3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– In regard to a statement which appears in this morning’s Argus, to the effect that the Government have declined to consider grievances in connexion with the administration of the New Hebrides which the Presbyterian Church of Australia wishes to have remedied, I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister the following questions: - 1. Did the authorities of the Presbyterian Church submit a list of grievances in connexion with their mission work in the New Hebrides to the Minister of External Affairs, and afterwards to the Acting Minister? 2. Was a request made that these grievances be forwarded for the consideration of the Colonial Office, and was the request declined? 3. Has any inquiry been made into these grievances by the. Government ? 4. What is the reason for declining to consider the grievances of citizens of the Commonwealth made in a proper and respectful manner? 5. Is itnot the special and primary function of the Department of External Affairs to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth from injustice in any part of the world - including the New Hebrides ?
– When I saw the newspaper statement to which the honorable member refers, I asked the Secretary for External Affairs if it or any portion of it was correct. I am awaiting his official written reply ; but I understand that an application was made in writing, and, instead of being refused by me, was sent to the Colonial Office and to the Administrator of the New Hebrides. No deputation waited upon me in regard to the matter, nor did I refuse to receive one. The latter part of the newspaper account is therefore absolutely untrue, and a concoction of the writer. Moreover, I do not think the Prime Minister refused to make the representations asked. Therefore, in my opinion there is no ground for any complaint. As regards the New Hebrides, the Commonwealth has no control, and the Government cannot do more than forward complaints to the Imperial authorities.
– I give notice of the questions for Tuesday next.
Protection of Workers and Consumers.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I intend, on or before next Tuesday, to make a statement which I think the honorable member will regard as a reply to his question ; but if he wishes a formal answer, I ask him to give notice of the question for next week.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow - 1 and 2. The collectors in each State have been directed to call upon each manufacturer who has not applied for exemption to render an account of all excisable articles manufactured by him, and show cause why the Excise duty should not be forthwith paid.
In regard to those who have claimed and obtained exemption, it has been found’ necessary to obtain legal advice as to the authority of the Customs to enforce payment of Excise in case of subsequent non-compliance with the conditions of such exemption.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– If the honorable member desires a reply to these questions, I ask him to postpone them until Wednesday next, because there has not yet been time to get the necessary information. Similar questions could be asked in regard to the operations of any navy on the face of the earth.
– Should the occurrences referred to be allowed to pass without notice?
– The time for asking questions without notice has passed.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr. MAUGER laid upon the table the following papers -
Public Service Act - Regulations amended, Nos. 66 (Provisional) and 102 - Statutory Rules 1907, Nos. 89 and 92.
Consideration resumed from 12th Sep tember(vide page 3230) 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 think it will be recognised that I, like my friends on the Opposition corner benches, was returned as a protectionist. Like them and the main Oppositionists I, too, , am deeply interested in the well-being of the workers ;but in a somewhat different manner. At one time, I looked upon Budgets with some amount of awe and a great deal of reverence; but my experience of politics during the last sixteen years has taught me that it is not wise to look for a halo surrounding the heads of those delivering them. Iremember that, on one occasion, in 1894 or 1895, when the present leader of the Opposition was. Premier of New South Wales, there was a great discussion in regard to his Budget, chiefly as to whether there was a surplus or a deficit, and two other great financiers of the day - the late Sir George Dibbs and Sir William McMillan - differed from his statement of the accounts to the extent of about , £2,000,000 each way, afterwards qualifying their criticisms by reducing their estimates by about£1,000,000. Having found how greatly financial authorities differ in regard to Budgets, my respect for them is somewhat diminished, and I do not think that I have lost much by not being educated in finance. Frequently it happens that Treasurers are hundreds of thousands of pounds out in their estimates of revenue or of expenditure, and I have come to regard Budget statements as something in the nature of Chinese puzzles, while many other persons in the community regard them similarly. As a Victorian representative, I am deeply interested in the opinions of the honorable member for Flinders. As in the past - and I suppose he will continue the same course in the future - he has expressed himself as being very sorebecause proper provision is made for paying increments to the public servants pf the Commonwealth. He seemed to deplore the fact that the Government considers that its servants should be adequately paid, and took exception to the providing for increments before a statement had been made as to the financial position. He. asserted, in effect, that whenever financial depression occurs, the employes of the Commonwealth should be the first to suffer; that accounts should be squared by reducing their salaries to the minimum. To my mind, that is an unfair way to treat the Public Service. In times of prosperity, when there is a large surplus revenue, our great financiers do not propose that the salaries of the public servants shall be increased, and is it therefore fair to propose to reduce them the moment a pinch is felt by the Treasurer., of the day? I, for one, strongly object to - such treatment of the Service. The honorable- member for Flinders made special reference to the position of youths in the service. I hold- that it is the duty of a Government whether it be that of the Commonwealth or of a State to set an example to private employers ; but the honorable member takes exception to increments being paid annually to youths, so that by the time they reach manhood they will be receiving something like a fair living wage. We have in operation a most objectionable system under which youths of eighteen, after spending several years in the service, are turned adrift at a time when they ought to be of value to the Department in which they have been employed, and when they are too old to be apprenticed to a trade. Many lads who have been temporarily employed in one of the Federal Departments, on reaching the age of eighteen are turned adrift, unless permanent employment can be found for them. We ought to be the very last to encourage such a practice. We know very well that boys and girls often have to seek employment at a very early age in order to assist in the maintenance of their homes. I claim to have had as much experience in this direction as has any honorable member, and I know full well that the exigencies of the home often require a lad to start work so early in life that on reaching manhood’s estate he is expert in nothing. ‘ I should like to say, at this point, that although I am a protectionist I am not prepared to protect any industry which gives employment to boys until they reach a certain age, and then turns them adrift on the ground that the returns are not such as to permit of adults being employed. We ought to take care that our Public Service is so conducted that every lad who entersit, provided that he proves himself worthy of employment, will have the same opportunity to climb” the ladder qf success as others have had in the years gone by. The curse of cheap boy labour is felt in all departments of life, and various Governments, either from inclination or becauseof financial exigencies, have employed boysvery largely, and turned them adrift at a time when they ought to be efficient workersentitled to receive something like fair wages. I have been amused by the statement, made again and again by honorable members of the Opposition during this debate, that they are anxious to safeguard the interests of the worker. I freely admit that I believe those honorable members are sincere in their professions, but they appear tobe working in a direction that is not likely to tend to the advantage of the working, classes. I come now to the question of defence, and am pleased that we are at last to make an effort to establish on proper lines a defence system for Australia. I heartily approve of the proposal in regard! to the training of our boys. In the past we have never given proper encouragement to the cadet system.
– We have had thousands of cadets.
– But we have not properly encouraged the system. Victoria, in pre-Federation days, did more in this direction than did any other State; but much yet remains to be done. The questionof defence is a national one, and it demands our serious consideration. I object to the system under which the parents of school-boys who are prepared to give up their time to the work of training themselves not to assist their fathers and mothers but to fight for their country, are called upon to provide them with junior cadet uniforms. Later on, when these lads see fit to join the senior cadet corps, their parents are called upon to provide another uniform for them in orderthat they may present a soldierly appearance. Why should the parents of theselads have to put their hands in their pockets for this purpose? I believe in the expansion of the cadet system, and in more liberal treatment being extended to it. It is satisfactory to note that the Government are arranging for the training of 40,000 cadets, and I hope that in the next year or two the number will be increased? three-fold. If we take care to train our boys in their school days, and ultimately draft them into the militia, Australia, ten years hence, will be in a position to defend herself against any invading army which, having regard to our isolated position, may be landed here.
– Every cadet ought to be required to pass a medical examination.
– That is a matter of opinion. A lad, although not very strong, might be well able to take part in the defence of his country. I do not mean to suggest that we should allow those who are physically unfit to enter our defence forces.
– Lord Roberts is not a giant.
– That is so. The examination which candidates for admission into the regular forces of Great Britain have to undergo, is so severe that many are unable to pass it. Why is it that so much is heard in the old country to-day about the necessity for conscription? Is it that the number of men ready to enlist is not so large as in days gone by ? No. The truth is that the ‘ majority of those offering themselves are physically unfit. Does not this show clearly that there must be something wrong with the conditions under which the working classes of the old world have to labour ? I think it does, and that if we do not improve the conditions, of our own people, we shall soon find many of our men physically unfit to pass the medical examination necessary to qualify for admission into our military forces. I &ra pleased that the Government intend to encourage the rifle club movement. I differ from many authorities on defence, in that I believe that it is just as necessary to make our men expert in the use of the rifle, as it is to drill- them. I am also pleased that encouragement is to be. given to the naval militia. Whilst I know little of the naval reserves of other States, I say, without hesitation, that we have had in our naval reserve in Victoria as fine a body of men as was ever ready to take the place of the permanently employed man.owarsmen. ‘ The Naval Brigade will prove of service to Australia, and I approve of the special provision that has been made for it on the Estimates. The honorable member for Corio has expressed a doubt as to the sincerity of the Government in regard to their proposals to establish a cordite factory in Australia. I trust, however, that they will shortly establish not only a cordite factory, but a smallarms and ammunition factory in the- Commonwealth. It would be idle for us to train a large fighting force unless we had in Australia factories capable of supplying it with arms and ammunition. I hold that we can make here not only small-arms, but the big guns necessary for defence purposes. In the electorate which I represent, there are several workshops wherein large guns could, if necessary, be manufactured ; and I think that provision should be made for the. manufacture in Australia of ammunition, small-arms, and large guns, so that we may be prepared for any emergency. As to the construction of an Australian Navy, I; recognise that during the currency of the present financial year we cannot do much in that direction, but we can make a start, and I hope that we shall do so. My desire is that our vessels, whether they consist of cruisers, torpedo boats, torpedo destroyers or submarines, shall be built in Australia. We can do the work. It is said that our men must be trained in the building of ships of war, and I think that we should have in Australia Government dockyards where our people may learn the art, It is just as necessary that we should have Government dockyards as it is that we should manufacture our arms and ammunition. Whilst the cost of building a warship in Australia might at the outset be greater than it would be in the old land, still it would not be long before we should be able to build all- the vessels we required as cheaply and as satisfactorily as they could be constructed there. I note with pleasure that it is proposed to encourage the production of iron - one of the most necessary of the raw materials for this purpose. I was rather surprised to learn that the honorable member for Nepean, who represents a constituency in which large ironworks exist, whilst agreeable to grant protection to that industry, is not prepared to protect any other industries, because, as he argues, it would bear harshly upon the rest of the community. I claim to be a consistent protectionist, in that I am quite prepared to concede to the rest of Australia the same measure of protection that I advocate for certain industries which are carried on within the division which I represent. I am rather surprised that the honorable member for Nepean should have taken up an opposite stand.
– Call him a “ piebald “ protectionist.
– My surprise, however, is somewhat minimized when I recollect that the township of Lithgow, where large ironworks have been established, was formerly included in the electoral division which was represented by the deputy leader of the Opposition. That circumstance fully explains why the electors of that portion of the Nepean constituency have not yet been educated up to the advantage of a protective policy. I have great hopes, however, that the time will shortly arrive when the people of New South Wales will realize that it is desirable that any civilized community should be- as far as ‘ possible- - self contained, and should manufacture whatever may be necessary for its own requirements. The proposed transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth has doubtless occasioned all of us very great concern. I am one- of those who believe that it behoves the people of Australia - not in the f uture, but now - to look at the weak spots in the defence of the Commonwealth. If any reasonable man will deny that the Northern Territory is one of those weak spots, I say either that he is wilfully blind, or that he has not studied the position. In view of the proximity of that Territory to the nations of the East, and of the position which one of those powers is taking in the politics of the world, it requires no very great prescience to realize that the Northern Territory would be the first point in Australia to be assailed in time of national trouble. Consequently, it is incumbent upon us to be up and doing. If South Australia demands too much for the transfer of that Territory, I believe that this Parliament should insist upon that State either doing something to settle it, or else handing it over to the Federation at a fair price. The only way in which we can strengthen our position in the Territory is by developing its resources - by settling its vast empty spaces with people who will exploit its treasures and afterwards assist us to defend it. Of course, I may be met with the inquiry, “How are we to raise the necessary money for the purpose?” I am content to allow our financial experts to formulate some scheme in this connexion. I trust that any scheme which may be devised will not bear harshly upon any section of the community. The people of Australia are anxious that this Parliament shall take over the Northern Territory, be cause they recognise the necessity for so doing. It, therefore, behoves the Government to make the necessary arrangement for its transfer immediately. I regard the construction of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta in exactly the same light as I view the proposed transfer of the Northern Territory. I believe that Western Australia should be brought into closer communication with the eastern States by means of a railway. I am very pleased that the Bill authorizing the survey of this line has been passed by this Parliament, although in a mutilated form, and I hope that that survey will soon l>e carried out. I trust that the survey will result in the development of new territory which will insure the construction of the line. That is the chief reason why I voted for the Bill. It is quite possible that it may lead to , the creation of another Coolgardie or Kalgoorlie. I have already raid that I am a protectionist. I am a protectionist of the most aggravated type, namely, a labour protectionist. During the past few weeks so much adverse criticism has been levelled at the party with which I am proud to be associated, that I scarcely know in what light we must be regarded by the general public and by those who are opposed to us. In reading the criticisms of politicians by newspapers, one would imagine that we are a party of incendiaries who are endeavouring to throttle the world by submerging it on a pinnacle of material “vapour. That is the position as it presents itself to me. First of all we are charged with one impossibility and then with another. But I am pleased .to know that, despite all the inconsistencies of which we are accused, and notwithstanding all the machinations of the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Carruthers, the Labour Party have emerged from the recent elections in that State iri a stronger position than they ever occupied before. Is it any wonder that we have a Labour Party in Australia to-day in view of the statements made by men in South Australia, who have been thrown out of employment because they have fought to maintain a proper standard of wages in the stripper harvester industry, and who as representatives of- their fellow employes presented a fair case to the emplovers? I know that other members of this Parliament besides myself have suffered for the stand which they have taken in various workshops as the representatives of their fellows, is it any wonder that we have a Labour Party to-day when the
Child Study Association of Australia is obtruding itself in .politics ? The honorable member for Parramatta has presented a petition from that association praying for the removal of the duties upon nearly 100 items which it considers are “ necessary to the health, comfort, and decency of the people of Australia.” The list included such items as starch, kerosene, candles, safety matches, small double .saucepans, blacklead, clothes’ pegs, plug tobacco - to enable men to deduct less from their earnings - soft soap, blue, shirts, sweaters, men’s hose, braces, quilts, blankets, various kinds of infants’ food, cod liver oil, eucalyptus and olive oil, hot water bottles, and “any goods that are required by the people.” The ‘association narrates a terrible case which has come under its notice - the case of a man who is earning 27s. 6d. a week. He pays 8s. 6d. weekly for rent,, which leaves him 19s. weekly upon which to live. Now this Parliament - according to the Child Study Association - is about to raise the price of this man’s commodities. lt does not say one word about the utterly inadequate wage which that man is receiving. It does not suggest that his wages should be increased. If the association is really concerned with the improvement of our civilization, let it offer a little assistance to the Labour Party in raising that man’s wage from 27s. 6d. to, approximately, £2 10s. per week. If that be done,, the fact that the prices of the commodities which he may require have been slightly increased will not concern him very much. As a representative of a manufacturing division, I shall heartily support any proposal to extend protection to manufacturers elsewhere. But of course I cannot avoid remarking that certain anomalies under the new Tariff will require to be rectified. .For instance, I do not believe that the match industry is one which ought to receive any encouragement. The match factories which have been established in Australia employ chiefly juvenile labour. There is about one adult employed to every eight juveniles. In short, it is an industry which will provide employment to a number of young people who will be thrown upon the world ns soon as they demand reasonable wages. Unless much better evidence in favour of fostering the industry is forthcoming, T shall vote to place matches upon the free list. I come now to the item of wire netting.
T am sorry to have to refer to the recent election campaign in New South Wales ; but it is necessary for my purpose that I should do so. Both in public and private life I have never uttered one word calculated to intensify the somewhat strained feelings between New South Wales and Victoria ; I have endeavoured rather to improve the relations between the two States. When in New South Wales during the elections, I heard the Victorian people described as robbers, who were endeavouring to take from the New South Wales people everything that was theirs by right. In relation to wire netting, for instance, when J assured our neighbours that there were no manufacturers of that commodity in Victoria I was not believed ; because the local newspapers of New South Wales have hidden from the people the fact that only in that State is the wirenetting industry carried on, and have led them to believe that the duty is imposed with the sole object of benefiting Victorian manufacturers. However, although, wire netting is not manufactured in my own State, I shall support the duty ; and in this I look for the assistance of those sensible people in New South Wales who are protectionists, and to their representatives here, who have regard to the interests of Australia, instead of to the interests of foreign countries. I look to them to support me in having duties imposed in favour of manufactures conducted in my own State ; and I shall assist them in conferring a similar benefit on the manufacturers of their State.
– Are there no boys employed in the manufacture of wire netting ?
– In every trade boys are employed ; but the Labour Party are anxious to make provision - and no doubt we shall be assisted by the honorable member - to have no more than a certain ner..centage in any »industry. I feel sure that honorable members opposite - with their grave concern for the workers of Australia - will assist us in this work. A good deal has been said, especially during the earlier portion of the session, about the starch industry. Considerable quantities of this commodity are manufactured in my electorate ; but, in order to show my consistency, anxious as I am for the encouragement of industries, I now declare that if I find that die manufacturers within my division conduct their business under bad conditions, so far as the workers are concerned; I shall vote for free-trade on that item. I refuse to foster or bolster up am industry in which neither workers, nor consumers, receive fair consideration.
– There may be manufacturers of starch elsewhere who pay good wages and give fair conditions ; and it would not be fair to punish the innocent for the guilty.
– That is admitted; and that is one of the reasons why the Labour Party for the past few years have been endeavouring to bring all industrial legislation within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. In ‘ the starch industry, wages for some time were very small, and, latterly, when an attempt was made to obtain better conditions, it was resisted very strenuously by one of the largest manufacturers in Victoria. We were told that if a living wage be paid the industry cannot be carried on at a profit ; and, if that be so,Iamafree-trader,sofarasstarch is concerned. If an industry cannot pay a fair wage, and be so conducted as to benefit not only the manufacturer but the consumer, it ought to be allowed to go. I see no reason why all the starch required in Australia should not be produced here under conditions beneficial to employer, worker and consumer. I have selected certain items on which I, perhaps, hold opinions different from those entertained by the Government. I suppose that, if there is one article manufactured in Australia with which I am conversant, it is woollen material. As a protectionist, I, unfortunately, have to admit that the protection given to the woollen manufacturers of Australia in the past has not been taken advantage of by them. It is strange that not only in Victoria, but in New South Wales, only during the past twelve months has any attempt been made to manufacture “woollen goods’ to compare favorably with those imported. Much as I am in favour of having all the requirements of Australia met in Australia, even if we have to import the raw material, I give the preference to those industries, the raw materials of which are produced bountifully in our midst; and these words apply particularly to the woollen industry. In the past, the woollen manufacturers have not manufactured their goods entirely of wool.
– That is, in Victoria.
– I have handled woollens produced in every part of Australia and New Zealand, and also woollens from Germany, France, England, and other parts of the world; and I say that in Australia no manufacturer has vet turned out goods composed entirely of wool.
– Pure woollen goods are produced in Tasmania.
– Then I have never yet handled such woollens. I wish honorable members to take particular notice of the fact that when the best wool has been taken to a manufactory to be turned into tweed for the squatter who produced it, the material returned has shown that, if the wool sent had been used, it had been mixed with some stuff which depreciated it to a considerable extent. If we go into any of the woollen manufactories in Australia - this is a proved assertion - we may see a quantity of stuff which looks like nice wool, but which is cotton yarn imported to be mixed with the wool.However, in spite of the fact that, in the past, there has been no attempt to produce pure woollen goods, I am willing to give the manufacturers a chance to do so. It must be made clear that, unless the manufacturers apply common sense, “and produce the best material, they cannot hope for any protection in the future. While I point out this defect of the woollen goods manufactured, not only in Victoria, but ire the whole of Australasia - and that is a big thing to say-
– That is not correct.
– I have handled woollens manufactured in Tasmania, and I found, as in the case of Victoria and New South Wales, an admixture of cotton to a great extent. That is not the sort of industry we desire to encourage; becausewegrow wool, whereas we do not grow cotton. It is true that an endeavour is to be made to grow cotton, and when it is produced, and the people desire to have the mixture, well and good ; but we should encourage the production ofonly pure woollen goods.
– Does the honorable member not think that the goods ought to be marked?
– Exactly. All goods shouldbe marked as woollen, woollen mixed with cotton, or shoddy. It is said that by the time the material reaches the retailer or the consumer, there is no proof whether it is pure wool or a mixture; and it has been suggested that a stamp, such as that usedin the case of Fox’s serges, should be used. There are other methods which could be adopted ; for instance, different colours on the selvedge might be used to show the proportions of wool and cotton. At any rate, it would not be at all difficult to show whether the material is purely wool or wool and cotton. Then, again, if protection is given to the woolleD industry the manufacturers ought to use yarn made here, and not yarn imported. TJ protection be given, manufacturers have no right to hocus the public by importing yarn and giving a certain proportion of employment to people in other countries. I have no dislike to either employers or workers in the old world, but my duty is first to give consideration to the people of Australia. When I vote for a protective duty I wish to see the public protected in the sense I have indicated. Although a man may be quite healthy and strong in the ugliest commonest tweed ever produced, we like our people to be well dressed ; and if our manufacturers are enabled to compete in the Australian market with foreign producers, it is well to insist on the production of good material. I admit, of course, that there are many difficulties in the way of the manufacture of woollen goods in Australia. In the old .country there are machines, set to a particular pattern, which turn out hundreds of thousands of yards ; but, of course, that would be practically impossible in Australia ; otherwise we should all have the appearance of wearing livery. However, there are materials in the worsted line, the pattern of which would not be very noticeable; and I may point out that in Australia there has never been any real attempt made to produce a good worsted. Although we have the wool here, and the machines and trie necessary expert labour could have been obtained from abroad, nothing has been done in this direction by the manufacturers. I desire to warn the manufacturers that, in my opinion, this will be their last chance. They will have to improve their methods ; and I hope that the warning will be taken. Honorable members will, I have no doubt, give due consideration to the Ministerial proposals; and I here express the hope that when the Tariff at some future time again comes up for consideration we shall not have levelled against Australian manufacturers of woollen goods, the charges that have been made in the past. Much has been said by freetrade members as to these duties raising the price of wearing apparel to the poor man. But I -was reared in the clothing trade, and I. know that the high duties complained of affect ready-made wearing apparel . only. The assertion is made that the clothes of the working men will be greatly increased in price under the new Tariff ; but if they want clothing for less than they can get it in Australia to-day, they must expect .to buy it for almost nothing. I may be .met with the question, “ Why, if we can make clothing so cheaply in Australia, are .you afraid of the competition of other .countries?” My reply is that the manufacturers of other countries pay lower wages than are paid here. We have been told that the difference .between the wages paid in Australia and those paid in other parts of the world in the iron and other industries is not very great; but I know that in the clothing trade it is considerable. The making of wearing apparel is a large industry in Australia; greater in Victoria than elsewhere, though in New South Wales and the other States the trade is a big one. Do those who have expressed their concern for the welfare of the workers wish to compel them to compete against the productions of countries where workers are sweated? There are underpaid workers in the clothing trade here, and I should like to see an Act passed to get rid of the great task system which is so harmful in many ways to the -workers. But the evils of the trade are intensified in the old country, and the hours of labour are longer. Despite the fact that many of our workers are underpaid and overworked, I look forward to the time when in the near future the spirit of civilization in Australia will produce legislation to counteract these evils. But to do this it is necessary to prevent the importation to any extent of wearing apparel from other countries.
– Does the honorable member prefer piece-work?
– As in other trades, there are workers in the clothing trade who are equally skilful and quick, while others are skilful and slow, or quick and unskilful, or slow and unskilful ; but the remedy for the evils of the task-system is the adoption of the piece-work system. I hope that under Federal legislation better conditions will be secured to the workers than it has been possible to obtain under State legislation, because this Parliament is a broader representation of the opinions of Australia than are the State Parliaments. I have heard honorable members appeal to the Committee in the interests of mining companies, agriculturists,, and other primary producers not to place a duty on ma,chinery.
– Not to increase the duties.
– It is said that to increase duties will banefully affect the producers of the community. I admit that primary production is essential to the welfare of the State, that our great cities could not exist if it were not for the country ; but, while the country is essential to the cities, the cities are also essential to the country. In purely agricultural lands the state of civilization is very much lower than where there is both primary production and manufacture. Would it have been possible to open up Australia with railways and roads, or to provide the great water schemes, for which some people in the country have objected to pay, without the contributions of the city populations ? While we must give due consideration to the interests of the pastoralists, the agriculturalists, and the miners, we must also give due consideration to the interests of the city populations. This community is almost a family, its various interests being so much bound together, and, therefore, no good can come from setting the primary producers against the secondary producers. We must legislate in the interests of the whole community. I admit that the imposition of duties on certain articles may bear heavily on the primary producers ; but without such duties another section of our workers will be hardly treated. I assert - leaving those interested in the industry to submit proof - that the manufacturers of Australia could, if they had the opportunity, produce almost any kind of machinery except turbine engines, and could, within a very short time, provide for the manufacture of turbine engines. It has been said that the patentees would interfere to prevent the manufacture of machinery here. But the holders of patent rights, if they were prevented from importing their patented machinery, would be only too glad either to sell or to lease their rights to manufacturers here, or to manufacture here themselves. As a matter of fact, patent rights have teen leased to Australian manufacturers in connexion with many hundreds of articles. There- ‘ fore, it would be very easy for our manufacturers to acquire any patent right in regard to machinery whose importation was prevented by the Tariff. I may be charged with too great a readiness to consider the interests. of the electoral division which I represent. I admit that I am proud of that division, because it is the largest manufacturing centre in Australia. We can manufacture there any kind of machinery that Australia wants. Moreover, we can produce iron just as well as it can be produced in the Nepean electorate.
– Where are the iron mines ?
– There are no iron mines in my constituency, but iron ore is obtainable in Victoria as well as in New South Wales. As a member of the party which visited Lithgow with the GovernorGeneral, I could not help admiring the perseverance of Mr. Sandford in endeavouring to build up the iron industry there despite the opposition of the State Parliament.
– He has succeeded by reason of the assistance which he has obtained from the State authorities. He got the Government contracts.
– That is another form of protection.
– At any rate, ne has not had to right the opposition of the State Parliament.
– Many of the representatives of New South Wales have strutted about with their chests inflated like so many turkey cocks, declaring that in that State large manufactories were established under free-trade; but the facts are that their industries had to be bolstered up, much in the same way as the Lithgow iron-works were supported by the giving of a seven years’ contract for the manufacture of fish-plates and bolts for the State railways, without outside competition. Then, when the State wanted cast-iron pipes, the condition was imposed, that they should be made within New South Wales. That is all that protectionists desire - that provision shall be made for the manufacture of goods in Australia.
– In New South Wales they had prohibition against the outside world.
– Yes. I believe in the encouragement of our own industries whether we do it by means of Customs duties or bv stipulating that goods supplied to us shall be of Australian origin. The boast of many of the representatives of New South Wales is that industries have been built up there under a policy of free-trade. But what do we find to-day? Is it not a fact that the people of New South Wales are becoming alive to the advantages of protection, and that the State Government, through the Railway Commissioners, are encouraging the local manufacture of locomotives.
– They are subsidizing private firms to make locomotives.
– That is so. That is one form of protection, but it is not the most satisfactory. I believe in a policy that will build up our industries and benefit equally every class of the community. During this debate, we have heard a good deal of the iron industry., I should like to. point out that we have in operation in Victoria, to-day, a patent by which iron in one process can be converted into steel. The invention is a new one. If we had not encourged our iron manufactures in Victoria, is it likely that any one in this State would have been found devoting himself to the work of perfecting such an invention? We have been told over and over again that we cannot produce certain kinds of steel. But by the Moore-Heskett gas reverberatory principle, to which I have referred, magnificent steel can be produced by the ton.
– Is the steel so produced a success?
– I wish I had a thousand shares in the company that owns the patent.
– We can obtain supplies of iron ore from Lal Lal, near Ballarat, and I have here many samples of steel produced in Victoria. I’ am told by experts that the piece of steel which I hold in my hand, and which was made in this State, is as good as any that could be produced. I shall read presently two or three testimonials which bear out that contention. I have here a lathe tool made from the same steel, and which experts declare to be hard enough for any purpose. Here is a piece of steel produced by the same firm, which is hard enough for use in connexion with machinery of any kind. If there are any experts in the House, they may test its temper on glass. I have here a piece of cold turned steel, also manufactured in Australia, where it- is said nothing of a satisfactory character can be produced, and where the people are told that they should depend solely upon imports to satisfy their needs. The honorable member for Grey said the other night that it was little short of a crime to place duties upon cream separators, since we could not manufacture high-speed steel. I am able to say authoritatively that we can produce high-speed steel suitable for use in connexion with agricultural machinery, cream separators, and other things used in the agricultural and dairying industry. What has the honorable member to say to the following testimonial, given by a Sydney firm to the holders of the MooreHeskett patent - 27th February, 1907. 745 Harris Street.
To Whom it mav Concern.
This is to certify that a trial was given this morning in the presence of M. Colyer, Esq., at our works, 745-747 Harris-street, of’ three pieces of cast steel, and to give them as severe a test as possible they were tried against crucible caststeel wheel, and the result was most satisfactory, the edge holding good at 60 feet per minute. This steel we consider equal to any we have used as a high-speed tool-steel. The only drawback we can see is the tempering as. compared to other steel -
This firm objected to the new process, but admitted that the steel produced by it was as good as they had used - which is in use by us, being self hardening, and to get the best result we should suggest that instead of hardening as per directions, that the steel be brought to a dull red and then cooled off under a blast of air.
Mckenzie Bros, (per M.O.M.)
– By whom was that testimonial given?
– By McKenzie Bros., who are manufacturers of machinery. Here is another testimonial, given by Messrs. Carter and Werner, of Elizabethstreet, Melbourne-
Melbourne, Sept. 5, 1907.
Having had the misfortune to break the last of our diamond drills which we import from the United States of America, and are used for boring lenses, we procured from your firm some of your high-speed steel, which has answered our purpose admirably, as the drills manufactured from the above have kept their edges longer than similar drills cut from imported silver steel on which we have had to fall back.
Carter & Werner..
These letters show that we can produce in Australia all the steel that is required for agricultural machinery and other implements used in primary industries. We can produce here anything we want, and although at the outset the prices of our manufactures might be slightly in excess of those of imported articles, the difference between the two would riot be such that the people could not afford to pay it. It has been said that we cannot produce steel suitable for motor-car springs, but I have in my hand a piece of cold bent steel for springs that is equal to any that is imported. We are constantly being told that protective duties mean increased prices to the consumer. As a matter of fact, experience shows the prices of the products of protected industries are never in excess of those which prevailed before the importers had to face local competition. When an importer has no local competition, he invariably charges more for his goods than he does when he is confronted with local competition. If we were to wipe out the duty on boots and shoes, is it likely that the ‘importer would sell his goods as cheaply as he is doing to-day ? Is it not a fact that the prices of sewing machines, which have never been manufactured in Australia, are the same to-day as they were twenty years ago? We have never attempted” to manufacture these machines. We have in Melbourne a firm which professes to do so, but as a matter of fact it simply imports the parts from Germany or elsewhere and assembles them. If Victoria had placed a duty upon sewing machines, when it first imposed protective duties, we should have had to-day manufactories capable of turning out excellent machines at prices far below those now prevailing. We have in Victoria, as well as in New South Wales, engineering works that are as well equipped as are most of those of other countries.
– They are well employed and do not need any more protection.
– That is a matter of opinion. In spite of our great prosperity and the enormous surpluses enjoyed by New South Wales and Victoria, there has been, during the last three months, a great scarcity of employment in Melbourne and Sydney. The position is probably the same in the capitals of most of the other States. The working classes can never save enough when in employment to tide them over the winter or dull seasons when work is scarce. As a matter of fact, their wages are too small to enable them- to do so.
– Is the honorable member referring to those engaged in the engineering trade?
– To those- engaged in every trade. One reason why we cannot produce as cheaply as can many manufacturers in the old world is that we have in our large works machinery that is onlypartially employed. If it were running all the year round, as is the case in large factories in the. old world, those interested would secure a much larger return, and would be able to sell at lower rates. Free-traders often say to me, “ How is it that, in many cases, highly protected industries are” very slack? The honorable member for Gippsland, on Wednesday, gave an answer to that question when he showed that, under the old Tariff, our imports had increased very considerably. He pointed out that the imports last year were between 30 and 40 per cent, in excess of those of three years before.
– Does not that show that the local factories cannot supply the demand ?
– It does not. It shows that they have not been employed as they ought to have been. In my own electorate, during the last three or four months, machinery has been lying idle which would have been kept (Sully employed- had certain imported goods been manufactured here. The same remark will apply to factories in the electorate “of Dalley. At the present time we are manufacturing mining machinery which is patented in the old world. I am speaking particularly of the Wilfley concentration table. A firm in my division has manufactured 11,000 of these tables. The table is patented, but nevertheless this firm has a right to manufacture them. It is supplying them to the mining industry in Australia. They have fifty of them in hand at the present time, but they find that the freight to Western Australia is too high to permit of orders from that State being supplied. In speaking of the question of freight I am reminded that some time ago tenders were called in Western Australia for the supply of a boiler weighing 24 tons. Victorian manufacturers could have supplied that boiler, but they found that the freight charge upon it would have amounted to not less than £272. Owing to this excessive charge and the inadequate protection received by our manufacturers, they lost the contract, and- the boiler in question was brought from the old country for £85. Of course we are frequently assured that the natural protection which our industries enjoy, in the shape of freight charges, compensates for the difference between the wages which are paid in Australia and those which are paid in the old world. But I would point out that in the instance which I have cited the freight charge for conveying’ a boiler from Melbourne to Fremantle was three times as great as was the cost of conveying it from Glasgow to Fremantle. I believe that Australian machinery is superior to imported machinery. It frequently happens when machinery is imported that after it has been working for a short period thousands of pounds have to be expended to put it in proper order, the work being done by Australian mechanics. I know of cases in which imported railway engines after being used for a brief time became absolutely useless. The great benefit to be derived from the manufacture .of machinery locally is that closer supervision is exercised over its production than is exercised over the making of imported machinery. In manufacturing goods for outside markets most firms do not exhibit the same care that they display in manfacturing for their home market. Not long ago the Straits Settlements - a British Crown colony - imported a dredge from Great Britain. That dredge was working only a very short time before it became perfectly useless. The Council who administered the affairs of the Colony then decided to place an order for a new dredge in Australia. They despatched their engineer to Victoria, where he obtained a dredge of local manufacture. That dredge was sent to the Colony, where it has performed all that was required of it, thus proving that these machines can be success- fully manufactured locally. I do not for a moment suggest that dredges cannot he equally well manufactured in the old country - if the manufacturers there wished to do so. But I hold that it is better for those who require machinery in Australia to have it manufactured locally, because they can then supervise its manufacture. Moreover, if any defects should subsequently be disclosed, they are then in a position to come down upon the manufacturer. Further, they are able to get their wants supplied quickly, and that must be beneficial to the entire community. Much has been said of late in respect of the right of the States Governments to be exempted from the payment of duty upon their imports.It was in order to vindicate this right that the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Carruthers, recently caused a quantity of wire netting to be forcibly removed from the control of the Customs authorities. Personally, I should like to place upon the statute-book a law which would prevent any State Government or any public bodv from importing any commodity. In Victoria, one could not stand upon any platform and proclaim himself a free-trader with the slightest hope of success in an electoral campaign. Yet we find men connected with our public bodies who still hanker after the flesh-pots of Egypt and desire to import whatever they may require. Recently the Geelong Harbor Trust, in pursuance of this desire, purchased a secondhand dredge in South Africa, and as a result “fell in” very badly. Certain public bodies also send Home for their steam rollers.
– Collingwood, for example.
– No. The steam roller manufactured for the Collingwood City Council was made in South Melbourne. It was exhibited at the Agricultural Show the other day, where it was greatly admired. I do not suggest that the’ manufacture of a steam roller involves any great mechanical skill, but I do say that, but for the protectionist leanings of the people, that roller would probably have been purchased abroad. In considering the question of the natural protection accorded to local manufacturers by reason of freight charges, I would point out that not long since some works at Port Pirie required a number of Wilfley concentrating tables. The Melbourne firms tendered for their supply, but - owing to the delicate handling which the tables require in transport’ - it was found that the freight charges from this city to Port Pirie would amount fo £45°- -A- British firm which manufactures a table of the same kind, but of .a different pattern, secured the contract because it was able to ship them from the old country for two-fifths of the price involved in their transit from Melbourne to Port Pirie. Yet our free-trade friends are always parading the fact that freight charges afford our industries a sufficient natural protection.
– It is a myth.
– Of course it is. Take the matter of iron pipes. I say that the manufacture of goods locally has the effect of reducing prices. In support of my statement I would point out that in .1900 some of the public bodies of Queensland required a supply of cast-iron pipes. At that time they were paying a softgoods firm in Brisbane from j£io to £ro 5s. per ton for these pipes.
– What is the name of the firm ?
– I do not know. Prior to the period of which I speak the contract was held by a softgoods firm in Brisbane.
Before Victorian manufacturers entered the field, the public bodies of which I speak were required to pa 3’ 30s. per ton more for cast-iron pipes than they were obliged to pay afterwards. In 1900-1 they were paying from £9 15s. to £10 5s. per ton for these pipes. At the end of 1901 a Victorian firm tendered for their supply, and secured the contract. In the meantime the price of iron had increased. While the pipes were selling in Queensland at from £9 15s. to ^10 5s. per ton, a Victorian manufacturer accepted a contract to supply them at £8 15s. per ton. But the next time that he tendered for the contract an importer offered to supply the pipes at 4s. 10d. per ton. The value of iron increased so much that the Victorian manufacturers had to raise the price by IIS. ; but the importer kept his price lower than that of the local firm. It is only when a few tons are wanted for an immediate purpose that local manufacturers are applied to. When the local manufacturer comes into competition with the importer, the prices of the latter are reduced ; and, therefore, the hopes of those who have regard to cheapness lie in the encouragement of the Australian industry. In the case of iron pipes, Australian manufacturers tendered unsuccessfully to the Launceston City Council for the delivery of 750 tons of 15-inch pipes, the importer’s price being 12s. 6d. per ton lower. One of the Launceston councillors, who was a member of Parliament., offered to get, at least, a portion of. three-fourths of the duty returned to the Council by the Tasmanian Government. T quote this fact to prove, as I said before, that the coming into existence of the local manufacturer has the effect of making commodities cheaper. One item on which I shall have to disagree with the Government is that of tobacco. The Government, ih’ my opinion, have not sufficiently considered the local manufacturer, in so far as they have not made the difference between the duty and the Excise on the locally - manufactured article and on the imported article sufficient to encourage the Australian industry. It may be that the Government regard smokers as fair game from a revenue point of view; but, however that may be, the revenue derived last year under this head was about £1,600,000. I know that the intention of the Government, in proposing the new duties, is to encourage the consumption of locally-produced tobacco; and that in itself is a laudable object. But I refuse to give that encouragement at the expense of the focal manufacturer of plug tobacco and cigars. I look forward to a time when good tobacco may be produced in Australia, but, in the meantime, I refuse to exploit the local capitalist and worker. On plug tobacco the old duty was is. 6d. and the Excise is., whereas the new duty is 2s. and the Excise is. 3d., showing a difference of 9d. The trouble is that a duty of 3d. per lb. has been imposed on “ unstripped leaf ; and as all imported tobaccoes are stripped when they arrive, they do not bear duty, but the same Excise as the locally-manufactured article, leaving our local manufacturers at a disadvantage to the extent of the duty. Unfortunately, the importers are also manufacturers; and the result is that the local manufacturers have to pay 9d. per lb. extra as compared with 6d. per lb. extra paid by the importers. The latter, however, being also manufacturers - though they would rather be importers than manufacturers, because of the lessened responsibility of importers - have raised the price of the locallymanufactured tobacco by 9d. per lb., but have not raised the price of the imported tobacco. For example, 2 oz. of Havelock which could be obtained for gd. before the imposition of the new Tariff is 10½d. whereas Victory, Lucy Hinton, Ruby, and other imported brands are sold at exactly the same price as before. I feel sure that the Government do not desire to encourage the growth of Australian tobacco at the expense of the local manufacturer. Honorable members in every part of the House are concerned in the welfare of the workers ; and I wish them to extend their sympathies to the operatives in the tobacco trade. We must increase the duty on imported tobacco if we are to give adequate protection, and thus afford employment. I cannot, be charged with inconsistency, because I desire to encourage the stripping of the tobacco here, though not at the expense of the rest of those employed in the trade. I suppose I shall be told that, as a Labour member, I have no interest in cigars, because this form of tobacco is a luxury. But I do not see why working men should be deprived of its enjoyment. However, it is not with the consumption, but with the manufacture, of cigars that I am concerned,, and also, of course, with the interests of the operatives. On cigar leaf the old duty was Is. 6d. and the Excise is. 6d., whereas the new duty is 3s. 3d. and the Excise 6d., or an increase of 9d. The result has been to close all, or nearly all, the small cigar factories in Australia. The new duties have made a difference of 6d. in the . pound to the local manufacturer, allowing for the leaf being imported unstripped, and being stripped here. Assuming that 14 lbs. of leaf are used in the manufacture of 1,000 cigars, the extra cost is 7s., and, allowing for the loss in stripping and so forth, that cost is increased to 8s., to which extent the local manufacturer is at a disadvantage as compared with the importer. The local manufacturer cannot hope to increase his price to the public ; and it is undesirable to compel the consumer to use the imported article. Whilst giving encouragement to the production of local leaf, in the hope that in time it will, as I believe, give rise to a successful industry, the Government ought to have regard to the interests of those who are now engaged in the cigar-making trade ; or otherwise we shall not have a true protection, of manufacturer, worker, and consumer. I know of eight small manufacturers who have almost ceased operations, finding it impossible to raise the price of their cigars, and equally impossible to sell at the old price, because of the small margin of profit.
– Does the Tariff not hit the retailer ?
– I suppose that the retailer, if he likes, may raise the price or reduce the quantity, but he is only human, and does riot wish to bear the whole brunt of the situation.
– He will deal in the imported cigar, which is left as before.
– That is the pity of it. The honorable member for Perth told us that the free-trader is the consumer; but, in- my opinion, the protectionist is just as much the consumer as is the free-trader. The honorable member gave figures intended to show that there are more people interested in free-trade than in protection; while I doubt his conclusions, I admit that there are thousands of men who talk protection, but who are only protectionists in regard to the particular industry in which they themselves are interested.
– The honorable member has always been a protectionist.
– I have always endeavoured to be consistent. There are men in the iron trade who are protectionists so far as that trade is concerned, but who are perfectly indifferent in regard to the furniture or clothing trade. I admit all that; but, still,’ I believe that the great body of the people are protectionists, and that in protection is presented an opportunity for the improvement of our social and industrial position. Those connected with the labour movement know that the Tariff alone will not benefit the workers. We do not regard protection as a panacea for all the ills of humanity. We feel that without it we cannot obtain the labour conditions which are desirable, though with it it will be possible both to benefit the worker and to protect the consumer. It must not be assumed that all consumers are free-traders. Many are protectionists, who are willing to assist infostering industries generally in order that those with which they are associated may be benefited. I have often listened with pleasure and interest to speeches delivered by advocates of free-trade. While at issue with many of the members of the Labour Party on the fiscal question, I recognise that in theory their arguments are good. But to secure what the Labour Party desires, and what every member of the Committee says he wishes to see brought about, the well-being of the community at large, a protective policy is absolutely necessary Only under such a system can we properly regulate our social conditions. However, I shall not detain the Committee longer, because I have occupied my fair share of time. I shall give the Government generous support in regard to the whole of its Tariff proposals, and shall be true to the protectionist principle of encouraging local production. I regret that the scope of the Bounties Bill was not widened, but, while it was under consideration in this Chamber, I did what I could to support the giving of assistance to our agriculturists. . I would also support the proposal of the honorable member for Indi, to assist the- mining industry by encouraging deep sinking. Having lived in Australia for nearly the whole of- my life, I desire” that this country shall become the most civilized nation of the world, and, therefore, I shall give what support I can to all our industries - agricultural, mining, pastoral, and manufacturing. Although we prate so much about the civilization of the twentieth century, the existence of a Labour Party in politics shows that the ideals of civilization have not yet been attained. If this had been an ideally civilized community, it would not have been necessary for us to leavethe industries in which we were employed to attend to the work of legislation. The only safe and sure way to put an end to the labour movement is to improve the condition of the workers in Australia. When those conditions are perfect, there will no longer be labour representatives in Parliament, and the Government and Opposition can fight between themselves for the occupancy of the Treasury bench without interference by a Labour Party.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has stated that there is not a woollen mill in Australasia making pure woollen goods; but I know that all the goods produced by the Waverley Mills in Tasmania are pure woollen goods. That fact was testified toby the proprietor of the mills in giving evidence before the Tariff Commission, and his statement on the subject will be found in volume 3, page 1442, question 33,347,ofthe Commission’s minutes of evidence. Every piece of material going from those mills bears a stamp declaring it to be made of pure wool. I am sure that the honorable member did not desire to injure the woollen mills of Australasia ; but while his remarks may be applicable to those of Victoria, they do not apply to the mill of which I speak.
– I have seen in tailors’ shops and in warehouses, goods marked “ pure wool,” and collars marked “ pure linen,” without being convinced that the material in either case was pure wool or pure linen.
.- I listened to the concluding remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports with considerable interest ; but I take objection to his suggestion that the members of the Opposition are not considering the interests of the working classes of Australia. Parliament must legislate for the wellbeing of the whole community, and must bear in mind the conditions of the primary producers as well as the interests of the manufacturers.
Mr.Mathews. - The primary producers belong to the working classes.
– Yes. Practically the whole population of Australia belongs to the working classes, and therefore I say that the Opposition in considering the welfare of the community at large is considering the interests of the working classes. We must legislate, not for the benefitof any particular class, but for the benefit of the whole population. Many persons seem to think that this debate is causing considerable and unnecessary delay, and that the sooner it is finished the better it will be for all concerned. But, in my opinion, it has proved most interesting, and will exert a beneficial effect on all parties in the Chamber. The statements which have been made in opposition to the Tariff should show the Ministry that the people of Australia as a whole do not favour high duties. That is proved, not only by the speeches which have been made here, but also by the numerous letters which have flooded the daily press, and the protests which have been received from various associations. The Labour Party should take note of the fact that the working man and his wife are beginning to feel the pinch of the higher duties. At the present time trade is practically paralyzed, and I cannot better convince the Committee of the difficulties and hardships which the Tariff is causing than by reading the statements of leading business men which have appeared in the public press in regard to it. The President of the Chamber of Commerce has put his views very clearly in these words -
From a business point of view it is most important that a final adjustment of the Tariff should be made. At present we are circumscribed by the uncertainty of our position. It has been intimated that some of the duties are likely to be reduced, but in the meantime people are not buying any more than they possibly can. We have been obliged to cancel a number of orders in consequence of the present Tariff, it being quite problematical whether the duties will be ultimately lowered. It is a question of adjusting the difference and passing it on to the consumer.
The last few words should be well pondered. Then Mr. W. H. Felstead, of the firm of Messrs. Beath, Schiess find Co., has written as follows: -
As long as uncertainty exists, there must be dislocation of business. At present buyers do not know what to do. The increase in prices has not been accompanied by a corresponding rise in wages, so that the result is that people who have only a certain amount to spend in a certain way have to put up with an inferior line, the price of better articles having become prohibitive so far as they are concerned. We have to order our goods from six to eighteen months in advance, and until the Tariff is settled we do not know what to order for the next eighteen months. It becomes a question whether to leave them in bond until a possible reduction of the Tariff occurs, or to get them out now and sell them perhaps at a loss. A great many customers who have ordered goods as per sample insist on that price being adhered to in spite of the duty, and if we do not agree they cancel the order. While this uncertainty exists people will not give any more orders than they can help. Our position is a very awkward one. We might pay ^5,000 excess duty on the season’s goods, and then perhaps the Tariff will not go through in its entirety. If there were any chance of this excess duty being refunded, we could open up our goods and take the risk of selling them.
Not only is the Tariff causing unrest and dislocation of business, but dishonest traders are taking advantage of it to increase prices, often in respect of goods on which there has been no increase of’ duty, or which were imported prior to the alteration of rates. I should like to know from the Ministry why a new Tariff has been introduced. The results of the last elections show that Australia did not desire another Tariff. It is all very well for some honorable members to say that the result proved that the majority of the people are in favour of increased duties. The fiscal question, most certainly in New South Wales, and in the majority of the other States, was not raised during the campaign. The election was fought entirely on the issue of Socialism versus anti-Socialism; it was only in Victoria that the question of protection was raised. I recognise that this was due. to the tactics of the Prime Minister and his colleagues in this State. The professional man certainly has not- asked for a higher Tariff. He cannot increase his fees, yet he has to pay a higher price for everything he uses. Nor do I think that the unfortunate clerk has asked for any increase in the Tariff. He obtains no increase of salary, and yet, under the new duties, his cost of living is considerably increased. The man who has asked for increased duties is the Victorian manufacturer, who knows that as the result of their imposition his profits will be considerably enhanced. He knows that the wages which he pays will not be raised, and that he will lose nothing under the new. Tariff. It is nothing more nor less than the influence (of the Victorian manufacturer) that has forced this policy upon the present Government. _ I can only say that, as the result of this high protection, the rich will become richer and will have further opportunities of spending their wealth abroad, as some of them are doing, whilst, on the other hand, the poor will become considerably poorer. The chief argument advanced in favour of protection is that it means an increased output. Are we to secure an increased output by building a prohibitive wall round the Commonwealth and keeping out importations? How are we going to increase the output of our manufactories when we have no population to take advantage of the goods so produced? What we need most of all is an increased population. We have a magnificent territory, with a few large cities and vast areas of unoccupied land, which could and should be put to a useful purpose. What are we doing to-day to encourage our primary industries? Nothing at all. The whole object of the Tariff is to crowd mure people into our towns and to encourage manufactories in the cities. Every one knows that a young and growing community needs to have its unoccupied lands peopled, and that those who settle upon the soil follow the healthiest of occupations. During last week, when the Royal Agricultural Society held its annual show at Flemington, the streets of the city were crowded with country visitors, and a casual glance at their splendid physique and the intelligence expressed in their faces was sufficient to satisfy one of the superiority of a country over a city population. It should be our endeavour, as far as possible, to encourage an increase in our rural population, to encourage closer settlement, and the development of the vast resources which lie beneath the soil. It would be far better to do that than to attempt by means of a highly protective Tariff to bolster up unhealthy industries which tend to concentrate our population within the few cities of Australia. It is absurd to imagine that by the agency of the Tariff we shall induce a rapid growth in the .Commonwealth. Our aim should be, if possible, to allow the country to develop naturally. I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to the -position of the dairy farmer under this Tariff. We know full well ;the importance of the dairying industry to Australia. In the electorate which I have the honour to represent, some of the farmers a few years ago found it difficult to make a living. But since the introduction of the dairying industry we find springing up all over the district comfortable homesteads inhabited by men who are doing well, and are in a position to rear their children under satisfactory conditions. As the result of the establishment of the dairying industry, they now enjoy settled incomes. What will this protective policy do to encourage such men? The magnitude and the growth’ of the industry is shown by the fact that in 1903 we manufactured 100,678,000 lbs. of butter; in 1904, 140,255.208 lbs.; and in 1905, 140,462,500 lbs. I have takenthese figures from Coghlan, and I .am sorry that I have not had- an opportunity to obtain the returns for 1906. I should like, .in passing, to express my regret that we have been deprived of the valuable work which was periodically brought out by Mr. Coghlan, and I hope that the Commonwealth Statistician, Mr. Knibbs, will endeavour as soon as possible to issue a similar publication. May I again ask what can high protective duties do for the dairy farmer? He is engaged in one of our primary industries ; but, instead of assisting him, we are taxing him from the cradle to the grave. By the application of labour and brains to the work, he can considerably increase the value of his land. In its unimproved state it may not be worth much more than ios. per acre; but by industry he may speedily raise its value to £5 per acre. What steps does he take to improve his property ? In the first place, he finds it necessary, even in the more settled districts, to sink a well to provide water for his stock. We find that the pump which he uses is heavily taxed, that the windmill which supplies the power to draw up the water is heavily taxed, and that the iron trough alongside the well, into which the water is forced for the use of his stock, is likewise subjected to a heavy impost. If he proposes to build a house for himself, he has to pay a tax on the galvanized iron used for roofing purposes, and the very timber of which the house is constructed is dutiable. So unsatisfactory are the timber duties that those engaged in the trade have already entered a protest against them. According to a press report -
The members of the Timber Merchants’ Association are not satisfied ‘ with the new Tariff. They ask that the duties on various descriptions of timber should be remitted. They contend that there is no timber in New South Wales which could take the place of Oregon, redwood, baltic, kauri, or white pine, and that, even if there were, the duties are so high as to be absolutely prohibitive. The new duties as compared with the old ones would probably mean an increase of 25 per cent. As the Tariff is now framed, it would be cheaper to import dressed timber. A heavy duty on New Zealand pine would be a serious matter, and would mean that a bos which now costs is. would be raised to is. 4d. Queensland could not supply pine in sufficient quantities for existing requirements.
This statement shows what is the position of the unfortunate man who is engaged in one of our primary industries. He has to pay duty on the timber that he uses to build his house, and, when he has produced his butter, and desires to send it to market, he finds that there is a heavy impost on the timber of which his butterboxes are made. The duty of 25 per cent, means an increase of 2jd. per box. There are some who would not object to such a duty if by means of it we could encourage another of our great primary industries, that of timber- getting. But we find that even Queensland is unable to supply local demands. Although Queensland pine may be a very good substitute for New Zealand pine for butter-boxes, yet that State is unable to supply the local demand. Only the other day a Queensland firm asked a Victorian maker of butter-boxes to quote a price for the supply of 12,000. It could not place an order here, and ultimately it procured the necessary boxes from New South Wales. They were made of New Zealand timber, because there was not a supply of local timber available, and each box was taxed to the extent of 2½dThose engaged in the industry naturally protest against such an impost. Here is an extract from a recent issue of one of our daily newspapers -
At the conference of directors of butter factories, which was held at the Hotel Metropole last night, Mr. W. Young (Kyneton) said that the Federal Government had raised the duties on dairy requisites and other articles. He moved - “ That this meeting view with alarm the proposal of the Federal Government to impose such duties on the various requisites necessary for carrying on the dairying industry as will seriously embarrass that industry. The meeting earnestly urges the members of the Federal Parliament to oppose such duties.”
One of the speakers at this Conference said that -
He had in his possession a letter from a Warwick (Queensland) company in which the writer asked a butter-box maker in Victoria to quote a price for 12,000 boxes made of New Zealand pine. Eventually the company purchased the boxes from a New South Wales firm, but the fact remains that they were made of New Zealand pine.
-r-It probably suited” the firm to obtain butter-boxes made of New Zealand pine.
– There is not a sufficient supply of Queensland timber.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 -p.m.
– When the dairyfarmer returns to his home at night after a hard day’s work, he finds that the verykerosene which illuminates his house is taxed. His tea is also taxed, although it is well known that tea cannot be grown inAustralia. /
– Tea is upon the free list.
– When the evening meal is over and he lights his pipe, he finds that his tobacco is taxed. When he retires for the night, he remembers that the very bed upon which he stretches his weary limbs and the candle which lights his room, are taxed. His boots and shoes are also taxed. That fact reminds me of the phrase which was used by the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth upon a memorable occasion, when he said that “ Australia would hear the pattering of naked feet upon the pavements.” I can quite understand that under this Tariff the pattering of naked feet will be heard around the home of the dairy-farmer. Then I find that infants’ foods are also heavily taxed. To quote from a daily newspaper, which puts the matter much more clearly than I can upon the spur of the moment -
A great deal is said in these days about the necessity for increased population. One of the best ways to increase the population .is to reduce the death-rate amongst young children.
There Is no doubt of that. But what is the good of a young country like Australia -
– Unless it develops its manufactures ?
– What is the use of a young country like Australia endeavouring to compete with the older countries of the world, which have grown accustomed to protective Tariffs by the experience of a hundred* years, and which possess populations of 60,000,000 or 80,000,000 ? Why should we endeavour, in the early stages of our national history, to emulate their example? Let us endeavour to settle the people upon the land, instead of attempting to encourage exotic industries within the city walls.’ The extract which I was quoting continues -
The use of properly-prepared infants’ food has had a very appreciable influence in this direction, but Federal Ministers have not hesitated to increase the taxes on all kinds of infants’ foods. In every household where there are young children these taxes will be severely felt, and no compensating advantage will accrue to the Commonwealth. The following are a few of the increases rendered necessary, either by the duty on the article of food or the bottle which contains it : -
We not only tax artificial foods for infants, but also the very vessels which contain them -
The above are retail prices. In the subjoined table the increases which the wholesale houses have actually made to the retail establishments are shown. These, with a little extra added, will be passed on to the purchaser by the retailer : -
That list illustrates very clearly the disabilities under which unfortunate infants who require to be fed upon artificial foods will labour under this Tariff. If a child belonging to a dairy-farmer, which has been deprived of its natural sustenance, becomes ill, it will be necessary for the father, to obtain the services of a professional man. The doctor will attend the infant and will probably prescribe medicine. The very drugs which he prescribes will have to be paid for. These too are taxed, so that if the doctor himself supplies them, he will be called on to pay for them. The dairyfarmer will not give his medical adviser more for his visits because the latter has to pay extra for the drugs which he prescribes. As I have already affirmed, it is the professional man who will suffer most under the operation of this Tariff. It is not the individual who drives about in his motorcar, and sneers at the poverty around him, who will feel the pinch most acutely, but it is the unfortunate professional man who cannot pass the tax on. The importer does not mind the duties imposed by the Government, because he can pass them on. In the same way, the retailer can pass them on. But the professional man - the lawyer; for example - cannot pass them on without resorting to fraud, and I am perfectly certain, from -what I know of the members of the legal profession, that the mere thought of fraud would be as far removed from them as is Heaven. The very chairs upon which the dairyfarmer sits at his table are taxed. The chair which is in general use amongst dairyfarmers is a light chair, which looks very well, and which is cool in the summer time. It is known as the Austrian chair. But the duty upon it is prohibitive, notwithstanding that it cannot be made in Australia. I would further point out that the life of a dairy-farmer centres around a machine which is known as the “ cream separator.” Any one who has visited one of these farms must have been struck by the musical hum of a separator at work. It is a machine in which the farmer takes a very great pride. He is very fond of pointing out to visitors its cleanliness and its smoothness in working. These separators cannot be manufactured in Australia, and yet, under the present Tariff they are heavily taxed. About the only country in which they can be manufactured is Sweden. There is a peculiarity about the metal of which they are composed. They revolve at an exceedingly high rate of speed, and if the metal were not of the very best quality, they might, at any moment fly asunder, and cause considerable damage. This particular class of metal cannot be obtained in Australia. But even if we could manufacture these machines locally, I would point out that they are so protected by patent rights - which will continue for some years - that it will be impossible to do so, or even to use them if so heavy a duty is levied upon them. Under the new Tariff the dairy-farmer will find himself considerably handicapped by the enhanced price of these machines.
– British cream separators are upon the free list.
– What are we doing to help the dairy-farmer, whose market we know is not the Home market, but who has to sell his produce in the markets of the world? He has to compete with countries which are densely populated, and in which the very life-blood is squeezed out of their ‘ workers, so hard are the conditions of their labour. It is against such people as those that our dairy farmers have to compete in the markets of the world. What are we doing to assist the primary producers of Australia? All we are doing is to foster artificial trades and manufactures in the cities. I have just had placed in my hand a newspaper extract which bears out exactly what I have said. This is from the Brisbane Worker .which, I have no doubt, the members of the Labour Party regard as of considerable repute; and in a leading article on the 17th August, the editor writes -
Those who believe in High Protection have reason to fling up their caps this week and shout !’ Hurrah !”
A tariff after their own hearts has arrived, and heavy duties have been imposed on nearly everything we use - the chairs we sit on, the beds we sleep in, the tools we work with, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the tobacco we smoke, even the matches we light our pipes with.
The article goes on -
Surely the Labour Party in the Federal Par- _ liament will insist upon a substantial reduction ‘ in those duties which will prove a severe burden upon the toiling workers in city and- bush, and on the settlers wrestling with the land.
An increase in the cost of living of from three to five shillings a week will plunge thousands of families below the poverty line, and incalculable evils will follow, reacting upon the social, moral, and industrial life of the community.
These are pregnant words, which should sink deeply into the hearts of the members of the Labour Party. I think that already the Acting Prime Minister begins to see the writing on the wall, and that he realizes that he will not receive that wholesale support from the Labour Party he expected when he threw the Tariff on the’ table. The article in the Worker proceeds -
The only hope of bringing this burdensome tariff down to more reasonable proportions lies with the Federal Labour Party. We look to them to lift taxation off the necessaries of life and the implements of agriculture.
I sincerely trust the Labour Party will not prove a broken reed when the time comes -
The Federal Treasurer’s estimate of increased Customs receipts to the amount of ^800,000 is a giving-away of the whole case. Foreign goods are not to be kept out, but the public are to be made to pay an extra ^800,000, with interest and profit added, upon next year’s consumption of dutiable goods.
It is not often I find myself in accord with the opinions of the editor of this newspaper; but on this occasion I can cordially indorse what he says. I am sorry to say that on other questions his opinions are not quite so sound . as they are regarding the Tariff. In the electorate of Hunter, which borders on the sea-coast, there are many fishermen, who brave the perils of the sea, and work very hard, in order to supply our markets with fresh fish every morning. It is the boast of the Ministry that tools of trade, and especially the machinery used in certain mills, are not taxed ; but, unfortunately, the fishermen of Australia are handicapped, owing to the fact that the. nets they use bear a duty of 20 per cent. Further, the very material out of which the nets are made is taxed, so that the fishermen suffer double injustice as a result of the Tariff. Then, the wine industry is one of the most important in Australia, and one which, I believe, has a great future before it. Those engaged in wine-growing have to sell their produce in the markets of the world, and they find the greatest difficulty in pushing sales in England, on the Continent, and in America. It is our duty, instead of taxing their means of production, to do all possible in the way of assisting the industry, and placing it on a sound basis, to enable it to meet the competition of the world. In the Hunter electorate, not very far from Maitland, ‘there has been established a distillery, and in the same district there are a great many vineyards, which employ large numbers of men, women and children. The secretary of the Hunter Valley Distillery Company Limited, Mr. Chas. H. Starkey, writes as follows - 93 York-street; Sydney, 7th September, 1907.
I am instructed by the directors of the abovementioned company to forward you a copy of a letter addressed to the honorable the Minister for Customs protesting against an extension of the time determined by the Federal Government under the Spirits Act of 1906, when the age limit of two years for spirit in wood should be enforced.
The Hunter Valley Distillery Co. Ltd. carries on the only distillery in the State of New South Wales, and my directors have, to the present detriment of their shareholders, made arrangements to meet the requirements of the Act, and they contend that it is manifestly unfair to alter the time limit to meet the request of persons whose interests could * have been similarly guarded, and they would also point out that the public health demands that the limit of at least two years, so wisely ratified by the Federal Parliament, should be most rigidly enforced.
It seems unfair that this particular company should’ be placed at a disadvantage owing to an alteration in the regulations. I have here a copy of a letter by the same gentleman, addressed to the Prime Minister as follows -
It having come to the knowledge of my directors that a request has been made to you, by Victorian spirit merchants and distillers, that an extension be granted -until October, 1908, before they are required to comply with the provisions of ti e Spirit Act of 1906, they contend that sufficient time to meet the provisions of the Act referred to has been given to distillers and merchants, and that the extension asked for would be manifestly unfair to those who have taken precautions to meet the requirements of this Act.
This company has never placed any brandy on the market unless considerably over the two years’ limit, and, in the interests of consumers, they consider the age limit is quite fair and reasonable.
My directors have deferred sales, and consequent dividends to shareholders, to enable them to hold stock and permanently place a matured brandy before the public, and the shareholders will, if the extended age limit as requested is granted, be actually penalized for the reliance placed by their directors on the good faith of the Commonwealth Government.
To allow crude, immature spirits to be placed on the market would not only be unfair to the distillers who have thus taken steps to comply with the above-named Act, but it would be a menace to the health of the community, and as the company are distillers of brandy only from pure grape wine (the medicinal qualities pf which are exceptional and invaluable), my directors would ask the Government not to allow any suggested hardships in individual instances, which could have been avoided, to influence their judgment towards the alteration of the wise provisions of the present Spirit Act of 1906.
I believe that this distillery produces the finest brandy in the Commonwealth; and I suggest to the Government that a sample should be obtained for the refreshment:room, so that, in the event of any honorable member feeling indisposed, an effective stimulant may be at hand. To show that there are further disadvantages to which this industry is exposed, I shall read a letter which was addressed to the Acting Prime Minister by Dr. Thomas Fiaschi, President of the New South WalesWine Association, setting out the position very clearly -
On behalf of the Wine Association of New South Wales, and through my association, on behalf of the wine-growing community of this State, I beg to, respectfully, submit to your consideration the following incidences of our industry as affected by the new Tariff. Under the old conditions casks, bottles, corks, capsules, sealing wax, and other requisites used by vignerons and wine merchants were already high in price. This price was steadily on the increase owing to the large demand for bottles. Even before the present Tariff, charges, such as freight, commissions, duty, wharfage, insurance, exchanges, &c, amounting to 100 per cent, on the manufacturer’s price, afforded an ample protection to the local producer. The new Customs rates, however, will affect those interested in the following manner : -
Casks. - Before the imposition of the new Tariff, the cost of hogsheads was from 14s. to 18s., according to the nature of the spirit thev had contained. These casks, being seasoned, are preferable to new ones for immediate use. Besides, a number of them are re-exported with wine to England, and it seems hard that a duty should have to be paid on them, especially in view of the low prices Australian wines obtain in the London market. Most of pur wines are quoted and sold, casks included. Under the new tariff, with a duty of 12s. per cask, the cost of hogsheads will be increased 25s. to 30s. each, which is a most serious matter to our winegrowers. In fact, it is prohibitive. The same applies to quarter casks, which used to cost from 7s. to 10s. each, and will now be raised to practically double that figure.
In addition to the above, many of these casks, hogsheads, and quarters are used by coopers to cut down into octaves and kegs, which would entail a loss all round under the new tariff. There again the duty of 35 per cent. on large casks is so exorbitantly highas to militate against the wine industry if persisted in.
The duty on shooks is also much too high, considering Australian timbers are not suitable for wine or spirit casks, owing to their pronounced and disagreeable flavour and porousness. They have been repeatedly tested, and had to be relinquished for that reason, especially for the lighter and more delicate wines of our State. There are no Australian timbers at present known suitable for that purpose.
Bottles. - The prices of bottles have been high for years past, and have been steadily on the rise owing to the ever increasing demand for them. With these, in particular, the charges such as freight, commissions, duty, &c.,have been far in excess of the actual manufacturer’s costs. Under the new tariff the cost of imported black wine bottles, for instance, would work out as under : -
We would add to the cost of packing and charges without any duty on an assorted parcel of quarts and pint bottles, i.e., 11s.3d.pergrossor11d.perdoz., with old duty this charge was raised to 12s. 7d. per gross, or1s.0½d. per doz., and now. with the exorbitant and unreasonable duty, it is to be raised to 19s. 6d. per gross, or1s. 7½d. per doz. Wecouldquote many similar instances, but these will be sufficient.
The new duty on small bottles, such as flasks, will be another barrier in the development of the brandy-trade, a large amount of Australian brandy being sold at present in these bottles.
We also wish to. point out that the higher prices of bottles, the result of the new tariff, must of necessity lead to a larger distributing trade in the bulk, with a corresponding shrinkage in labour on account of a diminution in bottling operations.
Capsules. - With regard to these, we beg to point out that to load capsules with 6d. per lb. on advertising, in addition to a general tariff of 5 per cent., is absolutely prohibitive. Capsules are not manufactured at present in Australia.
Corks. - Considering that corks are neither grown nor manufactured here, a duty of 6d. per lb. is quite unreasonable, and will materially add to the cost of Australian-grown wine or brandy.
The wine industry of this State, and of the other States, is one with large prospects, and requires all the legitimate fostering your Government can extend to it. The granting of a prohibitive protective policy to a few manufacturers will very seriously militate against the interests of a much larger community of winegrowers and merchants.
As to the encouragement of the cork industry, it is well known that the cork tree is not now grown here, and even if it would grow, it would take some years to come to maturity. Moreover, it is doubtful whether the bark of such trees grown in Australia would be suitable for the making of corks. I know a gentleman whosebusiness was practically ruined because two bottles of wine out of a dozen which he sold - he was a seller of large quantities - were found to be “corked “ - that is, the wine was slightly flavoured with the taste of the corks, and as a result his trade vanished. The Government propose to put a heavy duty on corks, although it is not known whether the cork tree will grow in Australia, or whether, if grown here, its bark would be suitable for the making of corks. It is absurd to think of this Administration endeavouring to foster primary industries. The only industries which it will foster are slum industries.
– They are going to kick the honorable member out next time.
– Speaking during the electoral campaign, I said that I should be prepared to assist industries which were being strangled ; but I cannot support the high protective duties now proposed, and I call upon other honorable members to assist me in reducing them. I should like to see such a fight in regard to the Tariff that the whole of Australia will ring with, it. I am prepared to fight against it, and, if necessary, to die in the last ditch, or in the last division. To say that free-trade has no champions in this Chamber is ridiculous. The sooner we come to close quarters, the better it will be for the country, because the present state of unrest is seriously interfering with commerce. I - and there are others like me - intend to fight for reductions on item after item. The honorable member for Coolgardie, when speaking on the Naval Agreement, drew attention to a letter written by Mr. Richard Hain, who I am told, was once connected with the Post Office, but was pensioned off on the score of ill-health. Like many such pensioners, he seems to have acquired a new lease of life, and to be flourishing like a young bay tree. Mr. Hain appointed himself a sort of Boswell tq the Prime Minister’s Johnson, and followed him to London, I believe at his own expense, making a careful record of the honorable gentleman’s speeches and actions. He seems to have obtained information which we do hot possess. Writing to the newspapers he has endeavoured to prove that Sir Joseph Ward, the Premier of New Zealand, has been brought into line with our Prime Minister in regard to the Naval Agreement. He writes -
The Conference, indeed, handed the matter over to Lord Tweedmouth and Mr. Deakin, and Sir Joseph Ward was also brought into agreement with them, so that there should be one clear naval policy in the western Pacific.
He tries to prove that the Prime Minister expressed the opinion that the Commonwealth wishes to provide for its own naval defence, anti to discontinue the subsidy payable under the Naval Agreement, and that Sir Joseph Ward was prepared to join him. A report of the proceedings of the Conference has been placed in our hands ; but we are warned that - whenever the Conference got to a point where caution in treating the question publicly was needed there is a sudden silence in the official report -
That is only natural - but 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, and it is the result of those discussions which is of importance, and not that of the discussion in the Conference. At the close of negotiations the Daily Chronicle announced that Mr. Deakin has withdrawn Australia from the Naval Agreement.
The Prime Minister has denied this; but there has been no Ministerial pronouncement’ on the subject. We are all sorry that the honorable gentleman is absent through illness, yet that is no reason why the Acting Prime Minister should shelter behind him. At present, we are governed by one man, the other Ministers having apparently very little to do in matters of policy; but we should know what the view of the Administration is on this question. Lord Tweedmouth said in so many words that the motherland recognises her responsibility for the defence of Great Britain and her dependencies and dominions beyond the seas, and is prepared to undertake it ; but he stated that she will be very glad of the assistance of the self-governing Colonies in any way that may seem good to them, such as the fortification of their shores or the making of contributions towards the up-keep of the Imperial Navy. But he insisted that the Admiralty must have undivided and complete control of all the vessels which form that navy. Sir Joseph Ward agreed with him in that, and the Prime Minister seems to have done so too. But the Prime Minister had no mandate from Australia to announce that this country wishes to withdraw from the Naval Agreement, while Sir Joseph Ward stated that, in his opinion, New Zealand does not wish to do so, but that before committing himself on the subject he would like to consult the people in regard to it. He seemed to think that the people of New Zealand would be prepared to increase their contributions if that should bethought necessary. Lord Tweedmouth stated at the. Conference that -
The only reservation the Admiralty desire to make is that they claim to have the charge of the strategical questions which’ are necessarily involved in naval defence, to hold the command of the Naval Forces of the country, and to arrange the distribution of ships in the best possible manner to resist attacks, and to defend the Empire at large, whether it be our own islands or the Dominions beyond the seas. We thoroughly recognize that we are responsible for that defence. . . . We acknowledge our absolute obligation to defend the King’s Dominions across the seas to the best of our ability. . . . There is one sea, there is one Empire, and there is one Navy, and I want to claim in the first place your help, and in the second place authority from the Admiralty to manage this great service without ‘restraint.
Could language be clearer than that? He continued -
His Majesty’s Government recognise the desire of the self-governing colonies to have a more particular share in providing the naval defence force of the Empire, and, so long as the condition of unity of command and direction of the fleet is maintained, they are ready to consider a modification of the existing arrangements to meet the views of the various colonies.
Sir Joseph Ward, replying to Lord Tweedmouth, said -
I want to convey for New Zealand my concurrence in the expressions that Lord Tweedmouth has given utterance to, that we should have confidence in the Board of Admiralty and in the British Government in connexion with the Navy. I subscribe lo that absolutely. . . . I want to say that I fully indorse the view expressed by Lord Tweedmouth, that there is but one sea around our shores, and that with one sea and one Empire, there should in reality be but one Navy.
These are the words to which I desire to draw special attention -
The outcome of deliberations such as we are engaged in now, should be to place both ships and the disposition of the ships, and the distribution of the ships and the whole question of strategical work, entirely under the control of those at the pulse of the Empire - London; who are responsible in the time of war for the working out of any engagements that may take place for the purpose of common, defence.
Sir Joseph Ward very wisely does not believe in a dual control, or in an Australasian Navy, which would not be under the direction of the Admiralty. In many respects, which I need not enumerate, such a Navy would be a clanger to the mother country. In speaking for New Zealand, which is a party to the Naval Agreement, Sir Joseph Ward said -
I would like to try and make the position, as far as New Zealand is concerned, quite clear in connexion’ with this matter. . . . New Zealand has made no request of any kind for an alteration of the existing agreement, and I readily acquiesce in the suggestion made by the First Lord of the Admiralty that New Zealand in relation to the mother country will of necessity require to continue by direct subsidy or an increased subsidy which we are quite willing to give for a continued attachment to the Navy proper which we consider is so important to us.
He made it perfectly clear that New Zealand is prepared not only to continue her present subsidy, but, if necessary, to increase it. She has no desire to build a navy of her own, but, at the same time, does not wish to interfere with such a project on the part of the Commonwealth. Sir Joseph Ward went on to say -
I am quite certain New Zealand, if required to, under altered proposals that may be suggested, with a view to cementing the defence of the Empire as a whole, would be willing to increase its contribution.
Nothing could be plainer. The writer of the article to which I have referred adopts an attitude which suggests that he has some secret information. If he has, I am at a loss to know where he’ obtained it. He has said that what is put before us as a report of the Conference is altogether erroneous and misleading. In other words, he suggests that dust has been thrown in our eyes by the Ministry, and that he is the man who knows what actually transpired in connexion with the consideration of this question at home. He says distinctly that Sir Joseph Ward has fallen into line with the Prime. Minister. I think I have proved conclusively, by quotations from the official report, that that statement is incorrect. The spectacle which
Australia presented to the. world when her representatives went to England and asked the British Government to grant us a preference - to change what had been her national policy for nearly sixty years, and to impose heavy duties on foreign imports in order that we might reap the- benefit - was a somewhat sordid one.
– Great Britain was asked to tax the food and clothing of her own people for the benefit of Australia.
– That is so. I should be -glad to see Australia grant a preference to British imports. I should like all our imports, if possible, to come from the mother country, but I do not think that the Prime Minister has taken up a proper attitude in regard to the question of preference. He offered Great Britain absolutely nothing in return for that which he asked her to give us. The Acting Prime Minister is reported to have said at the Imperial Conference - t would like to ask Lord Tweedmouth a question in connexion with the Australian proposals.
In a democratic country such as this we are accustomed to speak out boldly, and I am inclined to think that the authorities at Home were, to some extent, surprised bv the questions sometimes put by our representatives. The Acting Prime Minister continued -
It is not intended, I presume, to remove the present squadron, or any large proportion of that squadron, until, if we can make a new arrangement, our coastal defence is fairly complete.
The honorable member has an eye on the main chance. He thinks that we should discontinue the subsidy, but that the vessels of the Australian Squadron should remain in Australian waters. Who will be able to say, for some years, whether or not our coastal defence is complete? In the meantime, we are to take all that we can obtain from the mother country, and give nothing in return. In reply to this question, Lord Tweedmouth said-
There is no intention of moving the squadron as it at present exists until a hew arrangement is arrived at.
There’ is another point to which I desire to draw attention. In his report on the question of defence, Captain Creswell advises that we should embark upon an expenditure on torpedo boats and torpedoboat” destroyers. The report of the Imperial Conference makes it particularly clear that the class of vessels most favoured by the Admiralty for the purposes of local defence is not torpedo boats, but submarines. If a torpedo boat attempted to attack a cruiser in daylight she would quickly be blown out of the water. The submarine is most strongly recommended by the Admiralty, and is evidently the boat of the future for us. Captain Creswell is misleading us to a certain extent when he advises us to construct or purchase torpedo boats. Let me quote what Lord Tweedmouth said on the subject -
Sir Joseph Ward asked what is the opinion of the Admiralty with regard to the comparative merits of submarine local defence, and subsidy. That, I think, is a question upon which we at the Admiralty cannot pretend to adjudicate. We say, if the Colonies decide on a system of local defence, we think submarines would be the most useful way of beginning it, and that Colonies would find that a submarine flotilla would be the best way from their point of view and from a strategical point of view of defending the coast, to begin with, at any rate. They might afterwards develop the destroyer, and so forth; but to begin with the submarine would be the best plan that could be adopted in everybody’s interests.
We do not refuse the subsidy plan, and I do not think it would come well from us to say that we insist that the subsidies should be dropped. That, I think, is a matter for the Colonies themselves. So far as we are. concerned, the subsidy is a very convenient way of receiving help from the Colonies; but we quite recognise that it is a question for the Colonies themselves as to how far it is to be subsidy and how far it is to be local defence.
Another peculiar feature of the report of the Conference is that it shows that whenever there was any doubt as to the passing of a resolution it was not put. It appeared to be the desire of the delegates to the Conference that unanimity should prevail. When it was evident that a proposal was not likely to be unanimously agreed to it was quietly allowed, to drop, and so when Dr. Smartt moved a resolution relating to naval defence Sir Wilfrid Laurier said -
We, of the different Dominions beyond the Seas, have tried to be unanimous up to the present time. I am sorry to say this is a question upon which we could not be unanimous. Therefore, Dr. Smartt can move it if he chooses, or withdraw it. But if he presses it I should have to vote against it.
We find in that statement an indication of the reason why this question was not settled ir the Conference. There was a want of unanimity, and consequently it was thought unwise to put the resolution. I think I have proved that, in the first place, the Prime Minister had no mandate from Australia to take up at the Conference the at titude which he did with regard to theNaval Agreement. I have also proved that Mr. Hain’s contention that Sir Joseph Ward had been brought into line with the Prime Minister, and shared his views on that question is also erroneous. I have shown,, further, that if we adopt the naval policy suggested by Captain Creswell we shall be acting contrary to the advice of the Admiralty, and finally I think I have shown most conclusively that it would be a matter for regret if we terminated the Naval Agreement until the country had expressed an opinion upon it. Passing away from the question of defence, I should like now to bring under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral one or two matters relating to hisDepartment. I make no apology for criticising it. We have the authority of the Prime Minister himself for the statement that the privilege which we enjoy of criticising our public departments is one_ that ishighly prized. Speaking at the ImperialConference, he said -
We have freely used State agencies and continue to use them, and many of us are strongly of opinion that it is only by their employment that the complex conditions of modern government can be dealt with. If, therefore, we criticise State Departments it is because so muchof the success of the policy which we advocate depends upon them and upon ‘their power of adaptation to the business side of social life. In Australia we are constant critics of our ownDepartments, and experience shows, with good” reason. One of the chief tasks of our Parliament is that of endeavouring to bring the various agencies comprised in their public officesinto more fruitful relation with the circumstances of the country. We have busy Parliaments passing many laws, most of them demanding some administrative work, and many of them demanding a great deal, but we find the purposes- of those law’s defeated or their ends avoided, unless by constant criticism and revision of methods we keep our Department’s, touse a familiar expression, up to date.
The Postmaster-General will not quarrel with me if I endeavour to point out a few of the grievances under which the postal employes labour, and urge him to lose notime in rectifying them. The Post and Telegraph Department is a great institution. It enters into the life of nearly every inhabitant of the country. It bringsu.j into touch with the rest of the world, and anything wrong with it must of necessity be far-reaching in its effects. It is evident that there is & great deal of dissatisfaction and discontent in the Department. There are connected with it certain associations that are perfectly legitimate. For example, the post and telegraph masters have an association of their own, the clerical division have another, and the telegraph operators have a third. Three or four months ago those associations met in conference, and decided to take a referendum as to the best method of remedying their grievances. The result of the referendum was that an overwhelming majority determined that there should be a public inquiry, or that something in the nature of a Royal Commission should be appointed, in order that they might properly ventilate their wrongs, and ‘ have them remedied. They formed a deputation, and approached the Public Service Commissioner and the Secretary of the Central Administration ; but nothing came of their application. Thev were promised a departmental inquiry by the Minister and the Secretary, but that inquiry proved of little use to them. They contend that their complaints are well founded, and that they are the result of the cheeseparing policy adopted by the Department, lt is only by making these facts public that a definite result can be arrived at. The chief grievance of officers in the Department arises from the fact that there is a classification of the service resulting in individual inequalities and injustice.
– I suppose that the honorable member will say that that is the fault of the Government ?
– I do not say that it is the fault of the Government or of the Public Service Commissioner. One should be very careful how one criticises a public servant. The second grievance is that we have an administrative system which entails sweating of the employes, and consequent delay of public business. Thirdly, there are insufficient staffs in the country offices, causing vexatious delays locally, and indirectly at the head office. In the fourth place, there is an insufficient line-repairing staff, producing delay and inconvenience as the result of break-downs an’d accidents. Lastly, there is general parsimony and false economy. Take the case of the unfortunate telegraphist. He has to work a certain number of hours. In the General Post Office, Sydney, the work is performed by two shifts. The men composing the first shift commence duty at 8.30 a.m., and continue their labours till 3 p.m., whilst those constituting the second shift work from 3 p.m. till 8.15 p.m. The members of the second shift complain that they are constantly called upon to work overtime, and that unless they work until 9 p.m. they get no allowance in the shape of tea money.
Perhaps they are called upon to work overtime upon four nights during the month. One of the reasons for this excessive overtime is the undermanning of the countryoffices. In these offices business becomes congested, and as a result an officer is called upon to assist another in the discharge of his duties, instead of devoting himself exclusively to his own work. Three months ago the staff in the General Post Office, Sydney, numbered eighteen less than it did when the Department was taken over by the Commonwealth. Another portion of the telegraph staff which Is undermanned is the scientific portion. In the General Post Office, Sydney, only one man has been appointed to act as tester. No matter what may be the qualifications of an operator, unless he has advanced to the fourth grade, if anything goes wrong with his instrument he has to wait his turn until the tester attached to the office can find time to set it right again. All this loss of time has to be made up subsequently. Again, I am Constantly hearing complaints as to the undermanning of country post offices. In fact, I can scarcely enter some of these offices without noticing how pal-, pably they are undermanned. Telegraph messengers are employed for a portion of their time in delivering letters. Whilst they may be absent upon this duty, any telegraph messages which may be received are compelled to lie iri the office. It is very unsatisfactory if a man has paid for an urgent telegram to find that its delivery has been delayed some hours by reason of the telegraphic messenger having, been employed in delivering letters. I think it is unjust that Sydney- which is really the capital of Australia, notwithstanding that the Commonwealth Parliament meets in Melbourne - should be treated simply as a branch office. As we all know, the central office is now located in Melbourne, and every little matter of administration has to be referred to the Melbourne office to be indorsed by the Secretary of the Department.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– The quondam PostmasterGeneral says that my statement is incorrect, but I am speaking from experience. Only the other day, I produced a letter, to which’ a reply could not be obtained in less than 195 days. Even if the Postmaster-General’s office were in London, I should have received a reply much quicker than that.
– One can easily understand that a single letter may go astray.
– Had I taken the trouble to retain all the other letters which have, been similarly treated, I should have had a sheaf of them.
– It is easy to slander the Department.
– It needs to be criticised. Ministers are content to remain upon the Treasury benches and to draw their salaries. I say that they want stirring up. It is’ a fact that officers have been transferred from the General Post Office, Sydney, and that their places have not been filled. Applications for the service of additional officers are absolutely disregarded.
– That is the fault of the Treasurer.
– I should like to know who is the head of the Government? Another cause of complaint is that local hands are constantly being employed in country offices, but only for short periods. In these cases, permanent hands should be appointed. I notice that provision has been made upon the Estimates for the expenditure of a considerable sum upon new postal buildings. I do not think that we should expend money as we are doing upon ornate post-offices. We do not want gargoyles and sculpture
– I think that provision is made upon the Estimates for some buildings at West Maitland.
– I have not the slightest doubt that if West Maitland requires anything which it ought to have, the Government will grant it.
– If provision has been made upon the Estimates for the erection of buildings which the residents of West Maitland require, I hope that the honorable member will, see that it is eliminated.
– I know that for years there was a light opposite the post-office clock, and that this Government, in pursuing its parsimonious and cheese-paring policy - -
– The honorable member said just now that we were too extravagant.
– The. Government have made provision upon the Estimates for the construction of new post-offices in other electorates, which is not warranted.
– Nothing should be done outside the honorable member’s electorate.
– I would point out that in many of these districts there are local progress associations and shire councils. If - one of these associations suggests an improvement in the postal arrangements of the district, and the matter is brought before the Postmaster-General, he calls for a report from his inspectors. Now, there are not sufficient inspectors to enable the various districts to be satisfactorily visited. I would further point out that when an inspector makes a report, and it is thought by those who are well qualified to judge - by the local progress association, for example - that his recommendation is not a good one, the same officer is asked to report upon his own recommendation.
– I have issued an instruction to have that practice discontinued.
– Another point is that if the inhabitants of a district require some additional convenience in the shape of a money order office or a telephone bureau the Department send the requisition to the local postmaster for a report. . Now, a postmaster is only human, and usually considers that he has plenty of work; and, as any additional public convenience involves more work, he strongly reports against the proposed change, and all the Minister does is to concur. I observe that there is an item of £200 to reward officers who offer practical suggestions and so forth which lead to economy and efficiency. I do not regard that sum as sufficient for the purpose.
– The honorable member is recommending extravagance !
– Not so; I am advocating the apportionment of the money in a proper manner. For instance, one officer invented a machine which dispensed with the services of four operators, and saved the Department over £600 per annum, and vet all he received was a pal try
.- At this late hour I suggest that it would be more convenient to honorable members and myself if progress were reported.
– The honorable member might continue his remarks until 4 o’clock.
– On a question of order, I should like to know whether the honorable member for Cook, who has just resumed his seat, may be taken to have spoken ? The honorable member received the call of the Chairman, and,’ under the circumstances, it would be most unfair if he were to lose his opportunity.
– The honorable member for Cook merely asked that progress might be reported.
.- had hoped that this debate would have finished long ago, and that I should have been spared the necessity of addressing the Committee until we were engaged on the real business of considering the items of the Tariff, because the country is asking that they shall be disposed of as quickly as possible. However, I can see plainly that, whether I speak or not, we are not likely to reach the items any quicker, and therefore I take the opportunity to make a few remarks. I intended to speak at greater length had I managed to get into the debate earlier, but, under the circumstances, I shall content myself with observations of a general character on the most important points.
– I understand that it is the intention to take the items seriatim.
– When the Committee considers the Tariff in detail I shall put each item separately. Up to the present I haveput the resolution as one resolution, but it has always been the custom in dealing with matters of a complicated character to deal withthem seriatim. As soon as the general discussion is over, and we come to the first item, I shall put that, and afterwards each item separately. I remind honorable members, in case of any misunderstanding, that if I put the first item to the Committee I shall then not be able to allow them to enter into a general discussion on the Budget, but shall have to confine them entirely to the Tariff. The question is - That item No. 1-
Ale, Porter, and Other Beer ; Cider, and Perry, containing not less than 2 per cent. of proof spirit : - (a) In bottle, per gallon,1s. 6d. ;
In bulk, per gallon,1s. be agreed to.
– I should like to know what the course of business is at this stage.
– I shall not tell the honorable member anything about it. Let us go on with the business before us, if the honorable member will play tricks.
– Who has played tricks to-day ?
– The honorable member has.
– Nothing of the kind ; I protest against this procedure of the Acting Prime Minister.
– Trickery all the time!
– I say there has been no trickery played, or no trickery attempted.
– I rise to order. I desire to know whether weare not now bound to discuss the first item of the Tariff?
– Honorable members must now discuss the first item, but the honorable member forParramatta is quite in order in his inquiry at the present time.
– I thought we were discussing the first item.
– I understand that the honorable member for Parramatta is about to discuss the first item. I may point out that, although we may be discussing the first item, the whole Tariff is under discussion. What I wish to convey is that if an honorable member desires to introduce the question of free-trade versus protection, it is quite open for him to do so on each separate item.
– I understand, then, that, on the question before the Chair, the whole Tariff, and any influence it may haveon society, on commerce-
– And on the revenue.
– On the revenue, certainly - that all these questions may be discussed. But I understand that we cannot gointo questions outside the Tariff - that we must confine ourselves to the Tariff and its effects.
– I understand that each item in this Tariff is a separate amount for appropriation ; but that the range of the debate in regard to the Tariff is now neither more nor less than the range of the general observations which honorable members have been making during the last three weeks. It is still open to discuss the whole range of the Tariff on any particular item.
– I hope not.
– However, I am. not on that point at present. I have risen more particularly to ask what are the intentions of the Government?
– The intention of the Government is to go on until we get through the debate.
– What debate? May I suggest to the Acting Prime Minister that there is an easy way out of the difficulty ?
– By doing what the honorable member wanted me to do, but which I would not do.
– I do not want the Acting Prime Minister to do anything to which he objects. I understand that the honorable gentleman has taken some umbrage because an honorable member on this, side has had the temerity this afternoon to speak.
– After uttering an untruth - after saying he would not speak for more than about ten minutes.
– I know that to be incorrect.
– The honorable member for Hunter said he would not occupy more than ten minutes.
– The honorable member told me so himself.
– I do not care what the Government whip may say. I do not take much notice of what he says.
– I tell the truth as often, and oftener, than the honorable member.
– The honorable member for Hunter told me he would occupy a quarter of an hour.
– I know that the honorable member for Hunter has been preparing a speech during the whole of the week, and I understood he was to speak for_ about an hour and a half.
– I asked the honorable member for Hunter just before luncheon how long he thought he would occupy, and he said ten minutes.
– Why should the honorable member tell the honorable member for Bourke how long he intended to speak? - -
– Why did the honorable member for Hunter say he would occupy ,ten minutes when he intended to speak for an hour?
– When an honorable member is on his feet he does not know how long he speaks.
– The honorable member did it deliberately. The honorable member for Parramatta handed a paper to the honorable member for Hunter telling him to do it.
– The Acting Prime Minister might as well make an in correct statement of that kind, as any other. There is not a tittle of truth in the statement of the Acting Prime Minister. I give honorable members the assurance that I had no idea that the honorable member for Hunter was doing anything beyond making a speech in the ordinary way.
– The honorable member for Parramatta pulled down the honorable member for Wilmot.
– And why did I pull him down? Because of what occurred in the Labour corner. The honorable member for Cook rose, and, because he could not have progress reported, his leader pulled him down.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– His leader did not speak to the honorable member for Cook.
– I heard the leader of the Labour Party speak to the honorable member for Cook.
– The leader of the Labour Party did not speak to me.
– I spoke to the honorable member for .Cook, but the leader of the Labour Party did not.
– If the honorable member for Wilmot had any pluck, he would not have been pulled down.
– He will have plenty of opportunity to make his speech, which need not be curtailed in any way.
– He should have had more self-respect and spirit, and should not have allowed himself to be pulled down.
– The Acting Prime Minister should deal reasonably in this matter..
– I am not going to depart from the course which I said I would take.
– I would point out that we have nearly reached our usual hour for adjourning. The honorable gentleman will not listen to reason. If the debate has. been concluded, I ask, as I am entitled to do, what business the Government propose to deal with?
– The honorable member will have to waste time until 4 o’clock. Then I shall consent to an adjournment.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister in order in saying that an honorable member is wasting time?
– I did not say that.
– I would remind the honorable member for Parramatta that the item before the Committee is -
Ale, Porter, and Other Beer; Cider, and Perry containing not less than 2 per cent, of proof spirit: - (a) In bottle, per gallon, is. 6d. ; (n) In bulk, per gallon, is.
– I wish to know if the item before us is that which has been before us during the past three weeks, or whether you rule, Mr. Chairman, that the general debate has closed?
– Mr. Chairman has already ruled that.
– The Acting Prime Minister made his Budget speech, and introduced his Tariff proposals, in Committee of Ways and Means, and for the convenience of honorable members it was arranged to allow a general discussion on both, on the question that the resolution be agreed to. A great many honorable members spoke to that motion, and when it appeared to me that no other honorable member desired to speak, it became my duty to intimate to the Committee that the general discussion had closed, and that I should proceed to put the items of the Tariff separately. I then stated the first item, and in doing so practically closed the discussion on the financial proposals of the Government.
– When did you do that?
– Am I to understand that no one can now speak on the Budget proposals?
– That is the’ position.
– Then I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Flinders intimated on two or three occasions, and particularly about a fortnight ago, that it was his intention to make clear before the debate closed his statement regarding the Public Service increments. I have anxiously waited for him to do so, because he has committed an injustice so far as a number of public servants are concerned.
– This i<s not a point of order.
– I should like to know the exact position in which the Committee is placed ?
– The honorable member must confine himself to the question before the Committee - the first item of the Tariff. I have already twice stated the question, which is - “ That item No. 1 be agreed to.”
– On a point of order, I wish to say that honorable members were not clear about the closing of the general discussion. Quite a number desire to speak.
– The Government supporters pulled their man down.
– That is untrue.
– If you, Mr. Chairman, declared the general debate to be closed, a mistake was made.
– There was no mistake.
– There was a mistake, because the debate was not finished. The Acting Prime Minister has not spoken, nor have several other honorable “members who wish to speak.
– If the honorable member wishes to dissent from my ruling, there is a certain course open to him.’
– Surely it is not necessary to take that course?
– I hope that the ruling will not stand. I shall have to dissent from it.
– I do not wish to discuss the matter with honorable members. On two occasions I put the question as clearly as it could be put No one got up to speak, and no other course was open to me. If the honorable member wishes to dissent from my ruling, he may do so.
– I shall be compelled to do so, though it is a very unpleasant course to take.
.- As a personal explanation, I wish to say that I intended to speak on the general question ; but the honorable member for Wilmot had the chair, and I did not quite understand the by-play going on between the Ministry and the Opposition.
– The honorable member for Wilmot was not to be made a tool of by the other side.
– The honorable member will give me credit for having no desire to make a tool of any one; but the members of the third party - there are now four or five parties in the Chamber - are not to be shut out by arrangements between the Ministry and the Opposition.
– Tlie honorable member shut himself out.
– I did not. It was my intention to speak on the Budget; but as I presume that we shall have another opportunity to do so when the first item of the Estimates is before the Committee, I shall reserve my remarks in regard to it until then. I understand, too, that on the first item of the Tariff we can speak generally in regard to the whole schedule. It was not through any neglect of my own, but because I waited for other honorable members, that- I missed the present opportunity.
.- In personal explanation, I wish to say that the statement of the acting leader of the Opposition, that the leader of my party pulled me down, is incorrect. He did not try to do so, but asked me to go on.
– He asked the honorable member to speak until 4 o’clock at
– Yes. I asked another honorable member close by whether, if I sat down, I should be entitled to resume my speech on another occasion, and he “informed me that if I did not wish to continue I could speak again later on. As for this balderdash by the acting leader of the Opposition-
– Is it a personal explanation that we are getting from this impertinent young man?
– The honorable member is going beyond the limits of a personal explanation.
– As the hour is late, I ask if I may be permitted to resume my remarks on Tuesday next?
– No; because the general debate is closed.
– I am surprised to learn that any honorable member did not hear me deliberately read the first item of the Tariff.
– I did not.
– I read it as clearly as it could be read, and if I was not heard, it was due to the interjections across the chamber, for which honorable members are responsible. -I am not charged with the conduct of business, but when a discussion ceases, it is my duty to put the question from the Chair.
– Cannot you put it again, sir?
– Has it not been the practice, when there has been misconception as to whether a question has been put bv Mr. Speaker or YOU, sir, to state it- again? It is well known that several other honorable members wished to speak. I spoke to you, Mr.- Chairman, in regard to the desire of the Acting Prime Minister to precede the honorable member for Hunter,’ and when I interviewed the honorable member for Hunter on the subject he told me at the outset that he would not occupy more than half-an-hour.
– It was said, in the first place, that he had stated he would speak for only ten minutes.
– The honorable member spoke for twenty minutes before we adjourned for luncheon, and he told me when we resumed that he would speak for another ten minutes.
– I rise to a point of order.
– The honorable member does not like to hear the truth.
– I wish to know, Mr. Chairman, whether the honorable member for Bourke is making a personal explanation, or indulging in a general address to the Committee? I submit that if he is not making a personal explanation he is out of order.
– I must confine the discussion to the item before the Chair.
– May I ask a question, Mr. Chairman?
– It is open to the honorable member, or to any other honorable member? to move that my ruling be disagreed with. If that course be adopted the difficulty will be overcome, but the wrangling that is now taking place is not calculated to uphold the dignity of the Committee.
– I shall obey your ruling, Mr. Chairman, and proceed to discuss the first item.
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I propose to move that your ruling be dissented from, but I do not wish to take that step until Tuesday. For that reason I think it would be well to report progress.
The CHAiRMAN.- I would point out to the honorable member that if he wishes to dispute my ruling he must do so now.
– On a point of order I should like to know, Mr. Chairman, whether the Acting Prime Minister is entitled to interrupt the honorable member for Dalley for the purpose of moving that your ruling be disagreed with? The honorable member for Dalley was proceeding in an orderly and regular way to discuss the item before the Chair, and I submit that it is now too late for the Acting Prime Minister to move that your ruling be disagreed with.
– The Minister is not out of order in moving that my ruling be disagreed with.
– I regret very much, Mr. Chairman, that the peculiar circum- stances that have arisen render it necessary for me “to move that the Commitee dissent from your ruling. I did not hear the motion put. I was awaiting an opportunity to speak this afternoon, and informed you that I intended to do so. I also saw a list of honorable members who desired to address themselves to the general question, but in consequence of the action of the acting leader of the Opposition in pulling down an honorable member-
– I pulled down no one.
– An honorable member rose to speak, and suddenly resumed his seat, and then the motion, you say, Mr. Chairman, was put. I did not hear it put, nor did others, and in the circumstances I thin lc that your ruling that the general debate has closed is incorrect.
– Will the honorable member submit his motion in writing?
– I understand that there is another method by which the difficulty may be overcome, and, that being so, I shall not move as I had proposed to do, that your ruling be disagreed with.
– The Government have not a quorum.
– Let the bells be rung, and the honorable member will see whether we have or not.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The Government Whip has said that I made a remark this afternoon which misled him. I accept the whole responsibility for that which I did say. I am not going to inform the Government Whip or any one else how long I intend to> speak on any question. As a matter of fact, when I rose to speak on the Budget and Tariff I did hot anticipate addressing the Committee as fully as I did, but I certainly decline to be criticised because I, to some extent, misled the honorable member for Bourke. I further decline to be bullied by a man like the Acting Prime Minister.
.- I also wish to make a personal explanation. Prior to the honorable member for Hunter addressing the Committee this morning, I, acting on the advice of the -Acting Prime Minister, asked him how long he was likely to be, and whether he would have any objection to the Acting Prime Minister interposing. He told me that he would not occupy the attention of the Committee for more than half-an-hour, and. I advised the Acting Prime Minister accordingly. The honorable member for Hunter spoke for twenty minutes before luncheon, and for a considerable time this afternoon. He was certainly under no obligation to tell me how long he was going to speak, but I accepted his statement in good faith, and conveyed, it to the Acting Prime Minister. That is all I know of the incident. I do- know, however, that the honorable member for Hunter did not keep his word.
.- The honorable member for Darling on Wednesday evening animadverted upon statements that had been made with regard to employment for miners at Broken Hill. I wish to read a few lines from a report which I have received to-day from the acting general manager of the Broken Hill Company. The report is as -follows : -
Two hundred thoroughly competent miners accustomed to rock-drill work would represent vacancies for this class of man at the present time, and from all appearances this state of affairs will not be remedied unless a special supply be arranged for. As regards truckers and general labourers the same remark applies, and fifty able-bodied men accustomed to this class of work could, be taken On. Apart from the above, the other mines on. the Barrier could take 160 miners of the class above-mentioned. The above shows that 410 men could be advantageously absorbed by the mining companies at Broken Hill.
.- The honorable member for Flinders promised, some little time since, to make an explanation regarding the attitude he takes up in reference to the increments to public servants. Iii view of the fact that the general debate upon the Budget and Tariff is now held to be closed, and that a statement has not been made by the honorable member on the subject to which I refer, I should like to ask whether the honorable member intends, at any stage, to remove what I believe he himself admits to be a wrong impression which has been conveyed by his remarks?
– Of course there is no obligation upon any honorable member to answer such a question, and I do not think that it would be proper for the question to be answered in the way the honorable member suggests. What has occurred took place in Committee of Ways and Means, which has not yet reported what was done. Consequently, what took place is not within the knowledge of the House.
– I desire to say with reference to the decision arrived at in Committee a few minutes since, that I am quite willing to forego what I intended to say in reply upon the Tariff, and should be very glad indeed to have the debate closed. But at the same time I think it is scarcely fair to those honorable members who had intended to speak, and who have been waiting for somedays, to deprive them of the opportunity. Therefore, I wish to take some course to enable them to make their speeches.
-The Minister can bring down Supply.
– The honorable member has justwoke up to that possibility. Unless the general discussion can be again re-opened in Committee of Ways and Means, I shall have to take the course suggested by the honorable member for Dalley.
– Is it in order to discuss matters which have taken place in a Committee that has not reported?
– No, it is not in order. But I understand that the Acting Prime Minister is announcing the order of business for next Tuesday, and I took it that he was proceeding to say that instead of putting down Ways and Means he would put down Supply.
– That was my object. I do not know whether it may not yet. be possible to get over the difficulty which arose, through nobody’s fault perhaps. No doubt it would be better to proceed with the general debate as though the question had not been put by the Chairman. But otherwise I shall put down Supply, instead of Ways and Means, as the first item to be dealt with. I hope, however, that honorable members will not prolong the debate any more than is absolutely necessary.We have had a very long discussion, and I should be very glad to close it. But still, I do not want to shut out anyhonorable member who desires to speak.
– I should like to say-
– The honorable member cannot speak after the Minister has replied.
– By way of personal explanation-
– The question “That the House do now adjourn “ has been moved, and the Minister has replied. If the honorable memberwishes to make a personal explanation as a matter of urgency, I shall ask the House for leave for him to speak, although that course is unprecedented. .
– That is not necessary, sir.
– In reference to the statement of the Acting Prime Minister
– I cannot hear the honorable member. The positionisthis: A few moments ago the Acting Prime Minister moved “That the House do nowadjourn.” Several honorable members have spoken, and the Acting Prime Minister has replied. There can be no further debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 September 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070913_reps_3_39/>.