3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK presented a petition from certain women residing in Parramatta and the surrounding district, praying the House not to pass the proposed Tariff, and especially not duties rendering food, clothing, and other necessaries of the poorer classes dearer.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE presented a similar petition from certain women residing at Adelong, New South Wales.
– In continuation of the questions which I have already asked relating to the existence of an alleged coal combination, I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether, in view of the article in this morning’s Age, the Government will appoint a Royal Commission, with power to hear evidence, investigate, and report, as to (1) whether, a combination now exists, or recently existed, between any proprietors of collieries and any owners of vessels concerning the carriage of coal; (2) if so, whether such combination is or was in restraint of trade; and (3) whether such combination is or was contrary to law?
– I invite the honorable member to postpone or withdraw his question until he has an opportunity to see the Bill of which the Vice-President of the Executive Council will give notice tomorrow.
– Is it to be inferred that the Government has it in contemplation to introduce further legislation dealing with combines and trusts?
– Has the Minister of Defence taken into consideration the advisability of altering the military regulations so as to provide for the presence of an active - that is, a permanent - member of the Militia Farces on the Military Board?
– On Friday week I informed the honorable member that consultative militia members of the Military Board would be called upon at least four times a year to discuss matters with the other” members. The proposal that a militia officer should be made a permanent member of the Board necessitates careful consideration, which I shall give to it, informing the honorable member of the result in a week or two.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that a considerable amount of sweating takes place in connexion with the delivery of letters in the suburbs of Sydney, telegraph messengers and other public servants of the lower grades being employed ? I made a complaint on the subject a little while ago, and understood that the Department had done something to rectify matters; but I am informed that the position is now even worse than it was formerly.
– My predecessor gave instructions that the practice alluded to by the honorable member should cease. I recently ratified them, and pointed out that boys must not be employed, especially in large centres.
– Will the honorable member take steps to prevent the present arrangements from continuing?
MINISTERS- laid upon the table- the. following papers”:- -
Physical Condition of State School Children - Memorandum re proposal that the Commonwealth Statistician should undertake the necessary comparison and ^’interpretation of results of investigations in connexion therewith in the Commonwealth and New Zealand:
Referendum (Constitution Alteration). Act - Regulations - Statutory -Rules 1907, No. 97.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will have - -prepared and distributed for the information of members a list, as in use in the Customs Department, in so far as it has been prepared, showing the articles which come under the items and designations in the proposed Tariff, referred to in the ques- tion replied to by him on Wednesday last?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
No such list is in use bv the Customs officers or known to the Department. The so-called Tariff Guide which was issued under the old Tariff was merely an indication that as regards any articles mentioned therein certain duty would be charged by the Customs. Thai Guide if circulated now would be misleading to a certain extent inasmuch as the grouping of articles is not the same under the present Tariff as in the former one. Copies, however, of the old Guide have been placed in the Library, &c, and any member desiring it will be supplied with a copy.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice - .
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - .
Whether he will lav on the Table of theHouse copies of the replies he has received from the Premiers of the States, on the subject of medical inspection of school children, referred to in reply to a question on 17th September ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s .question is as follows -
The communications referred to in the answer supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician were made to the Premiers of the other States by the Premier of Tasmania, and not by this Government.
The following memorandum summarises the correspondence in the possession of this Government, but I desire to add that, as the matter is regarded of much importance, this Government is about to correspond with the State Governments, with the view of seeing whether they will undertake the necessary examinations -
On the 22nd November, 1906, the Premier of Tasmania informed the Prime Minister that an investigation undertaken by the Chief Health Officer of that State into the’ physical condition of 1,220 children attending State schools in Hobart had recently occupied the attention of his Government, and had resulted in the institution of a system of medical inspection of State schools.
The Premier, in intimating that the State Premiers had been requested by him to cooperate in a scheme of comparative physical observations of children attending State schools, mentioned that valuable assistance could be afforded by the Statistical Department, of the Commonwealth in the collation and interpretation of comparative results from different States if obtained on a uniform basis in the manner suggested in the letter to the States. The Premier asked whether, in the event of two or more States being prepared to submit comparative observations on a proportion of their State school children, the necessary comparisons and interpretations of results could be undertaken by the Commonwealth Statistical Department.
The Prime Minister, in writing to the Premier of Tasmania on the subject on the 14th January, expressed the sympathy of the Government in the direction of the improvement of the physical condition of the school children of Australia, but before arriving at any decision it was desired to know the result of the communications to the State Premiers. On the 27th March the Premier replied, stating that : -
New South Wales and Queensland regarded the proposal unfavourably;
South Australia was willing to fall into line ;
Victoria required further information ; and that West Australia required a draft of the proposals (which had been prepared).
On the 6th May the Prime Minister informed the Premier that the Commonwealth Statistician would be prepared to undertake the statistical analysis for any State or States that make the investigation.
The Premier of Tasmania communicated with the Prime Minister on the 15th May, suggesting that the Prime Minister of New Zealand be asked whether that colony would be willing to come into line with any of the Australian States deciding to take part in the investigation, and that in that event the Commonwealth Statistician should also deal with the New Zealand observations. Particulars of the system were enclosed.
On the 6th June, the Prime Minister, in replying, stated that it was considered that as many of the States of the Commonwealth as possible should be brought into line in the matter before approaching the New Zealand authorities.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will he obtain a copy of the contract recently entered intoby the Imperial Government and the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company for the conveyance of mails from Great Britain to India. China, and Australia, and place same upon the Table of this House ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
A copy of the contract referred to is expected to reach here shortly from the London Post Office, and will be placed at the disposal of members as soon as received.
Overtime and Under-manning.
– Interim answers were given on the 26th September, to three questions relating to overtime, and the undermanning of offices, asked by the honorable member for Gwydir, and the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Sydney, has now furnished the following information -
The honorable member also desired information regarding a circular issued to postmasters in New South Wales, on the same subject, as to which the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Sydney, has furnished the following information -
The following circular wire was sent to all Official Postmasters in New South Wales and to Postal Inspectors : - “‘Furnish return showing overtime worked in your office during last three months (June, July, and August), also report as to necessity for the work and hours during which such overtime was performed in each case. If no overtime worked no reply is necessary.”
The questions mentioned in (b) and (c) were not asked in the circular wire above referred to. It has, however, been ascertained from the senior inspector that in March last reports were asked for and obtained by the then Acting Senior Inspector from all Postmasters in the Metropolitan District as to whether their starts were inadequate for the business of the office, and, if so, what addition was required, and the reasons therefor, having due regard to economy. The information was utilized to decide what additional staff should be provided on the draft. Estimates then being prepared. No doubt, the Country Inspectors asked for somewhat similar information in connexion with the reports they had to furnish as to staff required to be provided on draft Estimates then in course of preparation.
– On the 18th Septem ber - Hansard, page 3423 - the honorable member for Wannon asked a series of questions as to the manning of the Hamilton Post-office, in reply to which the following information has been furnished by the Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, Melbourne -
Inspector reported on 23rd August, “Since the appointment of an indoor assistant last February, the hours of duty of the carriers were reduced to seven and a half per diem. Still the work is heavy, carried on under unfavorable conditions, bad roads, and at night time.
In Committee of Ways and Means :
Division I., Ale, Spirits, and Beverages. Item 1. Ale, Porter, and other Beer ; Cider, and Perry, containing not less than 2 per cent. of proof spirit : -
– I am very pleased indeed that we have reached the stage when we can consider the Tariff in detail, but I hope that you, sir, will extend to me a little latitude on this occasion, as I desire to refer to two or three matters which are connected with the general question. In reply to the many statements which have been made as to the long time which has been occupied in arriving at this item, I would point out that, so far as one can judge, there has not been inordinate delay. If, however, there has been any delay, I think that the honorable member for Hunter, who is smiling at my remark, has contributed his share towards it. Onthe 8th August, the Tariff was laid on the Table, and the Budget delivered. The debate was postponed at the request of honorable members opposite until the 21st August, when it was resumed, and it ended on the 13th September. Honorable members can easily compute how long the debate lasted. It. covered not only the Tariff, but also the Budget. I have not complained, nor do I complain now, of the fact that it extended to a period of three weeks. The deputy leader of the Opposition desired to have a separate debate on the Tariff, as well. as a debate on the Budget; but, in order to conserve time, rather than for any other purpose, I asked the Committee to be content with one debate. I venture to say that, had there been two debates, the discussion, instead of occupying about three weeks, would have occupied almost twice that time.
– I do not think it would have taken one half of three weeks.
– Does the Minister know that on this item he can discuss the whole question of the Tariff?
– It is not my desire to make an extended speech, and although I hope to receive a little latitude from the Chair, I do not desire a general debate on the Tariff to take place just now.
– We must give the honorable gentleman some latitude, because we have not yet had any statement about the Tariff from him.
– The honorable gentleman does not need any latitude, as he can debate the Tariff on the first item.
– The Chairman will perhaps say when I am going too far.
– The honorable gentleman might give a general explanation of the Tariff now.
– I do not intend to speak at length. I desire to point out to the Committee, and especially to the public, some of whom have complained of what they call the undue delay which has taken place, that really there has not been very much delay. In introducing the Budget, I said that when the debate on my speech had terminated, I would introduce the Works Estimates. Honorable members know that if the Works Estimates had not been introduced and passed before the completion of the Tariff, all the works and buildings of the Commonwealth would have been suspended. ThatI think is a very good answer to those who seem to think that there has been unduedelay. From the very first I said that there were certain measures which the Government intended to take prior to the consideration of the Tariff. I venture to think that the consideration of those measures which have passed through the Chamber did not occupy much time. The debate on the Works Estimates commenced on the 14th and terminated on the 25th September, so that it cannot be said that in that regard there has been undue delay. We have now arrived at the stage when we can consider the Tariff in detail. As I have said more than once when acting for the Prime Minister, unless some event of very great importance occurs, there will be no interference with the consideration of the Tariff until such time as it may be completed. Of course, if any matter should crop up suddenly, or if some measure in reference to the amendment of anti-trust legislation, such as the one to which the Prime Minister has referred to-day, and which I think is one of considerable urgency, should be required, it may be necessary to ask honorable members to deal at once with that business. But, with that exception, I trust that the idea which the Government has entertained from the start will ‘be carried out, and that the Tariff will be considered with the greatest expedition. There is no doubt that after the introduction of any Tariff there is an unrest amongst the commercial community, and undue charges are made to all classes of purchasers. That is one of the reasons - the chief reason I may say- why it is necessary to act with expedition. I have no doubt that the distributors have availed themselves of their opportunity to a great extent, though, I hope I may be permitted to show shortly that the general statements regarding extra charges to the community are not borne out by the inquiries which I have had made. I shall instance a few examples presently.
– What about the extra charge on kerosene ?
– That is unfair to the community.
An Honorable Member. - It is an unfairduty.
– In view of the fact that a duty has been imposed on tinned kerosene only, it is an unfair charge. The object of that duty is to insure that the oil shall be tinned in the Commonwealth. The bulk oil is allowed to come in free, and therefore the increased price on the tinned oil up to the present time is unfair to the community. I” think I may say that all or nearly all the oil which has been sold since the introduction of the Tariff has notpaid duty.
An Honorable Member. - That is not so in Brisbane.
– Persons want the oil in tins, and naturally the retailers charge theduty.
– It is true that the retailers have charged more for kerosene, but the increased charge has been unfair, because no duty has been paid.
– When they are put in a position to get an increased price, of course they get it.
– In some cases the charges have been undue. I understand that in many cases an extra price has been charged for tea. There is a duty only on tea in packets of under 20 lbs., but no duty on chest tea. The object of the packet duty is simply to insure that the tea, instead of being packed in China, Ceylon, and other places, shall be packed in Australia, and that, if necessary, its quality shall be inspected.
– The same sharp- practice has been resorted to in the case of tobacco, too.
– I have no doubt of that. I hope we shall very shortly reach the consideration of the item of tobacco, seeing that it is second on the list, after spirits ; and I hope that we shall deal with it in such a way as to prevent the imposition of any’ further extra charge on the community. While the public may have suffered in some directions, the time has now arrived when they are to receive consideration, and when any undue extra charge, which may have been made since the imposition of the Tariff, will be stopped. I do not desire to deal with individual items - I do not think it wise to do so - though there are some which stand out rather prominently, and will doubtless require amendment. Anomalies will occur in every Tariff. For instance, chairs have been mentioned as one item out of a large number, and then there is wire netting, together with a variety of other items. But the Government must conduct their business in regard to the Tariff in a certain way, which, I hope, will recommend itself to the Committee. We cannot afford to jump from one item to another, with a view of selecting any particular commodity for special treatment, because, if that were done, there would be great complaints from those interested in other items not so favorably considered. It is the desire of the Government, therefore, to, as far as possible, deal with the items in the order in which they are presented. The Tariff Commission sat a long time and did much arduous work.
– Of which sufficient acknowledgment has not been made.
– I have already acknowledged the work done by the Tariff Commission, and I again acknowledge it. The members of that Commission devoted themselves assiduously to their work; but I do not care how earnestly or faithfully a Commission of this kind perform their duties, it is utterly impossible for them to formulate a Tariff which will absolutely meet the wishes of the Government or of Parliament. The Tariff Commission, who were appointed at the instance of the leader of ‘the Opposition, was not given power to formulate a Tariff.
– Hear, hear.
– In the mind of the leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, and in the minds of most others concerned, the duty of the Commission was to investigate and ascertain anomalies in the Tariff - to find where the Tariff was weak, in so far as it was not high enough or low enough, and then report’ through the proper channel, leaving it to the .Government, as representing the Commonwealth and this Parliament, to submit to the House what they conceive to be a proper Tariff. That has been done. I repeat that it is quite a mistake to imagine that the Commission were asked to frame a Tariff though they did partially frame or attempted to partially frame one.
– The Tariff Commission framed a series of suggestions only.
– Well, we shall call them suggestions, though I have never heard that view put before by- any member of the Tariff Commission. I take it that it was the duty of the Government to accept as many suggestions as they deemed advisable, and then, if they desired, to vary or alter the suggested duties, that was their responsibility. In one or two cases, the Commission recommended preference, but not to the extent the Government desired j arid, therefore, the Government have extended the preference as shown in the Tariff submitted to honorable members. In recognising the time and thought devoted by the Tariff Commission to their duties, I am not referring particularly to one section or other of the Commission ; T give both sections A and B every credit for doing what they thought to .be right. But the duty of the Government was to consider the recommendations of the Commission, and to submit such a Tariff as they thought the circumstances demanded. I have a document in my hand which shows that the recommendations df section A of the Tariff Commission have been followed by the Government in 329 cases. I regard that as a very large proportion, in view of the considerations which occurred to me in looking through the reports. I have, as far as I reasonably could, examined the reports, and I have certainly examined the recommendations ; and it appears to me that sometimes the evidence on which recommendations were made was rather meagre. In some cases, only one or two witnesses were examined, and it was quite impossible for the Commission to obtain all the evidence they desired on which to base their recommendations. They had to accept such witnesses as came before them.
– In such cases, I think the Commissioners distinctly stated their position.
– I think thatis so ; the Commissioners stated, in cases, how many witnesses were examined, and the nature of the information they gave. I do not wish it to be understood for one moment that I suggest there was any attempt to mislead ; because I think all matters were very well considered from the standpoints of the two sections of the Commission, and that all the information possible has been afforded for the use of honorable members in the consideration of the Tariff. The document, to which I have referred, is as follows -
– Does that relate to the general Tariff, or to preference to Great Britain?
– This deals with the whole of the recommendations.
– Yes, but is the Treasurermerely dealing with the general Tariff against the world?
– I am dealing with the Tariff against the world. The document proceeds -
I wish to emphasize that the Government cannot be accused of having put the re commendations of the Tariff Commission on one side. On the contrary, Ministers have given every consideration to the recommendations and attached to them the weight to which the work of the Commission entitled them.
– The Government have not paid much attention, apparently, to the recommendations of the free-trade section of the Commission.
– I shall refer to that section of the Commission in a moment.
– This is not a free-trade Government.
– That is quite true. I hope that the members of the Tariff Commission, in dealing with a great question like that of the Tariff, will not regard themselves as wedded altogether to their recommendations, but that they will keep their minds open to suggestions made, or arguments advanced, by honorable members.
– I hope the Government also will do that.
– That depends entirely on the direction in which the honorable member intends to go. I can assure the honorable member that, so far as the Government are concerned, they will see that salt, and a good many other items, in which the honorable member may have an interest, are” properly protected. I wish to direct the attention of honorable members to the immense volume of importations at present being received in the Cornwealth. When I came to look into the matter, I confess I was astonished to know their extent and their value.
– We have very great exportations also.
– There is no. country that has not importations.
– The right honorable gentleman would find it. difficult to mention a country that has such a large volume of unnecessary importations of a certain class as Australia has at the present time. I have picked out a few items in order to direct the attention of the Committee to our position in regard to these matters. The quantity of manufactured tobaccowe annually import amounts to 1,926,002 lbs., and of unmanufactured tobacco to 7,538,241 lbs.
– The last figure includes unmanufactured tobacco imported for the local manufacture of cigars and cigarettes as well as of plug tobacco.
– Of stearine, paraffine wax andbeeswax we import 6,457,000 lbs.; confectionery, 3,184,134 lbs. ; coffee and chicory, 2,037,464 lbs.
-Is that raw coffee ?
– The figure I have quoted, is set down as the weight of coffee and chicory imported. Of preserved fish we import no less than 15,217,617 lbs. That is an importation which should be very greatly reduced, in view of the fact that our waters are so well stocked with fish
– People living in districts some distance from the coast can get only preserved fish.
– A number of protectionists must be eating these goods or they would not be imported.
– That is because they cannot get similar goods manufactured here.
– I should say it was because they preferred the imported article.
– When I was in Great Britain, I did not prefer the fish I could get there to the fish I could’ get in Tasmania.
– But the honorable gentleman got amongst the strawberry leaves.
– No, I got amongst the strawberries. Of currants, we import nearly 8,800,177 lbs. Surely we can produce currants in Australia.
– We are producing them.
– Yes, but the industry is a struggling industry at the present time. When I was in Mildura, some time ago, I was told that unless the industry were given some assistance, the growers there would have to cease producing currants. It is not the same with raisins. I suppose that we can produce hops in the Commonwealth as well as they can be produced anywhere in the world, and yet we have an annual importation amounting to 1,412,569 lbs. of hops; of malt, we import 68,973 centals ; and of soap, 2,038,603 lbs. We also import apparel and attire to the value of . £1,636,764 ; piece-goods, woollen, or containing wool, to the value of £1,993,312, and iron,corrugated and galvanized. 1,245,211 cwt.
– Could not these particulars be more appropriately given in connexion with the different items to which they refer? The honorable member is introducing another debate.
– I suppose that these particulars will be referred to again, but I have very nearly finished the list I have made. I find that we import angle, bar, rod, tee, sheet,and plain wire and hoop iron to the value of £1,214,864; sheet glass, 9,012,907 superficial feet; and of timber we import no less than 48,209,200 superficial feet. The details are set out inthe following table: -
I have referred to these matters in order that honorable members may see the opportunities which would be afforded for the employment of labour to a very much greater extent than in the past if we dealt with certain items on proper protectionist lines.
– What would the honorable gentleman do with the stuff produced by the increased labour employed?
– I should think that if we import these goods at the present time we may fairly assume that we consume most of them.
– The honorable gentleman: would tax the people higher for them ?
– I propose to say something concerning the extent of taxation under this Tariff as compared with the old Tariff; and I believe that I shall be able to show that while the taxation is imposed in a different way the increase of taxation under this Tariff does not amount to very much.
– Does the honorable gentleman propose to continue to tax the people until he succeeds in keeping out all the importations to which he has referred ?
– I propose that we shall manufacture in Australia a proportion of the importations to which I have referred, and especially of the articles imported from foreign countries. From the time the Tariff was submitted until now the Minister of Trade and Customs and to some extent myself have been deluged with deputations, for the most part comprised of people who came to advocate special treatment for their own particular lines of goods.
– That is not unusual. .
– I expect deputationists to be fair. Thank goodness, no one can accuse me of being personally inclined in one way more than in another in these matters, as I am not engaged in any business “ which would dispose me, perhaps unknown to myself or to some of the deputationists, to favour action which would benefit certain people at the expense of the public good.
– Is the honorable gentleman not in the wire netting business?
– I am not.
– Did not the. honorable gentleman apply for some the other day ?
– No, I did not.
– Did not the honorable gentleman apply for some for his son?
– That is quite a different matter, and I suppose if my son .wire-netted the whole of his property he would not require more than about three or four miles of netting. My honorable colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, reminds me that, notwithstanding that it might be suggested that I am indirectly interested to the extent mentioned, I did not fail to impose a duty on wire netting.
– Did the honorable gentleman ever know of a manufacturer who was not struggling? I have never heard of one yet.
– In reply to the right honorable gentleman, I can tell him that if he goes to Sydney, where we ha’d free-trade so long, principally as the result of his action, and the action of some politicians who preceded him, and wishes to discover where the finest mansions are to be. seen he will find them at Potts’ Point and Darling Point, and he will also find that they are not owned by manufacturers, but by importing free-traders. Those who know something of Melbourne will be aware that the people who own the largest mansions and live in the best style in this city are importers who add nothing to the wealth of the country’. They import goods at a certain rate, and, adding from 25 per cent, to 40 per cent, to their cost price, impose that as a burden on the shoulders of the people.
– Do they not employ far more hands than are employed by the manufacturers ?
– They may do so, but’ they do not greatly benefit the community if the people are called upon to bear the cost. It has been stated that a protectionist Tariff will increase prices. That contention has been refuted over and over again. When the- late Sir George Dibbs in New South Wales imposed duties on a number of articles, including soap and candles, what was the result?
– Take the case of salt in South Australia to-day.
– The price of salt in South Australia is a case in point. What was the result in New South Wales of the operation of the Dibbs Tariff ? The importers, with their rings, were charging 66. to 7jd. per lb. to the coal miners for the best class of candle. I think that the duty imposed was 3d. per lb., and within twelve months from its imposition the competition of Australian manufacturers with the importers brought the price of candles down to 4jd. per lb.
– And what sort of candles were they?
– When the right honorable member for East Sydney assumed office, he removed the duty, with the result that the price of candles went up again automatically to over 66. per lb., though I do not think that it went so high as it had previously been. There the price has remained, because the protection afforded by the duty has been taken away.
– The imported candles were not shut out.
– The Tariff imposed bv Sir George Dibbs in New South Wales had -that effect.
– And increased competition ?
– And increased competition. _—– i
– Why not raise all the duties to 100 per cent., and then we should obtain everything for nothing?
– I hope that the right honorable member will be fair. If we manufactured all that we required, prices, as the result of internal competition, would be lower than they are to-day.
– Then why not make every duty prohibitive?
– The honorable member should take his gruel kindly.
– I do not wish to ruffle the tempers of the Opposition. We have commenced well, and I hope that the harmony of the proceedings will not be disturbed.
Mr.Reid. - The honorable gentleman is talking of the old protection. Will he tell us of the new?
– I intend to do so ; but surely I am entitled to make a few prefatory remarks. There are in the Tariff a number of anomalies with which we shall deal when we reach the items to which they relate. But as one who has been a protectionist throughout his political life I do not intend to speak of protection with bated breath. I am not going to talk of a so-called protection which means no protection at all. When we have such an opportunity as now presents itself to deal with the fiscal policy I think that we should speak our minds in regard to it, and that we should frame a Tariff which will represent not a half-and-half class of protection such as we have had, but genuine sturdy protection. That is the object I have in view, and I shall do all that I can to secure a Tariff that will afford protection to our industries. I do not intend to favour a mere revenue Tariff, and I trust that those who have been returned to this House as protectionists will not be satisfied with such a Tariff. Let them now declare themselves; let them say at once that they are either protectionists or freetraders, and not be prepared as protectionists to drag down the scale of duties to a point at which we should have a mere revenue Tariff which is only incidentally protective. I do not wish our young and true Australians to remain as in the past in the employ of importers and indent agents with their feet under the legs of the foreigner’s table.I wish to see our young men and pur young women in a position to earn their own livings, and to see the number of our unemployed largely reduced. The woman who, hav ing a family of boys and girls, is prepared to let them cling to the money of the importers rather than to make an effort to increase the field of labour in Australia is not a true mother, and the man or woman who is prepared to rest content under the old order of things is not a true Australian.
– Let us have done with these mock heroics.
– I am not indulging in mock heroics.
– Work them up ! They are very cold !
– In this House as well as in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales I have often seen the right honorable member at the pump and trying to work up a fury. I never attempt anything of the kind ; all that I endeavour to do is to put the clear, bare facts before the House. I said just now, in reply to the honorable member for North Sydney, that I should place before honorable members a comparison of the present Commonwealth Tariff with the old one, aswell as with those of other countries. Under . the heading of “ Total Imports, excluding coin and bullion,” I find that the percentages of Customs duty collected to values of goods imported into the Commonwealth, Victoria, and other countries, was. as follows : - The old Federal Tariff, 1906, 17.15; the new Tariff, 21; Victorian Tariff, 12.6; Canadian Tariff, 16.25; New Zealand Tariff, 18.55; and the United States Tariff of 1904-5, 23.12.
– That is a Christian Tariff.
– That is what the Trustssay
– Taking the percentages of Customs duty collected tovalue of dutiable goods only, including narcotics and stimulants, the averages are as follows : - Commonwealth old Tariff, 1906, 27.02 ; Commonwealth new Tariff, 1906-7 - including values of goods dutiableonly when the produce or manufacture of countries other than the United Kingdom - 26 per cent. ; and, excluding values of goods’ dutiable only when the produceor manufacture of countries other than the United Kingdom, 27.2 per cent. Thenagain., the percentage of Customs duty collected to values of dutiable goods only, excluding narcotics and stimulants, is Commonwealthold Tariff, 16,92 ; . Commonwealth new Tariff, 17 and 17.6.
– That is only a decimal difference.
– That is so.
– Why indulge in heroics over a decimal ?
– The position is different when we deal with these figures in a different way.
– It is the re-arrangement that tells.
– Quite so.
– 45 per cent on clothing.
– It is sometimes said that we are placing a great load on the whole community, but, taking the Tariff as a whole, we find that that is not so.
– And yet, under the new Tariff, the Government expect an increase in revenue amounting to £1,000,000.
– £800,000. Let me put before honorable members the full comparative table -
– The difference would be exclusively on tobacco.
– Not exclusively.
– Has the honorable gentleman any figures showing the average ad valorem incidence over the whole range of duties?
– I have not, but I daresay I shall be ableto get the information. . Quite a different result is arrived at if one takes only the principal protected items. So far as I can gather, the average rate of duty under the old Tariff was 19.5 per cent., and in the present Tariff is 30.8 per cent., on the protected items in the foreign or general list, showing an increase of over 10 per cent. in the average. I desire honorable members to understand that I have given these figures to show what the total amount of taxation comes to, and to prove that this is a protective Tariff, whilst the other was not.
– Now, tell us the number of free articles under this Tariff as compared with those under the old Tariff.
– I have not that information with me.
– I can give it. Imports valued at £5,000,000 are on the free list in this Tariff, as against a value of £12,000,000 under the old Tariff.
– Then why does the honorable member ask me for it? At any rate, I daresay the information could be obtained. I have had gather a difficult task in working out all these particulars, and have been well assisted by my colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, and his officers.
– Did the honorable gentleman work them out himself?
– No, but I did work out some of them, and had them corrected. In answer to the honorable member for North Sydney, I wish to say that I sent an officer to Prahran, one of the principal suburbs of Melbourne; to ascertain from some of the principal stores and shops the prices before and after the Tariff. I took this action in order to provide an answer to those who say that people who deal with reputable houses are being fleeced. If people are being made to pay more, the list that I am about to read is a very great stigma on the smaller shopkeepers. Four or five reputable houses in Prahran were selected. I think that honorable members will agree that that is a suburb from which a very fair, estimate of prices can be obtained. I asked the officer to obtain so far as he could those articles which are used in the ordinary home.
– Did they know that he was a Federal officer?
– I do not think so. I hold in my hand the result of his inquiries, given to me this morning. I have heard a great many people say that the price of washing blue has been very greatly increased. The facts given here are that the price of laundry blue before the Tariff was 7d. per lb., and the price since the. Tariff is 7d. per lb. The increase is nil, and there is an increased duty of1d. per lb.
– What about gloves ?
– I do not think that in the ordinary home gloves are taken home to fry for supper. I want these figures to be well known to the public in order that they may see that if there have been extra charges, they are not made by reputable houses. Candles, Electrine, price before the Tariff, 61/2d., price since the Tariff, 7d. The increase is1/2d. per lb. That is the increase in the duty, and no more. A good many people have told me that there has been an immense increase in the price of candles. If that is so, it must have been charged by the smaller distributing shopkeepers. Liquorice in sticks, price before the Tariff,11/2d. an ounce; since the Tariff,11/2d. an ounce. The increase of duty is11/2d. per lb., and yet there has been no increase in the price. In the case of currants, which are to be found in nearly every small home, the price before the Tariff was 61/2d. per lb., and the price since is 7d. Theincrease in price is1/2d., and the increase of duty is1d.per lb. There has been no undue increase in price in that case.
– Prahran is a’ specially cheap suburb. The honorable gentleman is quoting from a street where special cut lines are offered.
– I could have taken any other suburb. I think that in taking Prahran I may be considered to have acted fairly. It would not have mattered to me what suburb was taken.
Mr.Tudor. - It is a very fair suburb. A better one could not be chosen for the purpose.
– In the case of dates, the price before the Tariff was 31/2d. per lb., and after the Tariff 4d., or an increase of1/2d. The increase of duty is 1d. per lb., and, therefore, only half the extra duty has been put on to the price.
– Does the honorable gentleman think that they have paid1d., and are charging only1/2d. ?
– The price of barley (grain) before the Tariff was 2d. a lb., and since the Tariff 2d., increase nil. The increased duty, I think, is 6d. per cental. I come now to an item where there has been an increase - straw. It was previously 1s. to2s. 3d. per bundle, and since the Tariff it is from1s. . 3d. to 2s. 6d. per bundle.
– None of it was imported last year.
– It is said- and I think honorable members will agree - that the increase is not due to the Tariff, but to a season when the same quantity of hay is not being produced as before.
– How much of that article is used ?
– I admit that the consumption is not very heavy.
– How much straw is imported ?
– Not much; but I am giving fairly the figures that have been handed to me in. reply to the question which I asked the officer when I sent him out.
Mr.J oseph Cook. - How much straw do people eat?
– Honorable members opposite may interject as much as they like, but they will not do away with the effect of what I am reading to the public. What I am doing now is to let the public know where they are being fleeced in order that they may be able, as far as possible, to stop their grocers from fleecing them.
– Many of those people advertised that they did not intend to raise prices until they had paid the extra duties. They will charge extra prices as soon as they begin to pay the extra duties.
– I am taking what they are doing now. They may do a lot of things by-and-by.
– I must ask honorable members to cease these continuous interjections.
– They are all good-natured, Mr. Chairman, and so long as they are made in that spirit I do not mind them. Dried herbs were1d. a packet before the Tariff, and are1d. a packet now. The increase of duty is 4d. a lb. In the case of honey and jams, which are very largely used, there has been no increase, although the extra duty is1/2d. per lb. I am one of those who think that honey and jam should be produced here in much larger quantities, and very little imported. In the case of safety matches, the price was 2d. a packet before the Tariff, and is 31/2d. now, or an increase of11/2d. a packet. The increase of duty is1s. per gross of boxes, and upwards. I am sorry that I have not got quotations for matches other than safety matches,because I understand that in some places persons are charged1d. a box extra compared with what they were charged before the Tariff. I wanted to find out if that was true.
– A penny a box extra?
– Yes, for wax matches. If the honorable member purchases a box of matches across the street he will be charged a penny for it. Before the Tariff was submitted the price of condensed milk, Nestles’ sweetened, was 61/2d. per tin ; its price now is 71/2d. a tin, an increase of a penny per tin. There has been no increase in the price of the colonial article, notwithstanding that a duty of11/4d. per lb. has been imposed upon the imported article.
– Does the Treasurer think that storekeepers are losing upon the imported tins?
– The honorable member may make his airy interjections, but I am giving the Committee nothing but hard facts. Upon pickles there has been an increase in the duty of11/2d. per dozen bottles, but there has been no increase in the price of that article.
– I think that the Treasurer is wrong there.
– The officer who made these inquiries has assured me that I can rely upon this list. The price of soap before the introduction of the Tariff was 8d. per bar; it is now selling at 9d. per bar, an increase of a penny per bar. The new rate is 25 per cent., and the old rate was1/2d. per lb. Before the Tariff was submitted the price of starch ranged from4d. to 41/2d. per lb. : it is now selling at from41/2d. to5d. per lb., an increase of1/2d. per lb.
– May I mention one item upon which there has been an increase of 100 per cent. in the price? It is that of “ Foster Mothers.”
– Has the honorable member himself had any experience of “Foster Mothers”? We shall come to that item in due course. Before the Tariff was submitted the price of sago was 31/2d. per lb. : its present price is31/2d.per lb. The new duty upon that commodity is1/2d. per lb., the oldduty was 4s. per cental. Prior to the introduction of the Tariff, tapioca was selling for31/2d. per lb., and it is now being sold at the same figure. Cocoa was realizing31/2d. per packet before the Tariff was introduced, and since its introduction it is selling at 4d. per packet.
– To what cocoa is the Treasurer referring?
– The increased duty is11/4d. per packet under the general Tariff, and1d. under the British preference proposals. Chocolate’ was selling at 4d. and 5d. per cake before the Tariff was introduced, and it is being sold at the same price now. The duty upon it is33/4d. per lb. under the general Tariff, and31/2d. per lb. under the Tariff for the United Kingdom. Coffee, roasted, was selling at from 1s. to1s. 9d. per lb. before the Tariff was introduced, and its price has not been increased. The duty is1d. per lb. The price of corn flour before the Tariff was submitted was71/2per packet, andsince then it has been sold at81/2d. per packet; an increase of1d. per packet. Before the Tariff was introduced curry powder was selling at11/2d. per oz., and there has been no alteration in the price since. The new duty is 35 per cent. ad valorem; the old rate was 4d. per lb.
– Are these articles in general use?
– I think that they are. I should have liked to procure a larger list, but the officer whom I deputed to make these inquiries had not time to obtain further information.
– Several firms are advertising that they do not propose to increase their prices upon stocks already in hand.
– I am giving the position as we find it to-day.
– Does the Treasurer propose togive honorable members the names of the firms whose selling prices he has quoted?
– I have them here, and I have no objection to the honorable member seeing them privately. It would not’ be fair to state them publicly.
– I should be very thankful if the Treasurer would give us those names.
-To do so would be grossly unfair to other business people.
– How many of the articles enumerated by the Treasurer are made locally ?
– I cannot tell the honorable member. I have merely given the information in my possession, and I contend that it supplies an answer to a” good many of the statements which have been made regarding increases in the prices of goods. I may tell honorable members that, in 1901, I obtained a more extended list than that from which I have quoted of the prices of commodities a week before and a week after the introduction of the Kingston Tariff. I obtained still another list six months later. What did I find ? A week after the Tariff had been submitted the distributors, taking advantage of their position, had increased the prices of their goods,insome cases, very materially. But in all instances in which the Tariff operated, as an incentive to production, the prices of those goods six months later were less than those charged a week prior to that Tariff being introduced.
– The Federal Tariff was lower than the Victorian Tariff had been for twenty years, so that the Treasurer’s statement is an argument in favour of a lower Tariff.
– I am speaking generally of the goods affected by the Tariff.
– Nearly all the articles which the Treasurer has enumerated are made in Victoria.
– I hope that we shall also produce them in New South Wales.
– Many of them are already made there.
– Upon articles, such as fruits and jams, I do not care how high the duties may be, because I maintain that we ought to produce them here. When I say that upon articles which we desire to protect the new Tariff is about 10 or 11 per cent. higher than the1901 -2 Tariff, I am speaking of commodities which we can manufacture and produce in Australia. The result will be a great impetus to the production and manufacture of these goods, which we should have made long ago. I come now to the question upon which I propose to make an important statement. When we introduced the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill some persons were of opinion that the Government were going to cause manufacturers a great deal of trouble, even if we did not ruin them.
– That Act has not been put into operation yet.
– It is being put into operation now. I do not intend to read a letter that I have in my possession which is to the effect that, in connexion with that Act, a large firm has been called upon to produce its books, and has declined to do so. Provision will be made in the Bill to which the Prime Minister referred to-day - it is only a short measure - to prevent manufacturers withholding their books, and authority will be given to examine those books anywhere. The Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act, which was passed last year, dealt only with a limited number of subjects. That measure represented the commencement of legislation upon the lines of what is known as the new protection. . It is only by experience that we find out the weak points in legislation. I admit that the Act itself has not worked out as well as
I had hoped that it would. The complete list reads thus: -
The difficulty in regard to obtaining information is that which we are seeking to overcome at present in regard to certain firms. What has occurred has shown us a weak spot in the present law ; and the Government, recognising that there is a weakness, are taking steps to remedy it.
– The Government must know as much about agricultural implements as they know about spirits under the Excise Act.
– Quite so. I thought when I first caught the honorable member’s interjection that he meant that I did not know much about agricultural implements and other things. If he were to spend a couple of days in going through the details regarding the tobacco duties he wouldhardly know whether he was on his head or on his heels. It is a most difficult matter.
– I hope the Government have amended their proposals in regard to the tobacco duties.
– We have not amended them yet, but they will be amended. The proposals which the Government intend to submit, and which I hope constitute a considerable improvement upon the existing state of things, I intend to explain to the Committee presently. But before I do that I wish to emphasize the fact that, had the Excise Act which was passed in connexion with harvester machinery last year worked out properly, it would not have been injurious to the general public, but would have conduced to the well-being of all. No one would have been ruined or injured by it, but a’ standard wage to the employes would have been kept up. When we are proposing a Tariff which is intended to protect manufacturers, to give increased employment to our people, and to strengthen and build up the Australian sentiment, we must not forget the motive power of all our industries, viz., the working man.
– We on this side of the Chamber have always said that.
– I do not know that. I must have been very deaf or very dull not to have heard from honorable members opposite such proposals as the Government are now going to submit.
– For the last forty years those who hold such principles as we do have said that the interests of the workers ought to be considered.
– I will undertake to say that if it had not been for the appearance in this Parliament of men who are especially representative of the working classes, we should not have heard very much about it-
– Hear, hear.
– From the other side. The right honorable the leader of the Opposition wishes to make a little joke at my expense, but I think that the Acts which I have been’ instrumental in passing, not only in the Commonwealth Parliament, but in the State from which I come, have always been in the direction of helping the labouring people. When the right honorable member had an opportunity he did not pass the Acts which I passed afterwards. So that he cannot cast upon, me any slur regarding my not having dealt with this question earlier.
– The honorable gentleman never thought of it before.
-Did I not? Probably the honorable member has not heard of a great many Acts that I was instrumental in passing in New South Wales, but it is true that I was responsible for them all the same.
– It is not many years since the honorable gentleman said that he would not go in for direct taxation in New South Wales.
– I would go in for it to-day if it were necessary. If we are going to have protection for the manufacturers and protection for the producers, we must have a system of protection for the labouring classes. As I have pointed out, it has been very difficult to institute a system of that ‘kind which shall not be too cumbersome. We have aimed, in the proposals I am about to submit, at devising a system which will be effective; and which, at the same time is the least cumbersome system we have been able to discover. The method by which it is. proposed to secure that manufacturers whose manufactures are protected by the new Tariff, shall only enjoy that advantage on condition that they pay a fair rate of wages, is,in outline, as follows : - (1) An Excise duty at the rate of half the duty imposed by the Tariff on imported goods of the same class, to be imposed on all goods manufactured in Australia. (2) An exemption to be made as to all goods which are manufactured under conditions as to remuneration of labour which are fair and reasonable. As this scheme involves the imposition of taxation, it can be more conveniently carried out by two Acts, one simply imposing the duties and giving effect to the exemptions, and the other providing the necessary machinery. This course is rendered necessary by section 5.5 of the Constitution, which provides that -
Laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing withany other matter shall be of no effect.
– Does that apply to the manufacturers only?
– Yes. Obviously the chief difficulty in this scheme is to determine what are fair conditions as to remuneration of labour. Some general standard of fairness is “required. It is proposed to adopt, with certain alterations, that standard which now enables a manufacturer to have the Commonwealth trade mark applied to his goods. Thus goods to which the Commonwealth trade mark is applied will be exempt from the new Excise duties.
– I think I have heard something about that Commonwealth trade mark before !
– If I can pick up suggestions anywhere which are useful for our purpose, I make use of them. Goods which do not bear the Commonwealth mark will be subject to the duty. Honorable members no doubt have seen the Commonwealth stamp or trade mark. It is made in various sizes, and we can make itin any size, according to what may be convenient to the individual using it.
– Has the honorable gentleman a copy of it?
– Yes; I will hand a copy to the right honorable member.
– In other words, the union label is to bethe certificate of exemption. .
– Not the union label, the Commonwealth, trade mark.
– It is the same thing.
– The use of the Commonwealth trade mark will certify that conditions are right and proper. At the present time the Commonwealth trade mark can be applied only with the authority of the Minister, to goods which have been manufactured under conditions as to remuneration of labour which either have been declared to be fair, and reasonable by resolutions of both Houses of the Parliament, or are in accordance with the award of a Commonwealth or State industrial tribunal or of a Wages Board, or are in accordance with an industrial agreement. So that at the present time, apart from the resolutions of both Houses, a manufacturer can obtain the right to use the Commonwealth trade mark only if he is working under an industrial award or agreement. It. is proposed to bring into existence a new tribunal to be called the Board of Excise.
– A new lot of billets !
– Of how many members will the Board consist?
– The special duty of the Board will be to inquire, on the application of manufacturers, into the conditions of remuneration in any protected industry, and to declare, if they so find, that these conditions are fair and reasonable. Upon such a declaration being made, the manufacturer will become entitled to have the Commonwealth trade mark applied to his goods, and will thus become exempt from Excise.
– Will the manufacturers pay the expense of the Board?
– That is a good idea.
– The Government will pay for the Board.
– Will the Board deal with cases in which a Wages Board has given a decision?
– I shall presently come to that. The Board, to describe it shortly, will consist of three members, appointed by the Governor-General, the chairman to be a barrister or solicitor.
– I would rule that out. It would be ridiculous to put such a man on such a Board, which will have to deal, not with, legal questions, but with industrial conditions.
– It is, of course, for honorable members to determine these things, but a legal gentleman is suggested as chairman of the Board because it will be necessary to have some one in that position who can analyze evidence, and who will know how to deal with witnesses.
– A smart expert would do the work better than any lawyer could do it.
– I am very glad to hear that expression of opinion.
– I am not wedded to the proposal; but the arrangement seems to me to be the best that could be made in the first instance. The Board isto have power to appoint two assessors to advise it, one of them to be nominated by the applicant and the other by the employes, or in default, or if both partiesconsent, both or either may be appointed without nomination.
-Are there to be fresh assessors for each case? .
– The Board will have power to appoint assessors when necessary. For instance, it may wish the assistance of assessors in analyzing the conditions of some particular trade.
– The assistance of persons with special trained knowledge?
– The assistance of experts.
– The only permanent member of the Board will be the chairman ?
– There will be three permanent members, and if the Board requires expert assistance itwill be entitled to it.
– So the Board may consist of five persons ?
– All these are matters of detail, and I am giving merely an outline of what is proposed. The powers of the Board would be exercisable by one or more members. The Board is to have power to referany question to a State industrial authority, which means an Industrial Arbitration Court or Wages Board, or to a police or stipendiary or special magistrate, who will have power to call in assessors representing each side. This authority will report to the Board, and the Board may act on its report. The reason for this provision is that cases for investigation may arise in small country towns, to reach which the Board might have to spend a great deal of time in travelling, and it is proposed that if there is a suitable person, such as a police magistrate, he may be given the work of gathering evidence, with the assistance of two experts. That evidence will be sent to the Board to be dealt with, and if it is not considered satisfactory, the Board may cancel it, and take evidence itself. The Board will have power to enter and to inspect factories, to summon witnesses, to take evidence on oath, and to require the production of books, and witnesses giving evidence before it will be adequately protected.
– It will have power to bail up people generally.
– Experience has shown that provisions of this kind are needed. The provision in the Customs Act has proved a wise one. Many of, the cases which have been dealt with under that Act could not have been successfully dealt with had it not been for the provision inserted by the honorable member for Adelaide, under which inspections may be made.
– The scheme would be waste paper without such a power.
– Yes. Shortly stated, our proposal is this : All goods bearing the Commonwealth trade mark will be exempt from, and all goods not bearing it will be subject to, Excise duty. It is intended that a list of the principal manufacturers shall be submitted for the Board’s consideration, the list to be amended at any time. -
– Will the Board deal with prices?
– The honorable member has not yet said so.
– I am coming to that. The Excise duty will be levied in this way : If a Commonwealth trade mark is not placed on manufactures, the manufacturer will have to purchase from the Government an Excise stamp equivalent to one-half the duty, which he mustpay for not complying with conditions, compliance with which would exempt him from the payment of Excise.
– Will he have to affix the Excise stamp to his goods?
– I am not quite sure.
– It would be a good thing to compel him to do.
– I am not prepared to say that provision has not already been made for that, because provisions for the carrying out of some, if not all, of our proposals arealready in draft. All goods manufactured under conditions which accord with a State or Commonwealth industrial award, or agreement, or have been declared to be fair and reasonable by the
Board of Excise, will be entitled to have the Commonwealth trade mark applied to them. This arrangement will, of course, involve the amendment of partviii of the Trade Marks Act of 1905. It is necessary, however, to go further to. insure that fair and reasonable conditions of remuneration are being continuously observed, and that, if not, Excise duty is being paid by the purchase of Excise stamps ; and it is therefore proposed to require the registration of all factories, which are to be defined as places in which four or more persons, other than members of an employer’s family, are being- employed.
– It would be almost easier for the Government to run the factories.
– Might there not be evasions of the provision as to the number of employes ?
– I do not think that they can do that. The principle is that where there are only one or two persons working it may not be necessary to have a registration and an inspection.
– All ought to be under it.
– When we come to that point honorable members will have an opportunity to deal with it.
– Will it apply to all factories, or to only those which are affected by a protective duty ?
– It will applyto the latter. We could not make it apply to cases where no protective duties are imposed, because we could not enforce the penalty. The second proposal is to give to officers of Customs and Excise full power of inspection of all factories and access to books, documents, wage-sheets, &c, although, of course, no publicity will be given to confidential information.
– Will the decision of the Board be final?
– I shall come to that presently.
– I hope that there will be no Appeal Court.
– These proposals are intended to protect the workers in protected industries. But with a view of protecting the consumer from extortion it is proposed to invest the Board of Excise with further powers. The Board may possibly become an Inter- State Commission. The reason why I do not propose the creation of an Inter-State Commission now is because the Government want this policy to be brought into force soon, and it might take a considerable time to pass an InterState Commission Bill. I have made two efforts in that direction, and I believe that the time has arrived when the House will pass a measure. If the Board is composed of suitable men they can be appointed as an Inter-State Commission.
– Let us get the Tariff put through first.
– I believe that I shall receive strong assistance from the honorable member in passing a protectionist Tariff.
– Quite right.
– I am very pleased to hear that statement. Before conferring on the Board of Excise the functions especially associated with the InterState Commission, it is proposed to intrust it with the duty of inquiring into and reporting to Parliament on the general conditions surrounding production and trade, and particularly on prices or combinations to raise prices. If, on inquiry, the Board find that prices are unduly high, or that combinations to raise prices in protected trades exist, they will have power to recommend to Parliament that the duty shall be lowered or abolished.
– Is that a modification of the Australian Industries Preservation Act?
– No. I hope I shall be allowed to mention that the amendment of that Act to which the Prime Minister has referred to-day will give power to the Government to make a direct inspection of books and papers and to elicit all information without resorting to the present roundabout way and attempting to prove certain almost impossible things.
– Is not the sole object of the Bill to enable the Government to obtain information?
– The Bill which will be originated in the Senate to-morrow, will do away with the trouble in connexion with getting information. That is an outline of the proposals which, as I stated at the commencement of my speech, will necessitate the amendment of two” Acts of Parliament. I think that when honorable members thoroughly understand the scheme they will see that it is no. makebelieve, that it will have the effect which I believe is desired by nearly all the members of the Committee, and by the people of this community, and that is to, see that whilst we give protection to the manufac turers and increase their production, the workers will not be left out in the cold, but will get their share of that protection. Before I resume my seat, I desire to quote a few figures with reference to the Customs and Excise revenue collected in each State during September of this year and last year, and also during the quarter ending 30th September in those years. In New South Wales, the revenue has increased for the month from £281,314 to £377,184; and for the quarter from £964,674 to £1,215,982. In Victoria, the revenue has increased for the month from £211,211 to £2(18,938, and for the quarter- from £885,802 to £1,024,177. In Queensland, the revenue has increased for the month from £77,727 to £85,800. and for the quarter from ,£262,430 to £285,468. In South Australia the “ revenue Has increased for the month from £47,847 to £80,696, and for the quarter from £178,852 to .£236,522. In Western Australia the revenue has decreased for the month from £61,957 to £58,637, and for the quarter from £219,800 to £202,803. In Tasmania the revenue has increased for the month from .£18,929 to .£21,023, and for the quarter from £52,610 to .£5.7,768. The total increase for the month has been from £698,985 to £892,287, and for the quarter from £2,564,168 to £3,022,720. The following table contains the figures in detail : -
.- The figures that the Treasurer has just given are, I think, a very much more important fact in connexion with the Tariff than are price lists from one or two shops in Prahran. According to the lists from one or two shops “there, the effect of the Tariff is scarcely worthy of any serious consideration. According to the figures which the Treasurer has just given, there was for the one month of September, an increase, as compared with September of last year, in four States only, of ,£250,000, or at the rate of 000, 000 on the twelve months. I am, of course, giving the round figures, and not the exact amounts. But the position as disclosed by the Minister’s own figures is astonishing. In New South Wales the increase was ,£90,000 for the month, or at the rate of £1,100,000 for the year, while in Victoria the increase for the month was ,£50,000, or at the rate of £600,000 a year. In Queensland the increase was slight, being only at the rate of £100,000 a year, but in South Australia, which has generally been rather slow in its figures, the increase was at the rate of £400,000 a year.
– Will the right honorable member take the figures for the three months?
– I have not worked those figures out.
– The increase was £458,000 for the three months, or at the rate of £1,832,000* - nearly £2,000,000 for the year.
– As I had to immediately follow the Treasurer, I had not time to make both calculations, and I selected the figures for the month as being the more significant, seeing that they represent a period when the rush, which took place in consequence of the Tariff, was practically over. There are no speculative imports now. As we know, the bonded warehouses’ are gorged with goods which would have come into the ordinary markets of commerce, but for the fact that merchants are hanging on to the bonded stocks until they know what the Tariff is to be. If reductions in the duties are made, importers do not get the benefit of those reductions, once the goods are out of bond. Although ordinary commerce is paralyzed except in so far as the absolute necessities of the people of Australia are concerned, the figures show the enormous burden not in theory - not in argument of a fiscal character - but the enormous burden which is represented by 3,000,000 sovereigns a year - taken out of the pockets of the people in the four States of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and. South Australia. I do not desire to enter at any length into this fiscal question. The Treasurer, was. I think, perfectly justified in taking this opportunity to deliver the address to which we have just listened ; but, as I say, I shall not take up the time of the Committee at any length, even on such vastly important sub jects, because I feel the pressing necessity to get to the practical- work which is before us. I hope that my friends will allow me, so far as they consistently can, to represent the general views held on this side, in the hope that we may, as soon as possible, get to the vital, practical matter which concerns the business of the whole community. But I, naturally, must make one or two observations, not so much on the old protection as on the new protection. The Treasurer is a living example of the old protection. He has lived politically on the old protection all his life, just as I might be fairly be said, in retort, to have lived on free- trade all my life.
– But the right honorable member died on it !
– I do not wish to use the expression in any offensive way. But the old protection has been the Treasurer’s gospel, though he has not, perhaps, been able to understand it - there is no theory or inspiration in his case - as clearly as might some profound political economists. The honorable gentleman, However, has for many years been an earnest, whole-souled advocate of a protectionist policy. But, in the midst of all his enthusiasm and earnestness, this scheme of new protection never seems to have dawned on him. Has the honorable gentleman submitted this scheme to his friends in the Chamber - of Manufacturers? The members of that chamber have glowed over “ smoke night “ delights, which surrounded the honorable gentleman with a halo of things very much more substantial than smoke; but all those delights will disappear when the new protection is accomplished. The old protection always professed to regard the interests of the great mass of the workers in the factories; and it was on the faith of regard to those interests that .the people of Australia, and of other countries, adopted protection as a national policy.
– It was all profession, and no practice !
– That was so. Of course, I have heard of such things in all political parties ; the policy of every political party has its drawbacks, and is .open to the same reproach. But there is the remarkable circumstance about protection that, although it is one of the oldest, best discussed, and best fought issues of politics in countries which have a high, state of civilization,’ this sort of new protection never seems, until now, to have been advocated, by any responsible Government. It would be a miracle in the Treasurer, but that we know miracles do not often occur in politics, and that he is fulfilling his vocation. The honorable gentleman is the mouthpiece of his masters. This is not his scheme; if he were in an incubator for 100 years, he could never hatch it. This scheme has no more to do with the Treasurer of today, than it has to do with him as we knew him many years ago.
– What if it be a good scheme?
– I shall deal with the merits of the scheme presently. Everything must be tested, not on the question whence it comes, but on the question whether it be good in itself. I quite admit that ; but before we begin to. discuss these matters we have to take our bearings a little. The plain English is that this scheme has been handed to the Treasurer by our friends in the Labour Party, and he has accepted it - he had to accept it. What chance had the Treasurer of putting this Tariff through unless he made terms with his masters? This is the bargain. I do not say it is a wrong bargain; that is a matter for judgment afterwards. I am not pronouncing afinal opinion ; it would be presumptuous on my part to do so. I am simply taking the first impression which comes to one after the remarkable statement just made. I cannot help regarding this scheme as, I shall not say dictation, but as a bargain between the Government and the honorable members of the Labour Party,which put into words, means - “ You pass this scheme, and we will stand by you in this great Tariff fight.”
– Let the right honorable member console his soul - there is no bargain !
– Does the honorable member think that people write out such bargains ?
– There is no bargain.
– I am delighted to hear that.
– I am afraid that some honorable members would not stand by such a bargain.
– I am delighted to hear that, because I hope that the members of the LabourParty will act now as they did in the case of the former Tariff, when on many critical occasions they showed perfect independence of any governmental influence.
– If they do, will the right honorable gentleman withdraw his charge that a bargain has been made?
– I will, if it is proved that my remarks have been unfair. I hope I shall be ready to withdraw any observations which may seem to be unfair, but I have been long enough in politics to know that whether honorable members call it a bargain or not this proposal went on from the Caucus to the Minister, and that he has adopted it because the Caucus approves of it. That is a fair way of putting it.
– The right honorable gentleman must be aware that our scheme was published in the press before the Minister saw it.
– That is just what I am saying. In every word the Minister said I could not help recognising an edition, though, perhaps, an awkward one, of the scheme of the Labour Party as I saw it announced in the newspapers.
– But the Ministry were at liberty to take it up or let it alone, as they pleased.
– The Treasurer knows a good thing when he sees it.
– The Treasurer does know a good thing when he sees it. He knows that the good thing is the Labour Party, and he seizes it every time ; and I say more power to him, so long as its influence is properly exercised, and its effect is for the public good. I wish, before I deal with the new protection, to refer in a very few words to the honorable gentleman’s observations on the fiscal question. He said he would put. the duties up as high as he could, in order to compel the manufacture locally of things which we can make in Australia. That expression is a dangerous one, coming from a responsible Minister. We can do anything in Australia if we choose to make a sufficient sacrifice in order to do it. Tropical plants could be grown in the arctic regions if people went to the expense of hot-houses. We can breed anything, and we can produce anything in Australia if we go to the necessary expense. But it is dangerous for a responsible Minister to speak in that unguarded, loose way. Let us take the case of the United States, with their high Tariff walls, behind which the Trusts of America have thriven’ so greatly.
– Some have thriven behind the protective wall, but others have thriven where there is no such wall.
– The latter are not a circumstance in extent compared to the great American Trusts.
– The Standard Oil Trust and the Beef Trust have thriven without the help of any Tariff wall.
– My honorable friend will agree with me that the Trusts and Combines of other countries of the world are as children compared to the gigantic octopus which is draining the life’s blood of the mighty people of the United States to-day, and which would be impossible without high Tariff walls.
– The Beef Trust andtheStandard Oil Trust have had no Tariff assistance.
– They have captured the railways.
– That may be so, but they have had no Tariff assistance.
– I did not propose to discuss the fiscal question at length, but merely to give the Committee some figures. I wish to point out that it is a policy of recklessness, which looks only at one object as the supreme end of statesmanship, and only at one set of industries as the industries to be regardedby Parliament. When I hear the term “industry,” I do not limit its range. I regard every industry of even the remotest districts of this mighty continent as just as much entitled to be studied and considered as the manufacturing industries of the great cities. It is one of the embarrassments of the situation that everything we give must come out of some pocket before we can give it, and though we may have a patriotic object in making gifts to particular industries, we should not forget that we are taking the gifts we bestow upon those industries, most of which are carried on in the large cities of the continent, from the masses of struggling men in the country districts of Australia.
– And return them with interest afterwards.
-It is the sort of return of interest afterwards which does not occur with the regularity of a money-lending operation. I wish to impress upon the Committee that in the mighty United States, with their gigantic system of protection, the ordinary laws of commerce rise superior to all these obstacles. From the last figures which I was able to obtain, I find that the exports of the United States amount to 1,743 million dollars. We might expect the imports into these great States to be merely nominal, as compared with the volume of exports to which I have referred, but in spite of the enormous Tariff in the United States there are imports to that country of no lessthan 1,226 million dollars. These imports find their way into the United States in spite of the enormous Tariff barriers which have been set up so rigidly for so many years.
– That only gives an idea of what they might have been but for the Tariff barriers.
– But how do we stand if we compare the imports and exports of the Commonwealth, where the policy of protection and isolation has not been carried out to such an extent as in the United States? I find that under the old Tariff, which many protectionists look upon as a revenue Tariff, comparing our imports and exports with those of the United States, the proportion of imports to exports in the United States, with their terrific Customs duties, is 6 per cent. higher than the proportion of imports to exports in Australia. So honorable membersshouldnot be led away, and I do not think they will be, by these rash generalizations of the Minister. In spite of all our Tariffs and all our laws, the currents of commerce will continue to flow in two different directions. To attempt to make the mighty current of human energy and enterprise as embodied in commerce follow one direction is futile. We know that the law of every orb in the mighty skies as well as the law of energy is to travel, not in a straight line, but in a circle. Just as we have these vast orbs revolving in circles, so commerce revolves incircles. It cannot be run as we run railway engines - along a straight line of rails. In their earnest desire to advocate what they consider to be a national and patriotic policy, honorable members should not forget that in this mighty system of commerce, whilst the blood circulates outwards, it must come back again. I wish now to leave these references to protection and to come toa matter with which weare much more concerned. I made my position in connexion with this Tariff perfectly clear from the first. I said that I had been sent here by a constituency that believes in free-trade anda revenue Tariff. I propose to do my duty honestly andloyally tothat constituency, and in accordance with the views I have enunciated during the whole of my political career. I know that honorable members who have been returned by constituencies sharing those views, will shaw equal, if not greater zeal and devotion in the matter, but I am also satisfied that we shall be guided by reason and political common sense. If we find we a.re in a hopeless minority upon some leading lines, and that it is impossible for us to impress our views upon the Committee - as indeed it might be if honorable members regarded their election pledges - I have no doubt that my honorable friends will not incessantly press the question of free-trade and protection on every line of the Tariff.
– I hope not.
– It would be ridiculous to do so. It would do us no credit, and would do no good. I feel sure that, whilst strenuously endeavouring to carry out our views, we shall, throughout, assist those who have more moderate views than Ministers in making the duties proposed less extravagant than we think them to be. Leaving that matter now to come to the scheme of the new protection, I wish to say again that, in my opinion, this policy is infinitely sounder ‘than the old protection. I have altogether disapproved of the policy of protection, and if the Opposition had suggested any such theories as those now submitted to us, what would have been the position? We have pointed out over and over again where protection fails ; that, instead of giving Australian labour its legitimate share of the benefits of its exactions from the great mass of the community, that share generally goes in other directions. I cannot claim any credit for originating any scheme of this sort, but what I do say is that, if we, the free-traders, had at any time until the last year or two proposed such a scheme, we should have been branded as men who, under the guise of being interested in the welfare of the working classes, were endeavouring to destroy the policy of protection. This policy of the new protection, however, has come from a quarter which is not exposed to that suspicion. So far as I can see, the credit for the idea is one to which the Labour Party is legitimately entitled. I do not know of any person not associated with them who has brought it prominently forward. The object, I think, is a thoroughly sound ohe.
– It comes from New Zealand.
– It does not.
– I can speak only according to my imperfect information on the subject.
– The right honorable member should allow himself the luxury of going on his own for a minute or two.
– I endeavour to emulate the forbearance which my honorable friends of the Labour Party sometimes show towards one another. I give the Labour Parties of Australia the credit of this movement, if it be a good one. Its object is certainly a good one. What has evolved this, new protectionist policy? What has led tens of thousands who have no expectation of direct benefit from this taxation to adopt such a policy at the risk of losing by it? It has been, first of all, a desire to encourage the growth of new industries as a means of employing labour. But the main ‘argument which has enabled protection to prevail to the extent to which it has done is that if we are ever to have manufacturing industries .of our own . we must do something to equalize the conditions obtaining here and elsewhere, so that manufacturers in Australia can flourish under labour conditions which are congenial to Australia. The attempt to compete with labour in less fortunate conditions has been looked upon, and, I think, wisely, as hopeless, except in connexion with the great natural industries of the country. So far as those industries are concerned, we can competenight and day with all countries. Thereal strength of Australia has been derived,, not from the nourishment we obtain by living on one another, but from the glorious strength which has come to this country from the development of the great natural riches and resources which we possess. That has been the true source of all the greatness of Australia, including even the greatness of our manufacturing industries. But since this new scheme is to be the basis of the protection to be granted, I think Parliament is absolutely justified in endeavouring to see that Australian manufacturers who reap the benefit . of Australian protection honestly give their employes Australian conditions and wages.
– Do ‘they not do that now?
– I hope so.
– I think they are all under Boards.
– If they give their employes Australian conditions and Australian wages at the present time, they will be all right.
– They are doing so only in some cases.
– If they are all doing it, that may be a sensible reason for not indulging in any extensive experiments ; but, I have not the personal knowledge to enable me to say that they are. It is a matter which will be threshed out.
– If they are, no penalty will be declared.
Mr.Maloney. - Some of them are, but the majority are not.
– I wish to say at once that the object aimed at by this new protection has my thorough sympathy. There are two points in connexion with it, however, which must be Carefully considered. The question as to fair and reasonable labour conditions is not a difficult one. It is not so difficult as is the question of prices, which involves many other conditions.Quality has a great deal to do with price. One manufacturer mightbe selling 30 per cent. below his neighbour, yet the higher-priced goods might represent more honest value to the consumer. These are troubles which I do not propose to dwell upon, since they are obvious.
– Especially when we cut off the outside standard.
– We shall still have the outside standard with which to make comparisons.
– Unfortunately, it is through a distorted medium”.
– Not necessarily.
– The melancholy feature of this proposal is thatall those measures for the protection of industry which were passed with desperate zeal, are within twelve months confessedly failures. The Australian Industries Preservation Bill was to destroy the enemies of fair dealing. Combines and trusts were to be crushed by that magnificent measure .; yet, within twelve months of its passing, the Minister admits thatit is defective in a most serious respect. I have never seen the Government make an honest attempt to bring it into operation. Then, again, let us glance at the operation of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act. That Act, which was passed about twelve months ago, provided that from 1st January,1907, certain Excise duties should be payable on all agricultural machinery specified in the schedule. From 1 st January last, under that Act, Excise has been due on every agricultural implement manufactured in Australia and included in the schedule, but has one penny of that Excise been collected?
– It was payable, unless the manufacturers secured an exemption.
– The manufacturers in South Australia secured an exemption on the 4th June last.
– But have all the manufacturers of Australia secured an exemption ?
– I am looking at the general scope of theAct. We know what is the position when duties of Customs are imposed. From the very instant when a Customs duty is proposed, it has to be paid, and it is collected even before the Tariff itself has become law. Yet not one penny has been collected in the way of Excise under the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act, although I dare say not one-twentieth of the manufacturers engaged in the industries to which it relates have been brought, or have had even a chance of being brought, within a determination of the Court. The whole thing is an abject failure.
– There is no insuperable difficulty in the way of compelling them to pay.
– I shouldbe very sorry to look upon difficulty as an argument for stagnation. I am only pointing out that the result of the measure in question has been a little discouraging. Do honorable members remember the exact title of the Anti-Trust. Bill? The Australian Industries Preservation Bill ! That is a beautiful rhetorical expression ; a sort of name which suggested that the moment the Act was passed fresh oxygen would be supplied to every industry in Australia. That supply has not yet come; so far we have had nothing but nitrogen. The policy enunciated by the Treasurer has only one delightful feature. I refer to the fact that it provides for the appointment of another Board. That is, at least, one charm about it.
– Will the right honorable member accept the chairmanship?
– I think that I may at once say “ No.” But I have no doubt whatever that the Minister has already in his mind, and, perhaps, on his tongue, the names of at least twenty worthy gentlemen, all’ of whom are equally eligible for the position.
– No, I have not given a thought to it.
– I remember what the honorable member was. I’ can only suppose that the new protection has evangelized him. If so, Paul of Tarsus was a fool to him. But I am heartily in accord with the project of insuring that the manufacturers shall pay fair wages under these duties, and I should like to see some sensible method of carrying it out. It is equally important with regard to the questions of price, if anything can be effectively done.
– That has been effective so far as harvesters and other things are concerned.
– Do not let us talk of harvesters. Who is the man whose books the Government cannot look at? What is his name? He was the archangel of this Ministry a year or so ago, when he was getting a duty on his harvesters and strippers. I do not know whether he represents the firm who will not show their books, but they are such a big firm that it is highly probable. If the prices go down under the influence of this protectionist Tariff, need we concern ourselves about extortion? The very Minister who pointed to this policy as a remedy for extortion - a policy under which some mysterious persons in different degrees of latitude and longitude beyond the- coast-line of Australia paid all the duties - now tells us that extortion is possible even under this benign policy. .
– It is also possible under a free-trade Tariff.
– Extortion is possible so long as there are human beings in this world. By the time that we have passed laws which will prevent every kind of extortion, there will be no politicians alive.
– There will be no need for us.
– There will be no need for us, as mankind will be perfect, and will not need political healers, who, while always professing to heal the body politic are causing fresh sores to break out in other directions. But I say that both objects are sound. Both are objects with legitimate motives. One is in the interests of the man in whose behalf this protection is substantially given, because I have always said, and, I hope, sincerely felt, that when dealing with struggles between capital and labour, while we should be absolutely fair to the manufacturer and capitalist, and see that he gets, as he is entitled to get, a fair and legitimate return for his enterprise - his share of the fruits of national industy’ - we should, when we are dealing with masses of labour, remember that we are dealing with men to whom a mistake to their detriment is a cruel hardship. If we make a mistake which is, perhaps, to some extent,, injurious to the mighty power of capital, we have the consolation of knowing that capital will still get its bread and butter after all these mistakes have been operative, but in the case of men who live every day on the narrow margin between manly independence and want, ! say every time that I would give them the benefit of any doubt in connexion with any political difficulty. I hope, however, that, in our desire to see that Labour gets its fair conditions, we shall also endeavour to see that even the Australian manufacturer, who risks his capital in these undertakings, obtains a fair and legitimate return.
– The suggestion is to adopt Wages Board decisions or industrial awards, and none of those, so far, has imposed undue or harsh restrictions on the manufacturer.
– - I admit that difficulties are incidental to every new proposal. There is scarcely a reform which has come to work smoothly to-day which at its inception was not ridiculed as impracticable, and was not, in the beginning, full of actual difficulties. But the fact that there are difficulties in the way of this project ought not to affect us, except to inspire us with a desire to endeavour to remove them. I am not going into the question at any length at present. It will require considerable discussion. I hope, however, that the practical discussion of it will take place, not now, but when we come to deal with the measure which must embody it.
– But honorable members ought to bear it in mind, because it might influence them in deciding whether to vote for or against a duty.
– Certainly. Of course. I can only speak for myself. The honorable member is entirely. independent of any attitude I may take up. I only say. in advance that I am going to give the matter the fairest and most favorable consideration. But it is only fair to point out that the Excise Tariff Act of 1906 has not yet been tested ; nor can it very well be tested until some attempt is made to collect the Excise. In fact, one cannot go before the High Court on questions of any kind unless one has a substantial interest in some issue which has arisen. The moment the matter comes to a stage at which it can be tested, the probability is that a very serious constitutional question will arise-
I do not want to elaborate that view. I merely wish to point out that, to my mind, the whole, of the basis upon which these measures- including this project - rest, is a most insecure one from the constitutional point of view.
– It is a great pity that we cannot bring these questions before the High Court without a separate action.
– No doubt; but, as my honorable friend knows, the question of our constitutional competency to’ do things, whenever it does arise, is a very serious question.
– It is unfortunate that we cannot bring a case before the High Court unless somebody has been injured by the particular Act complained of.
– It seems so; but there is a good deal of wisdom in that rule, because it is a very favorable condition for getting the best possible decision, that there should be people who have a personal and practical interest in fighting out the issue.. If Courts were required to give ex cathedra opinions, a Court might afterwards find, in the contest of a particular concrete case, that its previous opinion, given under less favorable conditions, was entirely wrong, and that previous decision might have been a source of misleading, to the prejudice of a very large number of people. On the whole, it is a wise provision that these questions should come up in the usual form. So long as no one objects to the Act, prima facie it is constitutional, and it may turn out to be constitutional in fact ; but I have in my mind the wellestablished legal principle that “ What you have no power to do directly, you have no power to do indirectly.” That is a principle which would cut right into this question. We have no power directly to interfere with the wages conditions in any factory in Australia. On the contrary, the Constitution, in matters” connected with industrial conditions-
– We have power under the trade and commerce section.
– I do not wish to express a final opinion, but I have a very strong suspicion that that power would not be held to authorize us to make, in the exercise of the taxing power, distinctions of the kind which will be made under this proposed legislation.
– But if those distinctions are merely incidental to the taxing power, or, in any case, are insignificant?
– That would not solve the question. It would simply raise it in another form.
– It would conform to the legal maxim which the right honorable gentleman just stated.
– On that point, clearly the common-sense argument would be against the validity of such an Act. The proposal is not intended for the purpose of carrying out a system- of Excise to the extent of one-half of the existing duties. That is not the object of the Act. If the main object of the Excise were to make the colonial manufacturer pay, by way of Excise, half of the duty imposed, perhaps some weight might be attached to the honorable member’s argument.
– Surely the Court will not inquire as to the motives of Parliament, but only as to what the Act carries out ?
– If any person comes before the Court claiming that his industrial conditions are interfered with by a legislative authority which has no constitutional power to interfere with them, and shows that this is being done under cover of the Trade and Commerce provision, then, if the Court holds that the interference falls legitimately within the expression “ trade and commerce,” I think that the difficulty may disappear. But that is the question.
– Everything that we may do in the exercise of a power, we may do to the uttermost.
– But the original essence of the power must always be remembered. The power conferred by the Constitution under the expression “ trade and commerce “ may not include the right to enter a man’s factory at Footscray, to regulate his wages conditions, and to say to him, “ If you do not give your men so and so, we shall impose an Excise duty - upon your productions.” I think it may be held that that power does not come within the sphere of “ trade and” commerce. “
– Does not the honorable member think that the expression “ trade “ includes the industrial affairs of the Commonwealth ?
– I do not think that it does from the point of - view of a man who is carrying on a factory. If it does, what is the use of the provision relating to “ industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State “ ? What is the use of such words if under the trade and commerce provision of the Constitution the Commonwealth has the power to solve the labour . conditions of every person who is engaged in manufacture? If we have the power to deal with the labour conditions of the manufacturer, we must have the power to deal with the labour conditions of other branches of trade and commerce, because manufacturers are not the only persons who come under the heading “ trade and commerce.” In that case, we have the power to enter the warehouse of an importer and say to him, “ We will charge you 30 per cent, more upon your imports of woollen goods unless you pay your men better wages. “
– I distinctly think that under the trade and commerce provision of the Constitution we have power to do that.
– May I suggest to my honorable friend that when I was a young man at the Bar I was always “ distinctly “ of opinion. But when I was junior counsel to some eminent senior, who had been at the Bar for, perhaps, thirty years, my opinions - especially where I had been “ distinctly “ of opinion - were all modified, so that by the time I signed them they formed the most milk and watery productions that I had ever seen. I suggest to my honorable friend-
– It ‘must not be forgotten that he is sitting alongside a lawyer,
– Then he is in a dangerous position. There is no doubt that a lawyer always likes a client who is “ distinctly “ of opinion, because it leads to a large volume of business. One of the most cheering features associated with all these well meant endeavours to produce better conditions of labour is that they invariably promote the success of the most deserving class in Australia - a class to which I need not more closely allude.
– The Excise will be imposed upon all producers. Has not the Crown always the right to remit any taxation! imposed by Statute?
– I would like the honorable member to recollect that nobody who has the power of acting under an instrument is permitted by any ingenuity to enlarge the terms of that instrument. If by the exercise of ingenuity we could get outside the powers conferred by ai Constitution Act, the instrument would not be worth much. The first canon of construction is : What is the teal inwardness of this Act ? What is its re;il sphere and operation ? Does this power come within the real sphere and operation of the expression “trade and commerce”? If it does, it is sound, but if not, all the contrivances in the world will not make it sound. But we cannot be sure of these things until we have obtained the decision of a Court which is final in these matters. That is what I always admire in reference to the High Court of Australia - where it is final it is sure to be right. But where it is not final, it is sometimes a little like other Courts. There is only one tribunal in which a final decision of this matter can be obtained. I merely express the hope that vital as are the interests connected with this Tariff,, and strongly as we may desire to impress our own views upon it, we shall all combine to do two things - first to expedite, as far as we reasonably can, the despatch of this important business, and, secondly, to endeavour each to do his duty without the intrusion of those angry and disturbing influences which are so apt to upset the Treasurer.
. - When the leader of the Opposition rose to speak I left the Chamber in order to procure a short financial statement, which I prepared yesterday in relation to the Tariff and its operation. This statement bears so closely upon some expressions which have been made use of to-day by the Treasurer that I intend’ to place it before the Committee for the benefit of honorable members, and also because I desire that it may be put upon record in Hansard, so that twelve months hence we may have before us not only the figures supplied by the Treasurer, >but such statistics as I think ought to have been presented when the Tariff was submitted for our consideration. There are two or three points which I especially desire to emphasize. One of these was referred to the other evening by the Treasurer when he read a statement from the Board of Trade Journal, setting forth that the average duty imposed under the revenue Tariff of Russia was 131 per cent., whilst that under the Commonwealth Tariff was only 6 per cent. I was so astonished at the time he made this declaration that I immediately referred to the Board of Trade returns in the hope that I might be able to elucidate the principle upon which that body had presented such a misleading statement. I cannot, however, ascertain the particulars which have led to its conclusions. I can only find that the average duty of 6 per cent, related to the impost upon all the textiles and manufactured articles exported by Great Britain to Australia. I immediately made my own calculations in respect to the Tariff of last year, and the revenue which it yielded, and I found that the average duty levied under it was equivalent to 24 per cent.
– Then the officials of the Board of Trade must be incompetent.
– Its statement is obviously based upon some principle which is not disclosed in the return.
– I took it for granted that its statements were correct.
-To-day the Treasurer pointed out, in effect,, that the return must be inaccurate because he has stated that our Tariff imposes an average duty of 17 per cent.
– That is the average duty levied upon importations from all over the world.
– The Treasurer compared the new Tariff with the Kingston Tariff-
– The average duty of 17 per cent, is based upon importation? from all over the world, and not from Great Britain alone.
– The imports from Germany and America - which are the chief countries from which we import, apart from Great Britain - are infinitesimal as compared with the great bulk of our imports. I come to my next point. It was very interesting to me this afternoon to hear the Treasurer refer to the revenue returns for the past three months, and especially to those for the past month. I rejoice with him that our States are not only showing so manifestly the benefit of good seasons, but are also showing that the Tariff is going to be a very large revenue producer. But if I occu-pied an important position as a member of the Opposition, I should be very much disposed to challenge the Government on the ground that the figures which have been placed before us in the financial statement do not disclose the true position of the Commonwealth under the new Tariff.
– In which statement ?
– In the Budget.
– The honorable member surely does not accuse the officials of cooking the figures? Because they are their figures, not mine.
– Certainly not; but the Treasurer has not taken advantage of the figures supplied to him to point .out the true financial position of the Commonwealth under the Tariff now proposed. If I were the chairman of a public company, making a statement as to its financial position, I should be expected to show my hand fully, and let the members of the company see what their position was likely to be during the current year at least. I remember that when Sir George Turner delivered his Budget statement in connexion with the introduction of the Kingston Tariff he pointed out that whereas under the Tariff, as proposed, the revenue might be ,£9,000,000, yet in. the course of a few years - I think he said within five years - the normal revenue under it would be reduced to about £5,000,000. That statement was challenged at the time. Some of us thought that Sir George Turner’s view of the Tariff, as preventing the importation of goods from abroad, and assisting in their manufacture in Australia, was unsound, and that it would not within five years operate to such an extent! as to build up factoriesas he expected. I recollect that, notwithstanding that Tariff - which was a high Tariff, even after it was cut down in Parliament
– Nonsense !
– As introduced, it was even an extravagant Tariff. As cut down, it was a comparatively moderate Tariff. It turned out to be a revenue Tariff.
– So it was, and that is what we want to prevent now.
– It was a “ Tariff without destruction,” in accordance with the Maitland declaration.
– Was not the honorable member a member of the Cabinet that introduced that Tariff?’
– Yes, but I was’ very glad that the duties were reduced in Committee.
– None of the duties was high. .
– Does the honorable member say that as a Minister he was pleased to see his own Government defeated?
– No; I say that I was glad to find that some of the higher duties were reduced in Committee.
– Then the Minister must have been defeated.
– The honorable member may put it as he pleases. I said on a former occasion that when a member of this House joins a Ministry he should be loyal to it while he remains in it. I was as loyal to the Ministry as any mar* could be, and I took the earliest opportunity, without attempting to break up the Government, of leaving when I could, because I was not in accord with many things that were done.
– That was not the reason.
– It was. Coming back to the point which I wished to make and put on record, I hope honorable members will follow me closely, and that if I am wrong some one will set me right. I have no desire to mislead honorable members and the public. The facts and figures are as open to them as they are to me. I devoted almost the whole of yesterday to this investigation of the subject. I entered upon it because I thought the Treasurer made a mistake in the figures he quoted relating to our trade with Great Britain.
– It has not yet been proved that I made a mistake.
– I prove it by reference to the fact that, under the Australian Tariff last year, the duties collected on all imports averaged 25 per cent. I am excluding narcotics and stimulants.
– Not the imports from Gre.at Britain alone?
– I say again that the United States and Germany are the principal’ competitors with Great Britain trading with Australia, but the total amount of their exports to this country is infinitesimal as compared with the total amount of goods from Great Britain, viz., ^£8,000,000 out of total imports of £44,000,000.
– No, they are not.
– So far as concerns the character of the goods imported from Germany and the United States,’ whatever Tariff we impose we cannot exclude one-half of them.’ It is utterly impossible to manufacture them here. As we deal with various items of the Tariff I shall point out from time to time that there are goods imported from Ita’ly, Germany, and the United States which there is no likelihood of our having manufactured in this country - at all events, at any period during the life of any one at present living. Australia will not become a manufacturer of these goods for many years to come, no matter how high may be the Tariff wall that we build up against them.
– I understand the honorable member to say that’ our- imports, excluding narcotics and stimulants, pay on an average duties qf 25 per cent?
– The duties on narcotics and stimulants average 155 per cent. Next we come to goods which pay composite duties and specific duties. They pay on an average over 30 per cent. Then we have the ad valorem duties ranging from 5 to 30 per cent. A great mass of our imports which pay ad valorem duties come in at 10, 15, 20, and 25- per cent., and a small proportion - less than £[300,000 -come in at 30 per cent. The principal object with which I rose was to point out that the financial statement of the Government does not disclose truly to the Commonwealth the financial position even for the current year under the new Tariff. The figures which I wish honorable members to consider are these: The dutiable goods imported in 1906 were ,£27,254,000; bullion and’ specie imported - upon which there is no duty - amounted to ,£2,330,917 ; and the remaining free imports to £[15,144,466. The total goods imported into Australia amounted to £”44,729,506. The free list under the present Tariff will be worth about ,£4,000,000. Of course, my estimate is a very rough one, and may be out £200,000 or £[300,000.
– Or perhaps £1,000,000 or £[2,000,000.
– The Minister can have my figures checked. If he does, I thin’k it will be found that £[4,000,000 is as nearly the value of our present free list as it is possible for a member’ to estimate it at from the information contained in the Tariff papers, in which goods are sometimes dealt with according to value, and at other times according to quantity or weight.
– Does the honorable member think that he can make a better estimate than the Customs officials have made ?
– I have not seen an official estimate.
– I have.
– Then the honorable member should have laid it before the Committee.
– I have done so. I have given the official estimate of revenue.
– That is. not what I am speaking of. I say that the freelist under the old Tariff was worth £15,000,000, and under the new Tariff is about £4,000,000. The estimate of revenue for the current year is £10,509,000, and the amount received last year was £9,648,000, so that it is estimated that the revenue under the new Tariff will show an increase of nearly £900,000. Last year’s revenue wasanincrease on that of the previous year of , £800,000.
– We cannot expect boom figures every year.
– Last year was not entirely a boom year. In more than one year since 1901 we have received an equivalent revenue return, though there was a falling-off in the year 1905-6. During the currentyear we may presume that there will be an increase of revenue due to the great prosperity of the country to which the Minister referred, of which all honorable members were glad to hear. But no allowance seems to have been made for that. Last year ad valorem duties were collected on imports valued at £18,900,000, and fixed duties on imports valued at £6,000,000, our dutiable imports amounting in all to about £25,000,000, excluding stimulants and narcotics, and bullion and specie, while £15,000,000 of free goods were imported. Of course, any estimate that I may make must be a very rough one, because it would require a great deal of calculation by the officials of the Customs Department to produce anything like accuracy of detail. Assuming the new Tariff increases our duties by about71/2 per cent. on the average, though there are instances in which the increase is 20 per cent., and even 100 per cent.
– The average increase is about 10 per cent.
– Taking it at71/2 per cent., it means an increase of about £1,893,000 in the revenue from the £25,000,000 of imports which, were dutiable under the old Tariff. And under this Tariff another £11,000,000 of imports are dutiable which last year were free. Putting the duties on those imports at 10 per cent, which is well within the mark, they will yield a revenue of £1,100,000, making the probable increase under the new Tariff £2,993,000. This estimate coincides strangely with that made by the leader of the Opposition just now, in multiplying the increase for last month - £2 50,000 - by twelve, which brings the increase for the year to £3,000,000. It is to be noted that this increase will not foe for one year only, because a large number of the goods on which duties have been increased cannot be made in Australia for years to come. In conclusion, I wish to ask by whom will this increase have to be paid ? Possibly Min isters are under the impression that it will be paid by those known as the classes. But, in my opinion, it will be paid by the masses. They will discover that this extra revenue is largely being collected from them. I have come to that conclusion as the result of experience, not only as an importer, but as Treasurer of Tasmania or* various occasions - in which position it was my duty to observe the incidence of taxation, to discover as nearly as possible what burdens were borne by the working classes and what by the well-to-do. The proportion of the burdens of the masses to those of the classes is very great. In his admirable book on the income tax, Leoni Levi published a diagram showing Teneriffe with its peak, 15,000 feet high, and its base submerged. That enormous base represented the masses in Great Britain whose incomes could not be taxed by reason of the fact that they fell below the exemption of £150, while, as the peak grew smaller and smaller, it indicated the numbers of those who paid! the tax. I have followed out that idea on many occasions in Australia. I have found that in the case of an income tax with an. exemption of £150, comparatively few of the masses could be taxed. It seems almost incredible that the number of personsin Australia who pay income tax with an exemption of £150. do not represent21/2per cent. of the population. Who, then, will bear the burden of the extra £3,000,000 of taxation which is imposed by this Tariff?
– Three millions extra?
– Yes; and I am placing the figures on record as a reference for a year later.
– Does the honorable gentleman seriously think those figures are correct ?
– I was not very far out in the estimate I made with respect to a former Tariff. Only to-day the honorable gentleman has given us an example of the effect of the Tariff. Last month it yielded an increased revenue of £250,000.
– That is right; but there was a decrease in the previous month.
– All those who importsoftgoods, textiles and apparel, not only in Melbourne, but also in other cities, received their spring goods just prior to the introduction of the Tariff. .
– I know that they did.
– Ibeg the honorable gentleman’s pardon.
– I have it on record that they did.
– It was really that which brought up the revenue.
– With respect to that class of stuff, the great mass of the imports for the season was brought in a week or two, in some instances, only a day before, the introduction of the Tariff. Therefore, the effect of the increased duties has not yet been felt, but when the autumn season comes round the Treasurer will receive a great deal more than an increase of £250,000 in one month.
– Oh, no.
– That is my opinion, and I have beenmore closely, connected with the importing and distributing trade and with Treasury finance than has the honorable gentleman.
– I do not know about that. I have been at it a good while.
– I was not aware that the honorable gentleman had ever been an importer.
– No - with Treasury finance, I meant.
– If Ministers think that by the imposition of high duties they will get at the classes, they are making a great mistake. The great burden of this taxation will fall on the workers.
– Take the article of silks, on which the duty has been increased.
– That will not fall on the poorer classes anyway.
– Indeed, it will. What have the retail traders told me?
– It is the Toorak people who use silks.
– According to the retail traders, two Toorak persons, as compared with ninety-eight workers, whose incomes are below £150, buy silks. The two Toorak persons, who spend from , £50 to £100 a year on silks, have to be compared with ninety-eight persons, who spend £5or £6 or £7 each on silks.
– I do not think that persons with an income of £150 buy much silk.
-Every domestic servant, every factory girl has a Liberty silk blouse, and will have it. If honorable members will go into a theatre or elsewhere they will discover how persons dress. The masses, after putting a little into the Savings Bank, spend almost all their earnings on dress.
– Do they?
– I know as a fact that they do. The retailers with whom I used to trade in Tasmania in years gone by told me that the masses are, in the aggregate, the best customers to shopkeepers. The best customer, of course, is the one who pays the largest bill, but the great bulk of the goods are disposed of to the masses, who, of course, buy in small quantities.
– There are no poor people in Tasmania.
– No, but 98 per cent. of the people receive less than £150 a year. According to the income tax statistics, Tasmania in that respect is in about the same position as the other States, and not more than21/2 per cent. of the people throughout Australia are liable to an income tax when an exemption of £150 is allowed.
– The honorable member does not call silk a necessary of life?
– Certainly not, but we all like to see girls fairly well dressed. Who does not delight in seeing’ girls - domestic servants or factory workers - well dressed?These girls will be well dressed. The silk blouse is made, not from silk manufactured in England, but from silk manufactured at the Liberty Silk Mills in Illinois. Since the revocation of the edict of Nantes, in 1685, when the Protestants of France journeyed to Coventry and Spitalfields, England has not been able to overtake the manufacture of silk and to compete with France. It is from France, and not from England, that our silks are coming. With a community of 4,000,000 persons!, . there is no chance of our ever being able to manufacture silk.
– They are now. investing money in the industry in Sydney.
– I guaran tee that as regards the weaving of silks, there is no such investment taking place in Sydney.
– In regard to the making up of silks, there is.
– I have not spoken’ with any ill-will to my honorable friends on the other side. They ought to be grateful for this inquiry into their methods.
There is something which they have not given to us, and which I contend that we ought to have.
– What does the honorable member want?
– When the honorable gentleman made his financial statement he ought to have told us the value of each free article which was made dutiable by the Tariff. If, instead of saying that the Tariff would yield an increased revenue of .£900,000, he had said that it would increase the revenue by ,£2, 2 50, 000, he would have been on the right side.
– If the honorable member is right, all I can say is that the Customs officials do not know their duty, because I have taken my figures from them.
– I will not contradict the honorable gentleman.
– The Customs officials estimated a little more, but certainly not much more than I stated.
– If I had the list before me I could point out over and over again where the duty on an article has been raised from id. to Itd. or 2d. per lb., or from 25 to 40 per cent. On one line only, cotton and linen piece goods imported last year, £3,300,000, the extra duty is 5 per cent., and will yield two-thirds of the increased revenue estimated by the Treasurer. The Tariff as a whole is an immense advance on any previous Tariff. The effect will be to throw a great burden on the masses, instead of on the wealthy.
– It will be found out that this Tariff throws a great burden on the masses.
– We are hitting the importers pretty hard.
– What was my aim in Tasmania when I had charge of the finances, but an endeavour to throw the burden of taxation on persons with incomes, for the purpose of relieving, not a few who paid large amounts in Customs duties, but the great masses who paid ‘the smaller amounts ?
– But the honorable member is an extreme free-trader.
– If the honorable gentleman thinks that he is hitting the importers, he is making a great mistake.
– No, I am not.
– As we proceed with the consideration of the Tariff I will show that, although five years ago we imposed high duties on apparel, textiles, earthenware, glassware, musical instruments, and other articles, the value of those articles has increased during the intervening period. We shall witness a similar result under this Tariff. Even if we adopt the high duties which Ministers have proposed,, the great bulk of those articles required by , the community will continue to come in. We are not ready to overtake the supply,, and the merchants,, importers, and others are afraid to make themselves ready to do° so, because of the labour conditions. Hari’ it not been for the labour conditions inTasmania, I would have started a factory there years ago. But we are manufacturing to a large extent already in Tasmania.
– Does the honorable member believe in sweating?
– No, certainly not ; anybody who is aware how my clerks, were paid, and of the bonuses they received for twenty or thirty years, knowsthat I do not believe in sweating. Ever* on a 20 per cent. Tariff in Tasmania - the highest ever imposed while I was Premier - the manufacturers incidentally opened their mills. There is no more joyful sound than the factory bell day by day, and we can realize no more satisfactory result than, year by year, to find our woollen manufacturers, bootmakers, strawhat makers, and so forth, increasing in numbers. Those manufacturers do not ask for any higher duty; indeed, they deprecate any increase. What were thefacts laid before the members of the Tariff Commission ? We are told that the manufacturers of Tasmania asked that the Tariff might be left as it was - stating that duties of 20 per cent, were high enough;, and it is in that spirit that I shall approach the consideration of the Tariff.. At the same time, as I said before, if any industry has been injured by the former Tariff, I am prepared to remedy the mischief. There is no occasion, however, inremedying a mischief of that kind, to impose ‘higher duties than will give a fair return for the investment. And who can say that the manufacturers are not at pre- sent securing, a very fair remunerative return on their capital? We have heard a good deal about the Denton Hat Mills ; but what have those mills to compete against? A few thousands pounds worth of hats come from Italy and Germany - 1 think I am right in saying there is not more than £40,000 worth per annum altogether - and yet the proprietors of those mills, which pay dividends of 10 per cent, time after time, who have money written off the value of the machinery, and a reserve fund, are always asking for more protection. Industries which have been forced in a hot-house atmosphere always continue to ask for more consideration ; in the United States, for example, the Tariff has been raised over and over again as a wall against the outside world.. I have dealt with matters to which I had no idea of referring. My object was simply to have placed on record the fact, as disclosed by the figures placed before us, that the Tariff we are asked to sanction will give an increased return of not £[1,000,000, out more nearly £[3,000,000 increase for the current year.
.- I have given notice to move that seventynine items which are enumerated shall be passed en bloc. My reason is that the proposals of the Government, in regard to these items, are in accord with the old Tariff, and also in accord with the unanimous recommendations of the Commission. Under the circumstances, I thought that greater expedition might be attained by passing these items en bloc; and, after making inquiries, I do not think that any honorable member will object to the suggestion. I should like to ask your ruling, Mr. Chairman, whether I am in order in submitting that motion? I can assure the Government that my only object is to expedite business.
– The right honorable member has included an item which may give rise to considerable discussion, namely, tobacco.
– And a number of the items are interwoven with others.
– No; the items are distinct. The item of tobacco I have included is in accord with the proposals of the Government.
– The duty as it appears in the Tariff is in accord with the recommendation of the Commission ; but that recommendation has been proved to be absolutely wrong.
– The item is No. 20, and the duty recommended by the Commission is in accord with the proposals of the Government.
– There has been a great deal of trouble about ‘the tobacco items.
– If there are any items in my list to which the Government or any honorable member objects, I shall be glad to omit them, being satisfied that, even then, my proposal would result in quicker progress.
– If the items were carried in accord with the right honorable member’s idea, what would have to be done if any decision of the Committee necessitated an alteration in them?
– We should have to recommit the items in question, I suppose. I could have understood objection, perhaps, from honorable members, but I cannot understand the Government objecting to a proposal which is in accord with their own recommendations.
– It would be getting the Tariff through too quickly, I suppose.
– And that might not be desirable from the point of view of some people. I should like to make what remarks I have to make now, and then ask your ruling, sir, as to the submission of my proposal. Only one question of any real importance has been brought before the Committee to-day. The Treasurer has told us nothing new in his references to the value of imports into Australia. The item “ straw,” which he specially referred to, was very unimportant, as only some 3 cwt. was imported last year. In the new protection, as it is called, however, an important principle is involved. I do not desire to commit myself to any definite expression of opinion’ at the present time, because, as yet, we have not had an opportunity to carefully consider the matter. Indeed, I did not quite hear the Treasurer in everything he said on the question. It seems to me, however, that the scheme proposed may, in some respects, be acceptable, in regard to monopolies and combinations, though it appears to me too far-reaching in its effects. I do not know whether I understood the Treasurer correctly, but does he intend this new protection to apply to. every industry throughout the country, including agricultural and pastoral industries, which are not,- as we know, within the operation of the Arbitration Acts of Australia? Stock, meat, butter, wheat, and so forth are produced under very different circumstances and conditions from those of ordinary manufactures. Did I understand the Treasurer to say that agricultural and pastoral industries are to be included?
– I said distinctly and repeatedly, in answer to questions, that a schedule will be prepared showing the manufactures that will be affected. The scheme will not be effective throughout all industries.
– Not in regard to agricultural and pastoral industries, I presume ?
– I do not think that agricultural industries will be affected, so far as I can see.
– If that be so, a good deal of the difficulty is removed.
– There is a duty on most of the articles produced in those industries.
– I am asking whether the new Excise duties suggested will apply to agricultural and pastoral products ? .
– I do not wish to say anything which, without explanation, might tend to mislead honorable members, but when the right honorable gentleman resumes his seat I shall refer to that matter.
– It is important that we should know at once whether the new Excise duties are to apply to the agricultural productions of the country. It seems to me that the Treasurer is proposing to do only what was done seven or eight years -ago in Western Australia, and what has been already done in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, and that is, to provide that those engaged in manufacturing industries shall have an opportunity of having their wages regulated by an Arbitration Court. That has been the law in most parts of Australia for years. I did not gather that the proposals now made by the Treasurer will go any further than the law which now exists. I do not know that such provision has been made in Queensland or in Tasmania, but there is a law in South Australia! under which the wages in an industy can be regulated.
– And other conditions of labour.
– That is so. I mean wages, hours, and other conditions of labour -can at the present time be regulated in all the States, with the exception possibly of Queensland and Tasmania, and it therefore seems to me that there is no justification for all the noise that has been made about the new protection. I am not satisfied that it will confer any additional benefit on workers in the State from which I come, where the wages and conditions of labour are regulated by an Arbitration Court.
– Still, they had a big strike over there.
– I am aware of that, but that was because the employes would not accept the decisions of the Arbitration Court. We may expect to have strikes in every State, if either the employers or the employes will not abide by the decisions of the Courts. Though I say it with regret, I think the rule has been> that employes have not been content to abide by decisions which have not been in> their favour.
– What about the bakers’” strike.
– So far as I can understand, the operative bakers have struck against the award of the Court.
– No, the Appeal Court overruled the award of the Wages Board-
– They have acted in defiance of a decision of a tribunal elected by Parliament. I do not agree with ‘the view held by the honorable member for Gwydir. If a law is passed* we are bound to obey it until it is altered1 in a constitutional manner, and to assert the right to take the law into our ownhands is only to introduce anarchy and1 despotism.
– The law in this - casewas not made by the representatives of thepeople.
– Then by whom was it made?
– By men who for thetime being had usurped that position.
– The honorablemember is not doing himself .justice. During the passage of the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill in this House, we heard honorable members saying many times “ Trust the Court.”
– Why is not the Court trusted in connexion with the duty imposed’ on wire netting?
– Does the right honorablegentleman not know that the Wages Board’ awarded the operative bakers a wageof £.2 14s. per week, and that on appeal’ made by the employers, and not the employes, the Appeal Court fixed the wagesat £%2 ios. per week?
– Why not, if that were done in accordance with the law ?*
– Why should we have two Courts, one of which upsets the verdict of the other?
– I wonder what the honorable member would have said if the facts had been the other way about, if the Wages Board had fixed the wages at £2 1 os. per week, and the Appeal Court had increased them to £2 14s. ?
– That is practically an impossibility with a Court.
– That only shows how unfair the honorable member can be where the interests he supports are affected. It is useless discussing the question with an honorable member who argues in that way. I submit that, whether the law is against us or for us, it must be obeyed.
– If it is properly administered.
– Order !
– I am afraid that the honorable member would be satisfied only if he had the administration of the law himself.
– If the right honorable gentleman administered the law it would be all right.
– I hope the honorable member will agree that, as lawabiding citizens, it is our duty to obey the law, and that, if it is not what we desire, we should use constitutional means to have it altered. I very much regret to say that, so far as I have been able to judge, the employers, whether satisfied or not, have complied with the law, whilst the employes seem to think that arbitration courts are constituted in order to increase wages, and so soon as a diminution of wages is proposed think they are at liberty to disobey the law.
– That is not a fair statement. They have accepted the decisions of the courts in scores of cases.
– I know that they have accepted decisions which they have deemed to be in their favour, but the have not so readily accepted decisions with which they have not agreed. I regret to have to say this, because I suppose we all desire to avoid strikes. I introduced an Arbitration and Conciliation Bill in the Western Australian Parliament against the wishes of many of those whose opinions I valued, and there was no Labour Party in the State Parliament in those days. A statement has been made, I think, by the Treasurer, to the effect that if it were not for the presence of Labour members in this House, no liberal legislation would take place.
– I did not say that. I said that, probably, the new protection would not have been introduced.
– I accept that modification of the statement, and in reply I say that the proposed new protection, provisions will not be in advance of thelegislation dealing with wages and conditions of labour which we have had in Western Australia for over seven years.
– They will.
– They may have some effect in connexion with combinations and monopolies, and I shall deal with that matter directly.
– Western Australia never had a Tariff subject to labour conditions.
– No, but we had legislation regulating labour conditions apart from the Tariff. I have regretted very much to hear from the Minister, or from some one else, that if there were no direct Labour representatives in this House legislation of this kind would not be brought forward.
– I did not say that.
– I think that such a statement is a calumny. It is a very ungrateful and improper statement to make, seeing that a great deal of such legislation on the statute-books of the different States was passed long before there was a Labour Party in Parliament. If honorable members will search the statutebook of Western Australia they will find that there was more liberal legislation passed before there was a Labour Party in the Parliament than has been passed since.
– They would find nothing.
– The honorable gentleman was in office in New South Wales for a good many years, and with the support of the Labour Party and a good majority behind him, he should have done something in this way.
– So I did. I did more than the right honorable gentleman has done.
– I am aware that there is little force in the tu quo que argument, but the honorable gentleman’s legislation of a liberal character is as nothing compared with. mine. Let him search the statute-book of Western Australia for the ten years during which I was Premier of that State. There was no Truck Act passed in New South Wales whilst the Treasurer was in office in that State.
– I introduce-.! that Act.
– Long ago. Before Western Australia had constitutional government.
– At any rate in Western Australia, before the advent of the Labour Party, we passed a good deal ot liberal legislation, and what is more, of progressive legislation as well.
– The right honorable gentleman might mention some of it.
– If the Minister of Trade and Customs lives to be 100, though he may do more talking than I shall, he will not do half as much good. He should say nothing about me, because I am in a position to retort, and to ask that I should be judged not, like him, by what he has talked about, but by what I have done; There was no justification for the statement made by the Treasurer that, until the advent of the Labour Party, there was no liberalism in the legislation of Western Australia.
– I did not make that statement.
– The honorable member said, at all events, that I had done nothing. To return, however, to the proposal immediately before us, I think -that the scheme for regulating prices will be difficult to carry out. We all agree that some means should be devised to prevent the public from being victimized by combines or monopolies ; but it seems to me that the regulation of prices is impossible. I could quite understand the appointment of a Board of Trade similar to that in operation in Great Britain which would control, to some extent, railways, and trade and. commerce generally, and report to Parliament in regard to any injustice suffered by the community in connexion with those matters ; but an attempt by Parliament or a Board to fix the price of every item that is dutiable under the Tariff would be as impossible as it is unnecessary. Such a procedure would destroy competition, and do away with the spirit of emulation and enterprise. I do not think that when We get to close quarters the Treasurer, who generally has a keen eye for the main chance, will .pursue this project to ils ultimate conclusion.
– Pursue what?
– The proposal that every item which is dutiable under the Tariff shall have a maximum price.
– I was careful to say that that was not so.
– I rose for the purpose of obtaining your ruling, Mr. Chairman, on the question I have stated, and I thought that it would- be as well to avail myself of the opportunity to make a few general observations regarding the Government proposals, reserving mv right to deal more fully with them when’ I have had an opportunity to carefully study them. I was very glad to hear the honorable member say that it was not intended to apply the new protection to the agricultural and pastoral industries. If that stand be adopted, I am sure we shall view the Government proposals from a different stand-point from that which we should otherwise do. So long as these proposals are restricted to the manufacturers, who are controlled at present in New South Wales and Western Australia by Conciliation and Arbitration Acts, and in Victoria and South Australia by Wages Boards, I do not think that they .will affect to any large extent either employers or employes. I have only to say,, in conclusion, that I should like to know when the Minister proposes to proceed with “the scheme of new protection outlined by him.
– The right honorable member for Swan’ has inquired whether he would be in order in moving a certain amendment, of which he has given notice. I would point out that he could have moved it when we were dealing with the general question, but that, since the first item has been put, it is not possible for him to submit it at the present stage..
– Arising out of your ruling, Mr. Chairman, I should like to ask whether you intend to put the earlier clauses, as is done with a preamble, at a later stage, or whether you consider that they have been accepted, and that we are, therefore, to deal with the first item?
– After we have dealt with the various items, I shall put the question that the resolution, as amended, be agreed to.
– Then the whole schedule will be open to amendment ?
– No. As a matter of fact, each item is in itself a special enactment.
– I desire to know whether I shall be in order in moving that all the items in the schedule, from 1 to 186 inclusive, be postponed until item 187, “ wire netting,” has been dealt with?
– The honorable member will be in order in moving such an amendment.
– So far as I am aware, Mr. Chairman, the governing clauses were not put, and that being so, I claim that they have not been passed by the Committee. The putting of a subsequent item could not affect them, and in the circumstances, I think that the Committee should have an opportunity, if it be desired, to amend the governing clauses or to discuss an amendment of them at a later stage. Had they been put and passed by the Committee, the position would be different. In that event, I should recognise that we had passed the stage atwhich they could be amended. But as I understand that they have not been put, I submit that they are not affected by the putting of a subsequent item.
– I submit, Mr. Chairman, that whether the preamble was or was not put, we cannot revert to it since the first item has been put to the Committee. As a rule, the preamble to a Bill is generally put last of all to the Committee.
– That is so, and in this case the preamble has not been put.
– I have not the slightest doubt that, if necessary, the Chairman, will put, at a later stage, the question “ that the preamble be the preamble of the resolution” just as he does in connexion with all Bills brought before us. I’ entirely agree with your ruling, Mr. Chairman, that each item is practically a clause ; that it is distinct in itself.
– And has to be put separately ?
– Yes. The right honorable member for Swan has asked whether he would be in order in moving an amendment that a number of items’ be given precedence. I would point out that he does not propose to deal with consecutive items.
– The Chairman has already- ruled against the right honorable member for Swan.
– I desire to know whether there will be an opportunity of moving an amendment, if necessary, on the covering clauses ?
– My desire is to follow on this occasion the practice that was followed when the last Tariff was being considered, and also the practice, so far as we can ascertain it, followed in the consideration of Tariffs in the States Parliaments. May’s Parliamentary Practice is of little or no use to us as a guide in this particular instance. My own opinion is that the introductory clauses are merely explanatory, and will have to be embodied in the Bill which will be introduced to enact the Tariff before they can become law. The proper subjects for discussion in the Committee of Ways and Means are the items dealing with the amount of duties to be imposed. ‘ The first paragraph, “ That duties of Customs and duties of Excise be imposed according to the following Tariff,” will be put at the end of the items of the Tariff in the same way as the preamble and the title of a Bill are put.
– And amendments can be moved at that stage?
– Amendments can then be moved regarding the time at which the Tariff is to come into operation, and so on. What I have indicated is the course which I intend to follow. I am mapping out rather a new course, but as I have nothing to guide me, I am indicating that as the best course for the Committee to follow.
.- Mr. Chairman-
– Should I be in order now in moving to postpone certain items ?
– I do not know what the honorable member desires to move.
– I want to bring on the item “ wire netting.”
Sir WILLIAM LYNE. I shall not agree to bring on “ wire netting “ at the present stage. The Government are going to conduct the Tariff in their own way, or not at all. The moment any amendment is moved to postpone all the items up to a certain item, other honorable members will want other items brought on first, and the discussion will be endless.
– This business is most pressing.
– Other things are most pressing also. That sort of thing could not be done unless the Committee generally agreed that a postponement of that kind, which the Government would move themselves, would be accepted without a long discussion.
– That is the idea that we had - that the Government would name the items.
– Unless it is agreed that there shall be no discussion, or only a short discussion, the Government must adhere to the order of the items as they appear in the Tariff. If a motion is made to postpone a large number of items in order to bring on one particular item, a discussion can take place with regard to every item which it is proposed to postpone. The result would be endless delay. It will be quite a different thing if I get an intimation from the Committee that there is not going to be a long discussion. In that case it may be possible to meet the Committee in perhaps two or three cases. Under no other conditions can the Government agree to a motion to allow this or that item to take precedence over a number of others.
– If the Minister initiates a system of that description, I, and I think other honorable members also, will have a few item to bring forward.
– There is no proposal before the Committee at the present moment to postpone any item.
– It is all very well for individual members to try to obtain a little cheap popularity on any particular itemby seeking to postpone a number of others.
– This is a matter of national concern.
– So are other items.
– Not like this. People are waiting to get their netting.
– If the honorable member wants to delay the consideration of the Tariff, he is taking the proper course to achieve that object. The Government are anxious, and so aim I, to deal with the items in the Tariff as soon as we possibly can. The honorable member for Robertson heard the intimation given by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. That shows that the moment it is proposed to postpone a large section of the Tariff in favour of one item, other honorable members will ask for the same consideration for other items.
– We frequently did it in the consideration of the last Tariff.
– I do not think so. At any rate, at the present time it will only mean delay in dealing with the Tariff, and also delay in reaching the very item to which the honorable member wants to give precedence. No one wants to deal with the items quicker than the Government and I do. Ifthe honorable member will allow the consideration of the Tariff to proceed in the ordinary way, certainly nothing will be postponed so far as the Government are concerned until after the tobacco duties are considered. They come next after the division before the Chair.
– Why not get on to them at once?
– If honorable members will allow us, we shall reach and, perhaps, finish them to-night.
– Why not get rid of the wire netting itemnext?
– The Government cannot agree to that course at present. I hope that the honorable member, and others who are anxious to reach that item at an early date, will not move catch motions of the kind he has indicated. The Government, while they have charge of the business of the Committee, cannot agree to anything of the kind. When the tobacco duties have been dealt with, the Government may, perhaps, consider then whether what the honorable member suggests is possible, but they will certainly not agree to do it in any shape or formifthere is to be a long debate on the merits of the items which it is proposed to postpone. I wish to emphasize this, so that we may know where we are before we go any further in connexion with the Tariff. It is a very serious matter to postpone one-half or onethird of the Tariff in order to give precedence toa particular item. Many honorable members desire to deal withthe machinery duties assoon as possible and the same applies to the duties on chairs and magazines.
– Hundreds of items are urgent.
– A greatmany are urgent. The honorable member for Robertson is anxious to reach the item of wire netting, because it affects his electorate. I am anxious, also, that we shall dealwith it asearly as possible, as it affects my own electorate, and other country electorates in
New South Wales and Queensland, but the Government have to consider the question of the Tariff asa whole, and I can assure the honorable member that if he moves to defer a large number of other items it will not facilitate our reaching this particular item.
– Will you, Mr. Chairman, let the discussion close, before I move the motion I have indicated?
– I would point out to the honorable member that the question before the Chair is item 1.
– I shall move that all items up to and including item 186-
.- Will the honorable member allow me to interpose before he moves the motion? I am sorry to interrupt him, but I would suggest that, as the Minister exhibits an inclination to consider this matter a little further after we have dealt with the tobacco duties, and as I know that several delegates from workmen’s unions connected with the tobacco trade have been here for weeks waiting for that division to come on, it would be just as well if we dealt with the tobacco duties at once. It might afterwards be considered whether certain other items should be taken first.
– There are a number of men out of work in the tobacco trade.
– Personally, I think it is impossible to secure what the honorable member for Robertson wants, unless the Minister agrees. I ask the honorable member not to move the motion now, but to allow us to reach the division “ Tobacco “ immediately. I’ do not know whether the sense of the Committee would not be met by taking the whole of the division now before the Chair at once.
– There are one or two little amendments to be made.
– In that case, the division cannot be put as a whole. Otherwise, I know of no reason why the whole division should not be passed immediately.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer if he now intends to give the explanation as to the application to industries of the proposed Board which he promised to make in reply to the right honorable member for Swan. If we proceed beyond the present stage, I do not know that he will Be afforded an opportunity of making that explanation, seeing that it deals with extraneous matter.
– I do not know exactly what the right honorable member for Swan wished to infer. The proposals of the Government in reference to what is known as the new protection deal with the question of the wages payable by manufacturers. That is the proposal so far as it has gone. As I have already stated, the intention is that the Government shall formulate a list of items or manufactures over which the Board will have control. I think that the right honorable member for Swan asked me whether the proposals of the Government were applicable to the farmers. My impression is that they do not apply to farmers, but merely to manufacturers and to the wages paid by them to their employes.
– How can they apply to farmers who have nothing to protect ?
– Duties are imposed upon a number of primary products entering the Commonwealth.
– There is a duty upon straw, which shows the folly of the whole thing.
– In order to safeguard the farmers, we should have to wipe out those duties.
– We shall not do that. My impression is that the proposals of the Government do not apply to other than manufacturers. If. my answer is not satisfactory to the honorable member for North Sydney, Imay add that to-morrow I shall be in a position to give further information regarding this particular phase of the question. There is no necessity at the present moment for me to enter into details, because the proposals of the Government will not be submitted until a Bill has been introduced dealing with the whole matter.
– When will the Bill be brought forward?
– My impression is that it will not be introduced until the consideration of the Tariff isnearing completion. .
– Why not bringit forward early ? It might affect a number of vote; upon the Tariff.
– The proposals if brought forward might be debated a length, and the consideration of the Tariff delayed.
– But the carrying of the proposals might affect a number of lowTariff votes.
– The Government will bring the Bill forward at what they deem to be the proper time. There is scarcely any necessity to introduce it until the consideration of the Tariff has been nearly completed. I desire also to make another statement in this connexion, if I may be permitted to do so. If the Senate , is not fully occupied with other work, when, say, one-third - or perhaps a little more - of the Tariff proposals have been dealt with, I believe that we can embody those proposals in a Bill, and forward them to the other Chamber to be dealt with whilst we are considering the remaining portions of the Tariff.
– How can. we do that when the Tariff resolutions, as a whole, will have to be put from the Chair?
– I have information upon the point, and I believe that what I have said can be done. If it can be done, I think that .we shall be acting wisely by doing, it. »
– I should be very much surprised, to find that members of the Senate are simple enough to tackle the job.
– The position will be considered by the Government. If what I have suggested can be done, without one division of the Tariff clashing with another, it will be done. Of course it will not be done if clashing cannot be avoided, because we’ all recognise that some of the items hang one upon the other. Any part of the Tariff dealt with separately must be symmetrical.
– The duties interlock as the Treasurer knows.
– I am quite aware of that, and great care will have to be taken.
– Has the Treasurer any reason for the adoption of the- course suggested other than the saving of time?
– None whatever.
– Is it not a fact that the duties sanctioned by this Committee become operative immediately?
– Yes; and the object of the Government is to complete the consideration of the Tariff before Christmas. I dp not think there is any other way in which, that result can be accomplished than that I have indicated. I shall not attempt to give effect to the proposal in the face of any serious opposition, but the desire of the Government is to get theconsideration of the Tariff completed as soon as possible. That is my only reason for making the suggestion. I hope that thehonorable member for Robertson will not move in trie direction he has indicated, bur if he does I ask honorable members to support me in controlling the business of the Committee. «
– The Treasurer ;s trying to frighten honorable members.
– No. But the Government are not going to have the con. trol of the business taken out of their hands.
– If one proposal be carrier! in favour of altering the order in which thevarious items of the Tariff ‘ shall be considered, I shall test the feeling of the Committee in regard to a few more.
– If the honorable member for Robertson submits his amendment it will only have the effect of deferring the consideration of the item which he is so anxious to reach.
– I am very reluctant to interpose in this debate, but we are asked topass certain proposals in the Tariff. As a reason for passing them, we have been informed that a system embodying protection-, for the workmen employed in the industriesprotected by the Tariff, will be put before us. I quite agree with the Treasurer that we ought not, perhaps, to expect the Bill conferring that protection to be placed before us at the present stage, but I do say that we ought to have an outline Of the principles of the measure so that we mav deaf with the Ministerial proposals in an enlightened way. But what do we find ? Weare asked - in view of promised legislation- - to impose duties which must seriously affect the community, and yet we are told” bv the Minister who proposes it, that he does not know what are the provisions of that legislation.
– I did not say anything of the kind. The honorable member might be fair, at any rate.
– The Treasurer has just stated that he did not think that the proposals of the Government would’ lie extended to the agricultural and pastoral industries, but he could not say positively. How can he take exception to my remark that he admits he has not vet formulated his ideas upon the matter when he can give no information upon that important issue? In a variety qf ways the scheme outlined by the Government is absolutely - unworkable!
Prom my stand-point, I regard with some pleasure the proposed check on the too greedy requirements of some manufacturers to the injury of the community. I regard it also as undoubtedly just that, if manufacturers are going to get heavy protection because of the high prices they pay for labour, we ought to see that the reason they give for requiring that protection is substantiated by the payment of reasonable wages. I also agree that it is desirable in regard to trusts and combines, and the question of whether manufacturers are entitled to the benefit of duties if they are combining and charging excessive prices, that such matters should be dealt with, not by a Minister, and not in the first place even by this Parliament, but by some independent Board. My only objection to a Board is on the ground of the increased expenditure, which we are piling up in connexion with one thing and another in Commonwealth affairs. But I do say that when a Minister has proposals of this sort to make to Parliament, and when he asks Parliament to adopt certain provisions in a Tariff in view of them, he ought clearly to outline the proposals. The present slipshod method of doing business will not bring this Parliament into credit.’ I have never known, in my experience, of any Parliament - and I have never read of any Parliament - passing a measure requiring some other measure to complete it, without knowing what were the provisions that were to appear in the second measure. The Minister has said that he cannot for the present say definitely whether agricultural or pastoral industries will be affected. He has said that the proposals of the Government will apply to all manufactures which are protected by the Tariff. Now, there are manufactures connected with agriculture and with pastoral pursuits. The wine industry extends throughout. Australia. There are heavy duties on imported wines. There is the butter industry, and there are many other rural industries. But we are quite in ignorance as to whether they will be affected by the proposals of the Government. According to the Minister’s statement, all manufactures that are protected by the Tariff will be affected. If so, will these rural industries be affected ? Then he creates another difficulty. He says that the old Tariff was not protective, but was a revenue Tariff - that it did not protect the industries of Australia. As he is proposing to interfere only with industries that are protected, does he mean that his proposals will interfere only with those industries that receive the benefit of raised duties under the new Tariff, or are the proposals to extend to all the industries of Australia producing articles dutiable as imports under the Tariff? We have had no explanation on that point.
– The Government must do that or nothing.
– The Minister admits that many duties under the old Tariff were revenue duties. Some of those duties are increased under the new Tariff, and some are not. Are only those which, in the Minister’s opinion, are protective duties to be affected by the proposals of the Government, and is there to be some method of defining what is a protective duty? We have had no explanation on that point. Again, the Minister says that he proposes to impose an Excise duty wherever there is protection, and, if proper wages are paid, to remit the Excise.
– I did not’ say that.
– The Minister said that the Excise proposals are to apply to all manufactures that are protected.
– According to a list which will be prepared and placed in the hands of the Board.
– We ought to have that list. Surely when we are dealing with Customs duties we ought to know to what manufactures the Excise proposals are to apply. The proposal is that Excise duties will be remitted if certain satisf actory conditions are observed. But that proposal apparently does not apply to those very large and important items of manufacture in connexion with which Excise duties are already imposed. What is to be done in regard to the Excise duties which at present apply to beer, sugar, and a number of other commodities? Those questions show how imperfect is the information that we have. The Minister’s proposal absolutely breaks down in connexion with those large industries. Are they to be dealt with or are they not? Are they to be a favoured exception, or arethey to be brought under the scope of the new legislation ? We have no information on that point. The Minister has not explained a number of other matters. If, for instance, the duties which he proposes are imposed, and increase the cost of living - as they must do - he has not explained how he is going to benefit those other workers who are not engaged in the industries, but who have to suffer on account of the higher cost of living. The figures given by the Minister show there is this increased cost. The Minister quoted the prices charged for a number of articles about which he sent an officer to get information.
– He quoted the price of straw, for example !
– He quoted straw, curry powder, and a number of articles like that. He admitted that there were increases in the cost of local manufactures where no duty was paid - as, for instance, on candles, soap, and preserved milk.
– That is not correct ; Nestles’ milk is not an Australian-made article.
– Are not the manufacturers interested in an Australian industry?
– They are thinking of undertaking an Australian industry, but they are not making their product here now. What does the honorable member mean by “interested”?
– They are interested or becoming interested in Australian manufacture.I do not know whether they are actually making their preserved milk here now.
– Not yet.
– The honorable member may be right. The prices of candles, soap, and starch, of Australian manufacture, were quoted, and as to the cocoa mentioned, it was not stated whether it was imported or locally made, although a considerable quantity is made locally. In each instance prices have been raised, although the cost of Australianmade articles has not been increased by the increase of duties. The Minister has made no statement in regard to the very important matters to which I have alluded. Unfortunately, we are getting into the loose habit of passing legislation before we have received from the Ministry sufficient information to enable us to judge of its probable effect. We ought to know - I do not say in detail, becauseI do not expect the Treasurer to have a Bill ready-
Mr.Joseph Cook. -Why not?
– I excuse him for not having it ready.
– There is nothing that the honorable member would excuse me for.
– The Treasurer knows that he has been excused very often, and that no one more frequently needs excuse for the manner in which measures are placed before this Parliament. Time after time our legislation has proved absolutely ineffective. The anti-trust legislation has proved so.
– The Opposition did not attempt to strengthen it.
– One or two amendments which I moved, and which the Minister accepted, made the Australian Industries Preservation Bill more effective for its purpose, but, although attention was called to many imperfections, the measure was passed without consideration being given by the Ministry to most of the criticisms levelled against it. It is the duty of’ Parliament, before it acts, to know what it is being asked to do ; but do the members of this Committee know what are the proposals of the Ministry in regard to what has been termed the new protection ?
– We are not being asked to come to any decision in regard to them yet.
– We shall have to come to a decision in regard to them immediately we deal with the Tariff in detail.
– The general lines of the Government’s proposals have been placed before us, and we shall be asked to decide upon them before the Tariff schedule is finally dealt with.
– Does the honorable member think that the right attitude for the Government to take is, “ First pass these items, and then we shall give you an explanation “ ? Does the honorable member favour the passing of legislation without the necessary information from the Government ?
– We have information.
– We are not asked to pass legislation without information. No proposals are before us - only general principles.
– Does the honorable member for Boothby say that we are not asked to pass the Tariff?
– Certainly not.
– We are asked to pass the Tariff, and to agree to duties, the evils arising from which will, according to the Minister, be counteracted by subsequent legislation. But we are not given the information which we should have as to what this legislation will be.
The Minister admits that at the present time he does not know what its provisions will be.
– We have been informed as to its general lines.
– We have not been adequately informed. I have asked the Minister whether it will apply to agricultural and pastoral industries, and he has told me that he cannot say.
– Ask the honorable member for South Sydney.
– I can repeat only what the Minister has said.
– The Minister has told us that he cannot say.
– He has said that it will apply to protected industries.
– Are we to understand that the honorable member for North Sydney is prepared to take the Tariff as it is, if the new protection is strong and satisfactory enough ?
– I have not said anything of the kind, although the nature of the new protection, if I knew what it was to be, might affect my votes on items of the Tariff. The Minister expects that it will affect the decision of honorable members.
– Not of members of the Opposition.
– The fact that legislation is to be introduced to modify the effect of the Tariff is expected to affect the decisions of members of the Committee. Therefore we should know what it is. My reason for intruding in the debate just now is to protest against the. slipshod methods prevailing, which, if honorable members gave consideration to the matter and expressed their real opinion, they would say are not desirable. I protest against being asked to consider the items of the Tariff as likely to be affected by legislation without being informed what that legislation will be. The Minister says that he has not got the information now. I therefore ask if he will let us have it at an early date.
– I have given the honorable member as much information as he can expect.
– Hear, hear.
-Is the honorable member for South Sydney supporting the action of the Minister in asking the Committee to pass the Tariff, remembering that it will be affected by legislation yet to be proposed, without being told what that legislation will be? If the Commonwealth Parliament continues to legislate in this manner, it will suffer degradation, and will add to the ill-repute which it has acquired by passing ineffective legislation, the uselessness of which we must ourselves acknowledge. Measures which we have passed have proved ineffective, because when they were under consideration we were not given sufficient information to enable us to judge properly of their probable results. I am. afraid that the proposals of the Ministry are largely a placard - the sugar coating which, it is hoped, will induce the people to swallow the bitter pill of increased duties. Where Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts are effective now, they will continue to be effective, and nothing will be gained by the new legislation proposed by the Minister, but where no such effective machinery is now in operation, the proposals of the Ministry will be ineffective. That must be my opinion until the Treasurer gives us information showing it to be wrong. The benefits of the new protection are as illusive as many other Government promises have been, hut because it is promised, the Committee will agree to increased duties, and the cost of living will rise in Australia as it has risen in New Zealand. The Minister spoke of the New Zealand duties as being about21/2 per cent. higher than ours, and it is admitted that the cost of living has increased in New Zealand because of the Tariff.
– The increase in the cost of living in New Zealand is due mainly to the increase in house rents, which has naturally followed an increase in general prosperity.
– Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, a member of the British Labour Party, has stateddistinctly that an increase in the cost of living has taken place in New Zealand.
– He was there for only avery short time.
– The workers of New Zealand are affirming the verv same thing.
– They say that it is nearly all due to the increase in house rent.
– They are not affirming that it is nearly all due to house rent.
– They say that 90 per cent. of the increase in the cost of living is due to the increase in house rent.
– They are affirming only that house rent is contributory.I am afraid that we shall not arrive at an agreement by these contradictions. We are asked to impose heavy duties which will have to be borne principally by the working classes. It is not proposed to give the benefit to by far the larger proportion of the working classes, and where it is intended to give the benefit, it is merely nominal - a placard to induce the people to put up with these extraordinary duties.
.- I am in a most peculiar position, and one in which I think that very few honorable members are placed, in that during the electoral campaign I was not asked a single question on the fiscal issue. I would not have risen to-night, had it not been that very considerable misrepresentation has taken, place in New South Wales. As I did not refer to the subject during the electoral campaign, I think it only fair that I should now make a statement which will enable my constituents to understand the attitude I take up generally. First of all, it has been urged in that State that the Labour Party is responsible for the introduction of this Tariff. I believe that a greater measure of responsibility for thereopening of the fiscal question, might be laid at the door of the leader of the Opposition, than at the door of the Labour Party.
– During the last Parliament, the leader of the Opposition formed a Coalition Government, which included some gentlemen of high protectionist repute - Mr. Allan McLean, Mr. McCay, and Sir George Turner - and later on, when the reconsideration of the Tariff was pressed upon him, he recommended the GovernorGeneral to appoint a Tariff Commission, which most effectively re-opened the fiscal question.
– No; . it was appointed with’ a view to rectifying anomalies.
– In theSydney Daily Telegraph, of 24th October, 1906, the right honorable gentleman was reported in these terms -
Shortly after the Coalition Government was formed on the basis of a fiscal truce, the LyneIsaacs wing of the Opposition sought to embarrass us by aclamour for relief for the artisans of Melbourne, who were alleged to be starving, and the industries of Melbourne, which were alleged to be ruined. . . . Our Government appointed a’ Tariff Commission to inquire into thework of the Tariff and its effect upon Australian industries. I courted the fullest investigation. I knew there might well be anomalies that called for redress and hardships that ought to be removed. . . . Mr. Deakin did not object to the appointment of the Commission ; indeed, I conferred with him as to its composition.
The leader of the Opposition, therefore, was responsible for the appointment of the Tariff Commission, and he must have known that when its reports were presented to Parliament, the fiscal question would be most effectually re-opened.
– If the honorable member reads the terms of the Commission, he will see why that appointment was made.
– The honorable member has also forgotten that the matter was forced upon the right honorable member by the Opposition corner, which included the honorable member for Hume, and the late member for Indi.
– I admit that the position was forced upon the leader of the Opposition, but he was very ready to have forced upon him any situation which would enable him to retain the office of Prime Minister. He recommended the appointment of the Tariff Commission because he thought that by that means he could stave off the evil day for a little while, and retain his place on the Treasury bench.
– That of course is an assumption.
– That, I admit, is an assumption.
– Which was disproved by the way in which the right honorable gentleman left office.
– Honorable members on the other side charged him then with committing political suicide.
– It is an assumption which, I admit, we are entitled to make from our stand-point. Later on the leader of the Opposition, knowing that on his recommendation the Tariff Commission had been appointed, appealed to the country, and said that the one supreme issue before the electors was that of antiSocialism. He invited free-traders and protectionists to join with him in dishing the Labour Party, and in following out that idea he supported many protectionists throughout the Commonwealth.
– And very few protectionists respected it.
– He did what he set out to do : he put a spoke in the socialistic wheel.
– At a later stage I intend to indicate the attitude which was taken up by some professed anti-Socialists here. I believe that almost a majority of those who have been returned as antiSocialists have given expression to socialistic views in the present Parliament. At the. general election the leader of the Opposition did not raise the fiscal question. He pretended to the people that it was sunk. Speaking at Geelong, he told the country he was going to sink the fiscal issue for ever. Yet what did he tell us here to-day?
– Has not the Labour Party sunk the fiscal issue?
– I am not discussing what the Labour Party has done, but what the leader of the Opposition has done.
– Does the honorable member think that that really matters ?
– From my point of view - that criticism has been directed against the Labour Party in New South Wales which might more properly be directed against the leader of the Opposition - it does matter. Speaking at Geelong on the 22nd June, 1905, when he was Prime Minister, the right honorable member for East Sydney is reported, by a friendly newspaper, the Melbourne Argus, to have made the following statement : -
Perhaps he might have come here politically and officially before if he had not regarded the people here as strongly opposed to some of his views on politics.
– Will the honorable member tell me what that quotation has to do with the item before the Committee?
– To-day the Acting Prime Minister, the right honorable member for Swan, and others have engaged in a general discussion on the Tariff, and I submit, sir, that 1 am entitled to show that the re-opening of the fiscal question, which incidentally has brought that item before the Committee, has been due to the attitude, taken up by the leader of the Opposition. The right honorable gentleman went von to say -
He was deeply sensible of the great importance of- this centre. If was a pleasant reminder of his position that, after fighting very strenuously, he found himself in accordance with the mandate of the people and of this Parliament, in sinking his fiscal antagonism. It was a great pleasure in his case to sink that fiscal antagonism for ever. (Applause.)
Having created the position which enabled the fiscal question to be re-opened, the right honorable gentleman, in the first speech he made ‘in the House after the elections, prac tically gave an invitation to the Government to introduce what he said he would call “ a whole hog” protectionist Tariff. In the Address-in-Reply on 21st February this year, during the short session which we held, he said -
In the first Parliament we had a grievance which led us to fight- the Tariff, with the utmost bitterness. I admit that the result of the election, in the light of any appeal for fiscal peace, was a distinct adoption of the protectionist principle throughout Australia.
If, when the right honorable gentleman made an appeal to the people, they returned his opponents, I hope he will keep on fighting the Labour Party, because it will mean that we shall come back to’ the Legislature with increased strength.
– Was not the honorable member returned on a fiscal issue ?
– No; as I said, I was not asked a single question on the fiscal issue during the campaign.
– Did the honorable member mention the fiscal issue?
– I did not.
– On what issue was the honorable member returned ?
– I was returned on the policy of the Labour Party, and, incidentally, because of the weakness of the policy advocated by the opponents of that party. ‘
– The Labour policy was only an incident in the election.
– I think that the recent State elections in New South Wales have shown tha.t the Labour policy was not an incident only. However, the honorable member for East Sydney went on to say -
Whilst each of us, in the performance of our duty to our own constituents, will faithfully represent the views which we profess, and whilst .we will do our best to give full effect to them, there will be no attempt to thwart or delay a thorough settlement in the direction in which the electors have decided.
The deputy leader of the Opposition, though a little more cute in his statements, spoke practically to the same effect. On 4th July, the honorable member for Parramatta said -
So far as this demand for further new protection is concerned, I, at any rate, will interpose no’ obstacle to a free, full, and fair discussion of the matter, nor to a speedy end of the controversy.
When the honorable member for East Svdney stated that there was no fiscal issue before the people, that he had sunk the fiscal issue for ever, and that he was not going to offer any opposition to the protectionist policy for which he claimed the people had declared, he was flogged by the Sydney daily press. On the 20th August there appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, under the heading of “A Lost Leader,” the following : -
Mr. Reid joins the dreary ranks of the lost leaders - and at what a moment ! All through, the State, through the larger part of the Commonwealth, there has been ringing for days a clamour of indignation, in which surprise has not been the least dominant note. It is not too much to say that a great deal has been forgiven Mr. Reid as a leaderby his party and by the country. If he has been absent from his place, it has been felt that the hour of need would find him there, a leader in the forefront of the battle. . . . And’ now, when the day of disaster threatens us, instead of a fiery protest, we hear a whimper about the large number of protectionists in the House, and a pitiful cry to the more moderate of them to be as merciful as possible.
A few days after this flogging had been administered to him, the right honorable gentleman assumed another attitude, and is thus reported in the same newspaper -
I can tell the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald that they judge me rather hastily if they think I have abated any of my zeal or devotion to the cause of liberty of all kinds, including commercial liberty.
There is not much sinking of the fiscal issue in that utterance -
The plain fact is that I have been battering at Australia to go in for freetrade, and Australia has not done it. . . . I have travelled day and night all round Australia in endeavouring to persuade the people of Australia tohave the common sense not to fetter themselves. I have had to battle against that sort of lunacy all these years, with the result that there have been more people clamouring to be taxed. Now that the Tariff is coming on, I am going to fight it as hard as I can.
All this shows that the honorable member for East Sydney is, more than any one else, responsible for the re-opening of the Tariff question, and he and his supporters ought to be the last to fix the responsibility on others. Some complaint has been made as to the height of the duties under the proposed Tariff. The extent of the duties is, we all admit, due to the operation of the Braddon section, which places upon the Treasurer the obligation to raise four times the revenue that is required for Federal purposes.
– What has the Braddon section to do with the rates of duty ?
– The Braddon sec- tion has to do with the amount of revenue which is raised from protective duties.
– Certainly, but not with the rates of duty proposed.
– The Braddon section is as follows -
During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, of the net revenue of the Commonwealth from duties of Customs and of Excise, not more than onefourth shall be applied annually by the Commonwealth towards its expenditure.
This, as I say, compels us, as a Federation, to raise four times the revenue we require or, in other words, it compels the Treasurer to so mould the Tariff that it will produce, say, £10,000,000 when £2,250,000 would suffice. On this question, however, the leader of the Opposition has no policy. ‘ Although the right honorable gentleman is aspiring to the leadership of the country, he has really no definite policy as to the financial relations of the Commonwealth and of the States. Some years ago, on 27th May, 1898, the right honorable gentleman, dealing with the Braddon section, was thus reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph -
This provision of Sir Edward Braddon is an abominable blot on the Bill.
Yet last December he was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald as stating that one plank of the policy which he placed before the electors was an extension of the operation of the Braddon section.
– Did I understand the honorable member, a few moments ago, to say that during the last Federal election he was never asked a question regarding the Tariff?
– I said that I had not been asked a question on the Tariff during the election.
– Then, presumably, the honorable member did not discuss the question ?
– During the last few weeks the leader of the Opposition was challenged by the honorable member for South Sydney as to his present attitude in connexion with the Braddon section. The right honorable gentleman was quite indignant, and in the Sydney Morning Herald of 3rd September, 1907, I find that he said -
Mr. Watson’s statement that I am in favour of the perpetuation of the Braddon clause is simply untrue. Over and over again I have said the contrary. I have pointed out that the people in the different States can get the return of a fair share of the Customsrevenue, while altering the clause to free it from the absurdity of compelling the Commonwealth to raise £4 when it only wants £1.
– This is. terrible. Would it not be better to get on with the Tariff?
– The honorable member has had his say on the Tariff. I was prevented from addressing the Committee when I wished to do so, and I propose to have my say now.
– It seems that the honorable member was not prevented.
– The honorable member for Parramatta thought he ‘had prevented me, and boasted of it in the House. The right honorable member for East Sydney was quite indignant that the honorable member for South Sydney should have said that he was in favour of perpetuating the Braddon section, although, at the elections, he made it one of the planks of his platform that he would support the continued operation of the section. No matter what side of the controversy is raised, the right honorable gentleman can claim that he has spoken to the contrary. If he is taken to task for assuming one attitude, he is able to point out that he took up the other attitude. Honorable members opposite, who are so loud in their professions of free-trade, refuse to adopt a policy of direct taxation, yet they are in favour of raising, through the Customs House, four times the revenue necessary for Federal purposes, and that means protection. Mr. Carruthers, of New South Wales, who has had a good deal to say about the Federation, its alleged extravagance,, and the work of the Federal Parliament, has also had something to say on this question. I find that a little time ago, according to the
Daily Telegraph - “ He urged his hearers to read carefully clause 87 - Braddon’s clause - which had been so distorted as to unfairly influence people into opposition. That clause was the clause which would give free-trade a chance in the Federal Parliament. It would make Customs taxation unpopular, for by that means four times as much revenue was raised as was really required.”
He supported the section, not because he believed in raising so much revenue through the Customs House, but because he believed that its operation would make the Federal Parliament so unpopular to the States that there would be a revolt against Federation. It is certainly a most vicious provision which compels the Commonwealth Parliament to raise revenue for the States whilst it relieves the
States Parliaments of taxation responsibility. It enables the States Parliaments to take credit, for surpluses to which they have no just claims, whilst it places upon the Federal Parliament the onus of imposing taxation which may be regarded as severe. The Sydney Morning Herald and the
Sydney Daily Telegraph have been making a great outcry against the Tariff, but the secret of their opposition to it is disclosed in the following statement, which appeared in the Daily Telegraph last week -
As the Tariff stands, its burden upon the newspapers of the Commonwealth points to something like ^50,000 a year.
I may say that one of my reasons for supporting such items is that, while they will not fall heavily upon the working classes of the community, the wealthy newspaper proprietors of the Commonwealth will have to pay £50,000 a year towards the revenue.
– Is the honorable member not aware that it will fall heavily upon some small newspaper men in the country districts ?
– It will not affect them to the same extent, and I prefer taxation which will affect the wealthy proprietors of newspapers to taxation upon the necessaries of life of the working classes. According to the Sydney press, was there any necessity for the great outcry against the Tariff so far as the city of Sydney is concerned ? Under the heading of the “ Lyne Tariff,” the
Sydney Morning Herald says that -
The city will pay for it in the increased cost of living, and will get back perhaps more than its loss in increased wages.
Thus, according to the Sydney Morning
Herald, the Lyne Tariff will operate to the advantage of the city of Sydney. I admit that this newspaper previously contended that the Tariff would -operate to the disadvantage of Sydney, but that was when it was appealing to the working classes in that city. When it appealed to the country people, it tried to show that the Tariff would benefit the city of Sydney.
– What does the honorable member think about it?
– We now know that it will take annually £2,000,000 more out of the pockets of the people than did the old Tariff.
– I do not think that we should raise any more revenue than was raised under the old Tariff. According to statistics I have seen, it would appear that
Sydney was largely benefited by the operation of the old Tariff. I find that from 1 901 to 1906 the number of factories in New South Wales was increased by 916, and the number of hands employed by 22,212. During last year, 1905-6, the increase in the number of factories in that Statewas 138, and in the number of employes 5,383. In Victoria during the same year the increase in the number of factories was 143, and in the number of employes 4,275. The increase in the number of factory employe’s during last year was greater in New South Wales than in Victoria, and it would seem that under a protectionist Tariff New South Wales was benefited to a greater extent than Victoria. In Victoria the total number of factory hands employed is 67,544, and in New South Wales the number is 77,558, or over 10,000 in excess of the number in Victoria. Although at the recent elections I was not asked any questions, I issued a manifesto, in which I made a statement which, perhaps, was not very definite, but which was as follows -
All tariff proposals should be treated on their merits and as a business proposition, with a proviso that in the event of an article of manufacture being protected the workmen engaged in its production should be protected as well as the manufacturer. The fallacy that the manufacturer only reaped huge fortunes at the people’s expense, and that a system of importation provided against huge incomes being made before goods reached the consumer, has been entirely exploded by the Sydney, Morning Herald, which showed recently that in Victoria, the home of manufacturers and protection, the importers enjoyedlarger incomes than manufacturers; the latest figures from the income tax returns showing the taxation paid being : - Importers, an average of£1511s each; primary producers, £15 6s. 6d. each; manufacturers,£9 14s. 1d. each. It is obvious, therefore, that to assist importing ringsby free-trade, or manufacturers’ rings by protection may be each detrimental to the people unless hedged about by such safeguards as will ensure an advantage to the community and workman as well as to the employer. The logic of the position is that if an industry has to be assisted or subsidized by the State, the State should conduct it, so that the whole people who provide the assistance should reap the benefit and not a few favoured individuals. If, on the other hand, an importing policy gives the undue advantage to the importer class, and importing rings stand between the consumer and his goods, the people through the State should co-operate to preserve to themselves the advantages of free importation.
As a member of the Labour Party, I was pledged at the last general election to a referendum on the Tariff question. Here again, there has been in New South Wales considerable misrepresentation, coming largely from Mr. Carruthers. In the Daily Telegraph of the 10th ult, Mr. Carruthers is reported to have said -
I have on several occasions, in public addresses, clearly and distinctly charged Mr. Watson and the Labour Party with an avoidance of their pledges in connexion with the Tariff. . . First, the Federalfighting platform of the Labour Party (copy of: which I have before me as I write) contains the following, viz. : -
Item 4, Tariff Referendum, which is explained in the general platform to mean as follows : -
Referendum of Commonwealth electors on the tariff Question when the report of the Tariff Commission has been completed ; the party to give effect to the decision of the referendum vote.
This, therefore, is what Mr. Watson and the Labour Party were pledged to, and this is what the electors were deluded into believing would be given effect to, viz. a vote of the electors on the Tariff, and effect given to that vote.
Mr. Carruthers overlooked the manifesto issued on 5th October of last year, and printed in the Sydney Morning Herald, over the signature of the honorable member for South Sydney, chairman of the Federal LabourParty, and the honorable member for Yarra, secretary to the party in connexion with this very proposal for a Tariff referendum. It set forth that -
The Labour platform proposes that the fiscal policy of Australia shall be settled by a. direct vote of the people themselves. Our intention is that this settlement shall be made speedily and decisively, free from the confusion and distraction of other issues. A Royal Commission is at present inquiring into the effects of the existing Tariff, and its report will doubtless be followed by a complete revision of duties by Parliament. This being accomplished, the question of confirming or rejecting the revised Tariff should be submitted to a referendum as soon as’ practicable, and thus insure freedom from Tariff alteration for a reasonable period.
That is the attitude taken up by the Labour Party in connexion with the Tariff referendum, and which was clearly and distinctly placed before the people’ in October last, prior to the Federal elections. I may say at once that. I am strong neither on free-trade nor protection. I do not think that the great problem which confronts Australia and other countries to-day is so much one as to increasing production or wealth as it is of securing a more equitable distribution of the wealth that is already produced.
– How would the honorable member divide it?
– One means of providing for a better distribution of our increased wealth is that embodied in the new protection policy of the Labour Party which has been submitted to us to-day. The free-trader argues that he will increase the wealth ofthe country by a system of free imports which will encourage primary industries. The protectionist on the other hand says that he desires to increase the wealth of the country by protection, through the Customs House, which is designed to encourage local manufactures.
– Which principle does the honorable member advocate ?
– I repeat that the great problem before us to-day is one not so much of increasing the wealth of the country by either free-trade or protection as it is of securing a better distribution of the wealth already produced.
– How would the honorable member do that? Would he take away the wealth from those who already possess it?
– I would secure more equitable distribution by means of Conciliation and Arbitration Courts, by a system of new protection, and by other methods that are calculated to secure better wages for the workers. Mr. Coghlan places the private wealth of Australia today at about £1,200,000,000, but he admits that some forms of wealth are not included in that calculation. Mr. Nash, the financial editor of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, who is regarded as an authority, estimates the total private wealth of Australia to-day at something like £4,000,000,000. According to Mr. Coghlan’s estimate, the average wealth of the community is . £250 per head of the population, while according to Mr. Nash’s estimate it is equal to £1,000 per head of the population. The private wealth of New South Wales is put down at £375,000,006. It is stated by the Statistician of New South Wales that one-half of that wealth is held by less than 3,000 individuals, and that nearly 20 per cent. of the owners of it reside outside the State, From this it would appear that the wealth of New South Wales per head of the population is about £275. The fact that it is so great is held out to those in the old country as an inducement to come to Australia. Then again, last year the increase of wealth in New South Wales amounted to £13,000,000, and I have no doubt that it was correspondingly great in all the States, since prosperity was general.
– The honorable member’s statements’ are not received with the cheers with which they were met when he uttered them on a public platform.
– Every one knows that in this House and elsewhere the honorable member is noted for the cheap sneers and sarcasm in which he indulges.
– I am always misunderstood.
– The increase in the wealth of New South Wales last year, amounting, as I have said, to £13,000,000, is a huge sum, but the consequential benefit to the people is not what it should have been. We find that in New South Wales £1,500,000 per annum is spent on charities and on pensions. It is also stated by the Registrar of Friendly Societies that the average citizen cannot make provision for sickness.
– Is the honorable member going to connect the remarks now being made by him with the question before the Chair?
– Part of New South Wales’ annual expenditure on charities and pensions has to be met out of the three? fourths of Customs and Excise revenuecollected in that State and returned to it by the Commonwealth. I would remind you, sir, that portion of that revenue is derived from ales and porter - the item with which we are now dealing. Mr. Trivett, the Registrar of Friendly Societies in New. South Wales, in referring to our social conditions, says -
I am unhesitatingly of opinion that with our existent social conditions, it is impossible for the average citizen to pay a sufficient annual contribution to a benefit society to meet the whole of the sickness contingencies of life, at a rate of benefit sufficient to make the sick-pay of real effective advantage during invalidity.
In yesterday’s issue of the Sydney Daily Telegraph there appears a leading article on the housing of the poor, in which it is shown that the average working man cannot properly arrange for his housing accommodation. Having regard to the great increase in our wealth production, it is startling to learn that, in a young country like this, the average citizen cannot provide a decent home for himself, nor make provision against sickness.
– Whose fault is that?
– We are certainly to blame for allowing the increased wealth in New South Wales, amounting in one year to £13,000,000, to go into the pockets of the few, whilst the great majority receive no benefit from that increased production and the good seasons we are now enjoying. Instead of trying to increase our wealth by free-trade or protection, we ought rather to turn our attention to a better distribution of the immense wealth which is already being produced.
– Meantime, we have to consider this Tariff.
– I hope that in the Tariff we shall make provision that part of the benefits which are supposed to arise from it, will pass into the pockets of the workers and the consumers generally, instead of into the pockets of one particular class. For that purpose, the party to which I belong have submitted a scheme of new protection, which the leader of the Opposition to-day admitted to be the first of its kind introduced, so far as he knew, into any Parliament in the world.
– He did not say that it was going to be successful.
– The right honorable gentleman said he sympathized with its objects, that deficiencies were found in working out every reform, and that experiments had to be made before absolute success could be reached.
– Did he say that he was going to vote for these duties on the strength of it?
– I do not know that he went that far . If he did, he would say it in such a way that when he came to the items he could very conveniently wriggle out of the statement he had made. The Labour Party has introduced a new protection system, and propose to carry out the scheme as follows -
That, with a view to insuring fair working conditions in protected industries, duty stamps (of a value to be determined) should be affixed to all protected’ goods not bearing the Commonwealth trade mark. The Commonwealth trade mark may be applied to goods which are manufactured under conditions as to the remuneration of labour prescribedby an industrial award, decision, determination or agreement under any industrial law (Federal or State), or in respect of which a resolution has been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament, or regulation issued by any competent authority, declaring that the conditions as to the remuneration of labour are fair and reasonable.
– Take it as read.
– It is not I, then, that detain honorable members. If I talked against time as the honorable member for Lang does on hundreds of occasions, there might be some reason for him to interrupt me now. The scheme proceeds -
In fixing the amount of stamp duty to be levied on specified goods, consideration to be given to the degree of protection afforded by the Tariff, the average cost of labour involved, and the value of the article affected.
Then we propose to protect the consumer in the following manner -
I was very pleased to hear from the Acting Prime Minister to-day that he had very largely followed the scheme outlined by the Labour Party.
– He knew he had to.
– I do not say that at all. It is the duty of the Opposition to say anything, and generally to mean nothing. The Acting Prime Minister, in setting out his scheme, followed that outlined by the Labour Party to a large extent by stating that the Excise duty was to be imposed along with the Tariff, and that half the amount of duty was to be chargeable by a stamp duty upon those goods which were not manufactured under fair and reasonable conditions of labour, the exemption to be made to those who pay fair and reasonable rates. It is to be applied by affixing the Commonwealth trade mark, which is referred to in the Labour Party’s scheme, to goods which are manufactured under those conditions. It will be most advantageous to Australia as a whole to know from the trade mark or union label - or whatever honorable members like to call it - affixed to goods, that those goods have been made under fair and reasonable conditions, and are not the product of sweated factories.
– The new protection’ can only be imposed after the duties have been voted.
– I presume that the honorable member is going to support the duties and the new protection.
– The honorable member need not be too eager in his pre- sumptions. When the items are reached I shall take up the attitude which I think best. I do not feel called upon now to make a statement which the honorable member will make use of afterwards. A new tribunal is to be set up on lines similar to those suggested in the Labour Party’s scheme, consisting of what is termed a Board of Excise. Three members are to be appointed, and the Acting Prime Minister states that the Chairman is to be a gentleman of legal attainments. Whilst, as a rule, it is better to keep the purely technical man off Boards which inquire into conditions of labour, I appreciate the value of having as Chairman of that Commission a highly-trained legal gentleman who would be able to dissect evidence. So long as he has the assistance of experts in the trades, I do not see that any disadvantage can ensue to the great massesof the working people. The powers which will be given to the Board have not been dealt with in detail, but the House will be able, when considering the question, to fix the detailed conditions under which the Board shall work. I hope that when that time comes we shall exclude lawyers from advocating the claims of either side before the Board, and also provide that there shall be no appeal from the Board’s decision. In all these cases the decision of the Board which hears the evidence ought to be final. To enable those who are wealthy enough to pay for legal assistance to appeal from the decision of the Board which hears the evidence to some other tribunal, on purely technical grounds, always results disastrously to the working man.
– Good job !
– I hear the right honorable member for Swan interject “ Good job.”
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon; I did not say anything of the sort.
– I heard the statement come from that quarter, when I said that it was a disadvantage to the workmen.
– I made no such remark.
– It was only a cough.
– The Board is to be given power to protect the consumers as far as possible by inquiring into the prices of goods. Where it thinks that unduly high prices are being charged the consumer, it will report to Parliament, which will then take into consideration the question of discontinuing the protection which has been given to the industry.
– That is a rather weak scheme?
– When the details are under consideration, I believe that we shall be able to make the scheme sufficiently strong to permit of a very good experiment being” made. If defects reveal themselves in the working of the scheme, Parliament will be in a position to amend it from time to time. With a little experience, I am satisfied that we shall be able to arrive at a scheme which will be satisfactory to all concerned.
– What about our constitutional powers in the matter?
– We may fairly assume that we possess the constitutional power to do what is proposed. I am quite sure that the Employers’ Federation, which has plenty of representatives in this Chamber and outside of it, will test the constitutionality of the Government proposal.
– Who are the representatives of the Employers’ Federation in this Chamber?
– There is the Victorian chairman of that body.
– Who else ?
– The honorable member for Parramattaknows that at the last elections in New South Wales the employers supported the party to which he belongs.
– I am not aware of it.
– In that State there were only two classes of candidates - those who fought under thebanner of the Labour Party, and those who declared themselves to be anti-Socialists. The employers did not support the Labour candidates, and, therefore, I can only assume that they supported the anti-Socialists.
-Thehonorable member got more support from the employers than did his opponent.
– My opponent was the chairman of the Importers Association of Sydney. I am quite sure that the importers accorded him their support.
– He is as good a democrat as has ever stood upon a platform.
– I do not say that he is not a decent gentleman. I hope that at the next elections he will again contest the electorate which I represent, and that the result will beequally satisfactory to me. The honorable member for Echuca has referred to the constitutional aspect of the new protection proposals, and it is significant that the employers, who have plenty of representatives in this House, have already taken up a very firm attitude in that connexion. The Sydney Daily Telegraph of 4th September, 1907, records that the Employers’ Council recently agreed to the following motion -
That this Council strongly protests against the stated intentions of the Federal Government to attempt to obtain what is called “new” protection by regulation of wages, conditions of labour and prices of goods on the ground that the Commonwealth Parliament has no constitutional power to deal with these matters, such measures as the Excise Tariff Act being plainly in contravention of section 55 of the Constitution. This Council also considers that the passage of such illegal enactments is misleading to the public, and wishes to point out that it has already involved and must lead to further and almost endless litigation, thereby causing heavy law expenditure in order to prove their invalidity.
Who attempts to prove their invalidity but the Employers’ Federation?
– When I moved last year that the increased measure of protection granted to the agricultural implement industry should be disbursed amongst the employes in that industry, the party to which the honorable member belongs voted against it.
– Each member of the party to which I belong is at liberty to adopt an independent attitude upon the fiscal question. Consequently it is idle for the honorable member to endeavour to impose upon me with a wolf and lamb story of that sort. What was done by somebody else upon this question is no concern of mine. The Employers’ Federation have indicated that they intend to test the validity of the new protection. Evidently they desire increased duties for their own benefit, and are disinclined to allow their operatives to participate in that benefit. If I did not think that we can bring this new protection scheme into operation I should not be in favour of protecting industries at all.
– Is there not an Arbitration Act in force in New South Wales?
– There is, but it is administered by the opponents of the working man, and that fact renders it absolutely useless.
– That is not a fair statement.
– I make that statement after having had considerable experience of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales.
– I thought that the honorable member’s party desired the establishment of an Arbitration Court?
– So long as the machinery provided in connexion with it will insure justice being done to the masses-
– Is not the President of the Court a Judge?
– Yes. He is a very fair gentleman-
– Order. The honorable member must not discuss these details.
– I was merely answering an interjection.
– I would remind the honorable member that interjections are disorderly, and that he has no right to reply to them.
– In connexion with the Board which it is proposed to appoint to give effect to the new protection, I hope that provision will be made to obviate the weaknesses which have revealed themselves in other bodies of a similar character. For instance, appeals have been permitted from Wages Boards which are required to decide industrial disputes upon the evidence submitted, to a purely legal tribunal.
– To what does the honorable member refer ?
– I hold that there should be no appeal from the decision of the body which hears the evidence submitted in connexion with an industrial dispute.
– The honorable member would not like his own tribunal if it decided against him.
– I do not want a tribunal whose decisions are based upon legal technicalities. My experience is that the working man fares very badly under such circumstances, because the other side are in a position to spend hundreds and thousands of pounds in securing the best legal talent available.
– The honorable member has no confidence in the higher tribunal ?
– I have no confidence in the higher tribunal determining the wages conditions which shall prevail in an industry unless it hears the evidence adduced in connexion with the dispute. The tribunal that hears the evidence should, in my opinion, give the final decision.
– The honorable member wants the workers to know what the evidence is, and not have the “ bosses “ handing it in without the workers seeing it.
– This is the first time I ever knew that capitalists liked law !
– If the honorable member does not know that capitalists like law he has not taken very much notice of the industrial conditions of Australia. I am very pleased to know that the leader of the Opposition in referring to this questionof the new protection brought forward by the Labour Party has said that -
I look upon the action of my honorable friends below the gangway (the Labour Party) insupport of the “new protection “ as absolutely proper and sound. What is the basis upon which the people of Australia are willing to bear these burdens though the rates of. duty may be varied ? We know what has happened in America. We know the result of the high Tariff there. Any attempt to use this Tariff to sweat labour in order to inflate profits will be an outrage on the policy of protection as properly understood.
– The honorable member does not object to that.
– No, I am very glad that the right honorable gentleman has fallen in with us in that respect -
– We have said so for over thirty years past.
– And it will be another century before the Minister will be prepared with a practical scheme. I wish to give the Labour Party credit for the new protection movement. If they had not brought it forward, the Ministry would not have had anything to propose for. a century to come.
– No one wishes to rob the Labour Party of the credit due to it.
– The Labour Party deserves credit for having brought this matter to the front in practical politics. . . . Thousands of our poorpeople are consenting to this taxation, not to enable manufacturers to exploit them, but because they feel that they are encouraging the planting of seeds of industry which may grow into grand trees which will shelter the future labour of Australia. The ambition is a grand one. No one can help acknowledging that.
– When did the leader of the Opposition say that?
– In speaking upon the Budget within the last few weeks.
So far as I am concerned, I shall endeavour to secure that the essentials of life for the great working classes of this country are placed upon the free list. If revenue has to be raised through the Customs House, I would rather see it raised by means of duties upon silks and satins than upon such commodities as tea. If we are to have ad valorem duties on such goods as jewellery, I would rather see them imposed on the more expensive kinds than have heavy duties upon alarm clocks. I do not believe in a policy which would raise revenue from those who are least able to bear it. That is why I do not believe, as a general principle, in raising revenue through the Customs House. I believe that, in the main, Customs duties fall most heavily upon the great masses of the people.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable member for Hunter, who cheers that remark, might very well support the leader of the Labour Party in his desire that the revenue required for Commonwealth purposes shall be raised by means of direct taxation, rather than by the roundabout method of the Customs House, which imposes the greater portion of the burden upon the working classes.
– The present Tariff is a definite proposal to raise revenue in theway the honorable member objects to.
– While I intend to vote for placing the necessaries of life upon the free list, I do not hesitate to say that, so far asconcerns the 126 factorieswhich exist in my electorate, I shall look with’ a kindly eye upon proposals which will help them and the workmen engaged in them.
– In other words, the honorable member wishes to protect those industries ?
– If a scheme is propounded by means of which those factories can be protected, and the thousands of workmen employed in them benefited, I shall support it.
– What about the people who are not engaged in those factories ?
– So far as concerns’ the people who are not interested in the factories, I shall sit tight in my place and watch their interests. I shall study each item as it comes before the Committee, listen carefully to the arguments for and against the proposed duties, and if I see that a duty will be likely to benefit the great masses of the people who sent me here, I shall assume an attitude which will safeguard their interests.
– Will the honorable member, for instance, vote to remove duties from boots and shoes?
– It will be quite time enough for me to explain how I intend to vote upon any particular item when such item is before us. Generally speaking, if I do vote for protection, it will be upon lines which will enable the factories of Australia to compete on even terms with the cheap labour conditions of other countries. If we are going to maintain our White Australia policy and keep out the coloured races, we should go to the logical extent of that # principle. If we decide not to allow coloured men to come into Australia to undercut our producers, and to work under conditions to which we do not subscribe, we ought not to allow their goods to come in and compete with those produced by our workmen. In other words, if we stop the coloured man from coming into Australia, we should be prepared to give our own workmen sufficient protection to enable them to compete with the products of coloured workmen in other parts of the world.
– What are the productsof the coloured races which are coming in and competing with our workmen?
– I am not called upon to enumerate them just now. I may, however, mention bottles, which are manufactured very largely in Japan, where the hours of labour are nearly twice the length of those which prevail in Australia, whilstthe wages paid are about 10d. per day.
– Is not the freight upon such heavy articles very great?
– No doubt the question of freight will be considered in fixing the duty. I can only say, in conclusion, that whilst I am a nationalist, with no sympathy for the narrow provincial spirit, wishing to see our mechanics and producers supplying all our requirements, with a steadfast belief in the future of Australia, proud of my country, and its means of self-government, desiring its development materially, I am far more anxious that its progress should be intellectual and moral, that the conditions which have led to hunger and cold in older parts of the world should be averted here, that alongside increased production there should be the widest possible distribution of wealth, rendering impossible the existence of millionaires on the one hand and paupers on the other; and that of the overflowing abundance of Providence so graciously bestowed upon Australia, there shall be guaranteed, not only the necessaries of life; but a fair share of the comforts of life also, to every honest citizen living under the shelter of our free self-governing Constitution.
-3Sl- - Unlike the honorable member for Cook, I have already had my say on the Tariff, and do not propose to go over the same ground again. But I have a few remarks to make in regard to what was said by the Treasurer as to the method of dealing with the schedule. I- shall not offer anything in the nature of factious opposition to the proposals of- the Government, though, while I recognise that it is advisable that the Tariff should be settled as speedily as possible, I do not desire that items should be forced through without reasonable consideration. The Tariff covers a large multitude of items.
– I thought that the honorable member was going to say a multitude of sins.
– To my mind, it covers a multitude of sins, too. It consists of hundreds of items, some of minor, and others of major, importance. In the latter class come the tobacco duties, to which . reference was made by the honorable member for Angas. We are informed that a number of tobacco factories which recently were in full work are now closed because of the uncertainty respecting the action of Parliament in reference to the Tariff, and that a large number of workmen are, therefore, out of employment. Another important item is the duty on wire netting. Wire netting is an article of vital necessity to many of our primary producers. So far as one can judge by the opinions already expressed, a! large number of honorable members, although pledged to protection, feel that they cannot support a duty upon it, so that probably the Committee will either strike off the duty or largely reduce it. In New South Wales a considerable quantity of imported wire netting, some of which, was brought in by the State Government, is now being withheld from use pending the decision of this Parliament in regard to the duty. But if a large number of growers are to save their crops, they must very speedily fence their holdings with wire netting. Importers and users alike are now in a state of great uncertainty by reason of our delay. Therefore, I join with the honorable member for Angas in urging upon the Government that these and other items of major importance shall be dealt with before items of minor importance. If the Government deal first with items of major importance, they will consider the best interests of the country, and will provide for the passing of the Tariff with the least friction possible. I am prepared to support the Treasurer in dealing with the Tariff in sections, so that when this House has passed a section it may be forwarded to the Senate for, consideration, with the result that the utmost expedition will be obtained, and this troublesome piece of legislation settled as speedily as possible.
– I should not have risen had I not wished to say a word or two about the new protection proposals outlined by the Treasurer. But before doing so, I wish to ask him what is to be done in regard to part VI. of the Tariff. I understood him to say that he had alternative proposals to make in regard to the production of iron, to encourage which he was determined to impose a duty or to grant a bounty.
– That is so.
– He also said that the Prime Minister favours the granting of a bounty in preference to the imposition of aduty, inasmuch as iron enters into the composition of so many articles that it would be undesirable at the present time to increase the cost of so universal a raw product. He proposed first of all to deal with it by way of a bonus. He has in his Tariff a division which is to be conditioned by a report from the Executive to Parliament, and I presume the passing of a resolution concerning it by Parliament.
– I did not say that. What I said was that I should try first to get an Iron Bounties Bill passed, and if I failed, I should fall back on divisions VI.a and VI.b of the Tariff.
– Division VI.a has this heading -
To come into operation on dates to be fixed by proclamation, and exempt from duty in the meantime. Proclamation to issue so soon as it is certified to Parliament by the Minister that the manufacture to which the proclamation refers has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth.
The honorable gentleman proposes then to take power to impose Customs duties by Executive act ?
– That will not be the case if the Iron Bounties Bill is passed:
– Suppose that it is not passed, then, on the issue of a proclamation, the Customs duties will become operative ?
– But in the meantime, the honorable gentleman proposes to suspend the collection of the duties until an effort has been made to establish the industry by means of bounties?
– Yes; but the Bill will be laid upon the table before we get to item 229.
– What does the honorable gentleman mean by laying the Bill upon the table? He has already told us that it will deal with most of the items in those two divisions,and therefore we practically know what it will contain. We are not concerned to know what the bounties will consist of, but we are concerned to know, before beginning to deal with the Tariff, what the Government propose to do with the Iron Bounties Bill.
– We intend to attempt to pass the Bill.
– Do I understand that the consideration of the Tariff is to be interrupted later on in order to put through the Iron Bounties Bill?
– Not until we get to division VI.a.
– Is it the intention of the Government, when we get to that division tosuspend the consideration of the Tariff while he attempts to put through the Iron Bounties Bill?
– Perhaps we may not be able to put the Bill through; but we shall ask the Committee to say whether we are to have bounties or Customs duties.
– That is practically the same thing. May I remind the Minister, that when he has taken the opinion of this House on the Bill, the other House will have to be consulted. Does he intend to take the opinion of the Senate concurrently ?
– As soon as the Bill is passed here it will go to the other House.
– Is the consideration of the Tariff to be suspended until the other House has passed the Bill ?
– The honorable member will find that the Bill, if passed here, will be dealt with one way or the other in the Senate before we get to the end of division VI.a.
– I very much doubt that. I should think that the Senate will have good ground to delay the consideration of the Bill until it knows exactly what we are doing in regard to Customs duties on metals and machinery.
– If it becomes necessary a division can be postponed until the Bill has been dealt with one way or the other.
– That is a practical proposition. The honorable gentleman always gets suspicious when we are asking for information. He seems to think that we are trying to play a trick upon him. It is an absurd notion for him to get into his head. I understand that when we get to the division relating to metals and machinery he will introduce the Iron Bounties Bill.
– Very likely it will be introduced before then.
– I am not pressing the honorable gentleman to make a definite engagement because I know that that must depend upon circumstances. I understand his intention to be that when we get to division VI.a he will postpone its consideration pending the passage or otherwise of the Iron Bounties Bill.
– I look upon that division as part and parcel of the Tariff. I shall give the Committee an opportunity, if it desires, to deal with the question by bounties, and if it does not adopt that method then we shall have the machinery in the Tariff for putting on the duties.
– While the Bill is being considered the honorable gentleman will suspend the consideration of the iron duties.
– We cannot consider two propositions at once.
– I am referring to the consideration of the Bill by the other House.
– If it became necessary, the consideration of the division could be postponed.
– That is a prac-. tical proposition. As a matter of procedure, what the honorable gentleman proposes is quite satisfactory from the Ministerial stand-point, and from our Own. I listened with some interest to the speech of the honorable member for Cook.
– Do not attack him.
– I do not propose to attack the honorable member, although he has not ceased to attack me since he entered the Chamber. To-night his speech was plentifully sprinkled with incorrect statements regarding the leader of the Opposition and myself.
– I quoted from his own speeches.
– I do not think that the honorable member quoted from the speeches of the leader of the Opposition such terms as ‘ ‘ wriggler, ‘ ‘ “ sneering, ‘ ‘ “ jeering,” “ acute,” and “talking on both sides of the fiscal question.” Those statements were all applied to the right honorable gentleman to-night.
– Not at all. I did not apply the, word “ sneering “ to him.
– No ; but the honorable member applied the word “ wriggler “ to him.
– I applied the word “ sneering” to the honorable member.
– I know that, but I do not care what the honorable member applies to me.
– What is a wriggler?
– He is a good all round man.
– If I were asked to give an illustration of what wriggling meant as applied to politics I would certainly point any one to the performance of the honorable member for Cook. Do what we would we could not get him to declare himself to-night on the fiscal issue. I was surprised to hear him taunting any one about being on two sides of the fiscal fence. It came with very bad grace, and certainly with very great audacity, from him. There is another statement which he made to-night, and repeated with emphasis. He said that during the recent election he was not asked a question on the fiscal issue, nor had he made any statement on the fiscal question from any platform. If that was so, it is very remarkable that, immediately after his election, he took great pains to issue a circular to the Employers’ Federation in his electorate.
– Asking for informationonly .
– WhenIheard the honorable member taunting honorable members about representing the employers of Australia, I wondered whom he represented when he set out to write this circular, which was sent to 126 managers or owners of factories in his electorate. This is how it reads -
In order to place me in a position to be able to redeem my election pledges in connexion with the Tariff-
What pledges? This is the honorable member who said a few moments ago that he never remembered any one asking him a question on the fiscal issue.
– I say so again.
– The honorable member must certainly have made a reference to the fiscal issue.
– Hear, hear. I made a little reference to it.
– Were those pledges given in private?
– I did not give any pledges on the fiscal question to any one.
– Then what is the meaning of the statement I have read ?
– It is probably a printer’s error.
– Wrong again; this is not a newspaper quotation, but a type-written letter signed by the honorable member himself.
– Exactly. The only pledge which I gave was that I would consider each item on its merits.
– Then the honorable member did give a pledge.
– That is not a pledge either on one side or the other - it is not a fiscal pledge.
– It is quite legitimate.
– Like everything else from the same quarter. The very first act of the honorable member after being elected - this honorable member who has been sneering and jeering to-night at other honorable members as representing employers - was to address a communication to 126 employers in his own electorate asking how he could help them when he got into Parliament.
– Read the letter.
– I do not think it is worth reading.
– If the honorable member reads the letter he will find that I was asking to be supplied with informa tion respecting the difference between wages paid in Australia and wages paid in other countries.
– I do not mind reading the letter.
– Is there anything wrong in an honorable member trying to help his constituents ?
– I do not say there is anything wrong ; I merely say that it is a little inconsistent on the part of members of the Labour Party, who are constantly sneering at the employers of the community, to run after employers as fast as their legs will carry them, when they think that by doing so they may get into Parliament. Let me say that I never addressed a communication like that to the employers in my electorate.
– No, because the honorable member represents some foreign country.
– If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports continues to be so voluble he will “ submerge “ himself “on a pinnacle of materialized vapour,” as he said the other day. I shall read the letter, as I have been asked to do so. The honorable member for Cook is a young beginner, but he certainly “ knows the ropes.” The date of the circular is 14th January, 1907.
– That was after the election - I was not looking for votes.
– The circular I have is addressed to the manager or proprietor of one of the industries in his electorate, and is as follows -
In order to place me in a position to be able to redeem my election pledges in connexion with the Tariff, and as this Question will come before the Federal House early, will you kindly try and supply me with the following information concerning your industry : -
What articles do you manufacture?
How many operatives do you employ ?
Is the Tariff at present satisfactory to you?
If not, what alteration is needed?
Here is an invitation to employers - those men whom the honorable member is so fiercely and constantly denouncing - “Come along with your claims, and I will fix you up.”
– I did notsay I “will fix you up.” That is the honorable member’s addition.
– The circular proceeds -
Could you say what- employment would be given and wages paid if the imports referred to were manufactured . in Australia?
If you would kindly have information tabulated under these heads, you would assist me greatly. I want to be in a position to faithfully safeguard the interests of your industry -
– Not “ your industry,” but “my constituents.”
– The circular is as I have read it, and there is nothing wrong in that so far as I can see. The circular proceeds - and those associated with it- keeping in mind, at the same time, the -interests of the ‘whole community. If necessary or desirable, I should be glad of an opportunity later on of personally visiting your works and becoming further acquainted with your industry.
I should like to remind the honorable member that when he talks about employers’ representatives in this Chamber, he himself is an employers’ representative on his own showing, and most anxious to help them in every way ; indeed, he is practically running after them for information to enable him to do so.
– After all, I do not think there is much in that circular.
– I do not think there is much in it, except an indication that the honorable member for Cook is just as anxious to run after employers as are those men whom he has been denouncing.
– The circular does not shake the statement of the honorable member for Cook that he was not asked a question on the fiscal issue .during the election.
– But it shakes the honorable member’s statement that he gave no pledges on the fiscal issue.
– It does not. The circular does not refer to the fiscal question at all.
– The circular clearly shows that the honorable member must have given some pledges on the fiscal question.
– The honorable member for Parramatta knows how to twist the meaning of the circular.
– I am not twisting the meaning of . the circular.
– The honorable member is doing so.
– There is a great deal more here about the honorable member, but I shall not make any further quotations. The honorable member ought to be the last in the House to upbraid any body on the fiscal question.
– If the honorable member can quote no more,’ there is. nothing there that can do me any damage.
– There is something -even more damaging than I have read.
– The honorable member may quote it all.
– I do not think it is worth quoting.
– lt is hardly fair to say that there is something more damaging, and then not to quote it.
– I am afraid I shall say there is something more damaging, and still decline to quote further. I listened to the Minister with a very great deal of interest while he unfolded his proposals in connexion with the new protection. After listening to him very intently, and with every desire to understand him,” I am left in the dark as to many points about this professedly new policy. So far as I am able to understand the proposal, I can only say, at this juncture, that I shall decline to commit myself to any such proposal until it has been further explained, and we are able to understand it in all its bearings.
– Is there a split on the other side?
– Not so far as I am aware.
– The leader of the Opposition said he would support the proposal.
– He never said he would do anything of the kind.
– He said he viewed it with favour.
– Precisely, but that is quite another matter. The right honorable gentleman is in the same position as are other honorable members. He requires more light on the subject. I wish to say as emphatically as I am able, that while this Tariff is being proceeded with we should not only have particulars of the old protection set before us iri a schedule, but we should, at the same time, have before us particulars of the new protection also set out in a schedule. Each is supposed to be supplementary to. the other. As they have, been -outlined by the’ Acting Prime Minister, they represent the two halves’ of the same sphere.
– But the Constitution provides that they must be introduced and dealt with separately.
– I am not talking of that,but of the necessity of having the protectionist proposals of the Government fully before us before we begin to consider the details. I wonder why these proposals could not have been stated ina schedule or laid before honorable members in the form of a Bill?
-They will be byandby.
– When ? The honorable gentleman has already told us that that will be done after the Tariff has been dealt with.
– I did not say it would be done after the Tariff is dealt with. I said that the proposals would not be finally dealt with until after we had dealt with the Tariff. It is probable that they will be submitted to the House during the consideration of the Tariff. The honorable member is very unfair.
– It takes a long time to get this information. Before he asked the Committee to deal with the old protection, the honorable gentleman should have let honorable members know exactly what the schedule of the new protection was going to be.
– The schedule will become the property of the House, to be dealt withby the House.
– What was to hinder the honorable gentleman letting us have a memorandum on the new protection ?
– I thought I supplied the memorandum this afternoon.
– The honorable gentleman made an irregular statement, which, so far as I could follow it, was about as clear as mud.
-i cannot help it if the honorable member is thick-headed.
– The honorable gentleman may think that I am thick in the cranium, but I need not return the compliment. Some things are so obvious that it is unnecessary to state them. So far as I have been able to follow the proposals of the new protection, as outlined by the leader of the Labour Party, in a much more lucid way than they have been outlined to-day by the Acting Prime Minister–
– The leader of the Labour Party did not outline them as applied to the Tariff.
– The Acting Prime Minister has said to-day, only in a very much worse way, what the leader of the Labour Party said the other day. So far as I am ‘able to apprehend the situation, the honorable gentleman has submitted a very imperfect and incomplete statement of the whole question. As the honorable member for. North Sydney said, this is evidently the sugar-coating of the protectionist pill which the government are asking the Committeeand the country to swallow. All our medicine to-day is sugarcoated; but honorable members who take sugar-coated pills are aware that very often their effects last long after the sugarcoatingis dissolved. I make the bold prediction that the sugar-coating of this new protection will have dissolved within a short time after the attempt is made to apply the policy practically to our industrial life. The more I consider the matter the more I fail to see how such a scheme can be workable so long as human nature is what it is. I therefore believe that when the sugar-coating has been dissolved it will be found that the old protection will remain with whatever it may have in store for the workers and consumers of the community. We have been told that an Excise Bill is to be brought down, and that those who do not subscribe to the new protection, those who do not pay fair wages, and sell their productions at a fair price–
– I did not say that.
– I am paraphrasing what the honorable gentleman did. say. Those who do not subscribe to the new protection will have to pay an Excise duty of one half the amount of the Tariff duty.
– I did not say anything about the prices.
– The honorable gentleman said that there would be a Board to regulateany undue prices.
– No; to report to Parliament.
– The Excise Bill, therefore, will not deal with prices, but only with the conditions of labour.
– That is all.
– As previous
Excise Acts do.
– The Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act did deal with prices.
– Does not the Ministerpropose to continue that policy in giving effect to the new protection scheme?
– There is another method of dealing with it.
– There will be another method equally as effective, I suppose?
– The Board of Excise willdeal with that, and report to Parliament, and Parliament will take its own action onthe report.
– But if the Board reports to Parliament that fair prices are not being charged, the only remedy I have so far heard from the honorable gentleman is a reduction in the Customs duties.
– Yes; there might be a recommendation to reduce the duties.
– What is going on?
– I am trying to get a little enlightenment. The honorable member for Gwydir does not need any, but I do. In the event of the Board reporting that fair prices are not being charged to the consumer, I am trying to get from the Minister the extent of the remedy he proposes to apply. The honorable gentleman says now that the only remedy he has ‘in contemplation is a reduction of the Customs duty on the article.
– The honorable member should not ask catch questions.
– I am asking these questions for the sake of information. The necessity for asking them is a proof that the matter has not been fairly put before the Committee. It has been submitted in a way which has only mystified honorable members. I venture tosay that a great deal more information will be required before the new protection is put into practical operation.
– The honorable member should not bellow about it so soon.
– I direct the attention of the Labour Party, whose scheme this is supposed to be, to the fact that the Minister says that we’ should not talk about it too soon, or, I presume, until we get a long way on with the consideration of the Tariff.
– I did not say that.
– When may we expect to get a complete statement of the proposals of the Government upon this matter? I am anxious only to know what is in the mind of the Government.
– I am not going to be catechised about it at the present time.
I have given the honorable member and the Committee a. great deal of information.
– The honorable gentleman has made a statement which I am sorry to say does not amount to much. I say that there will be the greatest possible difficulty in carrying out the proposals of the Government, either with regard to wages or with regard to prices. It is open to one of the difficulties pointed out in connexion with the last Excise proposals of the Government, and which was proved to be only too real, and is bound to follow in connexion with any proposals of this kind. When we set out to regulate prices we must be logical, reasonable and effective, and in controlling them there must be some stipulation as to the quality of the article on which a particular price is fixed. Take the case of harvesters. The Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill provided that the price should be reduced to £65 per machine.
– And that is the price this year.
– Is there in that Bill any. provision which would preclude Mr. McKay, or any other manufacturer, from taking out of his machine the difference between £70 and £60 ?
– If he did he would not sell it.
– He would sell it if he had, as the Government propose to give him, a monopoly of the market.
– He has not a monopoly.
-He would have a monopoly if the duty were increased to £16 per machine.
– He would not. The machines would be manufactured all over the country.
– Then those who come here to make them would be able to do precisely what Mr. McKay would be able to do. There is nothing in. the Act to prevent them taking out of the value of the machine the difference between the old price and the new.
– Nonsense !
– It is not. There is a great difference in the value of machines sold in Australia to-day. It is said that the International Harvester Company make their machines at a much lower rate than do the Massey-Harris Company.
– They make a lighter machine.
– Of course they do; that is the point I am making. Thereis nothing in the Act to prevent these people regulating the value of their machine to the price which the Government compel them to charge. Unless the Government by Statute guarantee to the consumer that the quality of the article will be maintained that must necessarily occur. All this talk about reducing prices is mere moonshine. The Government might compel manufacturers to sell at a cheaper price, but at the same time they would afford them an opportunity to make a cheaper machine, and give them a monopoly of the market in which to sell that machine. I should like to see that point met by the Acting Prime Ministerin connexion with these new proposals, otherwise they will never be effective. I fear that when Ministers set out to try to regulate all the prices and all the labour of the community they will undertake a job the complexity of which would baffle a man much superior to any ever born upon this planet. I know of no three men who are wise enough and capacious enough to grasp, and control, and harmonize all the industrial occupations of the country, as well as to attend to all the ramifications of the distribution of the country. In dealing with the question of regulating prices one has only to look at a statement made by the Prime Minister himself when discussing this question at the Imperial Conference a few weeks ago. The honorable gentleman went on to say - and I quote these remarks becausethey are very appropriate to the matter now underconsideration -
Markets vary everywhere - and in speaking of markets he referred, of course, to prices - andundercircumstances, too many even to indicate, merchants are accustomed to sell sometimes ingood and sometimes in only indifferent markets.
That is a very pregnant statement, showing that the Prime Minister, at least, has an appreciation of the difficulties which we have to face when we set out to control the prices to be charged in the various markets of Australia. Prices differ in every State, and for reasons which are peculiar to every State. I go further, and say they differ widely within every Stateand in almost every town ofeveryState. Mr. Mauger. - The fact thatthey differ will show that there is no combination.
– I am not speaking of a combination. The Government set out to do more than inquire whether or not a combination exists. They set out to guarantee to the consumers that they will not be charged excessive prices. They cannot do that unless they have such machinery as will enable them to follow the goods into every town and every hamlet of Australia, so as to know precisely what the consumer pays at the point where he parts with his cash. The honorable member knows that the cost of goods at the end of a railway line, or on a railway line, may be 20 per cent. less than it is 20 miles inland, whither the goods have to be conveyed by carriers.
– That fact will be considered.
– It will have to be if the Government are’ going to fix the price to the consumer ; but, inasmuch as they cannot by any machinery known to us, follow all these ramifications of trade in their details, they will never be able to guarantee that the consumers will have to pay only a fair price. The honorable member, and, indeed, the Government, admit that, under their fair price proposition, all they need do is to make inquiries in the cities. That, I believe, was the statement made the other day by the honorable member for South Sydney, when discussing this matter.
– He was speaking of manufacturers.
– There is a great deal of difference between manufacturing goods and’ selling them in a wholesale way and retailing them to, the consumer. The Government give no guarantee to the consumer when they simply take care that the goods which leave the manufacturer’s hands at a reasonable price shall be sold to the consumer at a reasonable price. One of the complaints most loudly uttered in connexion with this very Tariff is that prices are unduly inflated and raised to the consumer, and that neither the manufacturer nor the Tariff has anything whatever to do with that increase. Clearly, if the Government are to give any relief to the consumer, as they set out to do by this machinery, they will have to follow the goods to the point where he begins to take delivery in return for his cash. That is a task which cannot be compassed by any three men or 300 or 3,000 men throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Therefore this proposal will be a practical nullity when an attempt is made to put it into force.
– The honorable member is building up a wall and knocking it. down again.
– No; he is trying to knock some one else down..
– I am not building any wall ; I am trying to look at the facts as they appear to me. We cannot protect the consumer until we know what the consumer is doing at the point where he parts with his cash and gets his goods. If the Government confine their operations to the manufacturer in the city, and merely inquire whether or not there is a combine there, we shall have no guarantee that he will get them at a fair price. The Government will have something more to do before they can fix prices and wages. Might I remind honorable members that the industrial conditions of Australia are by no means uniform.
– Unfortunately or otherwise, there is the fact. For instance, it has been brought to light by the reports of the Tariff Commission that engineers in Western Australia receive an average weekly wage of 12s. more than is paid to engineers in Victoria. I suppose that there is a variance again between the wages received by the mechanic in Victoria and those paid to the mechanic in Tasmania. What are these three men to do with regard to fixing the general rates of wages all over Australia? While there is this huge difference in the wages paid for the same kind of work in Australia there is a common Tariff operating all over the Commonwealth. The man in Western Australia, who pays 12s. a week more than is paid in Victoria, will only have the same Tariff protection as is afforded to the man in Tasmania, who pays £1 a week less than he does.
– He will get more for his goods in Western Australia.
– There again, I presume that the price which he will get for his goods will be regulated by the proposed Excise Commission.
– It is not proposed that the Commission should regulate prices. It is only suggested that it should report if prices are extortionate in view of the conditions.
– What is to be done then?
– It will report to Parliament.
– I presume that Parliament will take some action to redress that wrong?
– I should imagine so.
– And, therefore, it is simply quibbling with terms to say that the Commission will have no control overprices.
– I said that it would not attempt to regulate prices in the sense of fixing them.
– It will be practically regulating prices when it suggests tothis House that they are extortionate. I suppose it would indicate in its report the extent to which they are extortionate, and, therefore, would indicate unmistakably what is a fair price, and we should be bound to accept its recommendations. How otherwise can it be said that the Commission will act, if not in the direction of regulating prices ? It must do so. It cannot say that a price is extortionate unless it tells us to what extent it is extortionate. By so much as the price is extortionate, just so surely and accurately will it indicate to us what a fair price would be. Therefore, if we are to act upon the Commission’s reports, it follows that it will actually, if not technically, fix prices.
– A high price may be legitimate and not extortionate in Western Australia, whereas a smaller price might be extortionate in the eastern States.
– That is thevery point that I am making. While a high price and high wage may be justified in Western Australia, the basis of the fixing of the wages will be uniform over the whole continent.
– The honorable member is altogether mistaken.
– I know what the honorable member is referring to, but I am dealing with one point of it only. A number of considerations enter into the’ fixing of prices and wages besides the Tariff.
– We could not have one Tariff for Western Australia and another for New South Wales.
– No; but there are other conditions affecting the prices and differentiating the wages paid, and therefore, it would be a matter of supreme difficulty for the Board to arrive at any sort of equation in the fixing either of prices or wages for the whole of Australia.
– Cannot we discuss these details when we get the Bill?
– The honorable member may do so if he chooses, but I want to tell him very plainly that these seem to be insuperable objections to carrying out the scheme.
– Not insuperable.
– I say that they are practically insuperable. The scheme cannot be worked in any reasonable or practical way. It would take an army of employes, and then they would not do it. It would be the easiest thing in the world for the whole of the traders and manufacturers of the continent to evade the utmost watchfulness of any three men who are given the task of operating over so large an area. I, therefore, predict that this Excise business will break down the moment you come to apply it in practice over a continent such as ours. You cannot do it even in a State with all the means you have at your command. What is happening in Victoria? You cannot stop sweating. You minimize it, it may be, with infinite effort, infinite labour, infinite vigilance, with a great deal of goodwill and altruistic sentiment to boot, but there is still an abundance of it even in this State.
– Are we, therefore, to make no attempt to minimize it?
– I shall be very glad to consider any attempt which appears to toe of any practical use. I am criticising this scheme now, not for the purpose of destroying it, but to look at the actual facts of the situation as I see it. I decline to shut my eyes and swallow the scheme in the belief that by some mysterious process - some miracle - it is going to be made operative. The one thing that will be operative will be, not the new, but the old protection. I am afraid that the workers of this country will live a long while before any new protection comes home to them in their domestic conditions from any such proposals as are now put before us. Already we have done our very best in connexion with other matters to make some modicum of this scheme apply, and, after trying it, we have, to-night, to confess its failure.
– Not at all. The individuals are before the Court now.
– Are we to multiply that Court business in the future?
– I hope so, in order to get justicetotheworkers.
– Then, if you can only do it at the point of the bayonet, and in the Courts of the country, after you have passed your laws, it is the clearest of all proofs that it is not going to be the success that we anticipated it would be.
– All law is enforced by penalties.
– I know it is.
– Even the law against murder is not absolutely successful.
– I know that it is not. But any proposal which means the constant hauling before the Courts throughout the length and. breadth of Australia of men who will not voluntarily obey these laws - I will not put it in that way at all - of men who may mistakenly break these laws, and plead that they cannot help themselves, is not going to be of much benefit to the workers of this country. I should far rather leave it to some- tribunal which would get away from lawyers and law courts, as of infinitely more benefit to the workers than those Statutes which can only be interpreted in a Court of law. So far, our experience of trying to protect the workers of Australia has not turned out as it should have done. As the honorable member for South Sydney knows, I supported willingly and cordially the Bill for the establishment of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales. I do not believe that it has been a success at all.
– It has done a lot of good all the same.
– It has, and it has done a lot of harm also.
– The administration has been bad.
– It has not done as much harm as one strike would have done.
– I think quite the contrary. It has not stopped strikes either.
– We cannot insure perfection.
– No,but I am not quite sure that to-day, as a consequence of that Court, there is not a worse feeling between labour and capital than there was before. Instead of acting as a solvent of their difficulties, as we anticipated that it would, instead of harmonizing their differences in a rational way by means of arbitration, it is. no longer an Arbitration Court, but has been turned into a law court. There is very little equity and good conscience about the Court at all, but there is an abundance of law.
– Who put the lawyers into the Bill ?
– No man criticised that Bill more legitimately and strongly that the present leader of the Opposition. He was the one man in that Parliament who pointed out that the very thing of all others that ought not to be done was to involve the workers of the country in the meshes of the law. I voted for the Bill in the belief that it would bring capital and labour together in harmonious relations. But instead of doing that, it has acted as a wedge between these two forces, and I say, without hesitation, that the feeling between them to-day is more rancorous and bitter than it was before the Court was set up. A man is blind who does not see that.
– I think that the man who says it is prejudiced.
– I do not think that I am at all prejudiced.
– The honorable member does not want to get on with the consideration of the Tariff.
– I do. Underlying all these proposals for the application of the new protection by a machinery method - by the appointment of three Commissioners - there is the false assumption that conditions throughout Australia are fairly equal. That is precisely what we know they are not. Let honorable members think how widely they differ within every State, and let them reflect upon the multiplicity of local causes which render the fixing of prices and of labour conditions upon a fair basis beyond the ingenuity of any man, however capable he may be.
– Will the task be more difficult than that of paying our civil servants higher rates when they live in certain localities?
– It will be infinitely more difficult. In connexion with our Public Service we have laid down the rule that officers doing the same work shall be paid the same salary, plus a living allowance for climatic reasons only.
– There are other reasons which operate.
– There is the cost of living as the result of expensive haulage.
– In the case of Western Australia, but that is about all.
I believe that the living allowance is fixed at a uniform rate. We do not pay an officer in Victoria a different salary from that paid to the officer in New South Wales who discharges the same duties, although the cost of living may be dearer in one State than in the other. But to regulate the payment to our civil servants, we have had to unify conditions generally andbroadly. That is what we cannot do in connexion with industrial matters under our Constitution. I have some other observations to make, but I shall reserve them until another occasion. We are, I understand, to have these proposals crystallized in a Bill or memorandum. Which is it to be ?
– I will not be catechised.
– When the Treasurer has no answer to my question it is a safe thing for him to be insulting. It is so much a habit with him to be insulting that it is the rule, and not the exception.
– It is mutual.
– The honorable member is tied to the coat tails of the Treasurer, and the latter drags the former with him upon every occasion.
– Is that insulting?
– It may be. Shall Isay that it is mutual again ? Whatever the Treasurer says the honorable member for Gwydir says ditto. Everybody knows that the honorable member is tied to the coat tails of the Treasurer.
– I should not like to be tied to the honorable member’s coat tails.
– I will take care that the honorable member, is not. He would be far too big a load to drag about this country. We shall have to wait, I presume, to ascertain in what form the proposals of the Government will be embodied in a Bill. In the meantime, I say very emphatically that I shall commit myself tono scheme of new protection until I can see one which is likely to’ be effective in its operation - a purpose with which I heartily sympathize-
– Then why does not the honorable member himself submit a scheme ?
– I have not a remedy for all the ills of humanity. That is my trouble.Many of the remedies advocated by the honorable member are quack remedies. This is being proved the further that they are tested. I venture the fear that the . latest proposals of the Government will prove a quack remedy. However, they will serve their purpose in assisting to get this Tariff through Committee, with the support of honorable members who say that they would not support it if it were not accompaniedby some such proposals. I have every desire to help the workers of this country in any way that may be open to them. To those who laugh and jeer, I wish to say that the answer to all their jeering and laughing is the record behind me.
– Behind who?
-Behind the speaker, and the honorable member may put his record alongside it if he choose.
– I would put it alongside of that of the honorable member any day.
– I venture to say that I have done more for the workers of Australia than the honorable member will do if he lives to be a hundred years of age. There is one thing, however, that I have never attempted. I have never tried to humbug them with will-o’-the-wisp fantasies such as are proclaimed from the housetops to-day to be a remedy for all their industrial ills. I shall say no more. I do not see my way to give my adhesion to the principles of the new protection untilthey have been placed in a concrete form before us, and until we are able to get to close grips with the proposals of the Ministry. I certainly cannot agree with proposals which have been made so vaguely by the Treasurer to-day, and as to which there does not appear to beany sound basis.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I had hoped that we should have reached the tobacco duties to-night. I did not expect that we should have had such long speeches as the last one delivered. I do, however, trust that an effort will now be made to get on with the details of the Tariff, so that we may not be kept here longer than is absolutely necessary.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.46 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 October 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071001_reps_3_39/>.