3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 6) presented by Mr. Hutchison, and read, by the Clerk as follows -
The Printing Committee have the honour to report that they 1 have met in Conference with the .Printing Committee of the Senate.
The Joint Committee, .having considered all the Petitions and Papers’ presented to Parlia- ment since the last meeting of the Committee, make the following recommendations with re spect to such Petitions and Papers as were not ordered by either House to be printed, viz. : -
Committee Room,12th September, 1907.
– I notice that in a schedule of duties which has been put before honorable members, items appear as having been recommended in reports signed by the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, which would lead one to believe that in every case he signed for the whole of the members of the “ A “ or protectionist section, whereas in some cases he signed for himself alone, and his opinion was dissented from by the other protectionist members of the Commission. Is the Minister aware of that, and if so, will he have the schedule corrected?
– I shall be glad if the honorable member will give notice of his question. While I am ready to give all information possible, my officers cannot determine what was in the minds of the members of the Tariff Commission. They must go by the statements which have been put into cold type in the reports of the Commission. Those reports have been analyzed by them, and the complaint having been made that their analysis was not quite correct, it was gone through again, and several small mistakes corrected. I am at a loss to know how we can do what the honorable member wishes. Honorable members are in possession of the reports of the Tariff Commission, and could, I take it, analyze them for themselves.
– I refer to a schedule prepared by the Customs Department, from which it would appear that the Chairman of the Tariff Commission signed certain recommendations on behalf of himself and the protectionist section of the Commission, whereas then he was only expressing his individual opinion, and not that of his fellow protectionists.
– The reports of the Commission show clearly the opinions of its members, and I do not see that anything is to be gained by reprinting them. I could not incorporate those reports in the schedule to which the honorable member has referred.
Notice of Amendments - Increase in the Cost of Living.
– As several honorable members have given notice of their intention to move amendments when the Tariff schedule comes to be considered in detail, I wish to give notice that I shall oppose all duties which I consider a tax on the necessaries of life, and all other duties which I think should not be levied.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister aware that the employes of the Melbourne Harbor Trust have petitioned that body for an increase of pay equivalent to 3s 6d. a week to meet an alleged increase of the cost of living primarily brought about by the operation of the new Tariff?
– I am not.
– In view of the statement of the honorable member for Brisbane on Tuesday last that, the Sugar Excise Act is causing grave dissatisfaction in Queensland, and another State, has the Government considered the advisability of repealing it?
– I have not heardthat the Act is causing great dissatisfaction’ in Queensland, or elsewhere, I do not think that it is. The Government has, at the present time, no intention of proposing to repeal it.
– The PostmasterGeneral stated recently that he is desirous of increasing the postal and telegraphic facilities of outlying districts; but yesterday I received a letter from my electorate in which it was stated that the Department has taken from the public the right to telegraph money orders through the post office at Mangana. In doing so, I think that it is taking conveniences from the public, instead of increasing their facilities of communication.
– The honorable member gave me notice of his intention to ask the question, and I have been supplied with the following statement on the subject -
The change in practice referred to in the attached letter addressed to Mr. Starrer was due to a general instruction issued to all Deputy PostmastersGeneral. Recently frauds were perpetrated on the Department in connexion with telegraph money orders, and it became necessary for the Department to take special measures to prevent, as far as practicable, the possibility of further frauds. Experience has shown that, notwithstanding all the precautions taken by the Department; it is impossible to completely prevent fraud in connexion with the telegraph money order system, but there would be absolutely no such preventive at all in connexion with money order messages by telephone, as of course there is no record of such messages which can be verified. The Department is desirous of rendering every reasonable facility to the public, and the recent change of practice was only made because it was found to be necessary in order to protect the public revenue.
– When will the Acting Prime Minister lay on the table of the House the report of the Navigation Commission? As a motion asking for leave to introduce the Navigation Bill is to be moved in the Senate this afternoon, I hope that honorable members will receive copies of the report as soon as practicable.
– When the report was laid on the table of the Senate, I found that copies had not been printed ; but I have asked that they shall be printed as soon as possible, and I shall lay one on the table directly I get it.
Protection of Workers and Consumers
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is he, on behalf of the Government, prepared to indorse the following recommendations in regard to the new Tariff, contained in Report No. 50 of the Royal Commission on Customs and Excise Tariffs : - “1. We consider that where protective duties are substantially increased, provision should be made to secure payment of reasonable wages to persons engaged in the industries benefited by such duties. “ 2. We further recommend that, should the
Minister certify that the retail selling prices of goods enumerated in the said table and made in the Commonwealth have been unfairly increased by reason of the additional protection given against imported goods of a similar kind, it shall be lawful for the Governor-General, upon an address from the Senate and the House of Representatives, to declare by proclamation that the collection of such increased duties on the said imported goods shall be suspended until further order by proclamation “ ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions I beg to submit the following : -
asked the Post-. master-General, upon notice -
Whether he will get a report of the cost of improving the Penola post-office to meet the increased business there ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
A report will be obtained as desired.
Consideration resumed from nth Sep tember (vide page 3145) of motion of Sir William Lyne -
That duties of Customs and duties of Excise be imposed according to the following Tariff (vide page 1648)…………
– I do not intend to occupy the attention of the Committee to the extent that some previous speakers have occupied it, but I desire to ask the favorable consideration of a few facts which I shall place before honorable members. The first fact to which I desire to invite attention is that since the consummation of Federation three appeals have been made to the electors of Australia. Upon each occasion the question of Free-trade versus Protection has been submitted for their consideration. As the result of the first election it was found absolutely impossible to secure anything like an effective policy of protection because of the need for regard being paid to revenue considerations. Upon the second occasion the fiscal issue was made a more prominent question, and the electors were invited to declare whether they desired a revenue Tariff or whether they preferred a national policy of protection. The result of the second appeal to the people showed that the number of electors in favour of a protective system had largely increased. Upon the last occasion a deliberate attempt was made to cloud the fiscal issue, and to this end the champion of free-trade in Australia - the leader of the Opposition - abandoned his free-trade principles for the time being, and raised the flag of anti-Socialism. Many of his. followers in other parts of the Commonwealth ranged themselves under that banner.
– Not all of them.
– I am not certain whether the honorable member carried that flag, but I am certain that he was entirely opposed to Socialism.
– But I never abandoned my free-trade principles.
– I do not think that the Committee would expect the honorable member to abandon his free-trade principles.I believe that he is one of the few real free-traders in this Chamber who desire to abolish the whole of the Customs and Excise duties, and to obtain whatever revenue may be necessary for the government of the Commonwealth by means of direct taxation. He has repeatedly declared himself in favour of that policy. But he is evidently determined to whittle down the duties imposed upon the various items in the Tariff schedule to the lowest possible point. I do not quarrel with him for the attitude which he takes up, because I recognise that he is a sincere free-trader who wishes to assert his principles upon every possible occasion. But, although the cry of anti-Socialism was raised at the last election in New South Wales, can anybody deny that the real issue before the electors was the fiscal issue?
– Certainly it was not the issue in Queensland.
– Nor was it in Tasmania.
– We did not have any knowledge of this wretched Tariff then. We did not expect that duties amounting to several hundred per cent, would be imposed upon certain goods.
– I am prepared to accept the assurance of the honorable member for Capricornia and the honorable member for Wilmot, that the fiscal question was not the issue put before the electors of Queensland and Tasmania at the last election. But what about Victoria? There was only one anti- Socialist candidate in this State who declared himself a freetrader. Where is the gentleman now?
– Who was the candidate to whom the honorable member refers?
– Mr. Arthur Robinson.
– I say that from every platform in this State candidates affirmed that they were in favour of a policy of protection. , Now, what the people of Australia want is an effective measure of protection - a Tariff which will have the effect of increasing the industries in our midst and of providing our artisans with opportunities to obtain a fair and legitimate wage. When we come to deal with the separate items of the schedule, I intend to afford those honorable members who from the hustings declared themselves protectionists a chance to justify their position before the electors.
– Outside of Victoria, most of the candidates were opposed to an increased Tariff.
– I would like them to affirm in this Chamber that they intend to treat protection, not as a vital principle, but merely as the means to secure a seat in Parliament. I shall afford every one of these honorable members an opportunity to give effect to their pledges to protect Australian industries.
– If the effort be successful, the honorable member will do a lot of good.
– My duty is clear.I am a protectionist. I believe that in the Commonwealth is to be found everything that is necessary for man’s subsistence. If to-morrow it were to please Almighty God to submerge the rest of the world, there is not one article which is now being used by mankind in any portion of the globe which could not be produced in Australia.
– We could produce pineapples in the antarctic regions if we had hot houses for them.
– And we could grow politicians like the honorable member. Fortunately for Australia protectionists desire legislation in the interests of the masses, and not in those of the classes. New South Wales has always claimed to be a free-trade State. Whilst the honorable member for Parramatta was speaking the other day, he appeared to resent the suggestion which I made that New South Wales was never a free-trade State.
– Who said that?
– I did. The honorable member claimed that New South Wales was a free-trade State. I admit that there was a period in the history of that State when the honorable member for East Sydney was in power when the fiscal policy of the State was brought as near free-trade as possible.
– And that was the most prosperous period in that country.
– The honorable member has spoken a little too soon. The present leader of the Opposition had no sooner carried that policy than he found himself in financial difficulties, and had to resort to the Customs for relief by placing a revenue Tariff on the requisites of the breakfast table.
– Yes,1d. per lb. on tea.
– Indeed, the honorable gentleman asked for a duty of 3d. per lb. on tea ; and had it not been for the action of the Labour Party that duty would have been imposed.
– How many duties did the honorable gentleman take off the requisites of the breakfast table?
– I have a better knowledge of the circumstances than has the honorable member. I happened to be a member of the State Parliament at the time, whereas the honorable member for Lang was then in private life; I speak from actual knowledge and not from distorted information supplied by the freetrade press of Sydney, especially the Daily Telegraph. Even now, when we are supposed to have got into the quietude of this Chamber–
– Quietude ?
– What I say is that it is absolutely impossible to refuse to carry into effect the Australian policy which has been demanded by the people. For example, can it be denied that the fiscal question was raised during the recent elections in New South Wales? Was the question of the Tariff not dragged in by Mr. Carruthers for purposes of his own - an action which in my opinion has proved very disastrous to him? Does not the Argus, the great free-trade journal of Melbourne, in compiling the returns of the New South Wales elections, not class the successful candidates as protectionist-liberals and free-trade-liberals? Under the circumstances, I ask in all seriousness what justification there is for the threats of the Opposition that they intend to try their utmost to reduce the duties below the protective line? The people have three times loudly demanded from us, as their representatives, a truly protective policy ; and the Opposition, if they take the action they have foreshadowed, will be acting treacherously towards the country. We are here to reflect the opinions of the people, since we claim to be a democracy ; and, therefore, no good ground can be shown for any effort that may be made to confine the Tariff to revenue duties.
– Good old democracy ! The honorable member belongs to a party of sixteen, which is governing the country.
– The party to, which the deputy leader of the Opposition belongs does not number so many. My party went to the people as protectionists, and have been returned; whereas the party of the deputy leader of the Opposition, who stood as free-traders - well, where are they now ? I claim that the people of New South Wales said to the protectionist section of our party, “ You have done well in the past, and we shall return you because you are true to the interests of Australia. We shall relegate the traitors to private life.”
– The protectionist party in New South Wales was returned sixteen strong.
– And how strong is the party to which the deputy leader of the Opposition belongs? Although the two powerful daily papers of Sydney, and almost every other newspaper in New South Wales, are opposed to the protectionist policy, the fact remains, that - in spite of a variety of influences, some of which are very bad, especially the sectarian influence -the protectionist party has become stronger and stronger. Only on Tuesday last, in New South Wales, the protectionists of that State, particularly in Sydney and suburbs, spoke out so emphatically that Mr. Carruthers lost no fewer than seven seats in the County of Cumberland.
– Spoke out for what ?
– Protection. The Tariff is introduced avowedly to give as much protection as possible to the people of Australia. Unfortunately, while the Braddon section remains in operation, it is absolutely impossible to secure a perfectly true and scientific protectionist policy, seeing that revenue considerations prevail, and many items of a revenue character must remain on the Tariff.
– Will not those items remain after the Braddon section ceases to operate ?
– No. As a protectionist, I say that if it were not for the fact that revenue must be obtained from Customs and Excise, and from that source only during the operation of the Braddon section, I would vote against every duty imposed for revenue purposes.
– The removal of the Braddon section would not make any difference.
– I shall deal with the Braddon section immediately ; and in the meantime will only say that I think its removal would make a difference. However, the fact remains that we derive all our revenue at the present time from Customs and Excise alone. Three-fourths of that revenue we are compelled by the Constitution to return to the States, but, as a matter of fact, we have returned more than the stipulated proportion. However, that is also a matter with which I shall deal later. The position has to be faced as we find. it. The Government and their supporters, and, I believe, every member in this House, will admit that consideration must be given to the revenue requirements of the Commonwealth in the framing of the Tariff ; and consequently we find certain items which, but for that consideration, would not have been there.
– Then it appears that we cannot have a true scientific protection.
– Not until the operation of the Braddon section expires. But, in the meantime, it is desired to get as much protection as possible; and it is my duty, and the duty of every protectionist member, to fight strenuously to that end.
– The honorable member admits that he cannot get as much protection as he would like.
– I do.
– But the honorable member is not going to fight for a thoroughly protective Tariff.
– I am going to support every protective item in the Tariff, with the knowledge that I shall also be compelled to vote for many items which are not protective, but which must remain for revenue purposes.
– If the honorable member is against a revenue Tariff, I do not. see why he should support revenue items.
– I am against a revenue Tariff. I know that the honorable member for Barrier, with whom I have had many pleasant conversations on the subject, is a believer in the writings of Henry George. I also believe in that portion of Henry George’s writings, wherein it is laid down that there is no justification whatever for a Tariff except for protective purposes - wherein he condemns any imposition of duties for revenue purposes.
– The honorable member is saying that he will not vote against the revenue items in the Tariff.
– If I did vote against those items, I know that I should put the Government into financial difficulties.
– The honorable member’s course is to vote for direct taxation.
– That is another matter on which I do not desire to touch at present. However, when the question of direct taxation is introduced here, I do not think there will be much difficulty infinding out what my opinions and intentions are on the subject. At present I am dealing with the Tariff from the point of view I have indicated. I hold that a Tariff ought to be for protective purposes only, and that for the purposes of revenue other taxation arrangements should be made.
– We on this side are trying to make “ other arrangements,” but honorable members opposite will not permit us.
– The arrangements which the honorable member for Dal ley would like to make are not of a character to suit mypurpose. It is apparent that education is spreading, and has actually reached the honorable member for Dal ley, whom I recognise and welcome as a convert to protection. The honorable member has hitherto been a follower of Cobden, but he has announced to the House - and I compliment him on his action - that he intends to vote for the highest form of protection in the case of the manufacture of iron and steel and” the building of ships. I can assure the honorable member that he will find me by his side on every occasion in which he endeavours to carry out his purpose.
– In the meantime the honorable member has a little pity for the honorable member for Dalley ?
– Certainly not; the honorable member for Dalley is in no need of pity.
– I am not like Joseph with the coat of many colours - he was pitied.
– I must ask honorable members to cease interjecting across the table.
– I was only endeavouring to help the honorable member for Riverina.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member for Dalley not to continue interjecting.
– I was endeavouring to give the honorable member a little education.
– Order ! I shall not warn the honorable member for Dalley again.
– The Tariff has been dealt with by many honorable members during this discussion. I am somewhat disappointed at some honorable members who declared themselves protectionists to the people of Australia, but who, in this House, have enunciated so peculiar a kind of protection. An attempt has been made by one honorable member - I think the honorable member for Grampians - to draw a line at what he calls effective protection, and the honorable member in his remarks declared that he could not go beyond that line, because it meant prohibition. I am very curious to know where the line is to be drawn. If you ask the deputy leader of the Opposition, he will say that the line should be drawn at 10 per cent., whereas other honorable members declare for1 5 per cent, or even 25 per cent.
– I do not draw any line.
– There are freetraders who would draw the line at 25 per cent.
– Quite so. But what is protection ? Is protection to be measured by the percentageof duties?
– Measure it by the Melbourne Age.
– I measure it by common sense and by our pledges to the people, and I would make it sufficiently effective for the purpose intended, namely, the establishment of industries. We should have such protection as will foster the industries already in existence, and afford employment and better wages; and then allow internal competition, as directed against the importer, to bring down the prices to the consumer.
– How long would the honorable member consider a fair time to “ foster” an industry?
– All the time. I am not one who would go to a great deal of trouble to build up a house of prosperity, and after completing it take a torch in my hand and destroy it.
– We do not “foster” a house, but we build it.
– I thought that the word “ construct” meant to build.
– But the honorable member talked of “ fostering.”
– I was speaking of constructing or building a house, and then destroying it by means of a torch.
– Surely the honorable member would not say that to build a house is to “ foster “ it ?
Mr.CHANTER.- I shall not enter into an argument with the honorable member on a mere quibble.
– The honorable member is giving us “ another fact.”
– The honorable member who interjects has not a. monopoly of facts. I also have a few, but the difference between the honorable member and myself is that he cannot substantiate his facts, whereas I can substantiate mine. Without going into dry statistics, I wish to compare the position of Victoria under a protective policy with the position of the larger State of New South Wales under freetrade. Can any one deny that the protective policy has established industries and given employment to thousands in Victoria ?
– 120,000 people left Victoria within a comparatively short period.
– That was after the collapse of the boom, with which the honorable member, among others, had something to do. Victoria is only one,fourth the age of New South Wales, but under her protective policy she fostered and encouraged the producing interests to such an extent as to put on the soil fourteen producers to the square mile as against only three producers to the square mile in New South Wales. In the one State a domestic policy prevailed, whilst in the other there was a foreign policy in operation. I hope that honorable members listened to-day to the reply given by the Acting Prime Minister to my question as to the countries from which the wire-netting imported into Australia comes. Do those imports come from our ‘kith and kin in the old land?
– A good deal of wirenetting comes from Great Britain.
– Had the honorable member listened to the Acting Prime Minister’s reply to my question he would have known that immense quantities of wirenetting have entered Australia from Belgium, France, arid particularly from Germany.
– It was on the free list under the Kingston Tariff.
– The right honorable member for Adelaide, when Minister of Trade and Customs, had to put on the free list many things which he would have liked to subject to a duty.
– Will the honorable member give us the density of population in each of the two States of New South Wales and Victoria?
– I have not the figures by me. We often hear New South Wales referred to as “ the parent State.” As a matter of fact, she is not. No one can say that she is the parent of South Australia, but we may properly speak of her as “ the senior State.” She enjoyed constitutional government long before the other States, and she possesses the greatest gifts that God could shower upon a country - rich mineral deposits, the finest harbor in the world, and magnificent shipping facilities. But almost until the present time she has relied, not upon the energy and industry of her producers to develop her vast resources, but upon a policy of borrowing from the money-lender abroad.
– It was a protectionist Government that borrowed most largely in New South Wales.
– That argument will not apply.
– It is a fact.
– It is not.
– When a member of the Legislature of New South Wales, I condemned the policy of borrowing, just as I have done as a member of this House, and I have no hesitation in saying that, having regard to her marvellous opportunities, it is remarkable that New South Wales should have lagged so far behind.
– Does New South Wales favour the present Tariff ?
– She does. The electors of that State on Tuesday last undoubtedly replied -in the affirmative to that question. I propose to put before the Committee the testimony of a free-trader who was a member of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth, and who was deservedly respected by all parties in the House. The gentleman in question, Sir William McMillan, who was deputy leader of the Opposition in this House, and has been at all times a free-trader, took part in the Federal referendum campaign, and is reported to have said : -
Victoria has been under a protective tariff for many years, and the. result of that protective tariff is that thousands of pounds worth of articles which come in here through our ports never come in through Victoria’s ports at all, because they are either produced or manufactured in Victoria. Now supposing for one moment that when the Federal Parliament meets, the average tariff of Australia, which may be called the Victorian tariff, is adopted, you will see clearly that this colony (N.S.W.) having been for many years under a free trade system, must take years before it works out the result of a protective system. Even if you introduce a high tariff at once, you will not rush into existence manufactures of .all kinds, and you will not make people produce all kinds of articles which they have hitherto had imported.
This expression of opinion on the part of a gentleman whose views are worthy of serious consideration fully corroborates my statement concerning the value of protection. I do not think that any honest politician would attempt to deny its accuracy. There is no reason why we should cavil at such a statement.I am as loyal to New South Wales as is any honorable member, and when I know what protection has done for Victoria I feel that the policy is one that should be applied, not only to New South Wales, but to the whole Commonwealth. When a protective Tariff is introduced, certain honorable members immediately threaten to do their utmost to prevent its being passed.
– There have been no threats.
– More than onehonorable member has threatened that steps will be taken to so carve up this Tariff as to reduce it below the protective line. To do such a thing would be to act contrary to the wishes of the majority of the people of Australia. What is being done by the allies of the free-trade party - the importers, the so-called honest men who are held up as patterns for society?
– Are the manufacturers patterns for society?
– They often are. The honorable member’s party regard the importers as demigods. They claim that they alone should be considered, and that with unrestricted imports we should have lower prices. But what have the importers been doing since the imposition of the new Tariff? Many of them have been absolutely robbing the people of Australia by raising the prices of articles that have not been subjected to an increased duty.
– The honorable member supports the policy of the new protection, which is designed to make the manufacturers honest.
– I certainly wish to grant protection to the manufacturer, but my vote will also be cast in the direction of allowing the artisan and the mechanic to participate in the advantages of such a policy. Since the imposition of the new Tariff we have had an all round increase in prices. The honorable member for Parkes has quoted a paragraph setting forth that, in consequence of the Tariff, household expenses have been increased by 3s. per week.
–The workers themselves say that that is so.
– It suits the purpose of the honorable member to quote such a statement. I venture to say that it was taken from the Argus.
– I do not know from what newspaper it came.
– I wish to deal with absolute facts. Is it not a fact that the Australian retailer, in many instances, has raised the prices of articles that are produced in Australia, and on which no duty has been paid ? Is it not true that we are told that the price of everything has been increased in consequence of the Tariff? Are honorable members blind? Are they not aware that we have on the free list hundreds of articles?
– Has the honorable member considered how traders are to be compensated if duties on goods already in stock are lowered, and prices fall?
– I fancy that they have already compensated themselves.
– What is the honorable member blaming them for?
– For not acting honestly. Traders have no right to mislead the public, and to assert that increased prices are due to the Tariff when that is not the case.
– Will they have a right to lose later on if the Tariff be reduced ?
– They will take care not to do so The tactics to which I have referred are often spoken of as commercial morality. I describe them as” commercial robbery.” No tradesman or merchant has a right to call upon the general public to pay something that he himself has not had to pay. I hope that we shall pass legislation dealing with those who mislead and rob the public in the way to which I have referred. I should like to know what justification there is for the increase of9d. per lb. in the price of tobacco. We have imposed a further duty of 3d. per lb.
– The local manufacturers as well as importers are charging the increased price.
– I am not prepared to shield the local manufacturer who does such a thing, any more than I am prepared to protect the importer who does so. Then, again, the price of kerosene has been increased, although under the Tariff a duty is imposed only on the cases and tins in which kerosene is introduced. The British Imperial Company has intimated that it has not increased the price of its kerosene to the retailers, and that it does not intend to do so; but yet in almost every shop an increase of 3d. per gallon is charged. Is not that robbery?
– Is there any justification for raising the price of meat on the ground that the Tariff necessitates such an increase?
– No. I have just said that the prices of articles produced in Australia - meat, vegetables, and various other commodities - have been increased without any justification.
– What about the honorable member’s theory that competition brings down prices?
– It is not a theory; it is a fact that has been demonstrated. The theory of the free-trade party is that if goods can be purchased in foreign countries at low prices and introduced into Australia free of duty, the consumers will obtain them at a very low price. If consumers could go to other parts of the world for what they want, and buy there, they would undoubtedly purchase cheaply; but they cannot do that, and have to buy from importers whose profit is, not 10 per cent., but often1,000 per cent.
– The protectionist objection to imported goods is that they are too cheap.
– No. The true protectionist recognises that, under free-trade, the importer has a monopoly of distribution, and can make the consumers pay whatever priceshe chooses to ask; that, therefore, in the interests of the community, local manufacturers should be encouraged to create competition, compelling importers to reduce prices in order to retain the market. Will the honorable member deny that, from the initiation of protection in Victoria until the present day, the prices of all kinds of articles have been lower than they were before the protective policy was adopted?
– The result of forty-six years of what protectionists term fostering of industries was to drive 120,000 persons outof Victoria.
– It was the land boom which drove persons out of Victoria. The gambling in land by a section of the community ruined many thousands, including unfortunate widows ; but the policy of protection has always created employment in Victoria. We had a financial smash in New South Wales, due to gambling there, and if the Government of the State had not come to the assistance of the local banks not one of them could have kept its doors open. However, these are matters which, although not entirely foreign to the question, are not directly connected with it. I am glad to have had an opportunity to expose the dishonest practices of many of our traders in increasing prices unjustifiably, and I have rightly termed their action robbery. It has been said that the imposition of a high Tariff will create in Australia monopolies, combines, rings, and trusts. But if the Tariff has that effect, this Parliament can legislate to remedy the evil. We cannot dealwith the huge octopus-like corporations which are sucking the life blood of the commercial world, and already have their tentacles on Australia, declaring that they will destroy our local manufactures ; but we can legislate to break up such institutions if they establish themselves within the Commonwealth. If it were found that legislation could not properly control private enterprise, I would vote for the nationalization of industries. The Tariff, which I hope will be passed without much alteration, provides for the protection of all classes. It protects the producers of wool and cereals–
– How does it protect the men on the land?
– It benefits them in many ways. It will increase their home market 100-fold, because it will establish factories whose employes will buy the productions of the land.
– Where does Queensland sell her sugar? In the home market.
– Yes. The home market is the best market. The producer and manufacturer can control that.
– We sell the bulk of our wool and butter in outside markets.
– The producers can watch the local markets, and hold back for good prices; but in outside markets they are at the mercy of rings and trusts, which soarrange prices that they are compelled to accept their terms. Our farmers are, to some extent, protecting themselves by building stores, in which they can keep back their wheat until they can get a reasonable price for it. I speak from long experience when I say that protection benefits the producer. It secures to him the home market, giving him better prices, and it does not deprive him of the right to send his surplus to a foreign market Queensland was absolutely protectionist, so far as the sugar industry was concerned, imposing an import duty of£6 a ton and no Excise. The effect of that policy has been to put the Queensland sugar growers in the proud position of being able to supply the Australian market. What Queensland has done in regard to the sugar industry we desire that the Commonwealth shall do in regard to all other industries.
– What will happen when our production of sugar greatly exceeds the Australian consumption ?
– A market will have to be found for the surplus abroad.
– We cannot produce sugar at a price at which it can be sold in competition with sugar produced in other parts of the world.
– That gives away the honorable member’s case.
Colonel Foxton. - It is a question of cheap labour. Java sugar can be landed in Australia for about £5 or £6 a ton.
– If sugar could be produced in Australia only by the employment of black labour, I should say that we do not desire to establish the industry.
– How much sugar could be grown without protection ?
– Some time back a party of honorable members visited Queensland to inquire into the conditions of the sugar industry. Previously we had heard it stated in this Chamber that sugar could not be produced there without the employment of black labour.
Colonel Foxton. - Unless the industry was assisted in some way.
– When in Queensland I saw one of the finest cane-fields under cultivation by white labour, and I brought back a photograph of it, showing sturdy white men at work there.
– I could stand in a cane-field merely to be photographed.
– But the honorable member would not do much work there. I voted for the sugar duty, and I would not deprive Queensland of the protection which has enabled her to reach her present proud position.
Colonel Foxton. - The removal of the sugar duty would depopulate the coastal districts of Queensland.
– Honorable members speak of desiring to whittle down the Tariff because this man and that should not get. protection; but they are unanimously of opinion that the Queensland sugar industry should be protected. In Brisbane, with several other honorable members, I had a conversation with a gentleman holding a high position in connexion with the sugar industry. He boldly asserted that the white man could not do the work required in the plantations, and that the industry wouldbe destroyed unless we abandoned the policy which we had initiated. Thereupon, I asked him what wages he paid weekly to white men engaged in the plantations. His reply was “Twenty-five shillings.”’ I then inquired, “ How long do you employ them ?” to which he replied “Two or three months.” I further asked him, “What food do you give them?” He gave me the information, and added that they complained of the quality of the food, and even wanted to be supplied with jam. I then asked, “What employment do you give them during the remaining nine months of the year ?” to which he replied, “ No employment whatever.” I informed him that there was not a farmer in the eastern and southern States who would not regard himself as a mean man if he offered an agricultural labourer less than 30s. a week with good food at harvest time.
– What did the honorable member do? Did he make up the 5s. per week himself?
– The honorable member belongs to a union which takes good care that its members are well remunerated for any work which they may perform.
– That is an old gag.
– It may be an old gag, but it is a very true one.
– How many hours a day do agricultural labourers work in the wheat fields?
– Upon an average about ten hours.
– As long as they can see, I suppose?
– The farmers give their employes 30s. per week and rations during the harvesting months, but they also give them £1 a week with rations for the remainder of the year.
– The honorable member has got hold of one planter, whom he puts forward as a representative of the sugar industry.
– I have no desire to mention his name, but he was certainly introduced to me as a representative grower.
– Some of the biggest employers of labour treat their employes the worst, and the honorable member has put forward one of these as representing the whole industry.
– Statistics prove that the wages offered by the sugar planters to white men are very low indeed. Doubtless, this is due to the fact that the growers have been in the habit of employing kanaka labour.
– That is quite possible.
– I am not criticising the sugar industry in any hostile spirit. My past actions have shown that I am a friend of the industry. But while I have proved my friendship for the industry, I desire honorable members to exhibit their friendship for other industries.
– We are anxious to do that.
– I am not hitting at the honorable member. My remarks apply particularly to one or two representatives of Victoria. To the honorable member for Parkes, who interjected just now, I wish to put this question: Why should members of the legal profession claim the right to charge high prices for their services whilst at the same time denying to those engaged in industrial pursuits an opportunity to procure a reasonable return for their services? Our artisans have nothing but their labour to offer, and they have a right to demand something more than a mere existence - some little pleasure, as well as leisure.
– The honorable member seems to think that a standard fee is charged by members of the legal profession. As a matter of fact, one man may accept a fee of one guinea for doing work for which another member of the profession would require fifty guineas. But the latter does not call the former a “ blackleg.”
– I have never had the good fortune to strike the guinea lawyer. If ever it is my misfortune to again need the services of a member of the legal profession, I shall be glad if the honorable member will tell me where I can discover a lawyer who will charge me only one guinea. A great many of us expected to hear from the honorable member for Flinders - who has held a very high position in this State, and whose opinions will doubtless carry considerable weight - something in the nature of guidance - something which we could grasp as being in the interests of Australia.
In that respect I fear that they were disappointed. I am sorry that the honorable member is not here, because at the beginning of the recent election campaign he proclaimed himself a protectionist. As the campaign advanced he declared himself a believer in “ effective “ protection. Now I ask any reasonable man whether, in so declaring himself, he did not intend his hearers to believe that he would vote for the highest duties possible?
Colonel Foxton. - Then effective protection must be prohibition?
– No. The honorable member’s so-called “ effective “ protection is, in my opinion, very defective.
– That is only the honorable member’s opinion.
– Exactly. I challenge the honorable member for Flinders to absolutely draw the line at effectiveness, and to stop short at prohibition. I listened attentively to his speech the other evening, and I inferred from his remarks that the highest duties which he was inclined to support were those which have been recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission.
– Surely they are effective enough.
– That is the opinion of the honorable member. In the honorable member’s judgment, they would be effective if they were 20 per cent. less.
– They would not then represent effective protection.
– What does the honorable member for Bendigo say?
– Nobody has a greater admiration for the honorable member for Bendigo than I have, but I have ears to hear and eyes to see, and I refuse to bind myself to support the actual percentage of duties recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission.
– Nobody else binds himself to that.
– Then what do honorable members mean by declaring that “ effective “ protection does not imply the imposition of any duties in excess of those recommended by the protectionist members ‘ of the Tariff Commission ?
– Some goods enjoy a natural protection of 100 per cent.; owing to freight and insurance charges, whilst others which occupy a very small compass receive very little protection.
– That is what the honorable member would term an “ old gag.” Does he forget that subsidies are being paid by foreign Governments to enable foreign goods to be dumped upon the Australian market?
– The honorable member knows that upon furniture, which occupies a very large space, the freight charges alone constitute. “ effective “ protection.
– I know nothing of the kind. Need I remind the honorable member of what happened the other day ? Almost everybody professes to be in favour of the establishment of the iron and steel industry in Australia. Differences of opinion exist as to the means by which it should be established - as to whether it should be encouraged by the granting of a bonus or by the imposition of a protective duty, or as to whether it should be nationalized. But the feeling undoubtedly exists that it ought to Le established, and we know that an attempt has been made to establish it. The honorable member for Parkes is well aware that Lithgow is a place which offers special advantages for the establishment of the iron industry on account of the coal and lime deposits in the vicinity. He also knows that in the past large sums have been expended there in an attempt to establish the iron industry, and that those efforts have failed. . My own opinion is that their failure was due to the fact that a combination of importers had determined that the industry should not be established, and had so contrived to control prices as to crush it out of existence. At Mr. Sandford’s works at the present time there is a large stock of pig-iron on hand. Only the other day South Australia wanted a few thousand tons of that class of iron. To secure the order the Sandford Proprietary reduced the cost of that iron to an amount which was only just sufficient to cover its actual production. But what did the importers do? They at once contrived to reduce the price of pig- iron below the cost of production. In order to kill the industry, they actually sold the iron for considerably less than they _had _sold it for previously, and for less than they have demanded for it since.
– Who were they?
– The importers. This is not merely a question of a few pounds ; it means importations to the value of about £7,000,000 per annum. We ought to’ strive by every means in our power - I care not how, so long as the end is attained - to establish this industry within the Commonwealth, and we should not cavil at the amount of the duty. In a national work of this kind if 20 per cent, should not prove’ enough, we ought to impose 40 per cent., and if that should prove insufficient, then let us charge 100 per cent. ; we ought to impose a duty sufficiently high to give to the people the benefit of the establishment of this industry. I hope, and, indeed, I - am sure that I have been fair to the honorable member with whose remarks I am now dealing. The honorable member said that for the first year of the Tariff the revenue returned would be large, but that in the next year it would decrease, and in the following year would decrease still more, until it amounted to no more than £9,000,000 per annum. Under the Braddon section we are compelled to return to the States three-fourths of the revenue, which, with a total revenue of £9,000,000, would mean £6,750,000, retaining only something like £t. 750, 000 for Federal purposes. On this point, the honorable member absolutely recommended that, even with a revenue of £9,000,000, we should return to the States £7,250,000 or £1,000,000 more than they are at present receiving. His ground for this recommendation is that the present return is not enough to enable the States t’o meet their financial demands ; and he pointed out that £7,250,000 is the amount required to meet the interest on the debts.
– And the States require the money.
– And does the Commonwealth not require the money ? It is all very well to be generous, but the Commonwealth Parliament was established for the purpose of achieving a great national ideal. One great and important duty laid upon us is to defend the Commonwealth against aggression. The honorable member for Flinders recognised the necessity for effective defence, and also admitted that the time might come when there would have to be railway communication connecting all the States. But what did the honorable member propose in order that these great works may be carried out? Did he suggest that we should depend on our own resources? No. He suggested that we should follow the bad example of the States in the past_, and by resorting to the money market lay a further burden of interest on t’he people. The Commonwealth Parliament, at its very inception, rightly determined that the Commonwealth should live within its revenue - that the people of Australia, and those who import goods, should provide the necessary moneys for the carrying out of Commonwealth undertakings. In my opinion, the sentiments expressed on this point by the honorable member for Flinders were not patriotic; and I must say that I expected something better from him than a recommendation to adopt a borrowing policy. If his suggestion were carried out, it would mean that the Commonwealth ‘would acknowledge itself as subordinate to the States ; and that is not what the Commonwealth was created for - it was created to be supreme. The people of Australia were dissatisfied with the States Parliaments, and they determined that the greater national undertakings and works should be under the control of a central authority.
Colonel Foxton. - Only as to a limited number of subjects.
– Could there be any more serious national undertaking than the defence of the lives, homes, and property of the people of Australia?
Colonel Foxton. - The Federal Parliament is supreme’ in regard to only “a limited number of subjects.
– The great national works and duties intrusted to the Commonwealth Parliament cannot be carried out without money. But, in my opinion, it would not be a statesmanlike policy to return to the States more of revenue than that to which they are entitled, and then seek to meet Commonwealth requirements by resorting to the money market.
– What would the honorable member propose to do when the Braddon section ceases to operate?
– I shall tell the honorable member what, in my opinion, ought to be done, from my reading of the Constitution. We should not be just to the people of Australia if we acted towards the States in the manner suggested by the honorable member for Flinders. If we were to return to the States even twice as much of the revenue as we return to them now, the result would not be economy within the States, but only greater extravagance than in the past. In connexion with this phase of the question I should like to give a few figures relating more particularly to New South Wales, with the public life of which State I have been connected for over a quarter oT a century. When Federation was initiated the indebtedness of the
States amounted to .£201,580,185, of which New South Wales was responsible for £63, 774,14$. The interest on the whole of the indebtedness amounted to £7,254,948 per annum, the amount, as I observed before, which the honorable member for Flinders urged should be returned to the States out of the prospective reduced revenue of ,£9,000,000. Since Federation the State of New South Wales has increased her indebtedness by £21,867,587, while the indebtedness of the rest of Australia has been increased by £20,000,000 odd, a total of £41,000,000 odd. The interest on the additional debt of the whole of Australia is practically £1,500,000, of which .£774,772 is borne by New South Wales. In pre-Federation days, when New South Wales had to bear the burden of the Post and Telegraphs, and other Departments which have since been transferred to the Commonwealth, she could live, and live well, with a revenue -of £9,000,000. That State, however, was continually borrowing, ‘ and although, since Federation was established the revenue has increased by ,£2,000,000, her finances are still in the same condition as before, and no attempt whatever .is made in the direction of retrenchment. Why should the Commonwealth return more revenue to New South Wales, seeing that, while several costly Departments have been transferred, the revenue of the State is ;£i 1,000,000-?
Colonel Foxton. - The position of New South Wales is not typical of the other States.
– I am not dealing with the other States.
– The Commonwealth charges a duty on Government material.
– What is there in that interjection? Is all the stir which has been made not farcical, when we remember that the duty is taken with one hand and paid back with the other?
– The duty is paid out of borrowed money.
– If so, it is an absolute disgrace. I have known New South Wales to be bad enough - to go so far as to import cattle, and to pay for fencing, out of loan money - but I did not think that the State’ Government would go so far as to pay duty on Government material out of borrowed money ; and I am inclined to think the honorable member has been misinformed.
– I did not speak of New
South Wales, but of a general practice.
– Then it is a disgrace to every State that resorts to the practice, and I am glad tohear that the charge is not made against New South Wales.
– The honorable member knows that in the original construction of a railway, which, of course, includes rails, the whole cost is charged to loan account, but thatthe maintenance of the rails is paid out of revenue.
– It does not follow that the practice is proper because it is general. The money is borrowed for the construction of a railway.
– And the rails are part of a railway.
– Provision should be made for interest and a sinking fund, in order that the capital debt may be liquidated. But is it not a fact that the great revenueearned on the railways of New South Wales, instead of going to repay the loans, is used as ordinary revenue?
– The honorable member is off the track. He was taking exception to the payment for the first rails out of loans, and I say that the first rails are always paid out of loans as partof the original railway.
– The honorable member cannot have been listening very closely. The honorable member for Fremantle, in an interjection, said that the duty chargeable on rails imported for Government purposes is paid out of loans.
– So it is on the first rails, and it is regarded as part of the original cost of the railway.
– Suppose that be so, the fact is immaterial to my argument. What I said was that this duty is collected by the Commonwealth with one hand, and given back to the same State with the other.
– Nevertheless, the duty comes out of loan money.
– The fact remains that it is practically no charge at all, but merely a book entry. If I borrow£1 and pay it back immediately, it cannot be said that the lender has lost anything.
– But in the case of a State only 15s. is returned.
– As a matter of fact, the State gets considerably more returned than 15s. in the£1.
– The Commonwealth has never paidinterest on the transferred buildings, and so forth.
– The honorable member makes another mistake. If the Commonwealth had retained what it was entitled to retain, especially in the case of New South Wales–
– Too much “if.”
– The Commonwealth had the power, but, very unwisely, did not exercise it. What I desire to say is that considerably more than the whole interest on the transferred buildings has been returned to the States, which all through had the best of the bargain.
– Queensland had£70,000 less than her three-fourths in one year.
– I am speaking more particularly of the State of New South Wales. There is a provision in the Constitution by which if Queensland, Tasmania, or any of the smaller States where the population is not large, experience financial difficulties, the Commonwealth may be generous if it chooses by making up any deficiency. What would have been the position of Queensland had we retained the whole of the one-fourth of the revenue to which we were entitled?
Colonel Foxton. - It would have been a good deal worse than it is.
– Then Queensland ought to be grateful to the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
– Thankful that Federation has not ruined her!
– Will the honorable member cite one instance of injury done to Queensland by the Commonwealth?
– Western Australia has a credit instead of a debit with Federation. She has profited by it.
– I am glad to have that testimony. I wish to put a stop to the wholly unwarranted outcry against the Federation. It should be our desire to be loyal to the Commonwealth. No member of this Parliament should decry Federation or say that it has had a prejudicial effect on any State, when, as a matter of fact, it has benefited every one of them.
– Have we not restricted the powers of the States in regard to immigration?
– Did not the honorable member work shoulder to shoulder with me during the Federal campaign, when we urged the people to accept the Constitution Bill, under which the powers of the States were to be restricted? Was it not said at the time that immigration was a work that could be carried out better by a Parliament representing Australia than by the Legislature of any one State?
– That is not an answer to my question. The honorable member asked in what way the Federation had interfered with the States. My reply is that it has restricted the power of the States to introduce immigrants.
– Only the power to introduce inferior races.
– That is so.
– Have we not deported black labour from Queensland against the wishes of that State?
– Queensland is proud of what we have done.
– The statement made by the honorable member for Parkes is, up to a certain point, correct. We have not restricted the power of the States to introduce desirable white immigrants; but we have restricted their power to introduce the kanaka or other inferior races. We were elected for that purpose, amongst others ; the Constitution gave us power to deal with the question of immigration.
– It gave us no special power to deport the kanakas.
– During the Federal campaign the demand for a White Australia was heard all over the Commonwealth.
– Had the people of Queensland known that the whole of their black labour would be deported under Federal legislation they would not have entered the Union.
– They joined the Federation because they knew that that would take place.
– The great heart of the people of the Commonwealth favoured a White Australia. We determined to restrict the powers of the States in regard to immigration, because some of them had introduced inferior races, and we declared that, after a certain reasonable time had elapsed, Australia should be white. We wished to preserve the purity of our race, and to keep our people from the degradation of inferior races.
– Before Federation, a State Legislature had not to consult the great heart of the people of Australia.
– The honorable member stood with me on the public platform and advised the people to accept the Con stitution, knowing that it would give the Commonwealth Parliament power to pass the very legislation of which he now complains.
– I thought that the power would be used reasonably, and with a proper consideration for the rights of the States.
– We must agree to differ with respect to that question. I am as anxious as is any honorable member that the population of Australia should be increased by means of an effective immigration policy, but I wish immigrants of the right class to be introduced. I do not wish to suggest that any of the representatives of Queensland in this House were responsible for incidents to which I am about to refer, but, when a young man, I was in Queensland, and was shocked by some of the proceedings associated with the introduction of black labour into that State.
Colonel Foxton. - That is ancient history.
– It may be.
– There are Queenslanders who would repeat that ancient history today if they could.
– There are men in Queensland who would go back to those old days if they had the power to do so.
– That is a libel on the State.
– There are some at least who would do so.
– I can prove that there are some.
– Who would return to unregulated black labour?
– Then the sooner we kick them out the better.
– And there are some who would go back to “ black-birding.”
– I do not wish to labour this question. The old regulations providing for the introduction of kanaka labour seemed on the surface to be fair and reasonable. They provided that kanakas who volunteered to come to Queensland should be recruited. But we cannot deny that kidnapping of the worst description took place in the old days, and would take place again to-morrow if certain people had their way.
Colonel Foxton. - Queensland cleansed her stables properly.
– Federation did it for her.
– I am not.
– Queensland herself corrected the abuses to which the honorable member refers.
– . When I visited Queensland some little time since, I conversed with land-owners interested in the sugar industry, who told me that I was wrong in supporting the policy of a White Australia, and that if they had the power they would return to black labour.
– But the honorable member spoke of unregulated black labour.
– I said that kidnapping took place.
Colonel Foxton. - And that there were in Queensland men who would renew that system.
– So there are.
Colonel Foxton. - That is a libel on Queensland. The honorable member when in that State must have kept very bad company.
– If I did there were other honorable members with me. If my statement be incorrect, will the honorable member explain why public men in Queensland appealed to this Parliament to extend the time within which the kanakas were to be deported? Why were we asked not to drive away the nigger because planters had not had time to arrange for other labour? Had we not taken a determined stand the kanaka would have been in Queensland today.
– The honorable member is talking ridiculous nonsense when he says that there are in Queensland men who would again resort to kidnapping if they could. We do not deny that there are there people who would have black labour if they could obtain it.
– Will the honorable member deny that there are in Queensland men who, if unrestricted by the legislation of the Commonwealth, would not go back to kidnapping ?
– There is not one in 10,000 who would do so.
– Will the honorable member say that there is not one who would do so?
– There are black sheep in every flock.
– We have to legislate to protect the community from the dishonest men ; it is because there are a few who would do these things that we have to bring all under the same law. Although I am not a representative of Queensland, I honestly believe that the great heart of the people of that State approved of the action of the Commonwealth Parliament in deporting the kanakas.
– I am quite prepared to indorse that statement.
– That is the point I have been seeking to make.
Colonel Foxton. - There has been no kidnapping for the last fifteen or twenty years.
– What authority; has the honorable member for that statement?
Colonel Foxton. - I am perfectly satisfied that my statement is correct, and if the honorable member will allow me to explain I shall be happy to do so.
– I donot wish to rake up the past ; but within the last fifteen years correspondence has been published with regard to the action of some socalled inspectors who allowed kanakas to be takenby force from the islands.
Colonel Foxton. - That statement has never been proved.
– It has been published in the press, and has not been denied. When representative men allow such a statement to go uncontradicted, what is the inference?
Colonel Foxton. - I should like the honorable member to give his authority for that statement.
– I have no doubt that the honorable member, as a public man in Queensland, had occasion to deal with the matter. I have no desire to say anything unpleasant with regard to any of the States; my object is to bring about harmonious relations between them and the Commonwealth, and I should not have referred to this question but for the statement made by an honorable member with regard to the sugar industry.
Colonel Foxton. - I took part in the passing of the legislation of 1884, which practically cleared Queensland of any reproach in this respect, and the administration of the law since then has been perfectly satisfactory.
– It has been anything but perfect.
– Had I been a member of the State Parliament I should not have regarded it as satisfactory.
– The missionaries in Polynesia have not said that it is.
– Missionaries say that we have returned kanakas to the islands to be murdered.
– I propose now to deal with the statement made by the honorable member for Flinders with regard to the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States. The honorable member said that we should shortly be face to face with a reduced revenue of £9,000,000 per annum, and that of that sum we should have to return , £7,250,000 to the States, retaining the balance to provide for the government of the Commonwealth. It would be absolutely impossible for the Commonwealth to carry on with such a revenue. Justifiable expenditure will of necessity increase as the years roll by. I have from the first opposed the policy of borrowing, and I still do so. My desire is that the Commonwealth shall live within its means ; but we cannot carry out the works which the people of Australia demand if we have to treat the States in the way suggested by the honorable member for Flinders. Parliament has voted £20,000 for the survey of a transcontinental railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, and I believe that we shall ultimately approve of the construction of that line. Indeed, to properly provide for the defence of Australia, railways will have to be connected with every important strategic point in the Commonwealth, so that men, guns, and ammunition may beconveyed rapidly from place to place as occasion may require.
– How are such railways to be constructed if the Commonwealth is not to borrow ?
– Borrowing will not be necessary.
– These and other contemplated works will mean an expenditure of £40,000,000 or £50,000,000.
– Does the honorable member think that all these railways are to be built in a week? The expenditure will be spread over a number of years.
– How does the honorable member propose to raise the necessary money ?
– I shall tell the honorable member presently. He agrees with me that we must make these railways.
– I have not said so.
– Does the honorable member think that we should be recreant to the high and solemn duty of providing for the defence of the country ?
– I have not expressed an opinion as to the advisability of constructing the railways to which the honorable member has referred ; I merely ask how he proposes to find the necessary money ?
– Does the honorable member say that it is unnecessary for us to make provision for the establishment of arsenals and ammunition and small arms factories?
– We shall have to do that.
– That will require further expenditure.
– Is not the honorable member prepared to admit, too, that this Parliament must make provision for the payment of pensions to the aged and infirm ?
– To a certain extent.
– At the present time some of the States provide pensions for the aged, and others do not ; but in no case is a pension paid to a person who has not resided continuously for twenty-five years within the pensioning State, although he may have lived the whole of his life in Australia. The honorable member will admit thatthere must be further expenditure in extending our postal and telegraphic services. He has asked me how provision is to be made for this expenditure.
– How is it to be provided for out of legitimate revenue?
– The honorable member for Flinders would provide for the expenditure which he thinks necessary by borrowing, and by retrenchment in connexion with the Public Service increments; I am against both. My opinion is that the people, in voting for the Constitution, approved of the Braddon section, recognising that a period of ten years should be given to the States in which, to put their houses in order, and decided that at the end of that period the total Customs and Excise revenue should be under the control of the Commonwealth .
– Even although the Commonwealth did not take over the States debts ?
– Even although the Commonweal thdid not take over the debts of the States.
– The States would be swamped if the whole of the Customs and
Excise revenue were taken by the Commonwealth.
– I am not so despondent as to the position of the States as the honorable member seems to be. New South Wales is spending £2,000,000 a year more now than she spent prior to Federation.
– Because her revenue is bigger.
– Because we have foolishly handed back to her, to squander, money which should have been retained in the Commonwealth coffers, to be spent in the interests of the people of Australia. Not only have we given New South Wales this large surplus, but we have saved her large expenditure, by taking control of the Departments of Defence, Post and Telegraphs, and other services. At the present time the Premier of the State is speaking of abolishing the income tax.
– The other States are in a very different position.
– New South Wales could not carry on for a month without her share of the Customs and Excise revenue.
– The honorable member for Riverina is speaking, not of the three-fourths returnable to the States, but of the surplus which is returned.
– My view is that when the Braddon section expires, it should not be resuscitated, and, personally, I shall vote for the retention by the Commonwealth of the whole of the revenue from Customs and Excise. If we are to be content with one-fourth of that revenue, and are not to borrow, we shall be forced to impose direct taxation on the property owners of Australia. I think that in 1910 a majority will agree with me that the Commonwealth should then control the whole of the Customs and Excise duties, retaining what is necessary for the Commonwealth, and dividing the balance among the States equitably.
– Does the honorable member expect the States after 1910 to raise by direct taxation amounts equivalent to those they now receive from the Customs and Excise duties?
– Certainly ; whatever may be necessary for them. Some of the States are not doing their duty in that respect.
– The direct taxation of Tasmania prior to Federation was 12s. rod., and now is 31s. per head of population.
– Surely Tasmania need not be despondent. What would be its position if the Commonwealth did not make adequate provision for defence? I am not an alarmist, but I ask, what will be the position of Australia on the termination of British treaties with certain powers if we are not then ready to defend ourselves and Tasmania?
– What would be the position of Australia if Tasmania were taken by a foreign power?
– I hope that it never will be taken. But it is necessary to make preparation in advance, instead of trying to borrow £15,000,000 or £20,000,000 when the day of trouble comes. We should gradually build up our defences, establish our stores of guns and ammunition, and train our men in anticipation of trouble.
– It is a good job that the honorable member is not Treasurer.
– I wish I were. If honorable members will not permit the Commonwealth to control the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue, as I have indicated, they must vote for direct taxation. The making of preparations for defence is a sacred duty; but it will entail a large expenditure. I have not referred to other items of expenditure, such as that connected with the building of a Capital, which is not urgent. In saying that the building of a Capital is not urgent, I am not disloyal to my State, though to some of the representatives of New South Wales the making of such a statement would be like the waving of a red rag in front of a bull. The building of the Federal Capital can be allowed to wait without injury to the people of Australia. They are not injured by the meeting of Parliament elsewhere than in the Federal Capital, but they will be seriously injured if we do not make adequate provision for defence. We have been told that it is disloyal to talk about making provision for our own defence. We have been told that it is disloyal to talk inthis way, and that we ought to depend for our defence upon the mother country. Is it disloyal, I ask, to refuse to “loaf” upon the old land?
– We are not “loafing” upon her.
– We are. The honorable member would have her sturdy childrenask her to bear all the burden of their defence. I say that we are acting in a cowardly fashion when we refuseto help the mother country to the extent of making provision as far as possible for our own defence.
– Some honorable members think that we ought to secure an effective defence by a paltry contribution of £200,000 annually to the Imperial Navy.
– That is so. The defence of Australia will involve an expenditure of millions sterling. We must make up our minds to sanction a heavy annual expenditure in this connexion.
– Would the honorable member increase the present subsidy?
– No. But instead of uselessly contributing £200,000 annually to the Imperial Navy. I would sanction a heavy expenditure, and commence building our own ships.
– Does not the honorable member think it would be more” patriotic to build a ship for the Imperial Navy, which stands for the protection of the Empire?
– Is not Australia part of the Empire? Surely we shall be helping the old country to defend the Empire if we relieve her of the responsibility of defending Australia? Though I am of Australian birth, I am as loyal to the mother land as is any of her native born. “ God helps those who help themselves,” and surely that axiom will apply to Great Britain as well as to ourselves. To rely upon our annual contribution to the Imperial Navy to provide us with an effective defence is the acme of absurdity. We must recollect that we have a coast line of many thousands of miles to defend, and that we need a navy to defend it.
– The honorable member would hot have Australia defend it entirely-?
– At least we can help to defend it.
– Upon what defence would the honorable member rely while our first war vessel was being built?
– I would rely upon the same defence that we rely upon to-day. I do not favour delay in building our first ship. When that vessel is constructed I say that we should build another, and then another, until we have formed a squadron possessed of sufficient strength to hold a foe at bay until the mother country could come to our assistance. Even- if an expenditure of millions sterling be involved, we must be prepared to provide the Commonwealth with an effective defence. Australia demands that we shall carry. out our pledges.
The electors demand the imposition of protective duties to encourage alike our agricultural and our manufacturing industries. It is imperative that we should make the necessary provision for the expenditure to which I have already referred, so as to avoid being compelled to resort to loans. Australia is looking to the. members of this Parliament who, upon die hustings, declared themselves to be protectionists, to remain true to their pledges, and to vote in favour of maintaining Australia for Australians, as against the foreigner.
.- We have heard a great deal about the time which has been absorbed by this debate, and possibly some honorable members who have spoken may have occupied a little longer than they need have done. But in this connexion it should be clearly recognised that we are dealing not with one subject, but’ with two very large questions. If a separate debate had taken place upon the Tariff, it would have terminated within a week. Personally. I dp not think that the time which has been spent in discussing the Budget and the Tariff has been altogether wasted. We must recognise that the financial proposals of the Government constitute the crux of the situation. I do not intend to deal at any length with those proposals, but I do think - notwithstanding the criticism which has been levelled against us in regard to the length of the debate - that every member should be prepared to state his position and to emphasize any points which require emphasis without being open to the accusation that he is wasting time. Before I deal with the Tariff proposals, I should like to refer to certain remarks of the honorable member for Riverina in regard to the Queensland sugar industry. I think that he has entirely misunderstood the position which I took up by means of interjections from this side of the Chamber. He distinctly led us to suppose that in Queensland there was a large number of people who were not’ only in favour of black labour, but who desired to revert to the old system of kidnapping - of unregulated black labour. I say that if representation in Parliament means anything, the people of Queensland have conclusively shown that they are opposed to black labour in any form. That State returned to this House, at the last election, a large majority of representatives belonging to the party which made the abolition of black labour its election cry. It is idle to deny it.
Doubtless some of us thought that the industry could not be carried on by means of white labour, even if it were protected. But in holding that belief we were wrong. It has Been proved that white men - at any rate south of Mackaycan perform the work required of them in the cane-fields. As long as the industry receives protection, and as long as it can hold our home market, all may be well. But I do not think that Queensland should feel under any particular obligation to the Commonwealth. I do not think that she should be taunted with having received a special benefit in the form of the sugar bounty. It must be recognised that the industry was of enormous importance to the State. It had been carried on for years. After Federation was accomplished the people of Australia, in the interests of the nation, said, “ We must abolish the black labour which enables you to compete with the rest of the world.” Surely under such circumstances it was only fair that the same people should say to Queensland, “ We do not intend to destroy your industry, and therefore we propose to grant you special consideration.” I admit that the Commonwealth has not treated Queensland ungenerously in this matter, but I object to certain honorable members taunting that State with- the special treatment which the sugar industry has received.
– Never mind the taunts so long as the industry gets the treatment.
– But those taunts are likely to create a wrong impression.
– What was the duty upon sugar in Queensland prior to the accomplishment of Federation?
– I think it was £5 per ton.
– £5 and £6 per ton.
– Any proposal to revert to black labour is at present entirely outside the range of practical politics. It is certainly a libel, upon Queensland to’ say - as the honorable member for Riverina and the honorable member for Perth did say - that there is any body of people who desire to revert to the system of “ black-birding “. or kidnapping. Honorable members who have spoken from the other side of the chamber have repeatedly said that the last general election turned upon the question of protection versus free-trade.
– We say that the issue was Socialism versus anti-Socialism
– The honorable member for Riverina distinctly stated that the people had declared that we must have protection, and high protection.
-That statement is true in regard to many constituencies. ‘
– It may be so. I do not know. and J do not think that the honorable member for Riverina knows, how many electorates there are in which that was .the case. Certainly it was not the case in Queensland. I was pledged to fiscal peace and to the removal of any anomalies that existed under the old Tariff. I declared that I would not assist to alter that Tariff in the direction of either freetrade or protection, except within the limits I have indicated. That is my position. I confess that I could not follow the argument of the honorable member for Riverina that the present high Tariff protects all industries, including that of the primary producers. It certainly does not appear to do so, bearing in mind the outcry which has arisen from every mining and farming centre in Australia. The honorable member affirmed that it protected our primary industries by creating a large local market for their produce.
– That is a big protection.
– In a country like America, with a population of 80,000,000, it is true that the home market, to a large extent, absorbs the produce of the primary industries. But that is not so. in Australia. Our market for our butter and our wheat is entirely dependent upon foreign prices. Irrespective of whether we have a policy of high protection, of low protection, or, indeed, of no protection whatever, so far as our secondary industries are concerned, the prices of our butter and our wheat will not be affected. In regard to those commodities we have to depend entirely upon the London market. ‘ 1
– The same remark is applicable to America.
– There is no doubt that it is.. Whenever we have to go outside Australia to sell our produce we must compete in the markets of the world.
– The honorable member does not approve of bounties being paid for the production of butter?
– I am simply dealing with one phase of the argument adduced by the honorable member for Riverina. I cannot see how a high protective Tariff will benefit the primary producer. On the contrary, it must inevitably handicap him by raising the prices of all the articles which he uses. I have already told the Committee that I am pledged to a fiscal truce. But, personally, I am quite prepared togrant to industries such a measure of protection as will equalize the wages paid in foreign countries and those paid in Australia. It seems to me that, if we deal with dumping, the natural protection which our industries enjoy should be sufficient to adequately protect them. If we go further than that, it appears to me that for the sake of a few operatives and manufacturers we shall be taxing thousands. The honorable member for Riverina appears to be absolutely mad upon the question of protection. He declares that when once we initiate a system of protective duties it does not matter if we levy imposts amounting to hundreds per cent. But would the honorable member apply that argument to industries which employ only 200 or 300 men, and produce commodities used by thousands of working people ?
– What industries are those ?
– They are numerous. We have only to look at the Tariff to ascertain how many men are employed in the industries concerned; and the question is whether it is worth while, by giving protection, to increase prices, and perhaps tax 1,000 people for the sake of 100.
– I do not know of any case of the kind. Will the honorable member mention one case?
– The fact is notorious, though I have not a concrete case.
– I know thatsimilar statements are often made, but I do not think that they are correct.
– I am now referring to a remarkof the honorable member for Riverina, who expressed the opinion that all industries should be protected as far as possible, and that it did not matter how high the protection might be.
– But the honorable member for Capricornia referred to increased prices consequent upon protection.
– I understood the honorable member for Riverina to say that every industry is worth protecting ; but that argument cannot stand, because, in many cases, the local market is not sufficiently large to make it worth while to lay down plant.
– The market will grow.
– If we could see, straight ahead, a large local market, there might be something in the argument of the honorable member for Riverina.Unfortunately, however, extreme protectionists go further, and tax the primary producer up to the hilt, at the same time declaring that he will benefit by the process. I do not see how the primary producer can benefit under such circumstances. I should like to say a word or two now as to the new protection. High protectionists tell us that when industries have become established under protection prices come down lower than previous to the Tariff, by reason of internal competition. If that be true, I do not know how the unfortunate workers are to fare. We know that under the new protection the workers are very naturally and justly determined to claim as big a share as possible of the enhanced prices.
– What happens to the unfortunate workers in free-trade countries ?
– I am at present dealing with the position of the new protectionists. If a manufacturer, by reason of protection, does not get an increased price, what is the good of protection to him? And, in any case, when prices are reduced in consequence of internal competition, will not wages also have to be reduced ?
– Will not the output grow?
– It is to be hoped it will.
– And then profits will grow.
– I grant that, with a greater output, it is possible to manufacture at a somewhat less cost.
– That is the whole case.
– But, considering our population, the increased market cannot make very much difference in the cost of manufacture.
– Will not our population increase?
– That is the point; when we get the population it will be time enough to try higher protection.
– But, without protection, how are we to provide industries for the population?
– I shall refer to that matter later on. One is almost afraid to adversely criticise in any way the Tariff, because the Acting Prime Minister” seems to get so angry. In the last short session, before the Imperial Conference, the honorable gentleman said that he would have plenty of time to study the reports of the Tariff Commission and other documents while travelling between here and England, so that no time would be lost by the prorogation of Parliament. The natural conclusion was that the Tariff when brought down would be a perfect and truly scientific Tariff ; but I do not think the Government can claim that the result is up to expectations.
– I understand that the Acting Prime Minister worked very hard on the Tariff on his way from England.
– Then it must have been a very rough passage. However, the question has a very serious side ; and when the Government threw the Tariff on the table in the way in which they did, without saying anything as to its nature, or apparently, without even being seized of the seriousness of the position, they inflicted great injury on the country. That is not the sort of conduct we have the right to expect from the body of men who have the’ interests of the Commonwealth within their control. Take only one example, the case of chairs; it is evident that the Minister who dealt with the Tariff never intended that those articles’ should be taxed to the extent of 7s. 6d. each on a value of 3s. or 4s.
– That was a recommendation of the Tariff Commission, the members of which, I understand, are prepared to defend it.
– If so, they will defend it by explaining that they did not mean tlie recommendation to be taken as interpreted by the Acting Prime Minister. There was the expert advice of the Customs officials at hand, and the Minister ought to have produced a much better result, because I know those officials to be exceedingly able men. The criticism is perfectly just and well-earned that the Minister has evidently shown no consideration for the interests of commerce and trade, or for the welfare of the people, in the introduction of this Tariff. Whatever time may have been wasted in discussing the Tariff here, no time has been wasted in discussing the financial position. The country is indebted to those honorable members who took the trouble to go into the question very fully - the honorable member for.’ Flinders and the honorable member for Kooyong amongst others - and who raised the debate to what I consider a distinctly high plane. I do not agree with the accusation made against those honorable members, that they went out of their way to raise the feelings of the States against the Commonwealth. As to States rights, if an honorable member on this side ventures to say a word in their defence, he is immediately charged with disloyalty to the Federation.- I see no justification for ‘any such accusation, because when we speak of States rights, we are not referring so much to. the Premier or Government of a particular State, as to the people of the State, who, it must be remembered, are also our electors. If by any action of the Commonwealth Parliament we make it imperative for a State Government to impose heavy burdens on their people, it is we who must be held responsible. At the time of the Premiers. .Conference at Brisbane* most of ‘ the newspapers of Queensland took, perhaps, a rather narrow attitude in connexion with the relations of the Commonwealth and the States. But one particular newspaper, which has great influence in Queensland, took the view that, as the Federal Parliament necessarily had complete control of taxation, would it not be better, instead of making a fuss and raising ill-feeling to simply take the view that the State electors were also the electors of the Federal Parliament, and so throw the whole onus of the situation on that Parliament ; that if we were the cause of extra burdens on the people, we should be called to account. In my opinion, that was a good position to take up ; because, as I said before, when we on this side offer any criticism as to the attitude of the Commonwealth Government towards the States, we are not dealing with a State in its governmental aspect, but with the people of the State whom we represent, and who are also State electors. The honorable member for Riverina, speaking of the States debts, said he was perfectly satisfied that when the Constitution was framed it was intended that at the end of j910 the Commonwealth should take the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue. The honorable member contended that there was no intention that any portion of that revenue should then be returned to the States, or used for the payment of interest on the States debts; but that, on the other hand, the Commonwealth should take the whole of the money, and use it for Commonwealth purposes, leaving the States to do as best they could. When I heard that remark I procured some figures, in order to arrive at ‘some idea as to what would be the financial position of the States if that idea of the honorable member for Riverina were carried out. I have not yet had time to look at the figures, and, therefore, do not know how they will bear on my argument; but I think they will be worth recording. Let us suppose that the ten years had expired in 1905-6, when the general revenue of Queensland, exclusive of the three-fourths of Customs and Excise from the Commonwealth, was £2,996,475. The threefourths’ which it received from the Commonwealth in that year amounted to £”857,048. The expenditure on administration, &c, excluding interest on the debts, was £2,178,831, while the interest was ,£1,546.881. Excluding from the revenue the three-fourths of the Customs revenue returned, the figures show that Queensland would have been left with a deficit of .£729,237. The idea of the honorable member for Riverina in regard to the retention of the whole of the revenue by the Commonwealth may, for all I know, obtain pretty freely on the other side. I would impress upon the Committee that had the course indicated been followed in 1905-6, Queensland would have had a deficit of about three-quarters of a million. In making such suggestions, honorable members display an utter want of appreciation of our responsibilities to those who, after all, are Federal as well as States electors, and so give rise to the talk of secession which we are all so sorry to hear. They should be more guarded in their statements.
– They do not mean it; it is only a threat.
– The honorable member for Riverina, I am sure, has too great a sense of his responsibility to utter anything in the shape of a threat in this House. When the honorable member for Flinders was discussing the transfer of the States debts the honorable member for South Sydney, whose views must certainly be taken into serious account, interjected in a way that indicated a belief on his part that if the Commonwealth took over the debts of the States it should also take over the assets representing those debts. The honorable member for Flinders said that it was intended that we should burden ourselves with the interest on the States debts as existing at the inception of the Commonwealth, and that this burden was to be taken on our shoulders’ as against the enormous revenue from Customs and Excise with which we were invested. The honorable member for South Sydney then interjected in the form of a question -
We were to take all the liabilities, leaving the States all the assets?
Later on, when the honorable member for Flinders said that the Commonwealth had been granted under the Constitution what this year represented a revenue of between £10,000,000 and ,£11,000,000, and inquired, “Surely that is an asset?” the honorable member for South Sydney interjected, “If it is, it is a very secondary one.” Apparently the honorable member does not consider that the power to impose Customs and Excise taxation is a very considerable asset. The honorable member for Flinders went on to say that if it were not a substantial asset he did not know what was, and the leader of the Labour Party replied -
But the States, according to the honorable member, are to keep what the debts represent.
The report continues -
– The honorable member would like to take over the whole of the railways, the waterworks, and everything else belonging to the States.
– The assets created by debts should certainly follow the debts.
It will thus be , seen that the honorable member for South Sydney considers that if we took over the debts of the States the assets represented by those debts should be handed over to us. He would expect to have handed over to the Commonwealth railways, irrigation works, and also, in many cases, works undertaken by local authorities on which borrowed money had been spent. In other words, the honorable member appears to favour unification. It would be impossible for the Commonwealth to assume the control of all local works, as suggested by the leader of the Labour Party, without at the same time undertaking the whole management of the States. That, I think, is absolutely out of the question. It is not provided for in the Constitution. We are endowed with certain powers, and we cannot go beyond them. I fail to understand how the honorable member could take up such a position. Another point which ought to be remembered in this connexion is that, although a railway may originally have cost £1,000,000, its value to the State to-day is much in excess of that sum. I have here a table showing that, from 1901-2 to 1905-6, the return on capital invested in the State railways of Queensland, was as follows : - 1901-2, £1 8s. 8d. per cent..; i9°2-3> £1 i2S- per cent.; 1903-4, £2 is. id. per cent. ; 1904-5, £2 10s. 2d. per cent. ; and 1905-6, £2 16s. 5d. per cent. It will thus foe seen that the return is gradually increasing. What would be the position in regard to a Queensland State railway, constructed ten years ago at a. cost of £1,000,000, and the earnings of which had averaged 1½ per cent, below the rate which would pay interest and ‘redemption? That deficit would have been made good from year to year out of the pockets of the people of Queensland, and would represent a total of £150,000 in respect of the ten years’ period. In other words, such a railway which the honorable member for South Sydney would take over as an asset, representing the original debt of £1,000,000, would have cost Queensland £1,150,000. Many of the railways of Queensland were constructed thirty years ago, and have shown a heavy deficit, although I am glad to say that that deficit is gradually becoming less. In the case of a railway constructed twenty years ago, at a cost of £1,000,000, and worked at an average loss of 2 per cent., Queensland would have had to pay £400,000 to make good that deficit.
– A loss- in one direction would foe made good in another.
– We are gradually making good these losses.
– We have to consider the indirect benefit flowing from a railway. It is an aid to settlement.
– That indirect benefit makes the asset still more valuable. The original cost of a railway does not represent the hard cash actually spent upon it. The fact that a railway is an aid to settlement makes it worth far more to a State than it actually cost to construct. In these circumstances, the argument that we should take over the Tail ways or irrigation works represented by the debts of the States is utterly fallacious.
– Many railways, so far as their sleepers and ballast are concerned, have been worn out and renewed.
– Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent on the maintenance of our railways.
– Arid further expenditure will be necessary in that direction.
– That is so. To suggest that the assets should follow the debts in this matter is to take up a false position. When the States went on the London money market to raise their loans the moneylenders did not know to what purpose the money was to be devoted. No mention was made of any special asset. The only asset that the money-lenders wanted was the taxable capacity of the people. That >s the only asset of value to those who lend money to a Government. What has happened from time to time in connexion with various republics in South America to whom money has been loaned by European countries? Whenever any difficulty has been experienced in securing the payment of interest or principal no attempt has been made to take possession of the defaulting country or its public works. The control of its Customs and Excise Department has simply been taken over, and in that way satisfaction has beensecured. In the case of national debts’ the Customs and Excise revenues constitute the only asset. The arguments advanced! by the honorable member for South Sydney and others that, if .the Commonwealth took: over the debts of the States it should alsotake over the material assets representingthose debts is, as I have said, a fallaciousone, and seems to be simply a proposal that we should work towards unification.
– Hear, hear !
-I take it that the honorable member is in favour of unification ?
– I said that I was at the last general election.
– The honorable member considers that unification would be a good thing for Australia. I differ from that view, but cast no reproach upon him. The argument used by the Labour Party that we should take over the assets, as well as= the debts of the States, would seem to showthat the majority ‘of that party are workingtowards unification. They have a perfectright to do so if they can induce the peopleto fall into line behind them, but theyshould make it clearly known that that is their Intention. The peopleas a whole do not realize that it is. As to the general financial question, I may say at once that there are many honorable members experienced in national- finance who are much better able to deal with it than I am, and therefore I do not propose to discuss it. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie said that the right honorable member for Swan, and others on his side of the House who claim to be in favour of old-age’ pensions, but refuse to vote for a Federal land tax, were hypocrites. I interjected at the time, because I felt that, if the whip cut the right honorable member for Swan, it also cut me. I realize that a system of old-age pensions, to be effective, must necessarily be a Federal one, in order that the disability in respect of state residential qualifications, under which many deserving men and women labour, may be removed. I am not prepared, however, to say that the Federal Parliament should resort, at the present time, at all events, to direct taxation. Whilst it was absolutely right that the national Parliament should be given every power of taxation, since upon it was thrust the whole responsibility of the nation, at the same time it was distinctly stated at the different Conventions, and understood by the people, that the Commonwealth was to rely upon the Customs and Excise duties for its revenue, leaving direct taxation to the States.
– Except in a case of national emergency.
– Quite so. It may be said, in short, that direct taxation is a reserve of taxation. The States have already had to avail themselves of it. In Queensland we have an income tax, in addition to a land tax, imposed by the local governing authorities, and it seems to me that the State will yet have to resort more fully to that method of raising revenue. If the Commonwealth took over the debts of the States as at the inception of Federation, and had to pay the interest upon’ them out of the three-fourths of Customs and Excise revenue ‘now returned to the States, the States themselves would still have to contract further liabilities. It is all very well for the representatives of the smaller States, which are more densely populated than are the others, to talk of paying for new works out of revenue ; but they should not lose sight of the fact that the larger States have a vast and a rich territory to open up by means of railways and other works - railways which for a great many years will not pay interest. It is impossible to develop the country by the expenditure of revenue alone. Therefore, the States must borrow, and paying interest on the bor rowed money and not having power to raise indirect taxation, must impose direct taxation.
– Our policy ‘is not to duplicate taxation. We have not proposed an income tax.
– Am I to understand that where there is a State land tax in operation a Commonwealth land tax wilt not be imposed ? The special object of the land tax suggested by the Labour Party is to provide for ‘the establishment of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions.
– No; to burst up the large estates.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie connected the proposal for a land tax with the establishment of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions, and charged with hypocrisy those who are opposed to the imposition of a land tax by the Commonwealth. In New South Wales the Government levies a land tax. Are we to understand that, therefore, no Commonwealth land tax would affect” that State, and that it would be treated differently from Queensland, where a pretty heavy tax is levied upon land-owners by the local authorities?
– For the improvement of their own properties.
– The proceeds are spent in maintaining roads.
– Does not that improve the properties adjacent to the roads?
– Yes. All expenditure of the kind improves property. But, in addition to providing the whole of the money required to keep up the roads of the State, Queensland land-owners have to contribute their share to meet the expenditure on railways and other public works. It seems to me that there would be anomalies under the proposal of the Labour Party. Furthermore, I think it unfair to make one section of the ‘community provide the money necessary for an old-age pensions fund. An income tax would be of wider effect, and would be based on ability to pay.
– Would the honorable member support a land tax for the purposes of defence?
– I admit that ability to pay must be considered in connexion with taxation. But it must be remembered that there is a limit to the direct taxation which can be imposed, and we must be careful not to exhaust the reserves on which the States have to depend for revenue.
We all admit the desirability of establishing a Commonwealth old-age pensions fund, but we should not cripple the resources of the States in order to bring it about. There is no proper ground for charging with hypocrisy those who object to the imposition of a land tax to raise money for this purpose. Reverting to the Tariff, to refer to a matter which I omitted to mention just now, I understood the Acting Prime Minister to say the other day that Messrs. Lysaght Brothers, the Sydney manufacturers of wire-netting gave a distinct understanding that they would not increase the price of their goods.
– I understand that they made a statement to that effect ; that they would not increase their prices as the result of the Tariff.
– Was that statement made in writing?
– I think so, but I am not sure.
– In a letter from a business firm which has been placed in my hands, it is pointed out that -
Messrs. Lysaght Bros., the principal Australian wire-netting manufacturers, were very fully employed prior to the new duties, and of late years it lias been difficult to get any order executed within a shorter time than three or four weeks. Since the proposed Tariff they have advanced their price 2^ per cent., and we also received an advice on the 22nd inst. from their agents advising us that since the Tariff alterations Messrs. Lysaght Bros. “ have been overwhelmed with business, and urge all those booking orders to give the utmost limit with regard to delivery, and to make allowance for any delay in the execution of orders.”
That letter shows that they have broken their promise not to increase prices.
– Has not a duty of 10 per cent, been placed on the wire with which, they make netting ?
– If that is a duty on their raw material an endeavour should be made to remove it. I have no feeling against manufacturers. We should be badly off without them. It is- only human for them not to make out too good a case for themselves. I know that if I wished for a lease of country I should not try to make the transaction appear too advantageous to myself. As for the new protection, of which we have heard so much, I ask if it is likely that persons with money to invest would put it into Australian industries if they are to be controlled, not only in regard to the wages to be paid - which is right enough - but also as to the prices at which they must sell. If manufacturers are to be at the mercy of an irresponsible board, and to be interfered with at every turn, investors will put their money into industries’ in other countries where the conditions are more favorable to a profitable return. Another matter to which I wish to refer is the need for making the proceedings of this Parliament more widely known to the people of thi country. In places like the back country of Queensland and Western Australia the settlers are hardly in touch with the Federation. The only Commonwealth Department which affects them nearly is the Post Office. They elect a representative once in three years. He goes away to Melbourne, and they hear little of him until he returns. Their newspapers contain practically no report of what is done here. I think, therefore, that the Government might well take into consideration the advisability of providing for the circulation of adequate reports.
– A national newspaper.
– I do not suggest that ; but it might be possible to subsidize press reports in some way. In Queensland, at one time, a gentleman of high literary attainments was employed to write a substantial account - not a shorthand report - of the’ proceedings of Parliament, with occasional interjections to give it spice and point, and this was handed free to the press, and posted throughout the country. The arrangement came to an end because it was thought that the State could not afford the expense. But I think that the Commonwealth would be justified in incurring it.
– Is not this a socialistic proposal ?
– We are all Socialists to some extent. I know from my experi-ence as an elector, before I became a member of this Parliament, how little the people are in touch with Federation. They have more sympathy with the Government of their own State, although it may be sometimes wrong, than with the Commonwealth Government and Parliament, of whose .proceedings they know little: I think that what I propose would revive the national spirit, by bringing the people into closer touch with the Federal Parliament, and make Federation more of a success. The Queensland report, of which I have spoken, used to be issued as a broad sheet, and was ‘delivered free. It is unreasonable to expect the public at large to keep in touch with our proceedings by reading Hansard, because not one man in a thousand has time to do that.
– We do not read it ourselves.
– In a great many instances we do not. I hope that the Minister of Trade and Customs will draw the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to what I have said in this regard.
.- I have a good deal of sympathy with the complaint made by the honorable member for Capricornia in the last part of his speech. I think it would be in the interests of this Parliament and of the Commonwealth if we could arrange to obtain better press reports of our proceedings. But the suggestion of a subsidized press does not meet with my approval, because I think that it necessarily implies a censored press.
– I did not refer to subsidized press reports in the sense to which the honorable member refers. The suggestion that we should have our own man, and that we should print and distribute the sheets, is, I think, a very good one.
– Even that suggestion is open to a good deal of objection. I think that, perhaps, something might be done in the direction of cheapening the telegraph rates for press messages. In that way it may be possible to induce the newspapers, especially those in other States, to devote a little more space to the proceedings of this Parliament. To my mind, it is not a desirable thing that in all the States capitals the proceedings of the States Parliaments should occupy more space in the daily newspapers than is devoted to the proceedings of the national Parliament. But I rose chiefly to add my voice to the warning which has been sounded by the honorable member for Flinders in regard to the want of financial policy on the part of the Government. I am willing to admit, with the honorable member for Gippsland, that under ordinary circumstances the Opposition would not be justified in asking the Government to outline their financial policy two years in advance. But under the special circumstances which obtain - and knowing as we do the policy of honorable members who occupy the Labour corner - this Committee is warranted in asking the Government to give honorable members some indication of their position in regard to Federal and State finance. We must recollect that we have to face a steady increase in, Commonwealth expenditure. I do not say that there has been any extravagance on the part of the Commonwealth. But, irrespective of whether or not there has been extravagance, we cannot ignore the fact that we have to face a steady increase of expenditure, which the Government ought to tell us how they propose to finance. In every Department we find the same thing. In many instances I admit that this increased expenditure is necessary. Perhaps it is necessary in every case. Upon looking through the Budget, I confess that I cannot, at the moment, point to any instance in which I think the expenditure should be reduced. But the fact that the increased expenditure is necessary does not make the position less serious, and it certainly behoves the Government, who, I understand, are not in favour of direct taxation–
– Some members of it are.
– But as a Government I understand they are not. Certainly the Prime Minister, in his platform speeches, was absolutely opposed to a land tax.
– The Acting Prime Minister has said that he is in favour of it.
– What we wish to ascertain, as soon as possible, is whether the Acting Prime Minister or the Prime Minister is to be accepted as the mouthpiece of the Government. At the end of 19 10 we shall be face to face with the problem of whether the Braddon section shall be discontinued, and, if not, what shall be substituted for it. As a matter of fact, we are face to face with that problem now, because we must find the solution of it within the next two years. So long as the expenditure of the Commonwealth Government means a reduction in the amounts which the States Treasurers have to spend, so long will captious criticism be levelled at our expenditure - criticism which is not in the best interests either of the States or of the Federation. The honorable member for Gippsland criticised the proposals of the honorable member for Flinders in regard to the reduction of our expenditure, but neglected to suggest anything better as a substitute. I do not agree with the suggestion that we should reduce the increments, which were practically promised by the Commonwealth, to the younger officers of our public service. The Commonwealth and the Departments under its control ought not to be conducted in the way that many mercantile and business enterprises are being conducted. We hear a good deal of talk about our declining birthrate, about the need which exists for increasing our population and for encouraging immigration, but, to my mind, there is a very serious state of affairs when we find that many of our financial institutions - instead of encouraging their employes to settle down in life - are doing all that they can to prevent it. As a matter of fact, many - if not all - of the banks carrying, on business in Australia have inserted in the agreements with their employes a clause which forbids them to marry until they are in receipt of a salary of at least £200 per annum.
– And those institutions take very ‘ good care that it is a long time before their employes receive -that salary.
– When the banks insert such a condition in I heir agreements with their employes, they ought to see that those who serve them faithfully shall - within a reasonable time - be afforded an opportunity to get married. There is scarcely a bank carrying on business in Australia at the present time in which any employe^ in the ordinary course of events can get married before he has reached thirty years of age. Some employes are almost grey-haired men before they are in receipt of the salaries stipulated by their employers as the minimum. We do not want that condition of affairs to be reproduced in our Federal enterprises. We ought to see that young men in the Commonwealth service who serve us faithfully are in a position to look forward, within a reasonable time, to settling down in life and acquiring homes of their own. The honorable, member for Riverina made a very peculiar suggestion in regard to the adjustment of the future relations of the Commonwealth to the States. Of course it is very easy - if we look only at one side of the picture - to suggest a remedy for the difficulty. But the remedy suggested by the honorable member would land every State of the Commonwealth in hopeless bankruptcy so far as its own finances are concerned. His suggestion is that at the end of 1910 we shall quietly absorb the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue without returning any to the States. He has pointed out that New South Wales possesses a very big surplus, and that the Government of that State propose to reduce taxation. He adds that the New South Wales Parliament can impose a little more taxation to make up the deficiency which would be caused by the
Commonwealth appropriating the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue. It might be possible, though I think it would be extremely difficult, for New South Wales, by a great stretch of her powers of taxation, to meet her financial necessities without any sum being returned to her by the Commonwealth. We must remember that, in 1906-7, the Commonwealth returned to New South Wales £3,022,351, and out of that money, if we like to put it so, the State had a surplus of £1,493,322. But the proposal of the honorable member for Riverina would mean that New South Wales, instead of having a surplus of about £1,500,000, would have a deficiency of about £500,000.. Last year, Victoria received from the Commonwealth £2,192,340, and that State had a surplus of £812,406, but the proposal of the honorable member would mean that Victoria would have a deficiency of over £1,250,000. In Queensland, where £942,569 was received from the Commonwealth, and where there was a surplus °f ;£396,”5, the proposal would mean a deficiency of at least £546,000. In South Australia, where the amount received from the Commonwealth was £645,121, and where there was a surplus . of about £300,000 - I have not the exact figures - there would be, instead of a surplus, a deficiency of about £345,000. In Tasmania, where £262,293 were received from the Commonwealth, and there was a surplus of £70,060, there would be a deficiency of about £200,000 ; while in Western Australia, where £755,846 was received from the Federation, and where there was a deficiency of £88,728, the proposal would mean the still greater deficiency of over £840,000. A proposal of the kind needs only to be stated iri order to show its absolute impossibility. Another proposal is made by the Labour Party, who tell us straight out that they desire direct taxation- that if there be any deficiency it ought to be made up by resorting to that method of raising revenue. We can understand a proposal, of that sort, but what we wish to know is whether the proposal is indorsed by the Government. We desire to know, as I said before, whether the Government indorse the statement of the Acting Prime Minister -in favour of a land tax, or whether they indorse the statement. of the Prime Minister against a land tax, and, if the latter, what the Government propose to do with reference to the finances of the States and the Commonwealth.
– What is the honorable member’s idea?
– My idea is to obtain the revenue from Customs and Excise. The policy of the Government is an effective protective policy, which the honorable member for Flinders has pointed out means a reduction in the revenue. What we ask, and seem to ask in vain, is how the Government propose to make up the deficiency in the revenue caused by the preposterous protectionist proposals they have placed before us.
– The Government say that they will raise the money by means of this Tariff.
– That is for the present year.
– Well, that would carry us over a year.
– Had the honorable member been paying attention, he would have heard me say that, under ordinary circumstances, it might be sufficient for the Government to outline their proposals for the year, but under the special conditions attendant on the early expiration of the operation of the Braddon section, we should, like to have some indication of their policy in regard to this matter. Without going over the arguments so ably put forward by the honorable member for Illawarra, I agree with him’ that at the last election the fiscal question was not properly before the electors. In New South Wales, “at any rate, the issue was distinctly as between the policy propounded by the leader of the Opposition and the policy outlined by the honorable member for South Sydney. In none of the New South Wales electorates, with the exception of the two represented by Ministers, were there Ministerial candidates. Except in the Cowper electorate the honorable member who now represents that constituency fought the election as a protectionist, and stated that he was for antiSocialism, as did also the Minister nf Trade and Customs. Similar conditions prevailed in nearly every other State; the real issue throughout the Commonwealth was not as between Mr. Deakin and Mr. Watson, but between- Mr. Reid and Mr. Watson. That was so even in Victoria, or otherwise how can we account for the fact that so many Victorian members sit on this side, while the Government benches are so sparsely occupied? No one will, I think, deny that honorable members who dictate the policy of the Government were not elected on the fiscal issue. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney - shall I say the lonely member? - likened himself to Macaulay’s New Zealander ; and it is well sometimes to be able to choose one’s own simile. I might have suggested, however, had the honorable and learned member been present, that, perhaps, a pelican in the wilderness might have been abetter illustration. At any rate, the honorable and learned member admit ted that he was not elected on the fiscal issue. It was, to my mind, very strange that the honorable and learned gentleman should be at such pains to object, and show such heat in objecting, to the conduct of the right honorable leader of the Opposition, when he ad,mittedly had pursued a similar course in his own electorate. He pointed out that so far as he was concerned he fought on the labour issue, and sunk his free-trade principles. The honorable and learned member, by some curious mental gymnastics, tried’ to show that the right honorable member for East Sydney was responsible for’ ‘ the Tariff. However, it is still a fact that, so long as honorable members in the Labour corner vote to keep this Government in power, they must share the responsibility for the legislation introduced by Ministers.
– There has not yet been a vote taken.
– I am only pointing out what would be the result.
– The honorable member cannot tell what the result would be.
– I am warning honorable members in the Labour corner that all the criticisms that have been hurled at them lately will be proved to-be true if, by their action, they continue to keep in power the Government who introduced this Tariff. Much has been said, and I do not know that it can be too often repeated, as to the necessity of considering the primary industries of this great Commonwealth.
-The iron industry, for instance.
– The honorable member will . not find me afraid to state mv views in regard to the iron industry or any other industry. I consider secondary industries of great importance ; but when we are called upon, as we are under this Tariff, to distinguish between them and the primary industries it behoves us to be very careful lest in assisting the smaller we interfere with or hamper those which are of immensely greater concern to us.
– Then . it does not matter about the other fellow.
– I say that we need to be very careful lest by helping, the lesser we do irreparable damage to the greater. I said at the outset that I considered the secondary industries of great importance, but that the primary industries were of greater concern to us. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has only to look at the number of people employed and the capital invested in each class of industry in order to see, unless his vision is absolutely distorted, that the comparison I am making is a fair one. We hear a great deal about the products of cheap labour.
– Is the honorablemember in favour of a duty on iron?
– I shall deal with that question in due course. I wish to remind honorable members that although we may protect the secondary producer - or, in » other words, the manufacturer - from the results and the products of cheap, labour we cannot protect the primary producer in the same manner. We may tax mining machinery, but we cannot alter the price of gold, silver, copper, tin, or even of iron - honorable members of the Labour Party seem to take a keen interest in iron’ - upon the markets of the world, and it is in the outside markets that our primary producers find their largest’ customers. We must remember also that there are many low grade ores- which are being worked on so small a margin of profit that the scale is likely to be turned by a very small additional outlay. The Government have shown an almost criminal negligence of the mining industry by imposing heavy taxation upon the machinery used in connexion with it. We cannot increase the price of coal upon the markets of the world, but the Government are trying, by means of taxation, to make it as difficult as .possible for our coal miners to carry on operations. All the miners’ requisites - the safety lamp, upon which his life depends; the powder and the tools which he uses ; as well as his food and clothing are taxed. After we have done all this we say to the miners, * You are at liberty to compete with others if you can.” Our farmers’ have to compete with the wheat of Russia and America, and it is of immense importance to us as a nation that we should secure the markets before the Russians learn to apply modern methods and modern machinery to the great steppes which are part of the wheat producing areas of the world. Our farmers, by reason of their distance from the markets of the qld world, by reason of droughts and the expenses of haulage and freight, are at present severely handicapped, and the proposals of the Government to subject them to increased taxation, although within the last twelve’ months for the benefit of Hugh McKay and men of that ilk, they have increased the duty upon agricultural machinery, show an absolute want of consideration for them. The attitude of the Ministry towards other industries is the same. Dairy farmers .are face to face with a tax on cream separators and on the wood used for their butterboxes, whilst those engaged in the pastoral industry are called upon to pay a duty on their wire netting.
– There is no duty on cream separators imported from the United Kingdom, and a rebate is allowed on wood used for butter-box making.
– Most of the cream separators used in Australia come from America.
– Does not Great Britain provide us with the principal markets for our butter, and should we not do something for her in return?
– Nearly everything connected with ‘ the dairying industry is taxed.
– I have reminded the Minister of Trade and Customs that we shall be glad to afford him an opportunity to speak.
– Surely I should be permitted to correct a glaring misstatement.
– A great many of the cream separators used in Australia come, not from the United Kingdom, but from the United States of America, and our farming implements are also largely imported from the last-named country.
– Good old foreign industry
– The proposal of the Government to give Great Britain a preference in respect of these goods is as much a pretence as. are their remaining preferential trade proposals. What we specially need in Australia is not a concentration of our population in manufacturing centres, but the establishment of a rural and agricultural population.
– Would not the honorable member like to see a big population in Lithgow?
– It would be of far greater importance to New South Wales to have 10,000 men engaged in rural pursuits than it would be to have 10,000 concentrated in Lithgow. No one can deny the truth of that statement. I am anxious that this phase of the question shall not be overlooked. The Labour Party have been very definite in their statement that they agree with the policy of settling the people on the land, and with that object in view they propose, by means of a graduated land tax, to burst up the big estates. That seems to be a very simple way out of the difficulty, and if I could go with the Labour Party in that direction, I should do so. But the proposal to pile on taxation merely for the purpose of depreciating the value of any one’s property seems to me to savour of class legislation.
– That is not the purpose of the proposed tax.
– The proper and the only just course to follow, to my mind, is for the States to buy back, at its fair market value, the alienated land. The States have been trending in the right direction, and, although the honorable member for South Sydney speaks of this as a paltry proposition, that which his party favours is absolutely unfair, and, to my mind, would amount to confiscation.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 7-45 p.m.
– As I have already stated, a graduated land tax would be an easy way of removing some of pur financial difficulties, if it were a fair way ; but the fact that it has been proposed, not to obtain revenue, but, as has been said, to burst up the big estates, shows that it is wrong in principle. Even if, as is contended, the State has created the values which it is proposed to tax, it must be remembered that the owners of the land paid for the properties in respect to which those values exist, and to set about to depreciate them in order that they might be resumed for less than their ‘ true market value would be confiscation. The honorable thing to do is what the Governments of the States have done - resume at market values land needed for closer settlement, re-selling it to the people. The transactions of the New South Wales Government in connexion with the resumption and sub-division of four large estates have been very profitable, the profit running into a great . many pounds, and homes have been provided for a great many people. We must all admit that manufacturing adds to the wealth of a. community ; but the experience of other lands shows that the wealth thus created tends to accumulate in a few hands, and that ‘the concentration of population in towns creates commercial crises and other difficulties. There are also the’ troubles connected with the introduction of laboursaving machinery. Machinery is every day becoming more important in connexion with manufactures, lessening the value of human brains, skill, and effort. Within the last fifty years it has in many industries enabled employers to dispense with skilled artizans, and to engage women and children for what have become merely mechanical occupations. These difficulties extend over a larger sphere than is embraced by the fiscal problem. But the point .which I wish to emphasize is that protectionaccentuates rather than diminishes them. While I am not attempting to depreciate the value of manufactures to a country, I feel bound to point out that it is becoming more and more recognised that a nation’s strength and stability, its prosperity and happiness, depend more largely upon its rural than upon its urban population. The effect of the Tariff will be to bolster up secondary at the expense of primary industries. The honorable member for South Sydney and his followers claim to particularly represent and have in charge the interest of the working classes. I deny that they have a monopoly of such workers. They are in no sense the mouthpiece of all workers, unless it be of such workers as are members of trades unions. The Tariff, instead of helping the working man, must injure him by decreasing the purchasing power of his money. Lists which have been published in the newspapers show that the Tariff has had the effect of considerably reducing the purchasing power of money, so that what formerly could be bought for j£i now costs 23s. The difference may not seem much to some honorable members, but it is considerable to those who have only a small margin to live on. In New South Wales we made a strong fight to secure a free breakfast table for the people, and having won the battle of free-trade, it was a. great sacrifice to forego the fruits of victory in order that Federation might be accomplished. In doing so, free-traders recognised that the fiscal contest must be fought again on a new battle field. According to the honorable member for South Sydney, the price list issued by Messrs. Anthony Hordern and Sons, Sydney, shows that since the new Tariff was brought in there has been little or no increase in the cost of what are necessaries to the working men. According to one statement which he made, there has been an increase only in regard, to treacle. He forgot to point out that that firm, and others whose lists he quoted, are honorably fulfilling their promise not to increase their prices until the stocks which they laid in prior to the imposition of the Tariff are exhausted. The other day the Civil Service Cooperative Society of New South Wales published a new price slip, on which this note appears -
The new Federal Tariff, if passed in its present form, will have the effect of altering the majority of prices in the catalogue recently issued, but shareholders and customers are assured that prices will not be advanced until it is compulsory to do so.
That note was placed at the head of a list which they issued to their shareholders. Under this new Tariff, almost every article which the working man has to buy - his food and his clothes, for example - are taxed ; consequently their price will be increased. Many industries which it is proposed to bolster up by increased duties were doing very well under the old Tariff. The woollen industry was in a flourishing condition. The Acting Prime Minister chanced to make a reference to the Parramatta Woollen Mills a few days ago. I happen to be a shareholder in those mills, and I am perfectly satisfied with their prospects - although I have not had a dividend for some time.
– The honorable member is giving the show away…
– I am not. I desire to explain the reasons why the shareholders have not received a dividend. Mr. Sparke one of the leaders of the protectionist movement in New South Wales, explained to the shareholders that the business had been absolutely mismanaged. As a matter of fact, the former manager was discharged, and Mr. Sparke was appointed in his stead on account of the mismanagement which had taken place. Mr. Sparke showed the shareholders very many instances in which goods had been sold by contract for actually less than the cost of producing them, without allowing anything for the ordinary warehouse charges. It was pointed out that one contract had been accepted for the supply of 5,000 rugs to the New South Wales Railways ‘ Commissioners. Honorable members who travel backwards and forwards to Sydney each week are still enjoying the comfort of those rugs. They are very good articles indeed. They cost 23s. each to make, exclusive of the warehouse charges, and they were delivered to the Railways Commissioners for 17s. each. Business conducted upon those lines is not likely to be very satisfactory to the shareholders.
– Was the sale of those rugs at such a low price rendered necessary by “ dumping “ ?
– No; it was alleged to be due to mismanagement. Before the present Tariff was introduced, the shareholders in that mill were assured that under the old duties it would pay its way arid return a handsome profit. There is one matter that we must not forget, namely, that while New South Wales has been a free-trade State for the past twenty-five or thirty years, Victoria has been a protectionist State during that time. Those who worshipped the fetish of high protection in Victoria predicted that this State would become the working-man’s paradise and the hub of Australia. But at the time Federation was accomplished, the manufactories of New South Wales were quite as flourishing as were the hot-house creations of Victoria.
– Will the honorable member name a single industry in New South Wales which was as flourishing as was the industry in Victoria?
– Evidently the woollen industry was not.
– It was. But instead of the high protective policy of Victoria being responsible for an influx of population there was actually an exodus from the State - so great an exodus that the working men, the backbone of the country, were leaving it in thousands. During the past ten years some 77,000 men have left Victoria.
– And those who remained still vote for protection.
– They do so because they have not the enlightenment that we have received in New South Wales.
– There are thousands of Victorian farmers in the Riverina district.
– Yes. They leave Victoria - the workman’s paradise - to settle in New South Wales.
– Can the honorable member tell me why it is_ that New South Wales, with three times the area, and twice the age, of Victoria, has not twice its population ?
– The population of Victoria, at the time of the gold rush, increased by leaps and bounds. It was then that it exceeded the population of New South Wales. It was the gold rush in this State which was responsible for the enormous increase in its population.
– But the gold production of Victoria is not anything like equal to the wool and mineral production of New South Wales.
– The increase of population caused by the development of the pastoral industry will necessarily be gradual, whereas the increase of population in Victoria, owing to the gold rush, “was very sudden. However, this State is now losing population. New South Wales has a larger population at the present time, and Victoria will never be her equal again in that respect. I do not wish to discuss the various items of the Tariff schedule in detail, but there are one or two matters that I should like to mention. I had proposed to. deal at some length with the surprising proposal of the Government to tax works of art. Why, sir, we know it to be a fact that other nations, and particularly Italy, have passed laws absolutely prohibiting the export of works of art of a certain character, and only the other day we read that an American millionaire became very indignant because the Italian Government, becoming suspicious of his removing some art treasures, searched his yacht.
– That has been the law in Italy for thirty years.
– I am merely pointing out ‘that in Australia, where it ought to be our aim to build up the artistic sentiment, and obtain as many as possible of the best works of art, it is proposed to tax them to the extent of about 25 per cent.
– Why should they not be made here?
– Well, I suppose we have some artists here, and no “doubt very good artists - I do not know whether there are any in the House - but the idea of taxing works of art seems to me absolutely preposterous ; we might as well tax books and arther means of education. I notice that in the Tariff there are several items which have been transferred from an ad valorem duty to a measurement duty - to a duty of so much per cubic foot, outside measurement. Not being very well acquainted with the way in which these articles are imported, I made it my business to find out how the proposed duties will affect some industries, and what they really represent. One item, which the women of Australia will require very shortly, is preserving jars. There are a few made in Australia, but the local supply is not equal to the demand, and, further, those that are made here are not satisfactory, because they are not absolutely air-tight. Under the old Tariff there was a duty of 20 per cent., whereas under the new Tariff the duty is is. id. per cubic foot. I have made inquiries, and I find that, whereas the old duty on a shipment which Cost £14 is. id. amounted to £2 14s. 8d., under the new rate of is. per. cubic foot the duty on a similar consignment is £7 4s. 8d., or nearly 70 per cent, increase. That is a very big increase in the duty on articles which are’ so much required. Then on patent tin-top jelly jars and similar glassware, which is brought principally from America, where it is made wholesale by machinery, the old duty of 20 per cent, on a consignment which cost £5 6s. 3d. was £1 5s. nd., whereas under the new rate of 2s. per cubic foot the duty amounts to £8, or about 1.15 per cent.
– I think it is 150 per cent., or more.
– I desire to understate rather than overstate the case. But as I am not very expert at these mental calculations, I am willing to accept the figures of the honorable member. The new duty on lamp chimneys, which are used principally by the poorer classes, is 2s. 6d. per cubic foot, and this, on a consignment valued at £6 13s. 10d. amounts to j£8, as contrasted with the old duty of 20 per cent., or £1 6s. 7d. On stoneware, such as bread crocks, there was no duty in New South Wales before Federation, and the whole of the market was supplied by one local manufacturer. The Federal Parliament, in its wisdom, generously made that gentleman a present of a duty of 20 per cent. , and, although under free-trade he had so far succeeded as to crowd out all his competitors, he promptly raised the price. It is now proposed to increase the duty by 10 per cent., in order, I suppose, that he may add a little more to his profits.
Four sets of soiled linen baskets were brought to Australia by the Empire, and the duty paid was 19s. id.
– These came from Japan, I suppose?
– Probably; they are marked in the bill I have as “ foreign.”
– And they are made by men who receive a wage of 10d. per week.
– The first cost of the four sets was 14s. 2d. the lot, and, owing to their bulky nature, the measurement being 23 ft. 4 in., the freight amounted to Jos. 3d., which in itself is about 72J per cent, on the original cost.
– They ought to bear a duty of 5,000 per cent. !
– But I point out to the honorable member - that these articles cannot be made here - that the basketware and carry-alls sold here are brought from abroad, and are used, not so much by the richer as bv the poorer classes.
– Does the honorable mems ber say that basketware cannot be made here?
– Not of this kind.
– Of what kind are they?
– These are Japanese baskets. I am merely pointing out the burden which is being imposed on the poorer classes who use these articles.
– The poorer classes are not troubling themselves about the matter !
– The honorable member seems to forget that statement is not argument, even though it comes from the Ministerial benches. I have already pointed out that the duty paid on these baskets’ is 19s. id., and that, added to the freight, makes a total impost of nearly 135 per cent. Then waste-paper baskets per set are charged duties which equal respectively 242 per cent, and 322 per cent. There is only one other item in the Tariff to which I desire to refer, and that is the inexplicable duty of 7s, 6d. each on chairs. We know that the local manufacture of Vienna chairs, and of the cheaper lines of American chairs, is impossible, since we have not supplies of wood suitable for the purpose. Chairs were’ already protected to the extent of between 35 per cent.” and 50 per cent, by the duty, freight, and charges under the old Tariff. The impost of 7s. 6d. per chair is absolutely prohibitive. I do not like Austrian chairs, and have very few in my house, but they are largely used by the favorite friends of the Postmaster-General, the working people. As an example of the magnitude of this burden I propose to quote figures supplied to me by Messrs. W. W. Campbell and Co. Ltd.-, in reference to a certain shipment. They have now arriving 303 dozen of these chairs. When they were ordered, under the old rate of duty, the firm would have had to pay, and were prepared to pay, an impost of £108, but under the new Tariff they will have to pay a duty amounting to no less than £1,363. At the time of the declaration of the Tariff hundreds of cases were on the water. These will be forced into bond, and either, as in the case of a shipment of bicycles, will be reshipped to the port of origin, or, perhaps, as one firm has offered to do, will be burnt on the wharfs. This is protection run mad ; there is noother way in which to describe it. The proposal of the leader of the Labour Party, which he describes as the “ new protection,” is, to my mind, an absolute acknowledgment that so far, at all events, as the workers are concerned, protection in itself is a failure. It fails to benefit them or to-“ improve their conditions. It is a matter of common history that although protection as a rule increases the wealth of the community, it puts that increased wealth into the pockets of the few. We are told that such a state of affairs is not to continue ; But the proposal to regulate prices seems to me £0 be absolutely unworkable. It is by no means a new proposition. The experiment has been tried in different forms from almost the commencement of civilization. In the days of one of the Edwards - I think it was Edward I. - a. law -was passed to limit the charge for eggs to is. per dozen, and when we remember the difference between the purchasing power of money then and now, that was a fairly high rate to fix. The proposal put forward by the Labour Part)7, however, is not likely, in my opinion, to help the consumer. The honorable member for South Sydney, and the honorable member for Boothby, admitted that goods could not be followed until they reached the hands of the retailer with the object of insuring that the consumer should not be charged more than a reasonable rate for them. The honorable member for Boothby said he proposed to see that a fair charge was made for goods as they left the hands of the manufacturer. We can see at once how easy it would be to overcome such a scheme. It would be an easy matter to do what is done at the present time - to introduce a third party, or middleman, to whom the manufacturer would sell at a reasonable price. This third party might consist of a company run by the manufacturers themselves. They might sell at a reasonable price to the middleman, and take their chief profit from his sales instead of from the sales of the factory. So far as I can see the proposal will not work. We admit that protection, if high enough, will create a certain quantity of work for a certain number of people. I suppose pine apples could be grown at the South Pole if a demand could be created for them there, and a sufficiently high duty to bring up the prices could be imposed. The point that I wish to emphasize is that under a protective policy we take much from the pockets of the multitude - from the consuming classes - for the sake of benefiting the few. In an effort to bolster up a few industries we are taxing the whole of the general community. There is another matter to which I desire to refer. So much has been said upon the subject of the Federal Capital, from which it might be inferred that the Premier of New South Wales is responsible for the present position, that I thought it might be of interest to the Committee, as well as to the public generally, to show the action of the present Government since the Bill dealing with this question was passed. I find that on the 19th October, 1905, the honorable member for Parramatta asked the Prime Minister whether he was - in a position to give the House information concerning the recent conference between the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth and the Attorney-General of New South Walesin reference to the Federal Capital site ?
He added -
I should like to know generally what the Government propose to do in regard to this matter ?
The Prime Minister replied -
I have no memorandum to lay before the
House, but the Attorney-General has prepared a letter in which is set forth our view of the legal questions raised during the conference between him and the Attorney-General of New South Wales. It will be posted this afternoon, and will be delivered to-morrow morning. The discussion narrowed the question at issue to such an extent that I think that this statement of our views, and the reply to it, will probably close the correspondence preparatory to the introduction of a Bill into this Chamber.
On the 26th October, 1905, the honorable member for Parramatta again asked the Prime Minister if he were yet able to inform . the House of the course which the Government intended to take with regard to the Federal Capital Site question. The Prime Minister replied -
The letter laid on the table on Tuesday was a communication arranged to be sent by the Attorney-General to the Attorney-General of New South Wales. We have received a telegram from the latter, saying that he has transferred the matter to the Premier, who will reply to our letter. His answer has not yet reached us. The probability is that we shall follow the procedure suggested . . . introducing a Bill to permit of the survey referred to.
– This session ?
– I hope so.
Then the right honorable member for East Sydney interjected, almost prophetically, as subsequent events have proved -
The settlement of the matter seems to me to be further away than ever.
On 8th November, 1905, when speaking on the Appropriation Bill, the Prime Minister said -
The question of the site will be before the House within the next few days in a specific form, which will permit of its discussion from every aspect.
Further on in the same speech, in referring to the present Acting Prime Minister,be said that he - has taken up a strong attitude as to the site that ought to be selected.
The Hansard report continues -
– Then the Minister for Trade and Customs does not regard the selection of Dalgety as final?
-I do not think he ever will.
– The selection of Dalgety is absolutely absurd.
On 8th December, 1905, the honorable member for Parramatta asked -
Is the Prime Minister able in the midst of the legislative auction he is conducting, to give a passing fragmentary thought to the keeping of the solemn constitutional compact with New South Wales with reference to the Federal Capital Site ? Will the matter be dealt with this session, and, if so, when?
– I hope to be in a position to submit a proposal next week.
– Are we to take it that the Government intend to deal definitely with the matter before the session closes?
The session crawled on till the 21st December, when Parliament was prorogued. Mr. Deakin informed the people of New South Wales and of Australia generally in the Governor-General’s speech -
Unfortunately, the definition of the territory of the Seat of Government has not yet been completed, but it is hoped that the pressing question involved, which has been the subject of prolonged inquiries and exhaustive debates for several years, will be determined by this Parliament.
On the 7th June, 1906, when Parliament met for the new session, there was included in the Governor-General’s speech the following paragraph -
The proposal to more definitely determine the territory for the purpose of the Seat of Government will be submitted to this Parliament for final consideration.
Later on the honorable member for Lang put a question -
I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether be intends to alford members of Parliament an early opportunity to consider the question of the Federal Capital Site?
– As the honorable member knows, a paragraph appears in the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General -
– It is right away down at the bottom.
– What the honorable member calls the bottom is that portion of the speech which relates to the business that it is intended to bring before the House during the coming session. After the plans, which were received only yesterday, have been laid on the table, and the House has been placed in possession of all other available information on the subject we shall be ready to proceed.
On the nth July, 1906, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie asked -
Is it the intention of the Government to introduce this session a Bill to more definitely determine the area of the future Seat of Government ?
We went on from July until September, when the honorable member for Lang again became impatient, and put a question to the Prime Minister -
I wish to know from the Prime Minister if he will afford the House an opportunity to deal with the Federal Capital question before the close of the session?
– If possible.
He then referred to a proposed visit to another site. On the 12th of September, the honorable member for North Sydney said that as he could not obtain the information from the business-paper he wished to know what place the Capital Site question was to occupy in the business of the session. The Prime Minister, after referring to the intended visits to the sites said -
Pending these visits, it is uncertain when the House will be prepared to deal with the question.
In October, the honorable member for Lang asked -
If it is considered necessary to make visits of inspection to Federal Capital Sites which have not been visited, will the Government arrange for them, prior to the meeting of the new Parliament, so as to secure the greatest expedition in the final settlement of the question?
– That course would be most desirable if it were not that the new Parliament will assemble immediately as required by the Constitution. There may ‘be an interval later, which might be occupied as the honorable member suggests. ‘
These passages all go to show that this Government is not in earnest in the matter ; and it appears to me that so long as we have in the Cabinet the Acting Prime Minister with a .Federal Capital Site in his division and the Minister of Trade and Customs with one site, or two, in his electorate, there is very little chance of the Government settling the question unless Parliament forces their hand in some way.
– After all this” humbug, is it wonderful that New South Wales is restive?
– Is not this continued delay a justification of the feeling of the New South Wales people that they have been “ had “ over this Federal Capital Site question, and -that the Government does not intend to treat them fairly in accordance with the compact entered into?
– If the New South Wales members could only agree the whole question would soon be settled.
– Does that argument relieve the Government or the House of the responsibility for. settling the question ? We know absolutely that New South Wales wants to have it settled.
– It was definitely settled when Parliament selected Dalgety.
– The honorable member knows just as well as I do that neither the Government nor this. Parliament considered the question as settled. If it were, why does not the Government say straight out, “ We have settled the question and will not do anything further; we abide by the selection made by Parliament?” But the promise made to the people of New South Wales was not fulfilled by the selection of Dalgety, which does not comply with the spirit of the compact.
– Dalgety was submitted to Parliament and was selected.
– As a matter of fact, Dalgety was not submitted.
– But Bombala was.
– I know that Bombala was, but Dalgety was not. When the compact was entered into by which the Federal Capital was to be in New- South Wales, not less than 100 miles from Sydney, it was recognised as a compromise between the requirement of Sir George Turner that the Capital should be at least 200 miles from Sydney, and that of the right honorable member for East Sydney that it should not be less than 75 miles from Sydney. In order that we may keep faith with New South Wales, the selected site should be somewhere near to the 100-mile limit. I know a score of men who, when Federation was under discussion, did not think that the Capital question mattered a button; but they now feel irritated owing to the fact that New South Wales has been “ had “ in the matter. They remind me of a. man who goes into a shop to make a purchase. He does not care about a matter of Jd. in his change, and under ordinary circumstances would go away without it.
– A halfpenny change is a fair example. I congratulate the honorable member on the comparison.
– I thank the honorable member. ‘ But if the shopkeeper says, “ I will not pay it to you,” then if the man is a Britisher at all he sticks there until he gets it. That illustrates the feeling which has caused the irritation which is felt throughout the length and breadth of New South Wales. The question is a Commonwealth one, and it behoves this House to settle it. If we are going to leave it to the different sections in New South Wales-
– Why does not the honorable member give notice to repeal the Act ?
– Because the Acting Prime Minister has told us that he is going to bring the matter before the House. The Bill which is promised is intended, I understand, to enable us to deal with the question. I hope the Government will give us a chance to do so by bringing it forward quickly. We should do all we can in this House to save any friction between the Federation and the States.
– Do not the Government regard this question as already settled ?
– No. I quoted just now the statement of the Acting Prime Minister that he considered the selection of Dalgety absolutely absurd.
– Have not the Government given notice of the introduction of a Bill to fix the site at Dalgety?
– The object of the introduction of the Bill is to give us an opportunity to decide whether Dalgety shall remain or be struck out. [ma
– Which will the honorable member have first - the Tariff or the Seat of Government Bill?
– Personally, I prefer the Seat of Government Bill. I would rather have that question settled, because I believe that it would do much to allay the irritation which is felt in New South Wales against this Government. The honorable member for Cook wanted to know my views upon the question of protecting the iron industry. I regard the iron industry from a stand-point quite other than that of a mere Tariff issue. The money we expend in establishing it will be spent, not for the advantage of any one individual, but as an insurance from a defence stand-point, in order that we may have in the time of need those thing’s which are absolutely essential for our defence.
– Would the honorable member be of that opinion if Lithgow was in Tasmania?
– I believe I should. One is ready to admit a certain amount of unconscious bias, but I have looked at the matter fairly and squarely,- and the reasons I have given are those which have actuated me, and would still have actuated “me if Lithgow had not been in the Nepean electorate. On the question of defence we are simply drifting we know not where. We are living over what may be described as a live volcano. After the expiration of seven years, when the AngloJapanese ‘Treaty will have expired, we do not know at what moment we may be called upon to fight for our national existence. That is the aspect from which I view this industry. It is absolutely essential that we should have somewhere in Australia a means of turning our native ores into iron in order that we may have the necessary means of defence. I do not understand the attitude of the Government. They have proposed a duty for every other industry. But in this case they defer the duty pending the payment of a bounty. The only reason they could give for that attitude would be that they want to see the industry established first, but it has been (already established, so much so that it is able, if it gets the orders, to turn out enough pig-iron to supply the whole of the Commonwealth. There is no question as to the quality of the iron, which is admitted to. be equal, if not superior, to the best that we can import. I noticed in the Herald of yesterday an account of an interview with Messrs. Dallimore Brothers, ironfounders, of South Melbourne, who were asked to express their opinion about the Australian iron that they are now using. Theyhad nothing but praise for it. They said- “ It is of first-class quality ; better than the
English iron, and at least equal to the Scotch, which is the best iron imported.”
And the price? “ The Australian iron is cheaper than the English, which ischeaper again than the Scotch. But may I give you an instance of local appreciation of the Australian iron.?”
By all means. “ Well, one of our clients, Mr. Taylor, the cement-pipe manufacturer, likes the Lithgow iron so well that hs has offered to pay £1 per ton more for his castings if we make them of Lithgow metal.”
That testimony comes from Victoria, which cannot be., regarded as . biased in favour, of any New South Wales industry. Recently the South Australian Government called for tenders for 5,000 tons of pig iron. Mr. Sandford tendered for the contract. . We are face to face with the fact that since the successful inauguration ofthe blast furnaces at Lithgow the price of pig iron by one means and another has been brought down on the Australian market. We can see that it is to the interests of the outside manufacturers that they should crush the local industry .
– Does not that apply to other industriesas well as to the iron industry?
– I am telling honorable members my. reason for supporting this particular proposal. We know that the Sydney market quite lately was flooded by a shipment of Bengal iron. I wish to point out, in connexion with this matter, that the successful tenderers for the South Australian iron were a firm who haveto do largely with shipping and importing, and who, during a certain season ofthe year, are able to import pig iron as stiffening and ballast at a very low freight indeed. I am told, though I have not been able absolutely to verify the statement, that there is a clause in the agreement to the effect that if this Parliament imposes the 12½ per cent, duty that is proposed in the Tariff, the South Australian Government, and not the importer, will bear the expense of the duty. It works out in this way that if the 12½ per cent, duty is added to the price quoted by the successful tenderer for this iron, theLithgow tender would be about 5s. per ton less than the tender of the other people.
– Did not the other people put in an extraordinarily low price to crush the local industry?
– The price quoted was very low, and Mr. Sandford also put in a low price in order to secure the tender. I refer to the matter now in order that the Committee may bear it in mind when the iron duty comes up for consideration, and may consider it in connexion with the question whether we should provide for a bounty or impose a duty. To my mind, the industry having been already established, and the Government having acknowledged that the bounty, of itself, will not support the industry under existing conditions–
– The duty will follow the bounty.
– That is what I say. The Government acknowledge that the duty will have to follow the bounty. But, since we have established the industry, and are within£100,000 of the limit of our’expenditure, it seems to me that, in the circumstances, it might, perhaps, be better to impose the 12½ per cent, duty asked for in the first instance. In considering this matter, we must remember that, although in England a considerable number of women are employed at the lighter labour in iron work’s, in Australia we have not, and I hope never will have, any female labour employed in the industry. It is true that we employ a few youths atwork of a very simple and light character, but the number is but a fraction of the 700 or 800 men employed in the industry. These are the principal things I wished to ask the Committee to remember in dealing with the iron duty. I repeat that it is the immediate and pressing nature of the question of defence which has forced the consideration of this question upon me, and which compels me to support a proposal which the Prime Minister himself described as worth a considerable national sacrifice.
.- If the honorable member who has just resumed his seat should think it advisable to reprint his speech, I would suggest as an appropriate heading for it “A Protectionist in the Making.”
– I think the heading should be “ A Lost Free-trader.”
– That would do as a sub-heading.
– The honorable member for Nepean will have plenty of company in the Labour corner.
– I was going to recall the self-denial of the honorable member for Parramatta, who represented the Lithgow district when this House dealt with the iron industry. That honorable member was prepared to sacrifice his constituents, and did forego their advantage on the altar of the general welfare.’ That was the position taken up by the honorable member for Parramatta, and I am pleased to be able to compliment him upon it. We can all remember that when the old Tariff was being framed, staunch free-traders voted for salt and other duties, while gentlemen having manufacturing ironworks in their electorates supported high duties on machinery. In this t connexion, I must pay a tribute to the honorable member for Dalley, who, at that time, was a consistent free-trader, and refused to vote even for duties by which his constituents would have largely benefited
– I said in the last Parliament that I would vote for duties if I had the chance again.’
– -I believe that the honorablemember is now in a different frame of mind, and has grown more worldly-wise. His confession ‘ leads me to- the admission that I am approaching the position df the honorable member. I often shared the honorable member’s company in divisions on the last Tariff, and I shall probably be sharing his company in’ divisions on the Tariff now before us. I was very much entertained by . the artificial indignation exhibited by the honorable member “ for Nepean in regard to the delay in fixing the Capital Site in New South ‘ Wales. I regard his .indignation and a good deal of the indignation existing in that State as purely artificial, largely manufactured and kept alive for political purposes.
– The’ honorable member is not- doing justice to himself now.
– I shall proceed to do justice all round. Whoever is to blame for the delay in fixing the site of the Capital it is not this Parliament. In that regard the Premier of New South Wales has acted the part of a violent incendiary, who would put . a torch to the edifice of the Commonwealth in order to gratify his own political ambition. He has reached out after notoriety and brought home nothing but the contempt and execration of the whole of Australia. It is quite true, as the honorable member for Laanecoorie has said, that if the representatives of New South Wales in this House had made up their minds about a site for the Capital it would have been fixed long ago. Now, in all the divisions that have taken place on this question not once have I voted for Dalgety. I do not believe that it is a suitable site. I think that New South Wales ought not to hesitate about giving the Commonwealth the area for which it has asked, and also an independent outlet, either to the ocean or to another State.
– Jervis Bay would be a suitable outlet.
– I have nothing to say against Jervis Bay. It is unnecessary to dwell on the hair-splitting of the lawyers in New South Wales over that vexed provision in the Constitution which is supposed to confine our choice to some territory’ which shall have been set apart by its Government. Practically, Dalgety was set apart. We have heard the honorable member for Nepean ‘« legal quibble that only Bombala was set apart. He knows quite well that the district set apart for the consideration of this Parliament was the Monaro district, which contains both Bombala and Dalgety, and in which all Crown lands were temporarily reserved. I desire, in passing, to say that, although’ I have so far voted against Dalgety, unless I can see - a more suitable site in the future I shall vote for Dalgety in the next division which is taken. No one with any regard for the future of his country can allow any provincial politician to dictate to the Parliament of Australia where its Capital is to be.
– The climate of Dalgety would kill the honorable member in twelve months.
– Any one who can survive Melbourne should foe able to thrive anywhere else.
– The honorable member would vote out of a spirit of pure revenge against the State Premier !
– The honorable member is not doing me justice now. I said that unless I saw a place which was infinitely more suitable than is Dalgety I would vote in that way, but I have not yet seen that place.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon.
– I voted for Lyndhurst in preference to Dalgety, but I shall not do so again ; since it is impossible to yield to the dictation of parochialists, and allow them to determine a matter in which this Parliament is given the final word by the Constitution.
– Although the honorable member believes the other site to be better?
– No; I would vote for a better site if I saw one, but I have not yet seen one. Dalgety was not my original choice, but I would sooner vote for that site than one which had nothing better to recommend it than proximity to Sydney. I would, of course, defer to the judgment of men who are better qualified to speak as to water conservation and the other requisites for a great city in the interior. Passing from that matter, I am glad to acknowledge the suggestion of the honorable member for Capricornia as one of the few valuable ideas which have been revealed during this debate. He has noticed, as I think every one who represents remote portions of the Commonwealth has noticed, the small interest which the people of those parts take in Federal affairs. His discovery is not by any means original, nor is his suggested remedy new. I may remind him and others who may not be aware of the fact that this Parliament has gone a long way to cheapen telegraphic information to the Inter-State press.
– And to the people, too.
– Yes, but we are dealing now with press information only. Very early in its history, on my motion, the House decided that the Victorian inland rate for press messages should prevail throughout Australia; but the use which was made of the privilege by the newspapers did not come up to the expectations of those who supported the motion. There is a germ of usefulness in this suggestion for a summarized official report. I think that the Government might well consider the question of issuing - not in substitution of, but as supplementary to, Hansard - at the end of or during each sitting, a summary of the debates and proceedings in both Houses, and offering it to the press correspondents to be despatched to the daily newspapers. I believe that a great many daily newspapers would be prepared to . take this summary of the proceedings in this Parliament if it were offered in that way. Then for the weekly newspapers, a different arrangement could be made.
– It would have to be livened up a bit.
– The debates might be interspersed with some of the honorable member’s witticisms.
– Would the honorable member suggest that the summary should be illustrated? If so, I can supply illustrations also.
– No doubt that would be an advantage, but I am now dealing with a serious matter.
– We should have less space given to a so-called scene in the House and more space given to the solid speeches.
– That is so. I think the Government will ‘find that in France a summary of the debates in the national Parliament is given, if not to the daily newspapers, to the weekly and bi-weekly newspapers.
– For many years the South Australian Hansard has been published in the press at the public cost.
– That was done at one time in Queensland and also for a while, I believe, in Western Australia; but it is not a very satisfactory arrangement, because the average man has not time in which to read the whole of the Hansard report. If, however, a condensed but exact report of the proceedings of each House, not to exceed a newspaper column, were prepared with proper sub-headings–
– Only one column for a day’s sitting?
– Yes, usually.. If the honorable member thinks that the public will read huge slabs of the debates in Parliamenthe makes a great mistake.
– The honorable member could not so condense the daily proceedings of Parliament into a column as to produce a satisfactory report. It would be more in the nature of a comment if compressed into that space.
– At yesterday’s sitting of the Committee three or four speeches were delivered. Dees the honorable mem-, bet mean to tell me that a competent reporter could not condense into a newspaper column everything which was salient or of real importance in those speeches.
– The question is whether it would be readable or not ?
– It would be the more readable because of its brevity.
– No. If the report of the proceedings were condensed in that way it would be the driest of dry reading.
– I realize that it would be very difficult to condense the remarks of the honorable member, especially when he was going full steam ahead.
– The honorable member need not make a personal matter of it.
– The honorable member always makes things personal.
– I admit that it is a serious question which the honorable member is discussing.
– It is.
– Such a report would be fuller than the report of yesterday’s proceedings in this morning’s newspapers.
– It might not be fuller, but I think it would convey to the outside public a far better idea of the proceedings - of the arguments used, the facts adduced, and so on - than is contained in three times the space in the daily papers.
– And every honorable member would get the same show.
– Not necessarily ; I do not believe in that.
– There would be a nice row if he did not.
– Now the honorable member is getting into a difficulty.
– That is one of the difficulties, but it is no more difficult to find an impartial reporter than it is to find an impartial Judge or Public Service Commissioner.
– Not if he is given enough space.
– Would the honorable member give this work to one of the officers of the House to do?
– I did not come here to-night to elaborate all the details.
– If we did, we should ha-vt to give him a ten years’ appointment. Otherwise he would be sacked within a day or two.
– I think that if an officer of the House were intrusted with the work he would perform it impartially. However, the matter need not be discussed at any length now. I have referred to it only incidentally. Amongst the. items in the Budget that ought to excite attention is the enormous expenditure which the Commonwealth is called upon to pay to keep alive the sugar industry in Queensland and New South Wales. The manner in which this expenditure is increasing ought to (rive us pause. Despite all the juggling in connexion with import duty, Excise duty, and bounty, the fact is clear that nearly £6 is’ paid by. the public on every ton of sugar consumed, the output of the two States being about 200,000 tons per annum
– Over £1,000,000 a year.
– Yes. That is what the present system is costing Australia. There is an import duty of £6 a” ton, and the price of Australian sugar is increased by nearly the amount of that duty. Production has already practically overtaken demand here, and the -honorable member for Angas the other day informed us that he had in his possession an invoice showing that Australian’ sugar was exported to South Africa, and sold there for £3 18s. a ton less than similar sugar was bringing in the Australian market. Are we to continue taxing our people to enable South Africans and foreigners to buy our sugar more cheaply than Australians can buy it?
– What the honorable member complains of is not peculiar to Australia.
– No. We object to other countries dumping goods into the Australian market, but our sugar duty enables Australian sugar to be dumped into South Africa-
– What quantity was sent there ?
– The honorable member for Angas did not state the Quantity sold, but no doubt lie would be willing to show the invoice to any one interested in ‘the subject. The bounty which it is estimated will be paid this year to Queensland is £500,000, and to New South Wales, £73,000, while the expenses of administration will come to £7,323; a total expenditure of £580,323. Since this system was adopted bounties have cost the Commonwealth £1,371,513. The people of Australia would not have so much to complain of if the object for which the bounty is given had been attained. The present policy was instituted under the influence of public sentiment in favour of a white Australia, though, as every one knows, the kanakas engaged in sugar growing are the least objectionable of our coloured population.
– I do not know it.
– It is generally admitted that the Japanese and the Chinese are far more objectionable than the kanakas.
– They are much cleaner races and much finer mentally and physically, though I agree that they are more dangerous.
– I said “objectionable.” The two words are practically synonymous in this connexion.
– I do not call a man who is clean, and strong physically and mentally, a degraded man.
– I shall not follow the honorable member into the by-path toward which he is wandering. Our policy, although so expensive, has not been successful in bringing about the production of sugar wholly by white labour. In 1902, in Queensland, 60.9 farmers employed white labour, and 39.1 black labour; while in 1907 89.1 employed white labour, and 10.9 black labour. In New South Wales in 1902 89.7 farmers employed white labour, and 10.3 black labour; and in 1907 88.2 employed white labour, and 11.8 black labour, showing an increase in the employers of black labour in five years. Although there is an impression that the bounty, which has increased by nearly £300,000 in one year, is bringing about the employment of white labour only, on the 31st December, 1905, there were employed in the sugar industry in Queensland 7,970 coloured persons, and in New South Wales 483, a total of 8,452 ; while on the 31st December, 1906, there were employed in Queensland 6,323 coloured persons, and in New South Wales 468, a total of 6,791. In addition 785 coloured persons were employed in the factories of Queensland, and 500 in the factories of New South Wales.
I do not think that that is a satisfactory state of affairs, in view of the enormous sacrifice which the people of Australia are making to hand the industry over to white men. During the last Parliament I did think that the time had arrived when we ought to reconsider attempts to bolster up the Queensland sugar industry. I would also point out that the white workers in that industry experience the very greatest difficulty in exacting ah adequate wage from the planters. As the honorable member for Herbert showed the latter even sent their emissaries to the old world to engage Italian and other cheap European labour, notwithstanding that an abundance of labour was available in the southern States of the Commonwealth. Allied to the question of the sugar bounty is that of the cost incurred in repatriating the kanakas. As everybody is aware, about 7,000 or 8,000 kanakas have been returned to their islands. Originally they were brought from their homes by the Government of Queensland for the purpose of assisting the development of the sugar industry in that State. Under the system which then obtained, the planters were compelled to lodge with the Government a deposit of £5 per head in order to defray the expense of deporting the kanakas to the Pacific Islands upon the expiration of their agreements. But what did we find? That this fund had actually been absorbed in the Queensland revenue and expended for other purposes. Now, the Government of Queensland ask this Parliament, and the people of the southern States - who are not interested in sugar except to the extent that they have to pay a high price for it - to subscribe the necessary funds for the deportation of these kanakas. To my astonishment a sum of money for the purpose was placed upon the Estimates, a considerable portion of which has been expended. That this expenditure evoked protest from only a small section of the House is certainly surprising. I think that the Queensland Government should be required to pay the cost of deporting their own kanakas instead of asking the people of Australia - who are already paying over £1,000,000 a year to keep the industry going - for further contributions. Then there is another remarkable item of which this Committee ought to take notice. Whilst Parliament was in recess, the Government actually pledged the people of Australia to an ex- penditure of £10,000 for the purpose of repatriating a number of persons in South Africa.
– They brought back some of the scum of the earth.
– I do not think that persons who leave Australia when she is suffering from some temporary misfortune constitute a class whom we ought to go out of our way to help. We must recollect that the individuals who have been repatriated went to South Africa hoping to better themselves. They did not do so. They discovered that they were worse off there than they were here. Whilst I do not altogether favour the idea of denying them assistance, I question whether the Government should have anticipated the opinion of Parliament by expending £9,852 to bring these people back here.
– A lot of those whe were brought here had never seen Australia before.
– Exactly. A number of the most objectionable characters - who had never been in Australia before - were introduced. The arrival of these persons was coincident with a very remarkable outbreak of crime in this city. In open daylight a diamond merchant was murdered in an office in Collins-street, and a short time previous to that a most mysterious robbery was perpetrated at the Melbourne Mint, not to mention other crimes of minor importance. I do not say that these crimes were committed by persons who had been repatriated, or by any new arrival from South Africa, but it is significant that they were contemporaneous. I notice upon the Estimates an item of £20,000 for advertising Australia. I desire to know whether this money is to be expended in attracting people to our shores by false representations in the way. that has been suggested by Dr. Arthur? We are all familiar with the letter that he forwarded to his agent in Melbourne - a letter in which he stated that the conditions of Australian land tenure were to be “ kept dark “ from intending immigrants. I know, too, that miners are being attracted to the Commonwealth by false representations. I am satisfied that this Parliament does not intend to vote £20,000 to lure people to Australia by any such means. Before the item is agreed to, I hope we shall have a specific undertaking from the Government that the money will be expended in advertising our resources amongst the people of the United King dom, and not in an endeavour to attract workmen to compete in city trades.
– If the amount is to be expended inadvertising our resources is it not altogether too small ? In Canada they spend £500,000 annually.
– It is most extraordinary that immigrants do not stay in Canada when they reach that country. They cross over into the United States. It is only because of our distance from the old world that we are at a disadvantage in the matter of securing desirable immigrants. If we were as near to Great Britain as is Canada, we should possess a much larger population than does that country.
– We must hold out the attractions of Australia.
– I do not mind holding out the attractions of Australia to legitimate settlers who are prepared to go on the land, or engage in the primary industries. The honorable member will agree with me that it isnot right to bring to Australia working men, such as miners, or others to compete in city trades and other occupations which are not too attractive at the present time to our own people. The honorable member for Fawkner was good enough to tell us that kerosene and tea ought to be taxed in order to pay oldage pensions, contending that in order to avoid the suspicion of pauperism the necessary funds should be raised by taxation paid by all. I say, in reply, that ifthere are not to be old-age pensions until the money is derived from taxes on the necessaries of life, I hope they will be postponed for some time. As I pointed out when the honorable member was speaking, there is very little kerosene used in Toorak ; and, in my opinion, any taxation necessary in order to pay old-age pensions ought to be taxation on land and wealth. A man who. has qualified for an old-age pension by long residence in the country, must have done much to advance the interests and welfare of the community. And who gets the benefit of the work of such men? No one, in the long run, but the landowner. What is the effect of accretions of population here ? Is it not to increase the value of the lands? Who has increased the value of the land in Melbourne and the other cities of Australia? Who made land in Collins-street worth from £300 to £500 a foot?It was not the owners - not the fortunate individuals who came here in the early days and happened to obtain possession of blocks for a mere song - but it was the accumulation of people who found the city convenient for business and required the land. Therefore, I say that the owners of those lands, and other wealthy people, ought to be taxed in order to pay old-age pensions’. The honorable member also referred - and I thought his reference most unhappy - to the epoch of 1893, which he said marked the first appearance of the Labour Party in Parliament, and the beginning of the growth of class strife and other evils which he contended had followed the advent of that party. The honorable member could not have been more unfortunate in his selection of the date, because it was in 1893 that for the first time in Australia an Australian Parliament said to the banks, “ You need not pay your debts.” This was done by the Victorian Parliament, in this very Chamber ; and payment was suspended by the banks for a whole week. This I can regard as no other .than legalized robbery of the depositors - among whom were many widows and children. The year 1893 has been burned into the minds of the thrifty people of Australia, who were forced by law to leave their money with the banks for periods ranging from three to ten years. The public at that time were robbed by the class which the honorable member for Fawkner represents - bank directors and others.
– The people at that time were robbed of £58,000,000.
– I can quite believe the statement. Of course, the honorable member for Fawkner himself is a generous and kind-hearted man; he and others in the Opposition corner possibly have very kindly sentiments towards the working people of the country. I can quite believe that if the French aristocracy had shown, a similar willingness to recognise the rights of the masses when Tom Paine wrote The Age of Reason, the French Revolution, with all its horrors, might not have occurred. But’, as everybody knows, the aristocracy disregarded the advice of Paine. They read the first edition of his work and threw it aside with the utmost contempt; but it is said that their skins went to bind the third edition. Nothing of that sort, I hope, will occur in Australia. I wish to say to honorable members in the Opposition corner that, while I have every respect for them personally, I shall view with some suspicion proposals emanating from them, especially in reference to the Tariff. I think it was Daniel O’Connell who, on one occasion in the House of Commons, when asked what course he proposed to take in regard to a certain proposal, replied, “ I shall wait until I see what the Times urges, and if I do the opposite I know I shall be right.” The honorable member for Fawkner said that 93 per cent, of the lands of Australia were still unalienated, leaving it to be inferred that there is ample room and scope for all who choose to come to the country. Anybody who has been in the interior of Australia, and ‘knows that over vast areas the rainfall is only 5 or 6 inches per annum, will readily understand the absurdity of the honorable member’s suggestion. The . real trouble is that the most fertile and the richest portions of Australia are already alienated and in the hands of a few ; and what is required to promote settlement and increase the population is a stiff land tax that will render it unprofitable for the present holders to continue their policy of keeping the lands locked up. It is expected, I presume, of every honorable member that he should at this stage make some declaration in regard to the Tariff. I recognise that, for good or ill, the people of Australia have declared for protection. So far as I am personally concerned, while I do not believe in overloading the primary industries from which Australia derives the bulk of its wealth, I intend to recognise the will of the people. Where it is possible I shall give my vote for duties, provided the interests of the workers are conserved, and that some scheme is devised for the protection of the consumers. The objectionable features of protection will be largely removed if we are able to provide, on the one hand, that the workers shall receive fair wages under good conditions, and that the consumers shall not be swindled. Subject to these reservations, I intend to consider every duty on its merits, and to vote in the direction which I think the people of Australia desire. I am sorry that the honorable member for Fremantle is not present, because I intended to indorse the remarks made by him as to the vast undeveloped wealth of the north-west portion of Western Australia. His speech was, on the whole, an excellent effort, though some of his arguments were scarcely consistent with his fiscal professions. Like that delivered by the honorable member for Nepean, it was the utterance of a freetrader rather than of a protectionist, in which guise the honorable member for Fre- mantle was returned. I failed to recognise orthodox protectionist principles in his contentions. He seems to think that the primary industries only require that their machinery and appliances shall be unburdened by Tariff taxation. If he has studied the question he ought to know that machinery is but one factor of an industry. If taxes be levied on the cost-of living and other factors of an industry, then that industry, from the honorable member’s point of view, is not receiving fair play. I do not wish to make any further reference to the honorable member’s speech, but I trust that the Committee will give some attention to the complaints coming from Western Australia.
– And from any other part of Australia.
– Western Australia occupies a unique position. The honorable member for Parramatta knows full well that no other State in the Union has derived less than she has from Federation. She depends mainly on four industries - mining, agricultural, pastoral, and timber getting - andnot one of them, so far as I can see, is likely to be benefited by the Tariff. The position of the other States is altogether different. New South Wales has vast deposits of coal and iron, as well as an abundance of cheap labour, and she must be the seat of many flourishing industries. Wages prevailing in Western Australia, on the other hand, are higher than those paid in any other part of the Union, and the industries of that State must necessarily come down before the competition of the longer established manufactures of the eastern States. Without expressing any sympathy with what is, after all, a foolish agitation for secession, I think this House might give attention to the special needs and requirements of Western Australia. I would remind honorable members that we shall have an opportunity, when the Navigation Bill is before us, to show some consideration for its well-being. It ought not to be forgotten that Western Australia is absolutely confined to sea communication with the east. Unlike the other States, she has no land communication with the rest of the Commonwealth. I hope, therefore, that we shall impose as few restrictionsas possible on coastal vessels trading between the west and the east. I thought of referring to a number of special advantages which the other States have received from the Union as contra-distinguished from Western Australia, but since I desire to assist in bringing to a speedy termination what, after all, must have proved to the public a wearisome debate, I shall refrain from doing so. The Federal Government, to my mind, is not preserving its self-respect to a sufficient extent in its dealings with the States Premiers. Every year a Conference of the States Premiers meets in some Australian capital to discuss questions of Federal importance which this Parliament was created by the people to deal with. I am not singling out any one party for special censure. The present Prime Minister is as much to blame as is the leader of the Opposition. All have bent the knee to the States Premiers, with a view, apparently, of cultivating their good-will. I do not know why they should have done so.
– What would the States Premiers say if we discussed States questions as they do Federal matters?
– If we attempted to interfere with the functions of the States, the Premiers would promptly resent our action. I propose to put before the Committee some figures which the Treasury officials have specially prepared for me as bearing on the question of States expenditure. I wish honorable members to understand that the States Governments, which are constantly girding at Federation, have enormously increased their expenditure, despite the fact that the Commonwealth has relieved them of the cost of defence, and of the Post and Telegraph Department, the Customs Department, and other services which I shall enumerate later on.
– In to-day’s newspapers there appears a statement that Tasmania’s expenditure, in two years, has increased by £43,000.
– I shall, later on, read the actual figures. Before doing so, I wish to explain that during the six years 1899-1900 to 1905-6 the expenditure of the States, after deducting the cost of defence and all other Federal Departments, has increased by £4,242,435. Some people may say that this increase is due to an enormous increase in population. I would point out, however, that the population on the 31st March, 1900, was 3,775,355as against 4,119,480 on 31st December, 1906, so that for the six years there was an increase of only 344,125. The additional expenditure of the States in respect of the same period was equal to £12 3s. 7d. per head of the increased population. I shall now putbefore the Committee the detailed figures, in order to show in what Departments these increases have occurred -
I find, in die first place, that the Interest payments have increased from j£7, 26^287’ to £8,560,193. I am glad to notice, however, that the States have increased their sinking funds, to provide for the redemption of the public, debt from £”595,016 to £947;75I- The only State which has not added anything to its sinking fund is Queensland, though some of the other States have made very small contributions. Tasmania has added only ,£29,000 to its sinking fund, and
South Australia only £”181,000. Therailway expenditure has increased from £6,600,000 to £8,000,000 odd. The expenditure on public works and buildings shows a decrease from £”1,751,848 to £1,672,036 - a decrease of over ,£100,000. The expenditure on lands and survey has increased from £649,000 to £747,000; on mines from £”278,000 to ,£419,000 ; on police from £”1,058,823 to £”1,167,422 ; on education from £2,044,000 to £2,409,000; on ‘medical services, lunacy, and public health from £”490,000 to £”593,000. I am ‘ not complaining of the increase on account of the last item, nor of that on account of education. Omitting Customs, Defence, and Post Office expenditure, we come to the expenditure upon the States Governors. In 1900 the various States spent upon their Governors ,£37,000. To-day, despite the additional paraphernalia connected with the Governor-General, the States are spending £’28,735. A small reduction is shown on that account; but honorable members will remember that one of the attractions of Federation for the public was the prospect of an enormous saving in the expenditure on the StatesGovernments and the States Parliaments. Will.it be believed, however, that the States have only slightly reduced their annual outlay on their Parliaments? In 1900 the cost, of them was £255,000 ; last year they cost £224,000.
– South Australia made a large reduction on account of its State Parliament and the number of Ministers was reduced by two.
– The expenditure under this heading in South Australia shows a reduction of ,£9,000. That is not very much. The State is still spending £26,000 upon her State Parliament.
– A reduction of eleven members out of forty was very good.
– I have just received a telegram from an important centre in West ern .Australia, informing me that a public meeting has passed a resolution demanding the abolition of States Parliaments. On their Agents-General the States in 1900 spent £25,958. Last year they spent £25,668. It was understood that the AgentsGeneral would no longer be required as soon as the Commonwealth had an officer in London. The Commonwealth now has an officer in London, but the States have retained their Agents General, offices, and staffs. I see that quite recently the salary of the Victorian Agent-General was increased by a large amount. Evidently there is no intention to effect any real economy in that direction. I should have men,tioned, in connexion with this return, that the Treasury officials inform me that they had the greatest difficulty in getting the information that it contains. There is a line at the bottom of it which shows the difficulty experienced. As soon as it was ascertained -for what purpose the information was intended, obstacles were placed in the way of the Treasury officials obtaining it. Surely it is a most extraordinary thing, that the Federal Government, which returns to the States more than threefourths of the Customs and Excise revenue to which they are entitled, does not receive proper courtesy when it applies for information about the expenditure of the States. Regarding the final item, which is put underthe heading of “all other expenditure,-‘ in 1900 it amounted to £”4,438.625, and in 1906 to £”4,879,637. Probably a good many items in connexion with the States Parliaments and the Governors are concealed under this heading where is shown an increased expenditure of over ,£400,000 during the six years of Federation. I wish to summarize the result of this table for the benefit of honorable members. It should be remembered that it takes into account the fact that the cost of Customs and Excise, post and telegraphs, and defence - the defence of Australia costing nearly £1,000,000 per annum - has been deducted from the totals. When the expenditure on account of Customs and Excise, post and telegraphs and defence for 1899-1900 is deducted, there remains this fact - that the expenditure of the six States in 1900 was only £25,469,084, whilst to-day, with only about 300,000 people more to govern, it is ,£29,754,199, or an increase of £4,285,115 in six years.
– Do these figures include the railway expenditure, which would naturally expand with increasing revenue?
– That may be so, but the honorable member will recollect that I gave the railway figures. The railway expenditure has increased from £6,617,525 to £8,078,532 - that is to say, by about£1,500,000.
– South Australia has built a new railway and other States may have done the same.
– I wish honorable members to understand that the figures which I have given do not represent the whole of the increased expenditure during the six. years. I find a note to the effect that the figures do not include such expenditure as repairs, maintenance of buildings, and so on. Of course, in Western Australia there has been a large expenditure on water supply and similar works. But the point which I wish to emphasize is that the increase in population during the period mentioned was only 344,000, and that the increased expenditure amounts to £12 3s. 7d. per head of that increase. At any rate these figures constitutea sufficient indictment for the States Premiers to answer, without their interfering in the purely Federal functions which this Parliament was created to look after. I am sorry that the right honorable member for Swan is not present, because I intended to refer in detail to the attitude of the right honorable member. My criticism is not intended to be unduly censorious, the right honorable gentleman possessing many qualities which extort our admiration; but even the most perfect character can receive a little benefit from an occasional chastening. The right honorable member has been very explicit and decisive in his condemnation of the Tariff submitted by the present Government. His remarks invite, if they do not compel, one to compare his professions of to-day with his performances a few years ago. When the Kingston Tariff was introduced in 1901-2 there was a great outcry against it in Western Australia, although somewhat less intense than the present protest. To silence dissatisfaction at that time, the right honorable member for Swan assured the people of Western Australia that the Kingston Tariff would take from that State only £708,000, or 28s. per head per annum less than the people had hitherto paid. The result of the Tariff completely falsified the right honorable member’s prediction and promise. In 1899, the year before Federation, the Western Australian Customs and Excise Tariff pro duced £833,000, or £4 17s. 5d. per head of the population. The result of the first year of the Kingston Tariff in Western Australia, despite the large reductions that were made by Parliament, reached £1,335,000 amounting to £6 17s.1d. per head, or just under £2 per head in excess of the Customs taxation imposed by the State of Western Australia in 1899.In the following year, the Kingston Tariff produced £1,396,000 in Western Australia, but as the population had meanwhile increased, the per capita tax fell to £6 9s. 9d. The Tariff introduced by the Acting Prime Minister, which the right honorable member for Swan regards as very oppressive, is estimated to produce annually in Western Australia £1,009,000, or only £3 15s. 7d. per head of the population. Inther words, the new Tariff will be far less burdensome to Western Australia than was the Kingston Tariff, of which the right honorable member for Swan was an enthusiastic supporter. It will collect less from Western Australia by over £300,000 per annum, and will extract from the people £3 2s. per head less. The right honorable member may say that these figures do not represent the real taxation of the people under the Tariff. In fact, he has practically said so. He says that the people of Western Australia are now purchasing goods from the eastern States, and paying more than they would pay if the goods were obtained from abroad, and that the increase is going into the pockets of the merchants in those States instead of into the Treasury. I believe that to be a fact to some extent. If it were not so, why are the people of Western Australia holding monster meetings to express their sense of this peril to their interests, and why should the Parliament of the State almost unanimously pass a remonstrance against the new duties? The fact is that the right honorable member has floundered continuously in his calculations about the effect of Federationon Western Australia. As far back as 1899, he was a member of a Select Committee of both Houses of the local Parliament, which sat to consider the probable financial results if. Western Australia joined the Union. He then adopted the report of the State Actuary, whose figures, as I shall show, proved ludicrously wide of the mark. I refer to these calculations mainly because the same officer is now furnishing the State Government with statistics exaggerating the effect of the new Tariff. In July, 1899, the Western Australian Actuary submitted a report in which he offered, on the basis of a stationary population, a forecast of “ theresults of Federation on the finances of Western Australia, as they affect the Colonial Treasurer.” He estimated the total Customs and Excise revenue of the Commonwealth at £7,181,000 of which Western Australia was to contribute £630,000. In the first year of the uniform duties, he expected Western Australia to gain £9,500, but in subsequent years he gives the losses to the local Treasury as follows: - second year, £150,800; third year, £196,450 ; fourth year, £242,050; fifth year, £287,650; sixth and succeeding year’s,£333,250. This gentleman, who is now putting exaggerated statements before the people of Western Australia, and rousing their animosity against the Federation, was astray with regard to the Commonwealth revenue by no less than £1,500,000. To show the magnitude of his error respecting the losses to the State Treasury, I cannot do better than set out the exact amount paid over by the Commonwealth to the Western Australian State Treasurer year by . year. He estimated the total revenue from Western Australia at £630,000, whereas the actual sums remitted to Perth were as follow : - first year, £1,221,948; second year, £1,256,923; third year, £1,064,035; fourth year, £1,031,223; fifth year, £871,960-
– That reduction was due to the decrease in the Western Australian Tariff.
– It was due to the disappearance of the sliding scale of duties. In the sixth year, when the sliding scale finally disappeared, the amount was £774,719. To put the matter in another form, this statistician calculated that the Western Australian Treasury in six years of a uniform Tariff would lose £1,200,000, whereas it has gained in that period something like £2,440,000. This is the official on whose calculations the public in . the West are now building, and who is responsible for breeding a good deal of disaffection in Western Australia. This is the unreliable guide whom the right honorable member for Swan followed before Federation. If he found it necessary some years ago to reassure Western Australia about the Kingston Tariff, a similar message is doubly necessary now in view of the effusions of this imaginative statistician. The right honor able member mentioned that of the four great industries of Western Australiathe pastoral and agricultural industries did not need protection, but he left it to be inferred that the interests of the other two principal occupations of the people - mining and timber-getting - could be served by the Tariff. I should like him to explain how protection can benefit the mining industry, for even here no protectionist has yet contended that you can add a shilling to the world value of an ounce of gold or silver by means of Customs duties. However, it is a gain to find the right honorable member admitting that certain industries do not need protection, and, therefore, are not advantaged by it. The other representatives of Western Australia would have welcomed such a declaration in 1901 and 1902, but it was not forthcoming. We received no help at all from the honorable member when, in those days, we fought against the hampering shackles that were being placed on the great primary industries of our State. But he now complains, as a Western Australian member, that the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission has overshot the mark, and recommended excessive duties. He cites, as articles within that category, mining machinery, barbed wire, apparel and attire, piece goods, and galvanized iron, plain and corrugated. Will it be believed that the duties of which the right honorable gentleman now complains as excessive are in the main identical with those proposed in the Kingston Tariff, as originally brought down, and for which the right honorable member was himself responsible. Here is a short list in proof of my statement. On mining machinery the original Kingston Tariff provided for a duty of 25 per cent. ; the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission is a duty of 25 per cent, on the same item. I wish the Committee to bear in mind that the right honorable member for Swan, as one of the members of the Government that brought down the Kingston Tariff, was responsible for the duties it proposed: The duty on barbed wire under the Kingston Tariff was 20 per cent., and the recommendation of the Tariff Commission is also 20 per cent.
– The honorable member is providing some barbed wire for the right honorable member for Swan just now.
– It is to be regretted that the right honorable gentleman is not here. Certainly, I should much prefer to make these statements to his face. On piece goods the Kingston Tariff proposed a duty of 20 per cent., and the Tariff Commission propose a similar duty. On galvanized iron the Kingston Tariff proposed a duty of 15s. per ton, whilst the Tariff Commission propose a duty of 10 per cent. On corrugated and galvanized iron the Kingston Tariff proposed a duty of 30s. per ton, and the Tariff Commission propose a duty of 15 per cent. I am not aware of anything that has recently transpired which would make a 25 per cent, duty more burdensome now than it would have been in 1902, when the right honorable gentleman advocated such a duty. When he voted for that high rate of duty on mining machinery, the right honorable gentleman knew, quite as well as he knows now, the benefit which the primary industries derive from a free and open market in which to purchase their appliances. As a matter of fact, the right honorable gentleman’s Government in Western Australia for years admitted such machinery at the nominal rate of 5 per cent, ad valorem. Yet we find him, a few years later, through some occult influence that has not been explained, throwing to the winds all consideration for the industry which has lifted Western Australia into world-wide prominence and affluence. The other representatives of that State found him ranged against them in every crucial division, and if, ultimately, a less onerous toll was levied upon the primary industries, the relief came not from the right honorable member for Swan. As I have said, I would much prefer that the right honorable gentleman were present to hear these observations, but, in view of his new-born zeal for the primary industries, I propose to show the Committee how he treated the primary industries in 1902, when, as a member of the Government, he might have exercised considerable influence and power in determining the duties to be submitted to Parliament. On the 16th January, 1902, an amendment was moved that engines, boilers, and pumps, which bore a duty of 25 per cent., should be admitted free. The right honorable member paired against that. Another attempt was made to reduce the duty to 10 per cent., and he paired against that proposal also, as well as against a third proposal to reduce the duty to 15 per cent., which was lost by 25 votes to 23. He opposed amendments moved to reduce the duty on pumps from 25 to 15 per cent., and that on machines and machinery n.e.i. from 25 to 15 per cent. A reduction was moved on the duty of 25 per cent, on screws, and was carried by 23 to 19, but the right honorable member for Swan paired against it. An amendment to reduce the duty on axles from 25 to 10 per cent, was lost by two votes, and the right honorable member’s vote was counted with the majority. It was proposed to reduce the duty on springs from 25 to 10 per cent., and the right honorable member paired against the amendment. On the 29th January of the same year a motion was moved to exempt all mining machinery, and was lost with the assistance of the right honorable member for Swan. Another motion to exempt diamond drills was lost by twenty-two to nineteen; and the right honorable member for Swan was opposed to any reduction. It will be seen that the articles to which I have referred are used extensively in the mining industry. The right honorable member has always pretended to be a friend of. the agriculturist, and yet when on the 30th June, 1902, the present Attorney-General carried an amendment for the abolition of the duty on threshing machines by twentyeight votes to twenty-two, the right honorable member for Swan voted with the minority. Again, on manufactures of metals, n.e.i., an attempt was made to reduce the duty from 25 to 15 per cent., and the right honorable member voted against that. In order that I may not delay the Committee, I shall just read other items connected with the primary industries of Australia on which the right honorablemember for Swan, as a member of the Government of the day, voted for the retention of the highest duty.
– The honorable gentleman is very rough on the right honorable member for Swan.
– It is in the interests of truth and consistency and proper parliamentary conduct that what I am stating should be known.
– What is truth?
– We are told that it is to be found at the bottom of a well.
– Apparently it has nothing to do with the Ministerial conscience.
– Apparently not. The right honorable member voted against reductions proposed from 20 to 15 per cent. on rolled iron and steel beams, and on bolts and nuts. On the 21st January, 1902, an attempt wasmade to make barbed wire free, and the right honorable member for Swan voted for a duty of 20 per cent. On the 9th April, 1902–
– Was the right honorable gentleman a member of the Government at this time?
– He was in the Government all this time.
– Did the honorable member expect that the right honorable gentleman would vote against the Government while remaining a member of it?
– If I did not expect that he would vote against the Government I shouldnot expect that the right honorable gentleman wouldcomplain of the same duties now. If he thought a duty of 25 per cent, a fair duty on mining machinery in 1902, what is wrong with a 25 per cent, duty on mining machineryto-day ? Why does the right honorable gentleman complain of that duty as excessive now when he supported it before ?
– The right honorable gentleman is six years older and wiser, I suppose.
– The right honorable gentleman is out of the Government. That is the mainthing.
– Yes; he has gone to a more congenial quarter of the House. It would appear that the honorable member for Fremantle has prevailed against a law of physics, and that in his case the smaller atom has attracted the bulkier one. On the 9th April, 1902, an attempt was made to reduce the duty on mining machinery to 15 per cent., and the right honorable member for Swan voted against that. He also voted against a reduction on plain iron from 15s. per ton, and against an amendment to reduce the duty on corrugated iron from 30s. to 10s. per ton. On the 18th April, 1902, an attempt was made to free engine packing, and he voted against the proposal. Again, an attempt was made to free for mining purposes Oregon timber, which is absolutely necessary for the protection of the lives of workmen in some Australian mines, and the motion was lost by twenty-six votes to twenty-three, the honorable member for Swan voting with the majority. I desire now to show how he has assisted the agricultural industry. On the11th December, 1 90 1, a proposal was made to reduce the duty on agricultural machinery from 15 to 10 per cent., and he voted against that. An attempt was made to reduce the duty on horse-shoe nails from 7s. to 4s. per cwt., and he voted against that too. As regards the duty on nails, n.e.i., he voted to maintain the higher duty. He voted against the abolition of the duty on millboards and plough shares. He voted to retain the higher duty on axle grease and solidified oils. He voted to maintain the higher impost on asphalt tiles and roofing tiles. He thought so much of the interest of the farmer that he voted to maintain the duty on bags and sacks at 15 per cent. instead of reducing it to 10 per cent. He was so solicitous for agriculture that he refused to assist to secure the exemption of saddle trees from duty. He opposed the exemption of chilled cast shares. He voted for the higher duty on salt. He tried to maintain the duty on candles at 1½d. per lb. ; he voted against two attempts to reduce that duty. He assisted to maintain the duty on mangles and washing machines at 20 per cent. Then, in regard to the pastoral industry, he assisted to maintain the higher duty on carbide of calcium which, in remote portions of Australia, is used by many squatters to manufacture a sort of gas. Then, as regards disinfectants, which are very much required and almost necessary to health in the remoter municipalities of Australia, he voted to maintain a duty of 15 per cent. He voted to maintain the duty of 2d. per lb. on laundry blue, an article of general consumption. He voted for the higher duty on cocoa, chocolate, and condensed milk. He was aware that at that time £100,000 worth of condensed milk was being imported annually to Western Australia from Europe. It was the only description of milkwhich was then available to a large population in the interior. A proposal was made by me to reduce the duty on condensed milk from1½d. to¾dper lb. The honorable member voted against that proposal, and immediately afterwards, when I moved to reduce the duty to1d. per lb., and the question was put without any discussion, he left the Chamber and did not vote. The second division was taken immediately after the first. He voted against me on the higher duty, but, knowing the weakness of the case, he would not assist the Government to resist the lowering of the duty to1d. On piece goods, on which he now complains the duty is too high, he voted to maintain an impost of 20 per cent. He voted to maintain the duty on apparel at 25 per cent., on dungarees and denims at7½ per cent.; on matches at is. per gross, and on bananas at is. per cental. That is a little list which I have pleasure in presenting to the right honorable gentleman. “’ There are one or two other matters which I had intended to refer to. The other day the honorable gentleman said that he would be ashamed, to have his name associated with such a preferential trade proposal as the Government have submitted in the Tariff. But what did he have his name associated with ? A little while ago he was a member, of a Government which submitted a Bill to give to Great Britain a mere shadow of preference - on less than 000,000 worth of imports - which would have been of hardly any value to her. The right honorable gentleman, as an Imperialist, possesses a great regard for the mother country. I think if I called myself an Imperialist I should be a more genuine preferential trader than that ; I ould be prepared to make some sacrifice by way of proving the genuine nature of mv Imperial spirit. But the right honorable gentleman does not want to make any sacrifice. I cannot understand a man who professes protectionist principles being a preferential trader at all. We heard him ma’ke some remarks on leaving office about the naval subsidy, which I think will be found at the’ bottom of his breaking with the Government. He is mainly responsible for, and is rather proud of, the fact that Australia is paying annually ^200,000 , - ‘that is nearly one-fourth of our total outlay on defence - to Great Britain as a naval subsidy. He complains of the Prime. Minister having expressed some dissatisfaction with the Naval Agreement. But he must know perfectly well that the original dissatisfaction with it was expressed by .the Admiral on the Australian station-Admiral Fanshawe - sometime before the Prime Minister referred to the matter. If the right honorable gentleman makes this an excuse for leaving the Government I want to know why he did not challenge the Prime Minister when the honorable and learned gentleman, to his knowledge, wrote the following despatch on the 28th August, 1905, to the Secretary of State -
The Naval Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Sir A. Fanshawe, has recently criticised this Agreement on several public occasions in order to support his contention that our contribution, as there fixed, is altogether insufficient. Since, as vet, only three payments have been made . . . this appeal for an alteration of its terms might be deemed premature. But as it may indicate a dissatisfaction with the agreement shared by the Lords of the Admiralty, as well as by their official representatives -
This is the passage on which I wish to lay stress - and as a similar dissatisfaction, though upon other grounds, exists here, it may be advantageous to commence its reconsideration without delay. The paramount importance of the Navy to the British Empire and to Australia may be taken to be freely admitted. Nothing in this despatch is intended to question it. Indeed, our obligations to share in the general defence of the Empire have been already recognised in practice and in principle.
It the right honorable member for Swan was opposed to the discontinuance of the Naval Agreement he should have protested against the sending of this despatch to the old country. Here is another unequivocal sentence -
Beyond this, the defence of Australia and of its coasts is accepted as a duty and as a necessity of our national self-respect. Yet even under these circumstances, the present Naval Agreement is not, and never has been, popular in the Commonwealth.
– The Government appears not to regard it as unpopular, because it has made provision on the Estimates for this year’s contribution.
– Evidently.it was then believed to be unpopular. The document continues -
It has been approved only in default of a better means of indicating our acceptance of Imperial responsibilities. Whatever may be the assumed basis upon which our contribution is there determined, it is regarded as merely an arbitrary proportion of an existing expenditure. Whatever the intention may have been, this attempt at joint naval action has failed to enlist a fraction of the support that was spontaneously accorded in all the States to the despatch of military contingents to South Africa. On this account, the question why the Naval Agreement is coldly regarded here appears serious enough to merit careful scrutiny. There is much truth in the customary interpretation that its want of popularity is due to the fact that, except to the small extent permitted by Articles V., VI., and VII., none of our grant is applied to any distinctively Australian purpose.
That is pretty strong.
– It is pretty strong for the Prime Minister of a’ Government which oroposed the Agreement with enthusiasm.
– -Yes. Further on, the Prime Minister writes -
What is really required is that any defences, if they are to be appreciated as Australian’, must be distinctively of that character.
The right honorable member for Swan, if he objected to the termination of the Naval
Agreement, ought to have laid his objections before the Cabinet on the appearance of this document.
– Probably he did not see it.
– It is dated the 28th August, 1905, and was laid on the table of the Senate, and ordered to be printed, on the 10th October, 1906. On both dates the right honorable member was a Minister.
– I had not heard of it until the honorable member drew attention to it.
– I did not know that it had been laid on the table of the Senate. I first saw it early in 1906, when it was given to me confidentially. I had not even heard of its existence before then.
– The point I am making is that, if the right honorable member sincerely holds the views which he expressed in a recent speech, he should have made them known when this’ document wasput before him.
– It did not come before the Cabinet, and was therefore not discussed. The Prime Minister knows that I have always been opposed to the termination of the Naval Agreement.
– The right honorable member remained a Minister after he knew that thisdespatch had been forwarded to the Imperial authorities.
– The subject had not been made a Government matter, and the consent of the Imperial Government was a sine qua non.
– The right honorable member knew that the document purported to express the views of the Government. .
– That was not stated, nor had it been submitted to Ministers. The despatch only felt the way.
– Does it express the present views of the Ministry ?
– The acquiescence of the Imperial Government had not been even expressed at the time.
– The first symptom of dissatisfaction with the Naval Agreement was shown by the Admiral on the Australian station.
– I do not admitthat that is so.
– I can read an extract which bears out my statement.
– That would not convince me.
– Does the right honorable member attack the historical accuracy of this document?
– Certainly not, but even if the Admiral had expressed dissatisfaction with the Agreement, it would not have convinced me that it should be terminated.
– The right honorable member does not dispute the accuracy of a statement solemnly made by the Prime Minister in an official despatch to the Home Government ?
– Certainly not.
– The Prime Minister states -
The Naval Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Sir A. Fanshawe, has recently criticised this Agreement on several public occasions in order to support his contention that our contribution, as there fixed, is altogether insufficient.
– Admiral Fanshawe, while on the station, did his best togive effect to the Agreement. What is the point of the honorable member’s references to the despatch?
– That if the right honorable member, when a Minister, held the view that the Agreement should not be terminated, he should have protested against the sending of this document.
– The Prime Minister was well aware of my views on the subject. I do not suppose the Acting Prime Minister has seen the document, or hadheard of it before to-night.
– Did not the right honorable member say that the proposal to discontinue the Agreement originated with the Prime Minister?
– The document shows that it originated with the Admiral on this station.
– I absolutely deny that statement.
– Why did not the right honorable member protest against this statement -
No Commonwealth patriotism is aroused while we merely supply funds that disappear in the general expenditure of the Admiralty. The Imperial sentiment languishes, too, since the squadron is rarely seen in most of our ports, and then only by a small proportion of the population.
– I suppose it was thought that it was not seen often enough in Hobson’s Bay and other States ports.
– The right honorable member for Swan is very proud of the Naval Agreement. He is its author, and he ought to be proud of it. He is proud that we are handing over one-fifth of our annual defence expenditure to an authority over which we have absolutely no control. Some time ago he approached the Admiralty in an endeavour to secure some sort of joint control over the Squadron in our waters during time of peace.
– When was that?
– The facts are set out in adespatch which the right honorable member laid before the Imperial Conference in 1902.
– The honorable member had better let us have the facts.
– I can give them to the honorable member.
– The honorable member cannot show that joint control was ever refused, or that I urged it..
– Paragraph 21 of a memorandum, signedby the right honorable member, and presented to the Imperial Conference of 1902, reads -
If such a plan (one fleet for the Empire) can be brought about it would be necessary for the British Dominions beyond the Seas to be adequately represented at the Admiralty.
-Yes, if the plan I was advocating could be brought about.
– Did not the right honorable member say just now that he had never approached the Admiralty with arequest for any control?
– That suggestion was for the future, when one fleet for the Empire was established.
– It was made before the Naval Agreement was adopted. That Agreement was afterwards entered into, and we now contribute £200,000 annually to the maintenance of the Imperial Squadron in our waters.
– There is no Empire fleet provided for in that Agreement, it is merely an agreement between the Imperial Government and Australia and New Zealand.
– Whose fleet is it?
– We are helping the Imperial Government just a little - that is all.
– In his speech the other night, the right honorable gentleman used the word “mercenary,” which he repudiated as applicable to these ships, though virtually they are hired. I ask him where, in history, he can point to a country which has safely relied upon mercenaries for its defence ?
– Surely the honorable member does not call kith and kin, our own flesh and blood, mercenaries?
– We lack the real element which would take this fleet out of the category - control. The right honorable member knows that the Admiralty will never allow us to exercise the slightest antral over the Squadron in our waters, no matter how much we may contribute to its maintenance.
– The honorable member will not give them anything.
– Had the right honorable member been presentearlier he would have a clearer conception of my case. But if he thinks my criticism harsh, I assure him that much of what I have said has been uttered more in sorrow than in anger.
– I do not see why the honorable member should attack me. Cannot he attack the Government?
– If the right honorable member exercises a little patience, he may find that I shall do so.
– We come from the same State. Surely we do not want to abuse one another?
– It is because we come from the same State that I am so interested in the right honorable member. That is why I should like to see him consistent. The right honorable member attempted to get control–
– No. I stated that if an Empire Fleet were established, as I advocated, we should then have to be adequately represented at the Admiralty.
– Anyhow the right honorable member received an unfavorable reply from Lord Selborne.
– Quite the contrary. Lord Selbourne thought that my despatch was a good patriotic statement.
– Lord Selborne did not make the right honorable member a favorable reply. Evidently he did not care very much about the Naval contribution, because he said -
If they - our fellow-subjects beyond the seas - will undertake a larger share of the naval burden well and good. But I regard it as of even more importance that they should cultivate the maritime spirit.
– He wanted the ships to be manned by Australians and New Zealanders, and this was inserted in the Agreement.
– Lord Selborne evidently thought that it would be a good thing for Australia to have her own ships manned by her own men, so that they might co-operate with Great Britain in time of war.
– This was not so.
– That is my reading of the reply.
– I was present at the Conference, and I ought to know.
– I am judging his reply in the light of the documentary evidence.
– The honorable member is judging it incorrectly.
– I consider myself quite as capable as the right honorable member to interpret the meaning of a passage in the English language. I am sorry that he should think that I have been unduly censorious. I regret that he was not present earlier in the evening when I read out a list of his votes upon the Tariff in 1 901-2.
– Why attack me? The honorable member himself is opposed to the high duties in the Tariff.
– The other night the right honorable member complained of the heavy duties that were imposed upon mining machinery and barbed wire. Nevertheless in 1 901-2 he supported a Tariff which originally imposed a duty of 25 per cent, upon mining machinery.
– I did not vote for that duty very willingly, I can assure the honorable member. When he was a member of the Watson Government the honorable member himself did some things that were opposed to his previous actions when a private member.
– The right honorable member fathered the duty of 25 per cent, upon mining machinery.
– That must be a mistake.
– There is no mistake . about it.
– I was a member of a Ministry, and voted with my colleagues. After five years’ experience since then I will not vote for that duty.
-I can give the right honorable member day and date for most of his votes.
– I probably voted several times in a way that, with five years’ experience, I will not vote now.
– Order ! I must ask the right honorable member for Swan to cease his continuous interjections.
– Very well, sir, but I think you will admit that I have had some provocation.
– Only about ten days ago the right honorable member for Swan complained of the excessive duties recommended by the Tariff Commission upon mining machinery, barbed wire, apparel and attire, piece goods, and galvanized iron, plain and corrugated. The original Kingston Tariff , for which he voted, imposed a duty of 25 per cent, upon mining machinery.
– What is it now?
– It is 30 per cent, against the world and 25 per cent, against the United Kingdom. The right honorable member is complaining of the Tariff Commission’s recommendations as excessive, and of the Government’s proposals as more excessive.
– The honorable member seems to take a real pleasure in attacking me. What good does he think it will do him?
– I assure the right honorable member that my criticism is innocent of anypersonal antagonism.
– Is the honorable member in favour of high duties ?
– Certainly not.
– Then why call attention to what I am going to do if the honorable member thinks I am going to be on the same side as he is?
– I would reply that when four members from Western Australia were sitting in the Opposition corner,five years ago, fighting strenuously in order to get low duties in favour of the primary industries, the right honorable member voted against us every time. If a duty of 25 per cent, on mining machinery was desirable in the mind of the right honorable member five years ago, how can he say that it is not a desirable duty now?
– The great interest shown by the honorable member in my actions, or what he supposes may be my actions, is extraordinary.
– But for the right honorable member’s connivance at high duties on mining requisites then, we might not have extreme proposals now. If he found me acting as inconsistently as he is doing-
– I know one terrible case in which the honorable member voted contrary to a previous vote, and against the interests of his State.
– Order !
– I do not know to what the right honorable member is referring. However, I shall let the matter pass. All I say is that here are duties recommended of which he has complained as excessive, but, as a member of the Government five years ago, he voted for the same duties.
– The present proposals are much more excessive than those proposed in 1902. It may be pleasant to the honorable member to remind the House of my shortcomings from his biased standpoint, but I do not see much in it, unless the honorable member is a staunch supporter of the Tariff proposed by the Government.
– My desire is to have these duties reduced to a reasonable limit; but the right honorable member proclaims himself a protectionist, which I never did.
– Well, I am a protectionist, but I am not a prohibitionist, lik e the Postmaster-General.
– I cannot pause to discuss these fine fiscal distinctions. I must say that there is good ground for the complaint about the silence of the Government in regard to the Naval Agreement. It appears to me that there is somebody outside this Parliament who knows more about the negotiations than do the Ministers themselves. This House is entitled to more definite and exact information in regard to the Naval Agreement, and should not be treated to the shuffling methods which the Government have adopted ever since we met. Several questions have been asked regarding this Agreement, but none of the Ministers seem to know anything of the matter, or, if they do, they refuse to say what they know. Outside, however, most remarkable to say, there is a gentleman named Richard Hain, who, apparently, has a more intimate knowledge of the subject than the members of the Government. He has been contributing articles in the Melbourne Argus, from which one can only infer that he possesses knowledge which the House should have received from the Government at first hand.
– Is the honorable member just awakening to the fact that the Government constantly treat the House with contempt ?
– I do not say that at all ; and I do not agree with the interjection. The other day in the Argus this gentleman wrote -
Upon no question in London were there more differences outside as to what happened than on the Australian naval agreement. Some members of the conference talked freely, but sometimes the members who talked did not know everything, even when they pretended that they did. Other members who did know did not talk.
How does this man know the extent of the knowledge possessed by people, or whether or not they talked of what they knew. What was his source of information?
– Perhaps he is only “ bluffing.”
– That is not so, as is shown by certain inspired articles that appeared in the press here, and which lent colour to Mr. Ramsay McDonald’s contention that a certain political party in Great Britain were using Australian delegates. All this shows that this gentleman has been afforded inside information. He goes on to say -
Further, whenever the conference got to the point where caution in treating a question publicly was reached, there is a sudden silence in the official report.
That means that the official report of the Conference, which is to guide this Parliament toa decision in regard to the expenditure of the taxpayers’ money, is “ faked,” and does not give full and true statements of facts.
In such cases the report breaks off naturally, as if the discussion had finished, but the discussion went on in private.
Now, how does the writer know that? If I were a member of the Government I should feel very jealous of Mr. Richard Hain, whoever he may be.
There is very good reason for believing that more talk went on in private between the First Lord of the Admiralty and Mr. Deakin and Sir Joseph Ward over the naval agreement than in the open conference.
– That is to be inferred from LordTweedmouth’s remarks about conversations.
– I do not infer that from . Lord Tweedmouth’s speech. The honorable member for Swan the other night expressed the opinion that, whatever the Prime Minister said at the Conference was in consequence of something said by Lord
Tweedmouth. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister spoke for about only two minutes before Lord Tweedmouth, and in general terms, so that what Lord Tweedmouth said about the Naval Agreement was “ off his own bat.’.’
– Lord Tweedmouth referred to previous negotiations.
– He may have referred to the documents from which I have read to-night. However, Mr. Richard Hain goes on to say -
At the close of the negotiations the “ Daily Chronicle “ announced that Mr. Deakin had withdrawn Australia from the naval agreement. The source of the information of the “Daily Chronicle “ was not hard to find, but a direct question put to Mr. Deakin, “ Have you withdrawn?” got the just as direct answer “No; but I think the Federal Parliament will,” and in that answer rests . the whole mystery. Mr. Deakin’s attitude in the conference was neither that of a delegate, nor of a plenipotentiary. He put forward his case fully, and pressed it home. Instead of finding hostility at the Admiralty, he found a keen desire to meet him.
All I can say is, that none of these facts appear in the official report, or in the newspapers, which were supplied with a semiofficial report, and how they have managed to filter through to this gentleman is more than I can explain. I should not have said a word about this matter, except that the article contains proof in itself that the information is accurate - that the writer has some reliable information not possessed by this House, and I am very doubtful whether it is possessed by Ministers. How does the writer know this -
The Admiralty had admitted the Commonwealth must have some say in the naval question, so far as it applied to Australian waters.
There is nothing in the document, so far as I read it, to show that the Admiralty admitted anything of the kind. As I said to the honorable member for Swan to-night, the Admiralty has always refused to allow any interference in its business, and it always will do ‘so. -(
– Under the Auxiliary Squadron agreement, which was in operation for ten years, we had a right to interfere.
– Not to direct the movements of the Squadron.
– The Auxiliary Squadron could not be removed from Australian waters without the consent of the Governments of the .six States.
– But at that time we were paying only ?1 26,000 per annum. I shall conclude my reference to the Naval Agree- . ment with the following additional quotation .from the article by Mr. Hain -
Mr. Deakin had admitted the over lordship of the Admiralty, which means the continuance of the subsidy, but which also leaves Australia free to build up her own independent coastal defence and training ships.” It is a kind of combination of the two policies, and a recognition of the rights of both. It throws upon Australia the burden of harbor defence, the control of the smaller vessels, and probably means also using these as a training school from which the larger ships under the Imperial control may recruit their crews. It throws upon the Admiralty the burden of maintaining the control of the Western Pacific outside the harbors. That is, it necessarily leaves to the British Navy the providing of large cruisers. . . . It concentrates the, perhaps, home-made home controlled flotilla, and relieves it of the outlook into the outer seas. It relieves the British Navy of harbor defence, while at the same time it provides the Navy with an effective base. It also means more expenditure by the Australian taxpayer.
I think the Ministry ought to be as familiar as are outsiders with matters of this kind. If, as this gentleman states, the report of the Conference is not a faithful one, that fact also should be established for the benefit of honorable members. There are many other matters to which I should have liked to refer, but I am reluctant at this late hour to further occupy the time of the Committee.
– Go on. The honorable member has made an excellent speech. ‘
– I hope when the Estimates are before us to make a more detailed reference to several of these matters. 1 would draw the special, attention of honorable members to the position in regard to the sugar bounty. One has only to examine the figures to realize that the payment of the bounty is becoming a serious matter.
– It cannot become much more serious since we are up to the limit of our consumption.
– The position is serious when we are called upon to pay bounty on sugar which the manufacturers, as pointed out by the honorable member for Angas, are exporting and selling abroad at a price below that which they are charging in Australia.
– Can we make any alteration in the existing arrangement before 1910?
– We may make a change at any time. I wish to thank honorable members for the hearing they have given me, and to acknowledge my indebtedness to several for the illuminating facts which they have adduced during the debate. The discussion, although rather prolonged, has been a valuable one, and ought to considerably shorten our work when we proceed to deal with the Tariff schedule.
Mr. GROOM laid upon the table the following paper -
Judiciary Act and High Court Procedure Act - Rule of Court (dated 3rd September, 1907) - Appeals - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 93.
Naval Agreement - Payment or Carpenters in Post and Telegraph Department - Health of the Prime Minister - Hours of MeetingBrunswick Post Office.
– In moving -
That the House do now. adjourn,
I desire to say that in consequence of certain observations made this evening in the course of the Budget debate I feel called upon to repeat the statement made by me on more than one occasion, that it is at the express desire of the Prime Minister that I have refrained from outlining the negotiations with the Admiralty regarding the Naval Agreement. I thought I had made it clear to every honorable member that the Prime Minister himself wishes to deal with the question upon his return. But for that fact I should have made a statement on the subject. I am familiar with the matters to which the honorable member for Coolgardie has referred. . I know who was responsible for the partly private sittings of the Conference, and why they took place. If the honorable member knew the facts he would agree that it was right that certain statements should be made in private, and that the official report has not been manipulated in the sense in which that word may sometimes be used. There are occasions when the Imperial Government consider it unwise to give to the world their intentions in regard to certain matters.
– Where has Mr. Hain obtained his information ?
– He was a reporter in London, and every one knows how the press fossick out information. Some of his statements are not correct.
– The honorable member ought to make a statement on the subject.
– I am not going to be drawn into a discussion of the matter. I have told the House why I have refrained from dealing with the question, and I think that the majority of honorable members are satisfied. They know that the Prime Minister is at all times honest in his declarations, and it is not quite fair to hurl imputations at the Government for not having before dealt with, this matter. I felt to-night, whilst listening to the remarks made by the honorable member for Coolgardie, that certain criticisms were unfair to the Government, and to the Prime Minister, who, I’ am sorry to say, is not yet well enough to be in attendance here.
. I wish to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General a statement contained in a letter placed in my hands to the effect that the wages of carpenters engaged in the telegraph pole yard, Sturt-street, South Melbourne, have been reduced from 10s. per day to 8s. per day. I understand that men engaged in performing the same class of work in Sydney are paid 11s. per day. If the Public Service Commissioner has reduced, the wages of these carpenters, I think that he has ignored the desire of the House and of the community at large. Surely a carpenter, as an educated artisan, is worth more than 8s. a day? That, I understand, is the rate of pay received by labourers in the employ of the Commonwealth. I may add that, in bringing this matter under the notice of the Postmaster’General, I am acting in conjunction with the honorable member for Bourke.
.- I should like to know whether the Acting Prime Minister can give the House any information as to the condition of the Prime Minister’s health, and whether we may hope soon to see the honorable gentleman, completely restored, amongst us again ?
. I wish to suggest to the Acting Prime Minister the desirableness of reverting to the old hours of meeting. I think that until we have disposed of the Tariff we should meet as before, at 2.30 p.m. on Tuesdays, and should adjourn for dinner for only one hour instead of one hour and a quarter.
– The additional quarter of an hour is appreciated by those who go home to dinner.
– For years, when the pressure of business was not so great as it is to-day, we had only an hour for dinner, and I fail to see why we should not revert to the old practice until we have dealt with the Tariff.
.- The Postmaster-General promised that he would lay on the table of the House certain papers relating to the construction of the Brunswick post office, and I should be glad if he would present them to-morrow.
– I shall have pleasure in laying upon the table of the Library the papers relating to the Brunswick post office. As to the pole-dressers, to whom reference has been made by the honorable member for Melbourne, I may say that I issued orders to the effect that all casual hands should receive the rates of pay enjoyed by workers outside the Department, and that my minute resulted in the raising of the wages of these casual hands from 8s. to 10s. per day. The Commissioner subsequently determined to appoint permanent men to these positions, and he classified their work as being, that, not of carpenters or shipwrights, but of labourers, and fixed the rate of pay at 8s. per day.
– Builders’ labourers in Melbourne are now getting 8s. per day.
– I have represented to the Public Service Commissioner that this is skilled labour, and that it should be paid for at the rate of 10s. per day. But I have no control over that officer’s classification, and he considers that his expert advice is of such a character that he cannot authorize the payment of more than 8s. per day. He is now calling for applications for permanent employes at that rate. I have told him that I do not consider that that is a fair wage for the work.
.- I desire to make a personal explanation. I understand that, during my absence, as well as after I put in an appearance to- night, the honorable member for Coolgardie referred to me and criticised me on account of several votes which he said I gave upon the Tariff several years ago. He seemed to desire to prove that I shall be inconsistent if I do not vote now exactly in the same way as I did more than five years ago. It is a well-known rule that members of Parliament who join Governments have to sink their individual opinions in many respects - but not, of course, in matters affecting their consciences, or which are so grave as to necessitate their separating themselves from their colleagues. A member of a Cabinet cannot, consistently with the loyal support which he owes -to his colleagues, absent himself from divisions. But I have no objection now to saying that, in regard to some of the excessive duties of the old Tariff, as well as in regard to some other minor matters, I held certain opinions not fully shared by my colleagues. Every one who has anything to do with Governments, or with companies, or with business of any kind, knows, however, that every one has to sink his individual views to some extent. For the honorable member to parade votes which he states I gave as a subordinate member of the Government, in loyalty to my colleagues, who were ina majority in that Government, and to base upon those votes a charge of inconsistency against me, was, I think, as unnecessary as it was unfair. .
– Was it not a protectionist Government ?
– Yes, certainly it was, but there are many grades of protection. I repeat that a man who joins a Government is compelled to be loyal to his colleagues, and may not always wholly approve of what is proposed. I have never been an excessive protectionist. I am a good moderate protectionist, but not a prohibitionist. I feel myself at liberty at the present time - five years after the other Tariff was dealt with - to do what I consider, under the existing conditions of Australia, to be right and just to my State and’ the Commonwealth, and not to be unduly bound by votes which, under other circumstances, I then gave in concert with those with whom I was associated.
.- I very much regret that the right honorable member for Swan should regard my criticisms as unfair or unnecessary. I feel sure that if he had been here and heard the whole of my speech he would have viewed it much more philosophically and would have shown much less heat, if he had replied at all.
– There is no heat.
– The right honorable member has often accused the party with which I am proud to be associated of being caucus dominated and iron bound.
– So it is.
– The fact that the right honorable member, as a Cabinet Minister, absolutely surrendered his own private opinions and judgment, and voted for duties which crushed the primary industries of his own State constitutes a painful picture, which has no replica in the gallery of the Labour Party.
– What does the honorable member want me to do? Doeshe want me to vote for high duties again? It seems to me that he is spiteful and venomous.
– If that is the mood of the right honorable gentleman, I feel inclined to say no more.
– The honorable member has said enough. He ought not to have said anything at all.
– Since I have no intention or desire of wounding his feelings, the right honorable member need not be so vigorous in his retorts. Personally, I welcome his change of view, and recognise that in politics, as in other spheres, there must be intellectual, progression.
– I have a case which I will bring up against the honorable member to-morrow. It is worse than anything he has said about me.
– I believe the right honorable member expects me to congratulate him on adopting a saner view. But what I object to is this parade of suddenlyacquired virtue in opposing high protectionist duties ; when, as a matter of fact, as I have reminded him, he voted for exactly . such duties a few years ago.
– The honorable member has said that he intends to vote for high duties.
– No, I did not. The honorable member should not jump to such conclusions. What I said was that I recognised that the people of Australia have declared for protection, and that I would not stand in the way of giving effect to their decision.I recognise that a certain amount of protection is considered to be necessary, but I am not going to vote for heavy duties on appliances used in the primary industries ; nor shall I vote, in any case, for protectionist duties, unless they are accompanied by proper protection being given to the worker and the consumer.
– It is understood that the honorable member will vote for the protection proposed by this Government.
– Some of the honorable members sitting behind the acting leader of the Opposition intend to do the same.
In conclusion, let me repeat my regret if I have said anything to hurt the feelings of the right honorable member for Swan. I really did not intend to do so. I can assure him, with perfect sincerity, that I did not imagine that he would take my remarks as he has done. I certainly did not wish to be offensive, and if I have said anything which he considers to be unfair to him I regret it.
– I accept that.
– Oneortwo questions have been put to me, which I desire to answer. In reference to the extension of the dinner hour all that I have to say is that the necessity exists whether the Tariff is under consideration or not. The reason why the extension of time was made was that the suspension of the sitting for a bare hour did not afford honorable members an opportunity to go from the House to their residences to dinner. Some honorable members were very anxious for the slight extension of time, and I cannot say that the Government are prepared to make any change at present. In reference to the question put to me by the honorable member for Lang, I have to say that the health of the Prime Minister is improving. But, at the same time, I do not think that it would do him any good to read some of the things which have taken place tonight. Honorable members know the PrimeMinister’s character just as well as I do.
– I do not think that anything has been said to which he could take exception.
– There have been complaints.
– The honorable gentleman is getting super-sensitive.
– I cannot say when the Prime Minister will be able to attend, but all his colleagues are very anxious for him to be here when his health will permit. At the same time, I think it would be foolish for him to come here if there were the slightest danger of a relapse as a consequence of his attendance. Honorable members know perfectly well that the Prime Minister is not the man to stay away if it is possible for him to attend.
– My question was asked in a perfectly friendly way.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11. 15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 September 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070912_reps_3_39/>.