show, even though greatly over-estimated or’ exaggerated, that if we) like the United States of America, had an almost unrestricted stream of immigration - if we welcomed men from all parts to our shores- we should” have people coming here with- capital to give employment to the additional labour so obtained. If the actual amount per head were only onetenth of that I have mentioned, and, personally, I should think that would be much nearer the mark, it would mean that in one year no less a sum than £50,000,000 sterling was introduced by immigrants into that” country. 1 confess that I quote these figures with some degree of diffidence, since I have not been able to verify them from officialdocuments, but they constitute a remarkable object lesson to us. Canada is in the same happy position, for last year she had,’ I think, over 200,000 immigrants, whilst in ten years the population of the Argentine by immigration alone has increased by no less than 1,000,000.
– What is the basis of the calculation as to the capital introduced into the United States of America by immigrants to which the honorable member has just referred? Would every one entering the United States be classed as an immigrant ?
Colonel FOXTON. - I do not know on what basis the estimate was made. No doubt many whose capital was included in the calculation would not be pleased to be described as immigrants; there may have been a millionaire or two among the number. Quite possibly the immigrants may have included manufacturers or others in a large way of business, who were transferring their operations and their capital from the old world to the new, with the object of carrying on their industry where adequate labour was available. A full supply of labour can be obtained only by a practically unrestricted, even though properly safeguarded, system of immigration.
– Many of the people referred to were not immigrants in the sense in which we understand the term. I dare say they were not what are known as assisted immigrants?
Colonel FOXTON.- That is so. As I have said, with the creation of Wages Boards there should be no dread of the advent of more workers to Australia. Immediately these newcomers land they practically create wealth. They may for the time being come into competition with a few others, but in the long run every one will benefit by their coming here. The moment an immigrant lands he begins to employ some one, if it be only a carter to carry his baggage from the steamer to his lodgings. Then he has to pay for his lodgings, and so indirectly gives employment to others. A large stream of im migrants, bringing, some of them, much money, and others very little, means a constant supply of labour, which will always induce the investment of capital. To attempt to prevent the introduction of desirable immigrants would be to strangle industries, and so to render them unable to satisfy the demands expected to be made upon them under the new Tariff. Coming to the scheme of new protection which has been suggested, I fail to see that it would work successfully. We all know what has been the result of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act, passed last year. No one will say that it has been a success. As a matter of fact, it is not being administered. It is almost impossible,I should imagine, to administer it with the machinery at the disposal of the Government. It is being carried out by the Department of Trade and Customs, but the agricultural implements to which it relates are being manufactured throughout the interior of the Commonwealth, in many cases, where no Excise officers are to be found. They are being made in many small establishments, but, in the aggregate, a very considerable number of these implements are being manufactured far from the seaboard. In reply to questions put to the Minister, I have ascertained that no record is kept of those who are manufacturing these implements. Every maker of them ought to be paying the Excise duty of 12½ per cent, imposed under the Act, unless he has actually proved to the Department that he is paying the standard rate of wages. No attempt, however, has been made, so far as I know, to collect that duty. The only possible way of satisfactorily carrying out such’ a scheme is that adopted in connexion with the sugar industry. In other words, every manufacturer of agricultural implements dealt with by the Act should be called upon to pay the Excise duty, and the Excise so paid - or the greater part of it, as in connexion with the sugar industry - should be returned by way of bounty to those who comply with the conditions as to labour.
– The honorable member agrees with the principle that the workers should receive some share of the protection granted to manufacturers?
Colonel FOXTON. - Undoubtedly, I do; but I do not think that the method adopted is practicable. The Wages Boards ought to be able to grapple with the question..
– In several of the . States no Wages Board exists.
Colonel FOXTON. - But all the’ States may adopt the system. Queensland is now passing a Bill providing for its introduction into that State.
– Tasmania has no Wages Board.
Colonel FOXTON. - No doubt she soon will have such a system ; but the difficulty caused by the absence of a Wages Board may be obviated. The point is that if the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act, dealing as it does with only a wry limited branch of an industry, breaks down, an attempt to apply the system to the whole of the protected industries, of Australia must necessarily break down under ‘its own weight. It would be practically impossible to administer such a scheme.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
Colonel FOXTON. - It is difficult to suggest a remedy. The moment we ignore the operation of the law of supply and demand we are faced with difficulties,, and, apparently, the more we attempt to legislate with a view of overcoming that difficulty the greater are the obstacles that confront us as a result of that further legislation. I have been somewhat puzzled with one aspect of the sugar bounties question. The estimated revenue from Excise for 1907-8 .at £4 a ton is ,£746,000. That is payable on all sugar produced, so that the estimated yield from the sugar harvest, whether produced by black or white labour, is, presumably, 186,500 tons. Of the estimated revenue of £746,000, one quarter, or £186,500, is retained by the Commonwealth, and three-fourths, or £559,500, is returned to States. That, however, is by the way. It is estimated that a total sum of ,£573,000 will be disbursed as bounty for the year 1907-8. The bounty is at the rate of /[$ per ton, and, therefore, presumably will be paid on a total production of 191,000 tons, or 4,500 tons in excess of the whole product on which it is estimated that Excise will- be paid. I cannot understand the discrepancy. The question of whether the sugar is grown by black or white labour does not explain it. The bounty is payable only on “ whitegrown “ sugar.
– 4s the honorable member reckoning in tlie New South Wales product?
Colonel FOXTON.- I presume that the New South Wales yield is included in both cases.
– What page of the Estimates is the honorable member quoting from?
Colonel FOXTON.- I took the figures from the Estimates, but I have not made a note of the page.
– There must be some mistake in the figures-
– The estimated product for next year, including New South Wales and Queensland, is 198,000 tons.
Colonel FOXTON.- The Government expect to pay the bounty on only 191,000 tons. However, I thought possibly some explanation would be forthcoming from the Minister.
– I shall be glad to obtain an explanation and give it to the honorable member.
Colonel FOXTON.- It will be of value to those who take an interest in the sugar industry. Although I have criticised the principle which appears to underlie the Tariff as submitted to this Committee, and although I am opposed to anything in the nature of prohibition, I shall certainly do my best to assist in framing a Tariff which will give a fair measure of protection to secondary or manufacturing industries, so long as the primary industries, which are those in which the State from which I come is- more particularly interested, are not hampered.
– Will not the honorable member consider the primary industries of other States?
Colonel FOXTON.- Certainly ; I shall give consideration to all primary industries. I said that my own State is particularly interested in the encouragement of those primary industries, and must be so for many years to come. I speak of the industries which have relation to production from the land through agriculture, pastoral pursuits, and mining. As an indication of what perhaps would be called an anomaly in the Tariff, and therefore capable of easy correction, I may mention that not only are the tanners in Queensland, as a body, opposed to the proposed duty on leather, but so also are the boot and shoe makers. They have met together and agreed to joint resolutions condemning the Tariff as it stands. Too much protection has been given to the tanners, and they recognise that the proposed duties will practically stifle the bootmaking industry in Queensland, unless the duty on boots is further raised. There are many such anomalies.
– Do they want the duty on boots increased?
Colonel FOXTON. - No, they want the duty on leather reduced.
– What kind of leather ?
Colonel FOXTON.- I cannot say at this moment.
– It is all-important.
Colonel FOXTON.- At all events, it is the leather which is covered by a duty that they consider excessive.
– The tanners asked for a higher duty, at any rate.
Colonel FOXTON.- They are asking now that it should be reduced.
– That is through the pressure of the bootmakers.
Colonel FOXTON. - I do not think so.
– I know all about it.
Colonel FOXTON. - That is what they are asking for, and they ought to know their own business best. Taking it all round, I feel very much inclined - subject always to the proviso as to the special conservation of the interests of the primary industries, where ‘a departure from the Tariff Commission’s reports is required - to support as a general rule the recommendations which the protectionist section of the Commission have made.
.- When first Federation was advocated, I understood that it was to be in the interests of all Australia, but in the information received from all parts of the Continent within the last few weeks we have evidence that people are very much dissatisfied. I trust that honorable members, in dealing with the Tariff and other proposals brought before us, will endeavour to create a better feeling on the part of the people towards Federation. There is no doubt that the union was intended to promote the interests of Australia ; but. from what I have seen here, I think we are reallylegislating for the good of Melbourne and Sydney. No doubt these are two large and important cities, but we must not forget that the welfare of Australia, as a whole,, is of paramount importance. One would think, sometimes, from hearing debates in this House, that Melbourne and Sydney were in no way dependent on the country. But we must all acknowledge that the people of the towns feel a drought just as much and as quickly as do the people in the country - that if the country is not pros perous the towns cannot be prosperous. As a matter of fact, we, in Australia, are all dependent on our primary industries. I am a protectionist, but I have never advocated, and never shall advocate, any legislation which would have the effect of in any way injuring our primary industries, because I fail to see how any country can be prosperous where the legislation is prejudicial to what is really the basis of our wealth. Of course, as a protectionist, I believe in the establishment of industries, and shall always be found voting in favour of legislation which has that object. No one oan saiy that Australia requires more than reasonable protection ; and when I use the word “ reasonable,” I mean protection that will not injure the primary industries.
– So that is the honorable member’s definition of reasonable protection ?
– I should say that it is the only sensible definition.
– I am pleased to hear it.
– If a man defines protection as something to injure the primary industries, he would be mad to advocate the policy. I may be wrong in my definition, but I shall adhere to it until it is proved to be wrong.
– I think it is a capital definition.
– Until we have power, by legislation, to increase the value of our wool, wheat, flour, meat, butter, and also our gold, silver, lead, copper, tin, and other minerals, which we send for sale in the markets of the world, we cannot afford to harass theproducers of those commodities. To harass those producers means to injure our own country, and pettifogging legislation, which keeps the community in such a state of uncertainty that people do not really know what to expect next, is not, and cannot be, in the best interests of Australia. We, in the Opposition corner, have been accused of depreciating Australia; but I have never heard one word here to justify such an accusation.
– Who made the accusation ?
– The honorable member for West Sydney did so on several occasions. I thought the question might be asked, and I made a note of the fact. I know too much of Australia to think of depreciating the country in any way. We have the most magnificent resources of any country in the world; theseexist not only in one direction, but in many. There is gold in all the States, especially in Western Australia, in the northwest of which large gold and tin mining areas are being opened up in districts which were little thought of a few years ago. The honorable member for Coolgardie, in whose electorate these areas are, will bear me out in my statement. Then, I suppose, there is no country in the world with such magnificent iron ore deposits as lie untouched in Australia. I hear that on the north-west coast of Western Australia there is a huge deposit. We all know of the deposits in Tasmania, of the Iron Knob in South Australia, and of similar wealth in New South Wales. Up to ‘the present, little or nothing has been done to develop those valuable deposits; but I hope that some action will be taken before long. I suppose that Australia produces the best wool in the world ; and taking them altogether we should be proud of its vast resources. So far from depreciating Australia, I am so satisfied with it, after a residence of nearly thirty years, that I am not likely to move on the chance of finding a better country. We require chiefly men. of energy and pluck, and the more we leave our primary producers alone, the more prosperous they will be.
– Would the honorable member say the same of manufacturers?
– That is another proposition, with which I have not yet dealt. It has been pointed out that only 7 per cent. of the land in Australia is alienated - that . 93 per cent, yet belongs to the Crown.
– Central Australia.
– I shall deal with Central Australia. When we consider that the. water that flows out of Australia at Goolwa flows from North Queensland over, I suppose, the greatest distance that water can flow in Australia, we can realize the huge areas which, though now only sheep runs, might be irrigated, and thus afford employment to thousands of people. The production of wheat and other cereals is a big industry, which is yet only in its infancy, for, in my opinion, cereals can be grown in huge areas where at present there is an idea that their cultivation is impossible. In Western Australia, only ten years ago, wheat was being grown as far east as Northam; but I can assure honorable members that now there are splendid crops 100 miles nearer the gold-fields-
– I saw some wheat being grown at Kalgoorlie.
– Wheat can be seen growing at Kalgoorlie as well as anywhere else. Possibly the largest area in Australia of land suitable for wheatgrowing is to be found in Western Australia. At the present time, in that State, light railways for the development of the country are being constructed, and I feel quite certain that it will yet be one of the largest wheat-producing States in the Commonwealth. I speak from actual knowledge of the country, and not of what I have been told, or of what I have read. I was. at Broken Hill in the early days, and at Kalgoorlie shortly after it was discovered, and I have seen the more recently discovered mineral deposits to which I have already referred. Settlement in Australia must experience the phases through which it passes in other countries, and it cannot be forced. First of all, the land is devoted to the rearing of sheep and cattle, then, as the country becomes more settled, various forms of agriculture are developed, and, as population increases, we must go in for manufactures to provide employment for our people. Honorable members will admit that it is in the best interests of the Commonwealth that as much of our land as possible should be utilized, and that as many of our people as possible shouldbe engaged in production from the land. We do not want people to flock to the towns in any greater number than we can possibly help. Personally, I should like to see one-half of the people who are now living in the towns of the Commonwealth scattered over lands that are not being utilized.
– The honorable member would not like to see that happen in Fremantle.
– I certainly should, and if I could bring it about I believe I should be returned unopposed at the next election. We have obtained peaceful possession of Australia. Great Britain has been our protector against foreign invasion, and we have been free from wars with native tribes. The early settlers of New Zealand, of America, and of South Africa had to fight the native inhabitants of those countries in order to hold them. Millions of money were spent, and hundreds of thousands of lives were lost, in the struggle to hold those countries. The people settling them had to borrow money to be spent in defence, for which they had nothing to show but a number of widows, orphans, and cripples. They could ill afford to lose the men or the money, but they were compelled to lose both in order to hold the country. We have been told by honorable members in the Labour corner that in Australia we are in an awful position because we owe so much money. I cannot agree with that contention. I do not believe that we are in any way distressed by the amount of money we owe. It must not be forgotten that we have magnificent assets to represent the money we have borrowed. I am not afraid, if others are, and I can see nothing alarming in the borrowing of so much money when we have it represented by such assets as we possess in Australia. As money accumulates, it must be used, and it is important only that it should be used productively. Australia could not be developed without the expenditure of a great deal of money. I remind honorable members that the man who can use money, and pay good interest for its use, is of as much benefit to the man who has money to invest as is the man who has money to the man who requires it for the purpose of starting an industryThe total debt of Australia in 1906 amounted to £243,473,785. That is a very large sum, but how is it invested? In the items of railways and telegraphs alone we have in Australia a magnificent asset, representing £150,000,000. Very few countries in the world own their railway and telegraph systems. The Government of Great Britain, for instance, does not own the railway systems of the country. I suppose these are among the finest assets a country can possess. The other £100,000,000 of our total debt is represented by works con.structed for water supply, sewerage, harbor and river improvements, lighthouses, docks, bridges, roads, defence works, schools, and other public buildings, and assistance given to immigration. When we consider the area of Australia, the extent of our seaboard, and the number of our harbors and rivers, it must be admitted that £100,000,000 is not much to owe when it is set against the work which has been done by the expenditure of that money. In all the circumstances, it is ridiculous for honorable members to contend that the debt of Australia is any serious burden on the country. The money “ .we have borrowed has riot been spent in war, it has not been blown away in ammunition., or expended upon obsolete war material. The money ‘ borrowed by the various States has been spent honestly and wisely by people who were legislating before we appeared on the scene, and every penny we owe is represented by something done. I believe that the money borrowed by Australia has been as well spent as money borrowed by any country in the world.
– Let us borrow another £100,000,000.
– The borrowing of such a sum would not be a matter of very much consequence if we had a sufficient population. We must hold Australia for our own people, and open it up as it should be opened up. What we require to do is to enact legislation which will give people confidence to invest in Australia the money they make in this country. Some people speak as though money spent on public works were lost to the people of the country, but it is not so. If money does not leave our shores our people have it still. What we should complain of is the sending of money from Australia to purchase things which we can make here. When we have a railway to build half the money required for its construction is sent from Australia, or is kept in the old country, “to pay for rails, fastenings, and other materials” required, which are not made in Australia.
– Do we send money or goods to England.?
– We send goods to England, and should receive money for them. If we were making steel rails and ether railway material with Australian money in Australia,, we should retain the money now sent abroad for that material, and we should be the richer by that amount, plus the value of the material manufactured in the country. If the people’s savings are invested in the establishment of local industries. Australia generally must be benefited. If their surplus cash were used to develop Australia, it would not increase our debt, and, at the same time, it would be a good investment. If we could only teach Australians to have confidence in their country, and, instead of locking up their money, or not knowing what to do with it-
– For instance, the surplus cash might be used to build a railway from here to Perth.
– It might be employed in making the rails for the construction of a railway. It is most important that the iron industry should be established here, with Australian money. If Australians were to invest £1,000,000 to-morrow in the iron industry, it would be quite safe.
– Does the honorable member mean, if the Government were to put that amount into the industry ?
– No. If the people would only invest their money in an industry of that kind it would not leave these shores.
– With this Tariff resting upon their shoulders, they will have no money to spare for investment.
– If the Government establish a prohibitive Tariff, they will be taking the money out of the people’s pockets instead of borrowing from them and pay-, ing interest. We must keep the gold in the country. I want steel rails, fencing wire, and everything which can be made from native iron ores to be made here. I presume that if it is to be used, in the future Northern Australia must be opened up by means of steel rails, steel sleepers, and steel bridges. If wooden materials were used for that purpose it would be eaten by white ants as fast as it could be laid, and in twenty years there would be no asset left for the people. But if we converted our iron deposits into steel rails, and constructed railways, we should develop the country, and leave an asset for posterity. The money would be paid in wages, but it would circulate through other channels.
– The money would still be in the country.
– Yes, it would come back to the people, who could lend it to the Government again. Surely the Government is not afraid to pay a little interest for the use of the money ! If a working or other man can save £100, he has sufficient confi’dence in his country to invest that sum in some Government or other security. If we only knew bur duty, we would not be afraid to use such money.
– Does the honorable member advocate the establishment of State banks ?
– That is another change to which we may come presently. I contend that Australia will not be impoverished in any way by using the money which belongs to her people. It is the export ot gold to pay for every little thing we want which is impoverishing the country. Are the Government proceeding in the right way to develop Australia when they submit a Tariff of this kind?
– With regard to the establishment of industries in Australia, I can cite a little history to prove that it is necessary to exercise great care. It is of no use to spoon-feed or to ladle gold out of the Treasury to an industry, and imagine that it can be established by that method. Some years ago Fulton’s foundry, in Adelaide, was helped in every possible way by the Government. Perhaps a portion of the debt which- the Commonwealth will be asked to take over from South Australia was employed in helping that foundry. It was closed years ago. Again, take the Phoenix foundry, in Ballarat, which established locomotive building.
– It was not established by the Government.
– No, by private enterprise.
– Did not the Phoenix foundry build locomotives for the Government ?
– At what price?
– At a price higher than that of imported locomotives. That foundry is now closed. Again, take Martin’s foundry, .at Gawler, in South Australia, which made good machinery for agriculture, mining, and other purposes. They were assisted in every possible way by the Government. They built very good locomotives - -I am now using five or six of them - but notwithstanding all the help which was given to them, it was recently stated in the press the business was being wound up. I wish to show honorable members that even a duty of 25/30, or 40 per cent, will not establish an industry if it is not started on a proper basis. I am not prejudiced. I want to show that very often bad management is the cause of failure.
– Not the duties at all. ‘
– Very often the failure of an enterprise is due to bad management. In Victoria to-day locomotives are being built in the Newport shops as good as, perhaps better than, any which could be purchased in any part of the world. Those locomotives should serve as an object lesson of what can be done if we only get the right man to apply his energy and knowledge to an enterprise.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– At Newport locomotives are being built for £1,000 or £2,000 less than they could be purchased for in other countries. I am under the impression, too, that they are being built by Australians. I know that Australians, if properly trained, are quite capable of handling any industry which may be established in our midst. In proof of that, I may say that the Kalgoorlie mines are being conducted by managers who were born in and have been trained in the Commonwealth, and the work which they are doing compares more than favorably with that which is being performed .in any other part of the world. I have been assured that this is so by men who are capable of judging. I may add that I have had a good deal of experience with workmen, both in Australia and in England, and I consider that in the carrying out of big undertakings the Australian workman cannot lie surpassed. Our men may be a little harder to handle than are those from other countries, but if I were going to another country to build a railway or to undertake any other big work, I should like to take a team of Australians with me.
– The honorable member would take Victorians, 1 suppose?
– I might take a small percentage of them, but I should need to catch them when they were a little bit younger than is the honorable member. ‘In making the comparison which I have made between the work performed in other countries and that which is being undertaken in the Newport railway work-shops, ray object was to show clearly that the establishment of an industry does not necessarily depend upon how much money may be invested in it. Careful thought and proper management are essential to the success of any industry. One grievance which I desire to ventilate has reference to the duty which is at present operative upon steel rails, and to the proposed duty which will be levied upon them under Division VI. a of the Tariff. I am willing to support - and 1 hope that honorable members will do likewise - the payment of a bounty for the manufacture of steel rails in Australia. But until we are producing these rails they ought to be admitted free. We must remember that we have a huge area to develop, and I am certain that dear railways are. of no use to any country. We want cheap railways, and I hope that we shall eventually manufacture steel fails locally even more cheaply than they can now be obtained from the mother country. . That is one reason why I hold that no duty should be levied upon these rails. There is another phase ofl this question - a very serious one - to which I desire to call attention. At the present time railways which are being paid for out of loan moneys are being constructed in Western Australia and other parts in the Commonwealth. Of course, Ministers will say, “ But 75 per cent, of the duty collected upon steel rails is returned to the States.” That, I submit, is not the question at issue. Whatever amount may be returned to the States Treasurers is received by them as revenue, and as such is expended, notwithstanding that it may be money which has been borrowed. The portion retained by the Common- wealth is also borrowed money. In other words, the duty upon steel rails is paid with borrowed money. That is a nice dilemma in which to place the States Treasurers. They pay the duty upon steel rails out of lain funds, and it is returned to them, in the form of revenue. Such a course of action must hurt the Commonwealth in the future, when it takes over the States debts. .It may happen that the Commonwealth, when it is taking over the States debts, may say of a railway or waterworks scheme in course of construction, “Oh, these do not represent the full amount of the loans raised for these undertakings.” But the States would then be in a position to reply, “ That is so, but the Commonwealth has collected 25 per cent, of the loans in the form of duties upon materials, and we have expended our portion of it. The Commonwealth must take over the loans in their entirety. Although the works do not represent all that we borrowed in connexion with them, they represent all that the Commonwealth would allow us to have of those loans.” The same remark would apply to the duty levied upon railway wheels and axles. Railway wheels cannot be made in Australia. I defy anybody to manufacture them locally under present conditions.
– Are they not being made at Newport?
– No, and they never have been. If the honorable member will refer to the reports of the Tariff Commission, he will find that the representative of Walkers’ ‘Limited, Maryborough, Queensland, declares that railway wheels cannot be manufactured in Australia, and that the quantity required in the Commonwealth is not sufficient to warrant the establishment of the industry here. I can assure the Committee that a very marked improvement in the construction of these wheels has taken place during the past few years.
Formerly their centres used to be cast with wrought-iron spokes, but now they,, are composed of one piece of steel. Further, special knowledge will be required before we can manufacture wheels which will run safely upon our Australian railways. I fail to see that it is fair to impose a duty of 2*5 per cent, upon an article which is being used to replace wheels which have been worn out upon the States railways - an article which’ could not be manufactured here if we offered .£1,000 for its production. Yet, within the past month, this very article has been landed at Fremantle, and a duty of 25 per cent, has been collected upon it. I come now to the case of wire netting. - From page 29 of one of the Tariff Commission’s reports, I learn that this netting is made by machinery from imported wire. -I ask honorable members to reflect upon the splendid nature of the industry which we are endeavouring to foster. One workman who gave evidence before the. Commission testified that he received 8s. 6d. for making 1,200 yards of wire netting 4 feet wide. Now, 1,200 yards . is equivalent to twothirds of a mile.
– Surely he made a mistake ?
– The machine makes the netting.
– Yes. Seeing that one man can make two-thirds of a mile of wire netting for 8s. 6d., what a. splendid industry it is to make a fuss about,, and to permit of bad feeling being engendered between New South Wales and the Commonwealth ! While the proposal of the Government is -being argued, the rabbits are free to spread all over Australia.
– How long would it take a man to earn that 8s. 6d. ?
– I suppose he would do it in a day. Anyway, the wire netting is made of imported material with imported machinery, and the” industry is not .worth troubling about. Then consider the.’ effect of the Tariff upon tobacco. I have a list of prices sent out since .the Tariff was introduced, and it shows such increases as from 53. 6d. to 8s., from 4s. 4d. to 5s.” 2d., from 4s. 4½d. to 5s. id., and from 6s. 6d. to 7s. These increases fall on those who . smoke tobacco. In addition to duty, however, we in Western Australia have to pay freight on bringing the tobacco over 2,000 miles by sea, and additional freight on sending it long journeys inland, sometimes’ extending over 300 or 400 miles.
Next take sugar. Western Australia consumes about 11,000 tons of sugar annually. We are paying £6 per ton more for it now than Ave paid before Federation.
– There was no duty on sugar in Western Australia prior to Fede- ration.
– The duty makes all the difference.
– How much Excise does Western Australia get out of it?
– The people who buy the sugar receive no “direct advantage from the Excise. I am talking about the effect of the Tariff upon the purchaser. The Minister of Defence might as well ask me how much the tobacco smoker gets out of the Excise. Then take chairs. It seems to me that the Ministry do not want people to sit down, but wish to keep them moving. In one instance, 120 cases of chairs were consigned to Fremantle. Under the old Tariff the duty would have been £76, but under the new Tariff, at 7s. 6d. per chair, it -amounted to £1,080. Then take railway wheels and axles. These are articles that cannot be made in Australia. . The Western Australian Government imported wheels and axles to be put under vehicles made in Western Australia by Australian labour. The value of the imports was £4,815, and the duty amounted £1,204.
– The honorable member would not object to the duty if the goods could be made here, would he?
– I should like them to be made here, but I should like to see bounties given to encourage the establishment of industries rather than high duties.
– Where are we to get the money from, especially as the Commonwealth is approaching so closely to its margin of Customs and Excise revenue ?
– At any rate, it is a. fact that these wheels and axles cannot be made in Australia, and it is hardly a fair thing to add 25 per cent, to their price: One of my chief objections to the new Tariff is on account of the effect it will have upon mining. In this respect it es?pecially concerns Western Australia. Mining in Australia directly employs 111,714 men, according to a document supplied to us by the Government. Thousands of persons depend upon these men. The value of the plant and the industry is £12,476,177: I am proud to say that of the total number of men employed in mining, Western Aus* tralia employs 20,000. I claim that they should be well and generously treated by
Parliament in framing the Tariff, because our miners live chiefly upon the produce of the eastern States. That is to say, the butter, cheese, bacon, tinned fruit, tinned meat, clothes, and similar articles they use are imported from the east.
– We are hoping that that will not continue long.
– But. I am dealing with the facts as they exist. The value of the mining plant in Western Australia is £4,395,480.
– The honorable member knows that good railway engines are being made at Newport; why cannot we make mining machinery ?
– I will show what can be done in that direction. I admit that the engineering business of Australia is very important. The men employed in it number 1 5,022, and the engineering plant is . valued at £1,195,637. But, compare those figures with the value of the mining plant in Western Australia, £4,395,480, and with the miners employed in Australia, 111,714. The discovery of gold made not only Western Australia, but the whole Commonwealth. It led to the introduction into Australia of the right sort of men, who assisted in opening up the country and building up our many industries. We should be careful not to retard or. hamper in any way the mining industry. In Western. Australia at the present time those engaged in mining labour under many disadvantages. We have from 400 to 600 miles of rail carriage from the coast to the gold-bearing belt in the interior, and the very food supplies obtained by the gold-fields from the eastern States have to be carried over 2,000 miles by sea. Surely when those living there are handicapped to such an extent in this respect weshould not attempt to tax all their requisites, including tobacco.
– Will the honorable mem ber vote against the tobacco duties ?
– The rejection of the tobacco duties is a question for the Committee to consider. The value of produce annually purchased by Western Australia from the eastern States is nearly £3, ooo,ooo. In five years Western Australia has sent to the eastern States, in money orders alone, an enormous sum. . I have no details as to the cash so remitted to Tasmania or Queensland, but during theperiod in question a sum of £417,905 9s. 7d. was sent to New South Wales, £348,140 6s. to South Australia, and £1,088,478 12s.10d. to Victoria. If we deduct from the total the amount sent from the east to the west, namely, £238,013 5s. 7d., we have a balance of £1,616,511 2s. 10d. in favour of the east, or over , £1.000 for every working day during the term of five years. These figures should convey to the Committee some idea of the valueof Western Australia’s custom to the eastern States.
– Let us hope that we shall not repeat the dose, but that Western Australia will soon supply her own requirements.
– Quite so. The importance of the mining industry to Australia is not fully recognised. I propose to put before the Committee a few facts gleaned from an undoubtedly reliable source.. The managers of the mines in Western Australia are Australians who believe in Australia, and on the mines there we have the most up-to-date plants in the Commonwealth. The gold yield of Western Australia up to the end of July, 1907, was 17,633,042 ozs., valued at £74,899,496. During 1906 ten mines, employing 4,775 hands, paid in wages to their employes £1,005,373. These mines are in the Kalgoorlie belt, and consist of the Golden Horseshoe, Ivanhoe, Great Boulder, Boulder Perseverance, Oroya Brown. Hill, Hai naul t and Kalgurli, Associated, Lake View, and the Associated Northern. The value of the stores and requisites, annually purchased by them, exclusive of mining timber or water, is £512,117, and. the new Tariff will involve them in an additional expenditure of £50,000 per annum,. The figures I have quoted were compiled by the Kalgoorlie Chamber of Commerce, a body of men as capable as any to be found in Australia. I submit these figures with the greatest confidence. They have been compiled by Australians who believe in Australia, and none of them would do anything to injure his country. The Lake View Mine, employing 400 men and paying £87,000 a year in wages, is working on such a narrow margin of profit that if the Tariff be passed in its present form it is doubtful whether it will be able to continue its operations. The Kalgoorlie Electric Power and Lighting Corporation contemplated erecting a new plant of the value of £12,000. Owing to the new Tariff they have abandoned the project. The consequence is the loss to Australia of the money that would have been spent on labour, railway carriage, and in other directions. We hear that all kinds of machinery can be made in ‘Australia equal to the imported. I am very .sorry to have to put these figures before the Committee, but I want honorable members to know the facts, and to think them over. The Ivanhoe mine, at Kalgoorlie, had a battery of sixty head of stampers, colonial made. The tonnage put through per stamp per day - what is called the duty per stamp per day - was 4.16 tons. That means short tons of 2,000 lbs. The cost of milling with that colonial battery was 6s. 1 id. per ton. That battery was “ scrapped,” and replaced with an imported battery of 100 head of stampers. The duty per stamp per day of this battery was 6 tons, and the cost of milling was 2s. 2½d. per ton. Even allowing for the reduced price of water and other items, which bring the charge for milling for the old battery down to 5s-. 5d., the difference is still 3s. 24d. in favour of the imported’ battery. How can the men who are running these mines, even though they be Australians, be in favour of sticking to obsolete machinery when with imported machinery they can work a mine which otherwise would have to be shut down ? That instance is eclipsed by another from the same mine. The amount crushed per month by the old’ mill - a. colonial battery - was 6,932 tons. The amount of fuel used was 8.37 cwt. per ton crushed. The new .mill crushed 17,155 tons per month, and the fuel used was 2.91 cwt. per ton. Those are facts.
– What was the date of the Australian machinery? The cases are not parallel.
– I can only tell the honorable member the actual facts. He can think them over and sleep on them, but he cannot alter them. I can give samples of the efforts made by colonial manufacturers to supply the wants of the gold mining industry. They must pull themselves together and do better work in the future. Mr. Moss, the manager of the Kalgoorlie mine, ordered twenty head of colonial stamps, and had a guarantee that they would be delivered on 16th October, 1906. After a lot of worry and trouble, delivery was completed in March, 1907, and even then- portions of the battery that was to be colonial made came from two firms in England. The same mine ordered a colonial air-compressor. Delivery was guaranteed for October, 1906, and was only made in
March, 1907. The note about it is, “ Five weeks run, stoppages frequent, longest run 83 hours without a stop.” The same mine purchased six grinding pans of- colonial make. The maker had three fitters working for about three weeks on them. Portions had to be sent to a local foundry to rectify errors before the mine would accept delivery. As a contrast, they purchased a 450 horse-power imported engine,, which- was delivered to time, started work as soon as fixed, and has not stopped working since. Those facts show that we must not listen to all the talk about colonial makers being able to do better than Englishmen, or any one else in the world. Let them recognise that they have a lot to learn yet, especially in constructing machinery that will bring down the cost in an industry like mining, where values are getting lower from year to year, and managers are at their wits’ end to know .how to reduce costs without cutting down wages.
– All. the evidence given before the Tariff Commission is against what the honorable member is stating now.
– Nothing of the kind. Three mines at Kalgoorlie proposed to purchase high class up-to-date electrical machinery, of a value of £9,000. That transaction has been abandoned on account of the proposed new Tariff- another case of loss to Australia of the work that that new machinery would have given in the handling of products that can not be handled with obsolete machinery. The eastern States are now prosperous, and should have a little consideration for the western State. From 1902 to 1905 the eastern States suffered from very bad times. In fact I am under the impression that Western Australia pulled them out of the mud and kept them going. Western Australia bought all the horses and produce she required from the eastern States, and, in addition, absorbed their surplus population, who there found work. Much of the money, made in Western Australia has been brought. back to the east, and is being used in the purchase of new areas of land for settlement.
– Western Australia would never have been alive if Victoria had not pushed her along.
– I am under the impression that- the assistance came from Western Australia to Victoria. Had the PostmasterGeneral been in the chamber a little while ago, he would have heard me say. that wealth to the extent of £”74,000, 000 had been produced out of the earth in Western Australia, and that much of this had gone to promote the prosperity of Victoria.
– The honorable member is trying to make out that Western Australia is a suburb of Victoria.
– That is the impression which honorable members opposite are endeavouring to convey. But the most important point for us is the unity of federated Australia,, and we have to consider whether the action of the present Government is conducive to that unity. On every hand there is discontent. Even in Perth to-day secession medals are worn in the streets, and people are waving black flags, ornamented with skulls, and bearing the inscription, “ Death to Federation !” In Sydney, similar sentiments are uttered, and Queensland cannot be said to be contented with the present conditions; yet the Government are offering preference to Great Britain.
– Surely the honorable member is in favour of preference?
– I am in favour of preference to our own States first. It is acknowledged that charity begins at home, arid that if we have anything to give away, we ought to give it to our poor relations. According to page 335 of the official report of the Imperial Conference, the Acting Prime Minister, almost with tears in his eyes, offered to help England at the expense of Australia. The honorable gentleman said -
It may reasonably be asked what we expect in return. We are making or seeking no stipulated bargain. The whole of this question is founded on aspirations much higher than that. It is the unity of the Empire that we are looking to, and we believe that preferential trade will bring this about at no cost to Great Britain.
Lofty ideals ! We are told by honorable members opposite that we shall never be able to liquidate our indebtedness to Great Britain; and yet we find our representatives at the Imperial Conference offering help to. the old land. It appears, however, that our kind offers were not fully appreciated ; because the representatives of Great Britain refused them, pointing out that anything that we could do for Great Britain in the way of preference would probably increase the cost of food to the people” there. This is hot the first time that offers of preference by Australia have been refused, because we find a similar attitude” taken by New Zealand; It shows what good seasons will do for Australia, when’ we find the Commonwealth [to?]
Government offering to help Great Britain out of her difficulties. The Acting Prime Minister presented trie beautiful ideal of the unity of the Empire; but do honorable members not think that much good work could be done in our own land in the way of uniting the States of .Australia? There are many causes for the disrepute into which Federation has fallen. Taxes have been imposed on wire netting, steel rails, chairs, railway wheels, tobacco, mining machinery, cornsacks, and many other commodities.
– Would the honorable member mind telling me whether he is a free-trader or a protectionist?
– All the commodities that are proposed to be taxed are directly connected with the primary industries of Australia; _ and it is little wonder that we find dissatisfaction in the States. It would appear as though the Government, had laid themselves out to harass every Australian industry ; and yet at the same time they offer preference to Great Britain and New Zealand. All the produce of Australia has to be sold in the markets of the world at the prices there ruling ; and if we harass the primary industries we must injure this country. In the case of woollens and similar goods, we find that Great Britain already supplies us with 75 per cent., and the purchase of the balance of 25 per cent, from foreigners or locally only keeps the British merchants in check. If they had the whole of the trade, there is no telling what prices they might charge us. I am not such a believer in the British merchant as to think he would not avail himself of the opportunity’ to get a higher price if he had the chance. The trade of Great Britain is not declining at such a rate that she requires help from Australia. Honorable members opposite have expressed grave fears that -British trade is depreciating ; but, according to page 383 of the report of the Imperial Conference, Mr. Lloyd George laughed at such fears, and pointed out that the increase in the cotton trade alone, in four years, represented £20,000,000, or more than the whole of the trade with Australia. The Imperial authorities will not accept pur offer of preference ; thev are evidently not afraid that British trade is going down too fast. From the tone of the speeches to which I have listened in this debate, I should say that there is no possible chance of the Tariff passing in its present form. I expect it will be considerably modified and toned down. It is, I think, the duty of every member of the Committee in dealing with the Tariff to see that no Australian industry, and especially none of our primary industries, is in any way injured by it. “ There is one subject on which I must touch in conclusion.. Many suggestions have been made in connexion with the establishment of a Federal system of old-age pensions. I think the honorable member for South Sydney said that old-age pensions can never be established in Australia unless by direct taxation.
– That is not what he said.
– I am under the impression that it is quite unnecessary that we should go in for direct taxation, or even that we should collect any more revenue than was collected under the old Tariff, to provide for the payment of oldage pensions.
– That is whilst the Braddon section of the Constitution is in operation.
– I am not dealing with the Braddon section at all.
– The honorable member did not correctly state what the honorable member for South Sydney said.
– Order. I have repeatedly called honorable members to order, and I hope they will cease their interjections.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask your ruling as to whether, when an honorable member makes a statement to the effect that he is quoting what some other honorable member has said, and his statement is not a correct representation of what the honorable member to whom he refers actually did say, it is not his duty to accept an assurance that he is misrepresenting the honorable member whom he professes to quote?
– It is always the practice for one honorable member to accept another’s statement as to what he said. Every honorable member makes his statements believing them to be correct. If the honorable member for Fremantle was quoting the honorable member for South Sydney inaccurately, I hope he will not continue that course.
– I am under the impression that what I said was absolutely correct. I took a note of the statement made by the honorable member for South Sydney, and I know it was to the effect that old-age pensions could not be brought about except by direct taxation.
– During the continuance of the operation of the Braddon blot.
– I did not mention the Braddon blot. I am under the impression that the statement I have attributed to him was made by the honorable member for South Sydney. If it is shown that I am wrong, I shall be willing subsequently to attribute it to the honorable member who really did make it.
– The honorable member for South Sydney said subject to the limitation imposed during the period for which the Braddon blot is in. operation.
– What I wish to say in connexion with old-age pensions is that it is necessary only to divert revenue now collected into another channel to make the requisite provision. As a large emplover of labour, and one connected with the mining industry of Western Australia, I can inform the Committee that we have in operation in that State a Workmen’s Compensation Act, under which it has been found necessary for employers to insure their workmen. The amount provided for differs according to the calling in which a workman is engaged, and is arrived at in a very simple manner. We pay so much per cent, on the wages earned by men in different callings. What I propose is that this money, instead of being paid to an insurance company - and one company I represent pays as much as . £500 or £600 per annum in this way - should be paid into a State fund. I dislike the term “ oldagepensions.” I think that the term used should be “ The Australian Provident Fund.”
– “ National Pension “ is the term used in Germany.
– I do not know the German for it; but I suggest that the term should be something like “The Australian Provident Fund.” I have known” many young people who, having become incapacitated from work, require assistance from such a fund just as much as if they had become incapacitated by old age . In such cases the term “old-age pensions” is clearly inapplicable. ‘ The method I suggest for collecting the fund is a very simple one. The various post offices are now under the control of the Commonwealth, and I suggest that in regard to every person paid wages in any form in. Australia, whether as a servant, coachman, groom, or factory worker, a receipt should be given for the wages received, to which should be affixed stamps purchasable at any of our POW offices as readily as postage stamps are to-day. The reason why I say this money should be collected by the State and applied to the purpose I have mentioned is that I have noticed in Western Australia that when an employe has been injured, his case for compensation is contested in the courts by the insurance company, which employs the best legal talent, and the employ^ has also been compelled to employ legal talent. Perhaps after a long fight an award is made, but very often it is consumed in law costs. In other cases if the employ^ is not very careful the compensation is lost.
– The honorable member favours State insurance, then?
– Yes, in that form. Perhaps the employ^ has never handled a large sum before. There are always very smart persons with businesses to sell, which very often are not worth as much as is asked for them. If a man who has been injured buys a business, perhaps he may find that his compensation is gone. My chief reason for wanting the State to take over this liability is that, although a man has been compensated, still he is a charge on the State. If a man has been injured the State’s liability is not discharged by the compensation which has been paid by the employer. Take a place like Kalgoorlie, where the picked men of Australia are at work. If the money were collected while the men were working it would create a fund which could be utilized, and when a man was injured he could claim compensation without any feeling that he was receiving charity in any form. I believe that the magnitude of the fund which could be created in that way would astonish the people of Australia. In Western Australia we have to pay large sums, but very often the compensation which should have been available to the injured employ^ is consumed in legal expenses. I suggest that the administration of a fund should be entrusted to three persons, namely, a professional man, a representative of the working classes, and a very smart business man. When an employe was .injured, it would not be to the interest of the employer or of the employe to depreciate or magnify the injury. A statement of facts would be handed in to the managing committee, who would decide what compensation the injured man was entitled to receive, and how it should be paid to him. If a man were disabled by old age or injury, he would have no qualms of conscience in accepting a contribution from the fund. He would not be receiving a charity, but a contribution in pursuance of a right. Of course, it could be called State insurance, but I think it is a provident fund in the form of State insurance. That, I claim, is the proper way to proceed, instead of waiting year after year for some action to be taken, and thinking all the while that the only way to attain the desired end was by levying a tax upon land or some other thing. At the present time the money which is paid by the employers goes into another channel. It should be collected, and the risk should be taken over by the Government, and not by a company. I am not stating what might be done, but what is being done, and what I have done for years. The men working for the company I am connected with asked us to go further than that. Each month a collection is made for medical and hospital purposes, and every man who is ill or disabled receives £1 or 30s. per, week, as the case may be. He enters the hospital, not as a pauper, but as a paying patient, and the fee is paid from the fund. I believe that if honorable members would take the trouble to look into the system they would realize that it could be established within a very few weeks. It would not necessitate the appointment of a large army of Government officers or the erection of a large building . in’ any centre, because the machinery to work the system already’ exists. The post offices throughout the Commonwealth could be utilized for the sale of the stamps, and that would provide the necessary revenue. I thank honorable members for the patient hearing which they have given to me. I shall reserve anything else I have to say concerning the details of the Tariff until another occasion. ^
– I hope that the honorable member for Fremantle will accept my assurance that the leader of the Labour Party did “not say, as he represented just now, that it was impossible to raise the money for the payment of old-age pensions without the imposition of a land tax, nor did any honorable member on this side of the chamber, I think, make that statement without the qualifying remark, “ during the continuance of the Braddon blot.” That makes all the difference. The whole point was, thai, inasmuch as if the Commonwealth wishes to get revenue from Customs duties, it is necessary during the continuance of the Braddon section to raise four ‘times as much as may be required, obviouslv’ it would be impossible so long as that operates, to raise £1,500,000 - which would be the smallest amount needed to institute a Federal system of old-age pensions - because it would mean additional Customs taxation amounting to £6,000,000.
– What I propose would not interfere with that.
– I was rather surprised to hear from the leader of the Government that it is not proposed to enter upon. the consideration of the Tariff in detail as soon as this general debate is finished. Of course the Ministry have the control of thebusiness. I do not wish to find fault with them unnecessarily, but I think that they would be well advised to proceed with the consideration of the Tariff immediately this debate is finished, and not to interpose other business, except, of course, the Estimates relative to new works and buildings. We cannot wait until the Tariff has been dealt with to decide what new works and buildings should be proceeded with.
– The States want income tax from the Federal officers.
– The States will not lose any revenue from that source if the Government adopt the course I have suggested.
– The States want revenue.
– The States will not lose any revenue if the Government adopt the course I have suggested; the postponement of the Commonwealth Salaries Bill will not affect the Budgets of the States Treasurers at all. I believe that honorable members are almost unanimously in favour of that Bill. I anticipate that there will be very little discussion on the measure. Atthe same time it is unnecessary to delay the consideration of the Tariff until it is. settled.
– There will be a great deal of discussion on the Judiciary Bill.
-Certainly. There is no reason why the Judiciary Bill or the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill should be interposed before the consideration of the Tariff. Uhdoubfedlysome duties will be reduced. The public, therefore, are being charged on certain articlesmorethan they will ultimately’ be required to pay. The sooner we arrive at a settlement of the Tariff the better for the trading community and the public generally.
– At the present time business is almost paralyzed.
– It is our duty to discuss the really serious questions which confront us, and to enter upon the detailed consideration of the Tariff as soon as possible. Seldom in the history of this Parliament has so much attention been paid to the important financial considerations which must very soon be faced - of course, I refer to the future financial relations of the States to the Commonwealth.
– We cannot afford to lose much time in settling that question.
– That is so. The debate which has taken place has been chiefly useful in showing the attitude of the various parties in the Committee towards the financial problems which confront us. I was particularly interested in the policy which was foreshadowed by the Opposition corner party. Although that party is a new one, it appears to have a definite policy, and it certainly represents more than does any other party in Australia, the conservative view of politics. I find that most members of that party, and also some members of the direct Opposition, have voiced their strong approval of the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Flinders. Consequently, T propose to pay particular attention to his speech. This afternoon the honorable member for Brisbane expressed his entire agreement with the speeches of the honorable member for Flinders, the honorable member for Fawkner, and some other honorable members upon the opposite side of the Chamber. But I was very much surprised when he made an attempt to inflame the bitter feelings which exist between the States and the Commonwealth. The honorable member justified the talk of secession in Western Australia and New South Wales, and also the attacks upon Federation, upon the ground that the policy adopted by this Parliament is to continually encroach upon State rights. When he was asked to cite a specific instance, what reply did he give? He stated that our action in regard to the Sugar Bounty. Actwas an encroachment upon State rights, as was also the proposal of the Treasurer- which has not yet been adopted by Parliament - to abolish the Braddon section of the Constitution. After the way in which the States without very much -demur contributed to help Queensland out of the difficulty in which she was placed, owing to the necessity which existed for bringing about White Australia conditions, it came with ill-grace from the honorable member to taunt this Committee with having thus created general dislike and disaffection towards the Federation. At least, we might have expected him to support us in that matter instead of taunting us. But the crowning instance which he cited was the proposal of the Acting Prime Minister to discontinue the Braddon section of the Constitution. When he stated that he was in entire accord with the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Flinders he must have forgotten that that honorable member had emphatically declared himself as opposed to the continuance of the Braddon section. He may not have used those exact words, but undoubtedly they express his meaning. Now, in regard to this matter, what has the Acting Prime Minister said? Merely this - .
With regard to the other question - the continuation of the- operation of the Braddon Seclion - it appears very evident, from the figures I have quoted this evening, that such an arrangement, however desirable to the States, will be quite impossible in view of public expenditure which must be. carried out by the Commonwealth.
That is all that he said upon the matter. But what did the honorable member for Flinders say in this connexion? He said -
I do not think any scheme - no matter from what source it may emanate - will ever receive the acceptance of this Parliament unless it renders the Commonwealth Legislature -independent in every respect of the finances of the States, and the States Parliaments independent of our finances. Neither the Commonwealth nor the States can proceed with certainty and advantage in their several developments unless we take the earliest opportunity - that which the Constitution itself prescribes - of rendering the two systems of finance, State anc! Federal, completely independent of each other.
The honorable member elaborated his point, and went on to say -
What ought we to give back to the States? Whilst I recognise that they must be treated fairly- -even generously - by us, I think that before 1910 any scheme that can possibly be adopted by this House must be one that will render us quite independent in respect of our finances. As long as the States Governments feel that they are dependent to some extent upon our decision as to what we will give them, so long will the irritating sore continue.
I quote the remarks of the honorable member - with -every word of which. I am in agreement - in complete refutation of the statement of the honorable member for Brisbane, that irritation has been caused in the States by the suggested discontinuance of the Braddon section. As a matter of fact, there is no such irritation. Naturally, many of the States Treasurers desire a continuance of that section. But to say that there has .been any general agitation in that direction, and to allege that the movement in favour of secession ‘ has been fostered bv the suggestion to which I have referred is so much idle talk.
– I do not think that the honorable member is quite fair in saying that the honorable member for Brisbane is in direct antagonism to me, ber cause all that he intended to convey was that we should insure the continuance of a substantial subsidy to the States.
– What right has the honorable member to accuse us of fostering this movement in favour of secession, because of the suggestion of the Acting Prime Minister that the Braddon section will have to be altered? Everybody will agree that if the Braddon section be abrogated, some other provision will have to be made for the revenues of the States’. No one suggests that we can abolish a provision requiring us to hand over” to the States three-fourths of Customs and Excise revenue, without providing in some other manner for their financial necessities. I never heard of any one suggesting any such thing. The honorable member said that we must be careful not to embarrass the States. We shall all agree with .that. But the point is that it is -not within the province of a member of this Parliament to inflame an agitation on.th* suggestion that any party in this Committee is attempting to encroach upon the rights of the States, unless he can show some ground for the assertion. If the honorable member could have adduced instances to show that there is antagonism towards the States on the part of any honorable member, he would have been entitled to make that point. But I have been a member of this Parliament from .the commencement, and I know of no instance of a desire to encroach upon the rights of the States or to embarrass them. It is true that there has been a desire, par- ,ticularly in regard to industrial legislation, to take over all the powers which the’ Constitution gives, us to control industrial conditions. 0 ‘
Mr.- W. H. Irvine. - And a little more
– We do not know exactly what the limitations of the Constitution are.
– That is where the difficulty comes in. _
– If we think that the Commonwealth will be benefited by our taking the very fullest powers in framing our Acts, we are justified in adopting that course. I do not think that any single act of that kind has caused any trouble in the States. As to the taxation of the imports of States Governments, while I very strongly deprecate the action of Mr. Carruthers, the Premier of New South Wales, in the wire-netting case, I do not think that it is worth while for the Commonwealth to collect revenue upon such importations. We may have the power to do so, but I do not think it is desirable to exercise it._ A good reason has been suggested by the “honorable member for Fremantle^ namely, that most of the States’ imports are in connexion with works which are paid for out of loan moneys. They are generally imports’ of railway material. The New South Wales wire netting pertains to the same category. We return to the States three-fourths of the duty which we-collect, . and that money is paid into the general revenue of the States. Strictly speaking, it ought to be credited to the loan account, but it is not treated in that manner. That is a great mistake. It would be a great deal better for the Commonwealth not to tax State imports at all. I suppose that to do so is in the nature of an assertion of sovereignty. But if we have the power we are not compelled to use it, and if its exercise is a cause of irritation I believe that honorable members would be quite prepared to let the duty slide. It is not of much” value to us. I do not intend to discuss the Tariff at length. I have always taken up a consistent attitude on the question of free-trade and protection. I am a moderate protectionist. Notwithstanding the agitation in favour of high duties, I have never been iin favour of eliminating the element of competition, and I do not believe in prohibition. I do, however, believe in effective protection - in giving to our manufacturers a wider field. Generally speaking, I intend to support the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, though on some points I dissent from them. I do not think that the kerosene tin industry or the wire-twisting industry are worth developing at great cost to the people of this country. I do not say that they are not worth developing in themselves, but certainly they are not at the huge cost that would be necessary if the proposals of the Government were carried out. Some of the other duties appear to me to be unnecessarily high, and I shall not support them. The honorable member for Flinders has said - and, of course, all must agree with him - that so far as the Tariff protects, so far will it be destructive of revenue.
– That is to say, of course, that if an industry is established the imports will be decreased, and to that extent the duty will lae destructive of revenue. We must consider the Tariff in the light of its revenue- producing possibilities in 19 10: The honorable’ member for Flinders put it that the maximum revenueproducing possibilities of the proposed Tariff are about £9,000,000. But that argument is not sound. Is it not a fact that so far as the Tariff conduces to the establishment of industries, it will increase our population ?
– “Ultimately “it will, of course.
– Not only ultimately, but as soon as industries are established. It is impossible to produce goods unless there are people to do the work. Until an industry is established, the revenue will be maintained through duties on imports, and when an industry is established people will be required to work it, and consequently there will be a larger population.
– In the meantime, the people will have to pay increased prices.
– I am not discussing that point. I am dealing with the revenue-producing possibilities of the Tariff. So far as it is operative in reference to the establishing of industries, so far will the high duties result in increased revenue. But when industries are established, and we make the goods in the country, the effect must be to attract a larger population, which will mean more revenue from other sources. The statement that the maximum return will be £9,000,000 per annum, since the Tariff, as it creates new industries, will lead to a decreased revenue, is not accurate, because, on the other hand, the expansion of our industries will tend to an increase of population, which will be a set-off against the effect on the revenue of the larger local output.
– Surely the honorable member for Echuca is not opposed to the establishment of industries in Australia?
– I am not.
– I could understand the honorable member for Flinders, if he were a free-trader, urging that the establishment of new industries would not necessarily increase the population ; that it might simply result in men being diverted from existing trades ; but since he is a protectionist .he cannot use that argument. In the circumstances, therefore, I do not consider that he was wholly right in limiting the possibilities of the Tariff to a return of less than £9,000,000 per annum.
– The honorable member must not forget that the estimated revenue from the Tariff during the current year shows a very considerable increase upon the returns for last year, which was a boom period.
– I admit that. I am not going to question the general accuracy of the honorable member’s forecast, but am inclined to think he has not taken into view the possibilities that must ensue upon the establishment of new industries.
– I think that they will ultimately ensue.
– Until they are established a heavy increase in taxation must be borne bv the people, and we shall have for some little time a revenue largely exceeding £9,000,000 per annum. I admit (hat if the duties are so high as to reduce the consumption of certain goods we must suffer a loss of revenue. Such a reduction is possible in respect of some lines, but necessaries must be purchased regardless of the extent to which prices are inflated by reason of the duties. One of the most important points made by the honorable member for Flinders was that direct taxation was the province of the States, and that the Commonwealth, for all time, must look for the whole of its revenue to Customs and Excise duties. He urged that the importance of this question exceeded even that of the Tariff) and that in future political battles the dividing line would be between those who claimed that the whole of the revenue required, for Commonwealth purposes should be raised from Customs and Excise duties, and those who urged that some portion should also be obtained by direct taxation. I have no doubt whatever as to what will be the final result of such an issue. .
– If the honorable member is so confident he will make the honorable member for Flinders alter his bearings.
– I do not know that anything I may say is likely to induce him to re-cast his political views.
– I am delighted with the candour exhibited by the honorable member. The sooner we reach the issue the better.
– I cordially reciprocate the feelings expressed by the honorable member. I am delighted with his candour in stating definitely that he and those with whom he is associated are prepared to take up that position. Customs taxation for. revenue purposes is much in the nature of a poll tax. It falls most heavily on those having the largest families, and frequently on the most necessitous. A revenue Tariff is borne by the masses, and I was glad to find the honorable member candid enough to admit that, in his opinion, the whole of the revenue of the Commonwealth, which later on would probably be much in excess of our present income, would necessarily be raised entirely from Customs taxation, or, in other words, by taxation imposed on the masses qf the people. Customs taxation bears no relation whatever to the ability of the individual to pay it, nor to the incomes which may be enjoyed by those on whom it falls. It bears no relation to the natural opportunities - such, for instance, as the ownership of land - of the individual. The mere existence of an individual, apart altogether from the question of whether or not he has any earnings, or is a pauper, is sufficient. The poor man has to contribute his mite, and sometimes almost as much as the inhabitant of Toorak, as some one has said, to the cost of government.
– Has not the honorable member for Flinders shown his courage by pinning himself down to such a contention, and saying that he will fightfor it?
– I have already complimented the -honorable member, who has also urged that we must not embarrass the States. He contends that the Commonwealth must be financially independent ; that the Braddon section must be abolished ; and that out of a revenue of £9,000,000 per annum we must return at least £7,250,000 to the States, unless they are to be embarrassed. I understood the honorable member also to say that for a long period that fixed amount would have to be returned to the States. Throughout his speech the honorable member indicated that he meant that to be a fixed payment to the States for a very long period. But if the population increases considerably, does the honorable member mean that the States should be still limited to a payment of £7,250,000, or would there be any increased payment to them in the future? I do not want to pin the honorable member down to that statement, because I do not think he could really have meant to limit the payment to the States absolutely to that sum, no matter how much the revenues of the Commonwealth go up, or population increases, or the local expenditure on education, police, and all the other subjects of State activity is augmented as a necessary corollary to the increase of population.
– The honorable member for Flinders spoke about it as a permanent settlement.
– The honorable member stated it even more definitely. I thought I had the passage marked. He said that the States could not, or should not, look to receive any more than that amount from us. If that was his idea, I do not think it will work. It would be unfair to the States. The right honorable member for Swan made a much more liberal proposition to the States, apart from the continuance of the Braddon section. Personally, I think that the best proposal is a per capita distribution - the payment to the States by the Commonwealth of a fixed amount per head of population. That system would work at first rather unfairly towards Western Australia, and would require a little adjustment, but I believe that that principle will be the proper solution of the difficulty when we do away with the Braddon section. By it the States will be able to know definitely what amount they will receive from the Commonwealth year by year, and can make all their arrangements accordingly. We, on the other hand will know to a penny what we shall have to expend, as the population statistics are made up every year. I do notthink that there are any difficulties in the way of the adoption of a method of per capita distribution, which will be found most satisfactory to both parties, and have the effect of allaying a great deal of the existing irritation. The honorable member’s computation of a maximum Customs and Excise revenue of £9,000,000 leaves us a maxi mum revenue for our requirements of £1,750,000. The honorable member, however, pointed out that we propose to take over the Northern Territory, and that it will be necessary to undertake a largely increased expenditure on defence. He did not mention old-age . pensions. I do not know whether he did not regard them as a proper subject for early Federal payment. At any rate, he indicated that those two objects, and the taking over of the Departments that must necessarily be transferred to the Federation, would involve largely increased expenditure on our part. The honorable member, therefore, seems to be in somewhat of a difficulty. If we are going to spend considerably more than we spend now on defence, and to spend largely, as suggested by the “ honorable member, on immigration, as well as take over the Northern Territory, and some of the present State services, obviously a revenue of £1,750,000 will not, and cannot, be enough. In these circumstances the honorable member makes no suggestion as to how he would raise additional revenue, unless it is to be inferred that he believes that we ought to raise considerably more than £9,000,000 by way of Customs and Excise revenue.
– I thought it quite enough to state the problem and expect a solution of it from the Government.
– That is all very well, but as the honorable member is so candid, and as it is not a party question at present, I thought it would not be asking him too much to ask him to suggest a solution of the difficulty.
– I thought the honorable member just said that it was going to be the issue between the parties.
– The honorable member is right I see that, as it is a party question, the honorable member is possibly justified in not stating his policy. We can, however, almost infer it from what he has said. If a revenue of £1,750,000 will not be sufficient for the Commonwealth, if we must undertake largely increased expenditure, absorbing a great deal more, and the honorable member is not in favour of raising a single penny for Commonwealth purposes, except through Customs taxation, there can be only one answer to the question of what his policy is. He must propose to raise a great deal more than £9,000,000 by way of Customs taxation from the people.
– I am afraid it will mean good-bye to the free list.
– There is no doubt about that. I regret that the honorable member did not mention old-age pensions. That was a notable omission from his speech, but other honorable members in the Opposition corner have expressed their desire to see a Federal system of old-age pensions inaugurated. The honorable member for Flinders suggests as one of the means of meeting future difficulties that we must largely curtail expenditure, and construct some - I do not know whether he meant all - of our new works and buildings out of loan money. That would mean that we should have to give up the policy which we have followed ever since Federation was established.
– Oh, no. The honorable member will find that that is not so. I intimated that there might be a very large reduction effected by not spending all of the £817,000 which is proposed to be spent this year on works and buildings.’ I intimated also that some of these works might fairly be constructed out of shortdated loans with sinking funds.
– I do not want to misquote the honorable member. He expressed the opinion that the proposed expenditure this year might very well be reduced ; and I not only agree with that view, but think it is advisable that it should be reduced. But in connexion with the difficulty of making both ends meet after 1910, he threw out the. suggestion that we should have to reconsider, to some extent, the policy we have adopted up to the present, and revert to that which he said had been followed in Victoria, of paying for works of a more permanent character out of loan money.
– I suggested that the capital expenditure should .be out of loans ; of course, with’ a sinking fund to repay it.
– The honorable member suggested that, instead of year by year paying for new works and -buildings out of revenue, we ought to pay some portion out of short-dated loans.
– In other words, that we should spread the expenditure over several years.
– That means borrowing. -
– It does.
– Of course it means borrowing. The proposal of the honorable member, if carried out, would not be so bad as the old States method of borrowing indiscriminately, without providing a sinking fund. But I think the present system, of paying for new works and buildings out of each year’s income, is infinitely better business, and must increase our standing as a debt-paying country. The honorable member for Kooyong supported the suggestion of the honorable member for Flinders. My own idea is that some of our public buildings are over elaborate, and that some saving might be brought about in this connexion. The buildings now being erected are not so elaborate as those put up when the Departments were under the control of the States. But even now, in many instances, bearing in mind the population in the several districts, it seems to me that we are spending too much on post offices and other buildings.
– Chapman. - I- hope that there is none of this excessive expenditure in South Australia - at Unley, for example.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs ought not to have made that interjection, because at Unley, where there is a population of over 20,000 people, the expenditure on the post office was only some £200 or £300. In South Australia we have had to be content with anything but elaborate buildings, and yet we have managed to provide all the facilities that are provided in New South Wales, Victoria, or any other State. The reason is that; until two or three years ago, there practically was never an elastic, buoyant revenue in South Australia, and we had to cut our coat according to our cloth. I believe strongly in retaining the system as long as possible of paying for new buildings out of revenue, for the reason that it has the effect on Parliament of very materially keeping down expenditure. For instance, if we constructed fortifications, barracks, post offices, and so forth out of loans, I am afraid that we might feel inclined to be more extravagant than we are to-day.
– That is always the case when a Parliament is dealing ‘ with loan moneys.
– Hence I much prefer the present method. Of course, we shall have to meet some big expenditure, for which, probably, the revenue may not suffice ; but that expenditure is in a different category-. The honorable member for
Flinders further suggested that it would he necessary to look closely at the increasing expenditure on the Public Service. He said that the additional expenditure of £249,000 odd represented the increased pay to boys and youths who were doing the same work now that they were doing six years ago. I do not think that the honorable member really meant what he said ; but I have his exact words, which convey the impression that the boys and youths have not grown any older, and are doing the same kind of work now that they did then. But, as a matter of fact, boys who were messengers six years ago are now men, and acting as letter-carriers, mailcart drivers, telegraph operators, and so on.
– The honorable, member is entirely wrong ; the increased payments to which I referred are totally independent of increases given to public servants when they enter upon new work.
– I have gone through the honorable member’s list ; but I think that he is wrong, and that the £249,000 odd represents the total increase’s.
– If the honorable member means that the £249,000 odd represents increases in salary given to officers who are doing the same kind of work that they did some time ago, I am sure that he is utterly wrong.
– I am not wrong ; the return may be wrong.
– I do not think for a moment that the return means anything of the kind, but that it represents the total increases.
– No doubt it does.
– The return could not represent anything else. If the honorable member desires to ascertain the increased payments in the Commonwealth Public Service, he may get the information from the Budget papers. At page 103 of the Budget papers honorable members will find the only return worth considering in this connexion, and that is a return setting forth the rate of increase paid to our public servants for doing the work required to be done. The rate of increase is the true test, and the figure approaching the ,£250,000, quoted by the honorable member for Flinders, as’ a matter of fact, represents the total increases given to the public servants on promotion to higher positions, and on reaching the age at which they become entitled to the minimum wage. I am sorry that the return to which I refer honorable members has not been extended to apply to all the Departments as well as to the Post and Telegraph Department. However, as it refers to some 11,606 employes, it supplies the key to the position, so far as the whole of the service ‘ is concerned, since the Post and Telegraph Department employs by far the greater number of the public servants of the Commonwealth. I find that in 1902-3 the average salary per officer was £121. In 1903-4, the- year of the classification of the service, it had risen to £128 per officer per annum, or an increase of £7. In .1904-5 it was £.1.30.9. In 1905-6 it was £133.4. In 1906-7 it was £132.8, and for 1907-8 the estimate is £130.7. So that since 1903, the year in which the service was classified, the increase has been only £2.7 per officer per annum. That, estimating the number of officers employed as 11,000, represents a total increase of only ,£22,000 for the work being done.
– That is since classification, but .that, is not the period I took. I dealt with the whole period since Federation.
– That is so, but if we deal with the whole period it is clear from this return that the average salary per officer per annum has risen from £12 1 to £130. That rate of increase for 11,000 officers will give a total of less than £100,000. The honorable member for Flinders must see that this return supplies the real test as to the expenditure due to increases of salary. I point out that since the date of classification the increases have not been progressive. That is shown by the fact that the maximum average salary per’ officer was £i33:4 in 1905-6, and has since been reduced to £132.8 in 1906-7, and to £130.7 in 1907-8.
– I know the honorable member does not wish to do me any injustice, and he will allow me to say that I stated very distinctly that a very considerable increase was necessary and fair. The only question is whether the increase provided for is not too great.
– We shall have to face a greater increase if we wish to do justice to a number of the public servants.
– I have no wish to do the honorable member for Flinders any injustice, but I say that if the statement he made is allowed to “go forth withoutexplanation the public will be led to believe that huge increases, as the honorable member said, amounting to nearly ^£2 50,000, are being paid to officers for doing the same work as they did six years ago. Any one who knows the conditions of the service will know that that is impossible.
– I simply handed over to Hansard the return furnished to me bv a public officer.
– I am aware of that, but the honorable member made the comment upon it to which 1 have referred, and 1 am showing that the statement he made does not disclose the true position. The true test is found in the rate of increase per officer in the Public Service, and I have shown by a reference to the Budget papers that it has not amounted to more than £9 per head since Federation, and that during the past three years there has been a reduction to the extent of nearly £3.
– All deaths and retirements are taken into account in the latter calculation.
– That is so. Everything is taken into account in both cases ;ind in every year.
– The figures quoted hy the honorable member may not be in-: consistent with the return furnished to me, because, if we take all deaths and retirements into the calculation, it will cut down the amount of the increases.
– On the other hand, the honorable member must remember that my point is that these increases are not in excess of the reductions that are taking place, and are not on too lavish a scale or more than has been necessary.
– If the honorable member will allow me to interpose, what I meant was that in an ordinary normal service one would expect that the gradual increments given to the lower officers would just about balance the salaries saved by the retirement or death of officers.
– That is so.
– If they are shown to amount to a great deal more than that, the gradual increases are excessive, and I thought that probably they are excessive.
– The service is always growing larger.
– Where a service is progressing rapidly, as the postal and telegraph service is, the number of officers em- loved in that Department, having been increased by some 700 since last year, it follows that there must be a greater number of postmasters, more work to be done in the higher branches, and a greater number cf officers intrusted with increased responsibilities which carry with them increased pay.
– The service is short-handed now.
– I should think it is.
– In any kind of business we must expect the expenditure in a progressive department to be greater than in a department working under settled and normal conditions. So far from the returns justifying the contention that we are paying too much for the work being done by the Public Service, it would appear that during the last two years we have made an annual saving per head of the service of some £3.
– That arises from the fact that a large number of officers have reached the age at which increases cease.
– The honorable member’s suggestion has been that the increases, amounting to about £250,000, involve so serious a matter that Parliament must take into consideration the possibility of. withholding increases until a later date, and postponing, I suppose, the operation of the minimum wage section of the Public Service Act in certain cases. The honorable member suggested that whilst, perhaps, we should not withhold increases from married men, they might be withheld from youths and officers entering upon manhood. When an honorable member bases a proposition that financial considerations require that we shall not only cease to expend so much money on new works and buildings out of revenue, but must also consider the question whether it might not be advisable to withhold Public Service increments, on a statement that we are to-day paying nearly £250,000 more to a number of boys and men for doing the same work as they did six years ago, it is right that it should be explained that the figures, so far from bearing out his contention, show that the service is actual lv costing less per head for the work now being done than it cost three ‘-ears ago.
– The honorable member’s criticism is not an unfair one, but I do not think that it discloses the main position. The amount of the increments seems very large indeed, and it requires investigation.
– If the honorable member will look carefully at the return again, he will see that it covers all the increments. It covers the increments given to lads who have become letter-carriers, mail-cart drivers, telegraph operators, and persons promoted to superior positions. It covers all the classification increases.
– It covers the increases to youths who have reached the age of twentyone years.
– The return is inexplicable on any other basis.
– It is not an annual increase either.
– The honorable member, of course, does not think that I suggested that there had been an annual increase of £249,000?
– No ; the honorable member made that clear enough ; but he said that a payment of nearly £250,000 over the period since Federation should make honorable members pause before they continued to give increases at the rate previously given. I have dealt with some portions of the honorable member’s speech because I desired to elicit the financial policy of the party which he leads. According to his policy, we are to raise by Customs duties at least £9,000,000, probably considerably more, and nothing by direct taxation. For a fixed period £7,250,000 is to be given annually to the States; and £1,750,000 annually to the Commonwealth ; some new works must be constructed with loan money, and we should carefully consider whether it is not necessary to withhold the payment of increments to public servants.
– There is one thing which the honorable member omitted to state, and that is the principal thing - that in framing a Tariff we should not be entirely forgetful of the claims of revenue.
– I said that in the opinion of the honorable member the Tariff should be framed with a view to revenue production in 1910, when it would begin to operate in the way of establishing industries. We have elicited from the honorable member that the policy of the Opposition corner party - the Conservative Party if they like - is that the masses are to bear the whole taxation for the Commonwealth.
– In the worst possible form.
– In the form in which taxation presses most heavily upon a community, and that is in the form of Cus toms duties. To save the wealthy from taxation, the whole burden is to be borne by the masses, and the question of ability to pay is not to be considered. I can understand honorable members propounding that policy if they take up the position that they represent wealth, but from my point of view it is one of the most cold-blooded propositions ever put before a Parliament. We are to save the wealthy from taxation ; and we are to make Australia a. paradise for “the fat man.” and for all time the masses are to bear the taxation, out of which, of course, will be defrayed the increased expenditure on immigration, as well as on defence, which may benefit the working man, but which certainly will benefit the wealthy. In order to bring about this paradise for the wealthy, we are to enslave financially the masses.
– Who has submitted that proposition ?
– Undoubtedly that is the policy of the! honorable member for Flinders, as revealed here to-night.
– If the honorable member will mention one instance where I have misquoted or misrepresented the honorable member for Flinders I shall be glad to correct my statement at once.
– I think that the honorable member’s general statement is a misquotation.
– No. If we accept the policy that for all time we must raise annually by Customs duties at least £7,250,000 to go to the States and £1,750,000 - probably a great deal more - to go to the Commonwealth, and if we are to permanently collect revenue by that method, and not to impose any direct taxation, surely the honorable member can see that the masses will have to bear the bulk of the expenditure, because what the States will have to provide for will be practically only education and police.
– But the honorable member overlooks the function of the States as regards direct taxation.
– That function will be practically limited to providing for education, police, and a few other matters. We have taken over most of the non-revenue producing Departments. We have left to the States the railways, which are revenueproducing, and which need not enter into the account. If they are sufficiently revenueproducing, as probably they will be before many years have elapsed, they may yield enough revenue to enable the States to repeal the direct taxation. We find the Premier of New South Wales to-day proposing to reduce the direct taxation, and as the revenues of the States increase, so the direct taxation may be reduced. If we provide the States with sufficient funds from Customs duties they can repeal all their direct taxation, but so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, the expenditure must all be met out of the taxation raised from the masses. Such considerations as the ability of a person to pay, the enjoyment of national opportunities, or the possession of land, are not to be regarded’ at all, but the masses are to be taxed permanently in the form of Customs duties. I can understand that policy coming from some honorable members, but I thought that the honorable member for Flinders was a believer in direct taxation.
– When necessary.
– I am in favour of it. : Mr. BATCHELOR.- The honorable member understands perfectly the position, and, therefore, his policy seems to me1 to be one of the most cold-blooded policies to permanently enslave a people that I have ever known to be submitted to a Parliament. I desire now to refer to what is known as the “new protection.” ‘Recollecting the way in which the House viewed the proposals which were made during last session to protect the worker and the consumer; recollecting the way in which every section of the House did what it could to help forward that policy, I- was hoping that it would still be regarded from a nonparty view. I shall always regard the attitude of not only the Opposition, but also honorable members in the Opposition corner, towards the new protection last year as an evidence of their humanity. I shall be surprised to find a tirade of abuse directed against the method of, or unnecessary objections offered to, the proposals which are to be made. I expected the honorable member for Flinders to make some reference to the subject. But he said that he would prefer to’ wait until some substantive proposals were made - a course of action which he was perfectly justified in adopting. The honorable member for South Svdney, however, did put before the Committee certain general principles, and, inasmuch as I am keenly interested in this matter, I should have liked those principles to have been criticised.
– I criticised them. I said that the whole of his scheme was made to hang .upon . the Commonwealth trade mark, and that it was a matter of grave doubt whether the Commonwealth trade mark would hold water - whether it was constitutional.
– The constitutional difficulty will crop up in connexion with any industrial conditions which we may lay down, requiring compliance on the part of manufacturers.
– To insure protection to the consumer will be the most difficult problem.
– That is so. I wish now to refer very briefly to the question of the protection of the worker. It has been said that last year’s experiment in this direction has proved a- failure.
– It has not yet been tried sufficiently to enable a correct opinion to be formed.
– So far from the system having proved a failure, it has been a success in most cases in which it has been applied. In South Australia it has certainly succeeded in shortening the hours of labour, and in increasing the wages of quite 75 per cent, of those engaged in the agricultural implement industry, and it has accomplished this result practically without increasing the cost to the consumer. Unless we can protect the worker, I do not intend to support the granting of any increased measure of protection to industries. If the community fends off competition from the manufacturer, the latter ought not to reap the whole of the benefit, but ought to share it with his workers. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has criticised the. action of some firms in South Australia, who, it is alleged, are evading the award of the Arbitration Court. I do not wish to discuss that question at any length upon the present occasion. I ha.ve in my possession the replies, vouchsafed by the manufacturers, to his allegations, and published in the South Australian newspapers, but. they are very meagre replies, and consequently it is unnecessary for me to trouble the Committee with them.- They simply amount to a general denial of the statement that they have evaded any of the provisions of the Act,- and they are accompanied by a pious expression of opinion on the part of the ‘secretary of the Protectionist Association that no member of that association would be guilty df such conduct. As a matter of fact, what the honorable member for Hindmarsh affirms - and what I support him in affirming - is that, the President of the Arbitration Court having made an award, and it having been stated upon good authority that effect is not being given to that award, it is the duty of the Government to collect the Excise payable by these manufacturers if they are able to do so. If the firms in question continue to refuse to show that the conditions are being observed by them, the Government should at once impose the Excise duty. The alleged offenders would then be compelled to appeal to the Arbitration Court to establish the fact that they are carrying out the conditions under which they were permitted to manufacture their goods free of Excise duty. If the present system of imposing Excise is to be continued, it is essential that the proof of compliance with any order of the Court shall rest with the employers. The honorable member for South Sydney has outlined a proposal in this connexion that it should not be difficult to work, inasmuch as the machinery for the Commonwealth trade mark is already in existence. The deputy leader of the Opposition - while the honorable member for South Sydney was speaking - objected that the Commonwealth trade mark and the workers’ trade mark were identical, and urged that the latter was the cause of so much friction that it would be inadvisable to legislate further in respect of the Commonwealth trade mark. But I would point out to him that the Commonwealth trade mark and the workers’ trade” mark differ fundamentally. The workers’ trade mark under the Trade Marks Act simply signifies manufacture by members of a trade union, and nothing else. Upon the other hand, the Commonwealth trade mark signifies that the conditions under which the goods to which it is attached were produced, were controlled by some State or Federal authority. The right to use the Commonwealth trade mark implies that the conditions of labour in an industry are controlled by some State or Federal authority.
– Would not the Commonwealth trade mark and the workers’ trade mark become one as time went on ?
– The members of the unions would prefer the workers’ trade mark, which signifies* membership of a union. They band together for the purpose of maintaining certain conditions. If by legislation we enable a Ccurt to determine what those con ditions shall be, there will be no object in unionists remaining united. There will not remain the incentive which now exists for them to band themselves together. At the present time they band themselves together in order that they may mutually support each other in case of strikes. But where Wages Boards or an Arbitration Court are in existence strikes are practically impossible.
– It has not been proved so in New South Wales.
– In that State matters’ have not proceeded far enough to enable us to say with certainty what will be the ultimate result. Probably the honorable member has noticed in the press the statement that the New Zealand Court has held that every member of a union who disobeys an award of the Court may be imprisoned.
– Nonsense. We could not imprison the whole country.
– If the right honorable member will refer to the newspapers of the past day or two he will find that the facts are as I have stated.
– They were so stated-.
– It would be impracticable to imprison a large body of strikers.
– There is a comparatively small population in New Zealand. We should require forty new gaols if we were to imprison strikers.
– All that I wish todo at this stage is to point out the difference between the two marks - the one requiring the employment of workmen who have joined a union, and the other the observance of certain conditions - either of Wages Boards, Arbitration Courts, or someother Federal or State authority.
– An Arbitration Actdoes not prevent men from striking. Thev struck in Western Australia although therewas an Arbitration Act.
– I admit that thev have struck, but the question of whether or not they can be imprisoned for striking has not yet been finally settled. The latest decision appears to be that men can be imprisoned for striking.
– It is not practicable to imprison where a large number of menare concerned.
– That is a question which time alone can settle.
Tariff: Intentions of the Government - Order of Business - Kerosene Supplies in Australia.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I take this opportunity ito press the question which I put to the Acting Prime Minister to-day, as to whether he will declare what the Ministry intends to do withreference to the Tariff?
– Pass it, of course !
– Friction is taking place, . and unrest is permeating the Commonwealth. We have had a most interesting discussion to-day, but I am certain that honorable members and the country generally will be glad to receive an intimation from the Government as to their intentions. The Ministry must know perfectly well that they cannot force this Tariff through this Parliament, and I am quite sure that if I move the adjournment of the House to-morrow, with the object of insisting upon a declaration of intentions, the motion will be carried against the Government.
– Try it, then !
– I say this in the most friendly way. It is of no use for honorable members opposite to laugh, and to deride me because I am presuming to criticise the actions of the Government. The statement was made in the House the. other day that one of the oil companies dealing in kerosene had increased the price to the consumer, although no duty had been paid. I am advised that the sum of £5,800 has been paid.
– The Acting Prime Minister knows the facts, and it is r.ot necessary for me to give further particulars.
– I do not.
– In view of the unrest in Western Australia, the feeling with regard to the increased duty on chairs, and other causes of uneasiness, we have a right to ask the Government for an expression of its intentions. It is impossible to insist on maintaining the present position unless at the point of the bayonet. The Government has no right to expect the House to go unsatisfied. It is due not only to the House, but to the commercial community that we should know what the Ministry intend to do.
– I think the honorable member for Indi is somewhat astray. The House is now in possession of the Tariff, and I should object to the Ministry taking it back for reconsideration. The House will have to deal with it item by item.
– It will take twelve months to deal with it in that wav.
– Well, we were engaged for about eleven months upon the last Tariff. The honorable member can make up his mind that we shall be engaged upon this work until after Christmas. I suppose that the debate will be renewed upon each item. I am surprised at the honorable member forgetting what an interference it would be with the interests of the commercial community for the Government to take back the Tariff. The merchants and shopkeepers are raising the prices of goods. Why should not the honorable member be content’ to allow them to make a good thing out of the Tariff while they have the opportunity ? I am surprised that he, who usually stands up for the interest of the commercial community, should forget that they are finding operations under the Tariff very profitable.
– I do not forget the interest of the people whom the honorable member represents.
– I do not think that the honorable member has the interest of our people so much at heart. Does he dream for a moment that even supposing that the Acting Prime Minister were prepared to take back the Tariff and reconstruct it, the House would be willing to allow him to do so? The House has charge of the Tariff, and I object to any attempt being made by the Government or any one else to deprive it of its privileges.
.- I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he proposes, at the close of the Budget debate, to invite the House to deal with the Judiciary Bill and the Commonwealth Salaries Bill before proceeding to consider the Tariff schedule.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Indi wished to suggest that the Government should bring down another Tariff Bill. He desires, as we all do, that we should deal expeditiously with the Tariff in the interests of the commercial community, and the public generally. I object, and I think most honorable members do, to legislation which, although important, is not pressing, being interposed and the consideration of the Tariff delayed. When an attempt is made to do anything of the kind I shall protest, for I think it would be nothing short of a scandal to spend a week or two in considering measures which are not pressing whilst the Tariff - a question of vital importance to the community, affecting, as it does, every interest throughout Australia - remains unsettled. I hope that the Government will use every endeavour to press forward the consideration of the Tariff.
.- I should like to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he has been informed that, although he stated recently that we had in Australia a supply of kerosene sufficient to meet our requirements for the next fifteen months, the actual fact is that we have not more than a three months’ supply?
– The honorable member for Echuca should put his question to the Minister of Trade and Customs. In reply to the honorable member for Corio, I would remind him that I have said more than once that after the close of the debate on the Budget, 1 shall ask the House to deal with the New Works and Buildings Estimates, and two other measures. I made that statement at the outset of the Budget debate.
– Before it commenced.
– That is so. I know no reason why we should depart from that determination. I have had a conversation with the Prime Minister, who thinks that one, if not two, of the Bills in question is very urgent.
– He is very anxious about them.
– Quite so.
– What are those measures - the Commonwealth Salaries Bill and the Judiciarv Bill?
– Is there any urgency in regard to the Judiciary Bill ?
– I believe that there is; but I do not wish at this stage to debate the question. As to the virtuous indignation displayed by the honorable member for Indi, when he said that I should intimate what items in the Tariff the Government intend to support, and what items we are prepared to reduce or strike out, I reply at once that Ido not propose to make any such intimation.
– I am only asking f,or what a member’ of the Government in dicated to a. deputation that the honorable member would do.
– I do not know that I made any promise of the kind, and I do not propose to take the extraordinary course suggested by the honorable member. When we reach the schedule to the Tariff we will deal with the items, and the Committee will then know exactly what the Government intend to do.
– Time will be lost.
– It will be if the honorable member insists upon speaking frequently, and other honorable members will not curtail their speeches.
– I have talked less than has any honorable member.
– The honorable member always talks on the motion for the adjournment.
– I have not pre viously spoken on an adjournment motion. Will the honorable gentleman tell the truth? .
– Oh, yes, the honorable member has spoken. I shall be glad if honorable members generally will curtail their speeches on the Budget. We have had some very long addresses.
– I shall promise hot to speak at all if the Government will consent to proceed uninterruptedly with the Tariff.
– I ask the honorable member not to interrupt.
– The Government is anxious to proceed in a reasonable way with the consideration of the Tariff. I have not endeavoured, so far, to induce honorable members to compress their speeches on the Budget, but since the debate has now occupied our attention for some time, I hope that it will close within the next few days. The consideration of the two Bills I have mentioned, as well as of the Works and Buildings Estimates, should not occupy more than two or three days. The Judiciarv Bill, to which the honorable member for Corio has referred, is one which only the lawyers in the House are likely to debate. I cannot withdraw anything I have said in reference to the intentions df the Government regarding those measures, and I certainly am not going to frame a partially new Tariffbefore we. get to the consideration of the present one.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.32,p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 September 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070910_reps_3_38/>.