3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. WEBSTER presented a petition from the Gwydir Shire Council, praying the House to give relief from Customs duties tending to press heavily on the primary industries and to check production and settlement.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK presented a petition from the Hunter’s Hill branch of the Women’s Liberal League of New South Wales, praying the House not to impose duties tending to make food, clothing, and other essentials of the poorer classes more expensive.
Mr. PAGE presented a petition from teachers of music in Queensland, praying the House not to pass the duty . on pianos.
Report (No. 8) presented by Mr.
Storrer, and read by the Clerk, as follows : -
The Printing Committee have the honour to report that they have met in Conference with the Printing Committee of the Senate.
The Joint . Committee, having considered all. the Petitions and Papers presented to Parliament since the last meeting of the Committee, make the following recommendations with respect to certain Petitions and Papers ‘ not ordered by either House to be printed, viz. : -
Committee Room, 10th October, 1907.’
– In view of the power to legislate in respect to immigration conferred on this Parliament by section 51 of the Constitution, I wish to know if the Government is disposed to take action in connexion with the unregulated immigration, into: New South Wales which is now taking place ? We require immigrants, of course, but they should be of the proper stamp.
– The honorable member cannot debate the question.
– I am speaking of the impecunious class of immigrants who are being admitted and turned loose in New. South Wales.
Mr.Reid. - Turned loose! Surely they are free to go where they please. They arenot gaol birds.
– I understand that New South Wales immigrants have to be passed by the Agent-General for the State, after* an inquiry has been made concerning them, and that on arrival in Sydney they are received by officers deputed for that purpose. I am not aware of any unregulated immigration. In any case, the immigration which has. taken place is so trifling that, we need hardly be anxious about it.. The resources of. New South Wales are so enormous that such a State must be able to’ provide’ easily for all who have entered her borders. - I understand that the chargesmade by certain immigrants have been held by the Board which investigated them not to -have been proved/
– Does, the Ministry consider! the admission of pauper . immigrants,, and the- placing of them at 2s. 6d. and 5s. a week amongst the farming community, legitimate immigration ? The police ‘ receive 10s. for every, man they succeed in; placing among the farmers.
Mr.DEAKIN.-I dp not. know of any instance of the kind. The fact that immigrants are without means isnot- in itself a disqualification. They may possess the qualities of our fathers, which will make them most valuable settlers. . No doubt the honorable member may have personal know; ledge of the rates of wages paid in some cases, but the Government has not been insformed of any such low wages being paid: The only recent information on the subject is that supplied in the rather lengthy report of the Intelligence Department which- investigated certain charges.
– The New South Wale’s Government has issued a notice offering to the -police 10s. for every man they place. 1
– In re-organizing- the Defence Force . of- . the Commonwealth, will the Minister, of -Defence take into account the desirability of Ihaving. a ‘ reserve . of officers, especially in the medical branch of the service?
– The matter is under consideration, and I hope to make satisfactory arrangements.
– Have the importers of patent medicines been definitely informed that labels must be attached to the bottles or packages, stating the nature of the contents ?
– I shall furnish the honorable member with an answer to-morrow.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if there is any prospect of the public being made acquainted at an early date with the names of the tenderers for the mail contract?
– The negotiations are at present at a preliminary stage.
– I ask only for the names of the tenderers. I do not wish to know anything concerning the negotiations. If tenders have been submitted, the names of the tenderers can surely foe supplied.
– There axe good grounds why the names of the tenderers should not be published yet.
– Does the Government intend to have made a survey of the northwest coast of Australia? If so, I wish to know what has been done in the matter ?
– There is a direct proposal in regard to the survey of the northwest coast, about which communications are now passing, and I should be able to make a definite statement concerning it shortly. There are also unformulated proposals for the survey of part of the coast of Tasmania, and part of the coast of Queensland.
– Has the Government yet in its possession information which will enable it to furnish the return respecting the Northern Territory asked for some months ago? If so, when will the return be laid on the table?
– The Government has a great deal of information on the subject, but it isnot quite complete, and, if it is not all to hand very soon, we shall present to the House what we have, supplying afterwards whatever additional particulars we can get to make the return perfect.
– We have waited some months for this information.
– It will be here in time.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Referring to the question asked on the 27th September, with reference to the attempted introduction of a fatal rabbit disease into Australia,, have inquiries been made ; if so, will he state the result of such inquiries?
– Inquiry has been made, so far without eliciting definite information ; but further investigation will be made.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 9th October, vide page 4461) :
Item 187. . Wire-netting, ad vol. (General Tariff), 30 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), 25 per cent.
Upon which, had been moved the following amendments : -
By Mr. Chanter -
That the following words be added : - “ and on and after 10th October, 1907 (General Tariff), 15 per cent; ; (United Kingdom), 10 per cent.”
By Mr. Fuller -
That the following words be added : - “ and on and after10th October, 1907, Free.”’
.- The reporting of progress last night caused a welcome calm to follow the storm which had prevailed all the evening. If mere words and bluster, and the roarings of a lion, were argument, the question of the duty on wire-netting would have been settled by the speech of the Treasurer. Fortunately mere force of delivery does not constitute argument. I am pleased that preference has been given to the consideration of the item of wire-netting, since it affords us a striking illustration of the difference between the two systems of protection and free-trade - the difference between the system of protecting our primary industries as against that of protecting our secondary industries. Notwithstanding the great importance of this question, we find that only two witnesses were examined in regard to it by the Tariff Commission. One of these was a representative of the employes in the wire-netting industry, whilst the other was a pastoralist representing employers in one of our chief primary industries. It is singular that where such large interests apparently were at stake, only an employe in the wirenetting industry came forward to give evidence. During the progress of this debate the president of the company concerned has been in the galleries, but when the costly Commission sat in Sydney no representative of the employers appeared before it. The employe who gave evidence certainly presented a written statement, which put his case clearly and concisely, but as soon as his evidence was submitted to the crucial test of cross-examination his arguments fell to the ground. Speaking 011 behalf of the employes, he complained that he was working only half-time, that he was making not more than £2 2s. per week, and that, as a matter of fact, all the workers in the industry were sadly underpaid. Nevertheless, he would not admit that any employé was earning less than 30s. per week. We have been told during this debate that there are between 500 and 600 employes in the industry, and the amount which the Treasurer said last night was paid in wages by the company would not provide for an average wage of more than 28s. per week. It is impossible to reconcile the statement of the employé with that made by the Treasurer.
– Was it not said last night that there were 400, not 600, employes in the industry ?
– I think that an honorable member of the Labour Party said that there were something like 600 employed.
– The Treasurer said there were 400.
– Even if that be so, the amount said to be distributed by way of wages by the company would not be sufficient to provide all these employes with what the honorable member would describe as a living wage.
– Quite so, but how could more be paid under free-trade?
– There is no reason why the company should not succeed under free-trade conditions. How could a business concern expect to succeed when it entered the market bearing a burden in the shape of a liability of , £100,000 to be paid off? In such circumstances, how could we expect its employes tobe properly treated, and the industry to be satisfactorily carried on ? I think that the business must have been badly managed.
– The fact that the company lost£100,000 under free-trade conditions does not suggest that it could carry on under free-trade.
– I claim that the losses incurred by the company were not clue to the fact that free-trade prevailed in New South Wales. Is it not a fact that industries in that State had gone ahead by leaps and bounds? The country is so rich that it can nourish industries without the assistance, df protection. The suggestion made by the Treasurer that the position of this isolated company illustrates the evil of free-trade will not bear a moment’s consideration. In a country like this the outlet for wirenetting isso extensive that any company properly managed should be able, with the greatest of ease, to produce netting in open competition with the foreign manufacturer. Although manufacturers of wire-netting in Germany are encouraged by the Government, we are told, bv means of a bounty of 15 percent. - although their goods are carried over the railways at specially low rates, and shipping companies are subsidized to convey them to Sydney at a cost of something like 10s. 6d. per ton, whereas the cost of conveying wire-netting from Sydney to other Inter-State ports ranges from 15s. to 22s. 6d. per ton - they are unable to compete with the English manufacturers. It is absolutely vital to the interests of Australia -that wire-netting should be produced as cheaply as possible. The Treasurer claims that, as the result of the imposition of a high protective duty, prices will fall, and that, as a matter of fact, Lysaght Brothers have already made -a reduction of £1 per ton in their selling rates. That, however, is a very small concession, having regard to the fact that the duty originally proposed by the Government is equivalent to -£6 per ton. It was urged last, night that farmers and settlers are not interested in this question - that it is a question affecting only the pastoralist, and that he can well afford to pay a little more for the use of his land. That is an entirely erroneous assumption. We know that the farmers and settlers, equally with the pastoralists, fear the inroads of the rabbit. I have before me a letter signed bv Mr. J. R. Fulton, secretary of the Farmers and Settlers’ Association at Underbank, near Dungog
– Is he a farmer or an agent ?
– He is a dairy farmer, and he writes -
Had there been sufficient time not only our Farmers and Settlers’ Association, but the whole district, would have signed it to a man.
The reference is to a petition praying the House not to agree to these excessive duties. The letter continues -
Rabbits have been lately seen in this district, and their serious menace to the whole Staley with . the depreciation of holdings or ruin, they bring to all settlers, should be sufficient in itself to have this item put on the free list.
– There are no rabbits at Dungog..
– I have the greatest respect for Mr. Fulton, and believe every word that he writes. He states distinctly, as a representative of the association, that the farmers and settlers of the district fear the inroads of the rabbits.
– But they have not yet reached the north coast district.
– I have seen rabbits in the district referred to. There may be only a few there at the present time, but it cannot be denied that the great army of rabbits is gradually approaching the district. If the large land -holders do not have an opportunity to erect rabbit-proof boundary fences and to resort to poisoning and trapping in order to keep the pest in check there will be nothing to prevent the rabbits extending beyond the larger areas, and, more particularly in bad seasons, raiding the dairy farms and the holdings of the small settlers. The . Labour Party are always crying out for closer settlement, but it seems to me that they are doing little to encourage it.
– We are willing to encourage it if the land is made available.
– Any excuse.
– No land monopoly.
– The honorable member must be aware that there are in New South Wales and Victoria thousands of acres available for settlement.
– Where ? There are hundreds of applicants for one block.
– That is the fault of the system, and a matter that rests entirely with the States.
– Who is responsible for that system ?
– At present I am dealing with the question of who is responsible for this iniquitous tax. Unless the rabbits on the large areas are kept in check, they must gradually encroach on the holdings of the small settlers, and until we have closer settlement they will always be a menace to the farmer as well as to the, pastoralist. The wire-netting industry at present is a small one, but even if it were an extensive industry, capable of supplying all the wire-netting required in Australia, it would be insignificant when compared with the great pastoral and farming industries. Let us take a glance at the value of the product of the pastoral industry. The value of the wool exported from Australia since 1851 has reached the enormous sum of £610,000,000.
– Then it will not ruin the pastoralists if they are called upon to purchase a little wire-netting?
– Does not the honorable member realize that every additional tax is felt by those who have to bear it? If he were a farmer and has land were burdened with an additional tax of £5 per annum, I am sure that when he came to make up his accounts at the end of the year, and reflected that every article which he had used was also taxed, he would ask himself the question, “ Can I afford to bear these heavy imposts?” Australia has always been noted for its wonderful gold production. Yet the value of the wool exported from ‘the Commonwealth since 1851 has actually exceeded that of the gold exported by £230, 000,000. In 1903 the value of the sheep in Australia was £50,439,000. Let honorable members reflect for a moment upon the employment which is provided by the pastoral and the dairying industries. I would commend this aspect of the matter to the notice of the jocular leader of the Labour Party, whose members are always complaining that huge estates employ only halfadozen hands. In 1903 there were 69,000 hands employed in the pastoral industry, and 43,964 in the dairying industry, a total of, approximately, 113,000 hands. Since then the dairying industry has progressed by leaps and bounds, but, unfortunately - owing to’ dilatoriness on the part of the Government - no statistics are available to enable me to bring the figures up to date. Upon this question I claim that I am in a. position to speak impartially. Last night the Treasurer taunted the leader of the Opposition with the fact that he represents a city constituency. The honorable gentleman also declared that for 27 years his constituents had been satisfied with him as their representative, and that he represented a district whose interests were almost entirely pastoral.
– Until the last election it was the big land-owners who backed him every time.
– I think that I am in a position to take a broad-minded view of this question, because I am not the representative of any particular class of the community. In my electorate is Cockle Creek, from which supplies of spelter are obtained. The district also embraces extensive mining interests which employ a large number of workmen, and large areas which are occupied by settlers and pastoralists. In a young country like Australia, whose population is crowded into the larger cities on our coast, we should do all that we can to encourage our primary industries. The way to encourage them is not by imposing a duty upon wire-netting, but by allowing that article to be admitted free. I intend to vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Illawarra. From the printed schedule in the hands of honorable members, it appears that the recommendation of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission was that a 5 per cent, duty should be levied upon wirenetting, that is somewhat of a misrepresentation, because I am given to understand that the duty in question was recommended in connexion with a scheme which included a number of other duties. Unless this scheme could be adopted in its entirety, the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission declared that no duty should be imposed upon wire-netting.
– They recommended a duty of 5 per cent.
– They recommended that the material should be admitted free. The position was explained very thoroughly by the honorable member for Illawarra , yesterday. Last night the Treasurer stated that the small farmers and agriculturists did not fear the rabbits, and that the remedy for this pest . was to be found in the subdivision of the large estates and in the closer settlement of -the country. I think I have shown that his statement is entirely inaccurate, and that the small settlers equally with the large land-holders dread the inroads of the rabbits. I also desire to take exception to the remarks of the honorable member for West Sydney last evening. He spoke with a good deal of heat, and with a certain amount of illnature. If any member of this House was ever a, free-trader certainly the honorable member used to be one. What he is now I do not know. But I do say that for him to affirm that the present Tariff is the result of the action of the leader of the Opposition is nothing more nor less than a most despicable misrepresentation. The party which is responsible for the introduction of the Tariff is that which is commonly known in this Chamber as the Labour Party, and which is known outside of it as the “Socialistic” party.
– The fiscal piebald party - the “yes-no” party.
– We know very well that this wretched remnant of the Government could not live for an hour if it were not for the support of members who are supposed to represent the labouring classes of Australia. For the members of that party to declare that the leader of the Opposition is responsible for the Tariff is absolutely ridiculous. I am very glad that the honorable member for West Sydney has entered the chamber, because I do not like to attack a person when he is a.bsent For the honorable member to make the remark to which I refer last evening was beneath the dignity even of a member of the Labour Party. I have nothing more to say upon this matter. I do hope that as the result of the protests which have been presented to Parliament by those who feel the hardship of being compelled to pay a. duty upon wire-netting the item will’ te placed upon the free list.
– I am loath to add to the length of the present debate, which has’ already extended far beyond the limits to which we expected it to be confined. But honorable members, I am sure, will bear testimony to the fact that I have not delayed the settlement of the Tariff question bv any speeches which I have delivered upon it. The Government are asking this Committee to vote for a protective duty upon wire:netting, and therefore I take it that we are entitled to consider the extent of the disadvantage under which the factory of Messrs. Lysaght Brothers has to work by reason of the increased wages which it has to pav in comparison with those which are paid in other parts of the world. Wherever I see any Australian industry placed at a disadvantage by reason of its being called upon to pay higher wages than, those which obtain in other countries, I am prepared to extend to it such a measure of protection as will at least equalize matters or incline the balance in favour of our own people.
– How will prices be kept down for . the consumer?
– I think that the new protection scheme will do that.
– Where is this scheme? When is it going to be brought forward ?
– I do not suppose that it masters very much where the scheme originates so long as it proves to be a good one. We might be prepared to accept even a scheme of the deputy leader of the Opposition if it werea good one.
– When is it to be brought forward?
– That depends largely upon the ability of the leader of the Opposition in persuading the honorable member to adopt his reasonable methods in dealing with the Tariff. I ask the Committee to consider the wages which are paid in the wire-netting industry with a view to ascertaining what duty will fairly meet the case. We were told last night by the Treasurer that £700 per week is disbursed amongst the employes in the wire-netting industry. That is the total amount of the payments. We have also been told that Messrs. Lysaght Brothers’ factory is producing 335 miles of netting weekly.
– The average production is 300 miles per -week.
– This wire-netting sells for at least £30 a mile.
– No; some wirenetting of a different type is sold at a much lower price.
– I am aware of that fact; but I also know that some wire-netting is sold at even a higher price. The firm turn out 335 miles of wire-netting per week, which, sold at £30 per mile, means over £10,000; and it is a fact that they are also engaged in manufacturing other commodities. For the production of that wirenetting, , £700 in wages is paid ; so that, if there is a difficulty in competing with the cheaper article from abroad, it cannot arise, to any great extent, from any difference in wages. If the wire-netting workers of Germany worked for nothing, the firm would be at a disadvantage of only some . £700, which could be covered by a duty of 7 per cent.
Mr.Joseph Cook. - Four-fifths of the wire-netting comes from Great Britain.
– If the labour in Germany and in England were ever so much cheaper - even if it were procured for nothing - I contend that the firm will be at a disadvantage of only some 7 per cent. But seeing that the workers in England and Germany are- paid a certain wage, I venture to think that a duty of 5 per cent, would more than compensate for any difference. If we impose a dutyof 5 per cent, on English wire-netting, and, if desired, an extra 5 per cent, on foreign wire-netting - and I am prepared to support a preference - we shall be treating this firm handsomely, and doing all that is necessary to equalize conditions in the manufacture. Can the Treasurer see his way to accept a suggestion to that effect? -A duty of 5 per cent, may be regarded as not very much; but it amounts to a great deal when we consider the value of the output ; and I think that in view of the fact that Lysaght Brothers have carried on their business for some years without any protection, they will be able to do very well under such a’ duty as I have indicated. On the output of £10,000 a week, a 5 per cent, duty means placing outside competitors at a disadvantage of £500- a week. Honorable members who represent country constituencies are aware that the local article enjoys a natural protection which must amount to fully 5 per cent, at present. Wire-netting from England and Germany is rolled up by machinery into small, tight parcels, with the result that the handling in erecting it costs 25s. or 30s. per mile more than in the case of the local article. The first question asked by the workman when a wire-netting contract is under discussion is whether the netting is Australian or imported ; and the price, in the case of the latter, is higher for the reason I have stated.
– That has not been my experience.
– I am assured that it is the experience of users of wire-netting, throughout New South Wales, and I appeal to the honorable member for Calare to support my statement.
– Australian wirenetting is preferred to imported.
– As I have said this gives a natural protection to the Australian industry amounting to at least 5 per cent. ; and I intend to move, I hope with the approval, of the Treasurer, that the duty be fixed at 5 per cent, against the British article, and 10 per cent, against the foreign article. In doing this, I am not so much -concerned about the wire-netting workers in Sydney, because I regard this as an industry which is not of much value to the community. Those who carry on the industry engage a large number of boys for five or six years at wages ranging from 25s. to 35s. a week ; and, when those boys grow up and require men’s wages, they are - turned out to compete in the unskilled labour market. Such an industry is not. in my opinion, worth any great sacrifice. If it could be shown that Lysaght Brothers could maintain the existing competition without a duty, I should feel disposed to place wire-netting on the free list ; but I am not sure that the industry will not go to the wall unless it be afforded some protection, however small.
– The industry has not “ gone to the wall “ all these years.
– That may be so, but I understand that this enterprise has changed hands once or twice since it was initiated. I make no appeal for Lysaght Brothers or their 400 workers, most of whom are juniors; but I am satisfied that if this factory be closed, it will not be long before the importing ring will proceed to rob the selectors as they have done in the past. Almost every day we have some new experience in this connexion. Only yesterday we were informed how importers had combined to rob the people in the matter of infants’ foods and other commodities sold in chemists’ shops; and certainly the importing ring misses no opportunity of the kind. We have a chance to prevent such practices by affording such, protection as may be necessary to maintain this industry, and give the people on the land the advantages of competition.
– We ought, as far as possible., I think, to endeavour to restrain ourselves within the limits of ordinary Committee debate, or I am afraid we shall never conclude the difficult task before us. Although I should like to say much on the subject under discussion, I shall confine myself to one or two important questions which seem not to have been fully touched on! First, what is the relation which this proposed duty holds to the new schedule in divisions VIa. and VIb. ? If we place a duty on wire-netting at this stage, and we subsequently adopt the provisions of division VI a, and place a duty of i2 per cent, on the raw material, wire, there will be a very strong case on the part of the wire- ‘ netting manufacturer for an additional compensating duty of at least 8 or 10 per cent. I ask the Treasurer whether it is intended to press the proposed duty of 12 J per cent, on wire? I do not ask the honorable gentleman to commit himself to any definite course at the present stage; but, without that information, it is almost impossible to estimate what is a fair or adequate duty on wire-netting.
– In reference to wire, I should not like to speak positively ; but my inclination is to think that the duty ought to be lowered or . removed.
– I am glad to hear that.
– If the duty on wirenetting is lowered to the rate suggested, we shall have to do something in regard to the duty on wire.
– The difficulty I feel is that we are really beginning with the wrong end first. I do not blame the Government for that, because the item has been brought forward by the Committee out of its order. I am strongly in favour of encouraging the production of iron and iron industries in Australia, and am disposed to support the propositions of the Government to that end, whether by the granting - of a bounty - though I do not know where the money necessary for a sufficiently .large bounty is to come from - or by the imposition of a duty. I am strongly disposed to support the giving of substantial encouragement for the production of iron and manufactures of iron, or, at any rate, of comparatively simple manufactures of iron products for which there is a large demand, and which can be profitably made in Australia. But if we put a duty of, say, 12 j per cent, on bar iron, iron wire, and similar manufactures of iron, in order to encourage the local industry, we must undoubtedly increase the duty op wire-netting and barbedwire. Neither article is mentioned in division VIb.
– The duties set out in schedule VIb. are conditional.
– If division VIa. is carried, the compensating duties provided for in division VIb. will be brought into operation.
– The estimated increase is 2 per cent.
– It will be much greater in some cases. In connexion with chaff-cutting and other machines, the value of the finished article is vastly greater than the value of the raw material, and an increase of 2 J per cent, might be sufficient to compensate for the duty on the raw material. But the .difference between the value of the raw material and that of the finished article is much less in connexion with such things as rails and fishplates, bolts, tie-plates, rods, switches, and so on, mentioned in item 181.
– It is not likely that rails will be rolled at places distant from pig- iron furnaces.
– Probably the cost of the black wire used in the making of wire-netting is equal to half the cost of the finished article. In regard to the articles mentioned in item 181, it is provided that, if a duty is placed on the raw material, the general rate applying to them shall be increased bv 10 per cent., or from 12 J to 22
– Under item 226 wire n.e.i. is admitted free.
– I do not know that that is the wire used for the making of wire-netting; the matter should be explained. If the raw material from which wire-netting is made is not admitted subject to a very low rate of duty, or free, we must put a heavy compensating duty on wire-netting. It seems to me that the wire-making industry is one which will reasonably claim a fair measure of protection when we come to deal with manufactures of iron.
– If the duty on wire is taken off, I shall attempt to encourage its production by providing for the granting of bounties.
– I quite understand that. I believe that wire-making is one of the easiest and most fundamental applications of the iron industry, which we ought to endeavour to protect if we intend to encourage that industry, and in dealing with wire-netting we should bear in mind the possibility of the imposition of a duty on. wire. If we adopt the suggestion to place duties of 15 and 10 per cent, on wire-netting, we must afterwards increase the rates by 8 or 10 per cent, if we subsequently adopt division VIb. I should have preferred to deal with the duty on barbed wire and wire-netting in connexion with the consideration of a general scheme for encouraging iron production and manufacture. But under the existing circumstances, what seems to me best to meet the case is the adoption of the rate suggested by several honorable members,, namely, 10 and 5 per cent. It would be very satisfactory to the Committee if, before coming to a vote, we had a definite statement by the Minister in regard to the matters to which I have referred.
– I .have listened with great pleasure to many of the speeches delivered on this important subject. The leader of the Opposition, when Prime Minister, appointed the . Tariff Commission to inquire into the conditions of what were said to be strangled industries, not only in Victoria, but also in New South Wales and other States. On 3rd March, 1904, a petition was presented to this Parliament - which. I have here - signed by 200 men employed in the wirenetting industry of New South Wales, asking for the imposition of a duty on that article.
– Were there only 200 then?
– Two hundred signed the petition; there may have been 400 employed. As a Victorian protectionist I shall vote to protect the industries of New South Wales.. The right honorable member, speaiking on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the speech of the Governor-General, said - Hansard, page 98-
When the Tariff is projected on protectionist lines, I hope that the industries of every part of Australia will receive the same attention. If we are to have protection, we are entitled to see that New South Wales, with some of her great industries, secures a fair degree of it. ‘ ..
Despite that statement, the members of the Opposition are- now saying that they do not desire protection for this industry. The honorable member for; Dalley said that the protectionists sitting on this side of the Chamber would be afraid to vote protection for New South Wales industries; but I am prepared to vote the highest protection. Giving evidence before the Tariff Commission last year, Mr. Boug, who stated that he appeared as the representative of the workers, gave this “evidence -
What prospect have you of obtaining hip’’ rates of wages if a duty be imposed ? - In that event, we should average more time, and should have a better case to go before the country. At present, we do not work full time. Last year, from the 10th April, we were put on halftime, working week off and week on.
– He also said that the rate of wages paid to the employes in the industry was equivalent to 23s. 6d. per mile.
– He said that he was receiving £2 2S. a week, and that wirenetting was ‘ being sent into the country from Germany and elsewhere which should be made in New South Wales. The workers in the industry have asked for protection, and the Government proposes to give it to them. The workers of New South Wales have asked for generous allround protection, and yet, in connexion with one of the very first items, we are calledupon to deal with, we find that most of the representatives of New South Wales are opposed to any duty.
– In the circumstances it is. Honorable members opposite are prepared to allow wire-netting made in Germany by men who work from twelve to fourteen hours a day for a wage of 3s. 3d., to come into unrestricted competition with the wirenetting produced in New South Wales.
– Is not the honorablemember aware that the bulk of our imports of wire-netting come from Great Britain?
– A large quantity of. the wire-netting exported from Great Britain, comes originally from Germany. Great, Britain last year re-exported no less than £70,000,000 worth of goods. What proportion of that sum represents exports of: wire-netting ?
– None. It is locallymade.
– The honorable member is in error.
– Why does the honorable member object to imports of wire-netting from Germany?
– I object to the unrestricted importation of any goods which come into competition with the product of Australian labour, since the conditions of labour prevailing here are different from> those of other lands.
– Does the honorable member object to such -imports whether British or foreign?
– I do. The Tariff Commission had before it the evidence of the worker to whom I have referred, whilst on the other side it had the testimony of a witness representing the pastoral industry. The leader of the Opposition last night pleaded for the small settler, urging that we should be prepared to dosomething to assist him in his effort to . free his land from pests. As a matter of fact, the only representative, of the users of this netting who was examined by the Commission was a Mr. Jowett,! grazier, of Queensland, who stated that he owned nine stations. He said that he desired to keep the rabbits off his land,- and that he did not favour any duty on wire-netting. He admitted, however, that’ even if the wire-netting industry in New South Wales were able to supply local requirements., competition would lead to a reduction in prices. The evidence given before the Commission was in favour of a; higher duty, and the protectionist section’ of that Commission recommended the imposition of a duty of 25 per cent. Surely that recommendation should receive some attention. Are honorable members aware that the Commission appointed by Mr. Chamberlain recommended that a duty of 7½ per cent, should be imposed on wirenetting, and that in its report it was stated, that Germany was . dumping netting into* the United Kingdom at £2 per ton less than it costs to produce it in other countries. We have a protectionist Ministry, and the great bulk of honorable members of this House were returned as protectionists. Some honorable members of the Opposition corner have signified their willingness to follow the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, and yet we now find many of them prepared to disregard the recommendation of that section that a duty of 25 per cent, be imposed upon this commodity.
– Even the Ministry have departed from that recommend at ion.
– I am not responsible for the action of the Treasurer. I am simply pointing out that honorable members of the Opposition corner were returned as protectionists, and that some of them are prepared to place wire-netting on the free list.
– . How does the honorable member know that we were returned as protectionists?
– I know that the honorable member was. Had he not stood as a protectionist he would not have been returned. I know also, that he said he was prepared to follow the recommendations of the Chairman of the Tariff Commission. What has caused him to depart from that decision ? Why should the Opposition corner not be prepared in this case to follow the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Commission?
– Where did honorable members of the Opposition corner say that they would accept the recommendations of the Chairman of the Tariff Commission?
– I am sure that not one of them will deny the correctness of my assertion.
– I, for one, deny it..
– The honorable member for Indi is now prepared to place wire-netting on the free list. Protection has made Victoria, and we wish it to make New South Wales. I think that even the leader of the Opposition will admit that every country that adopts a protective Tariff is benefited by it.
– It means paying’ too much for the benefit received.
– I trust that the Ministry will stand by their proposals and throw upon those who were returned as protectionists the responsibility for voting against them. A candidate for the representation of a Victorian constituency would have no chance of being returned if he. were not prepared to advocate an effective protective Tariff. Every honorable member in the Opposition corner was ready last December to vote for such a Tariff ; but we find that some of them to-day are prepared to pull down the protective barriers. Not one of them would be prepared to say that he favours a revenue Tariff, and I trust that as the workers of New South Wales in this case are asking for protection, and since we can make wire-netting equal to, and in some cases superior to, the imported article, we shall yield to their request. I shall vote for the highest duty that I can secure in connexion with not only the wirenetting industry, but every industry to which the Tariff relates.
– Will the honorable member vote for a heavy duty on glucose?
– In order that our manufacturers may be encouraged, I shall be prepared to support the free admission of raw material which we cannot make here. A short time ago we were invited to inspect the magnificent iron works at Lithgow, and I think I may safely say that some, honorable members of the Opposition will not vote free-trade when we are called upon to deal with the Government proposals to place a duty on iron or to grant a bounty on its production in Australia. I hope that the Government will go for the higher duties, and in future stand by their original proposals, throwing upon honorable members who Were returned to vote protection the responsibility for any reductions that may be made.
.- I should like to congratulate the leader of the Opposition on the sp.lendid way in which he spoke up last night for the man on the land. Those who enjoy the comforts of city life are apt to forget the hardships endured by those on the soil, who are doing the work of Australia. Although we have here a magnificent suburban railway service, the State Government contemplates an expenditure of some millions of pounds on the electrification of the system in order that we may be able to reach our luxurious homes a few minutes earlier than we can now do. That project is likely to be carried out, and yet the unfortunate settler in Gippsland in many cases has great difficulty in reaching his home. The position should be seriously considered. I do not regard this question in the same light as does the honorable member for Batman.
To my mind, in this instance the fiscal issue is not at stake. We expect from the direct supporters of the Government some assistance in our efforts to pass a really workable Tariff, but they are always jeering at the unfortunate members of the Opposition corner. I should be glad if they would permit us to look after our own affairs. It seems to me, however, that they are drunk with protection.
– And so was the honorable member when on the election platform.
– I was not; I. am quite prepared to stand by my election pledges. The honorable member for Batman has been attacking us, and now the Wise man of the east and the other Magi sitting behind the Government are joining in the attack.
– Canada must be very drunk with protection if we in Australia are.
– The Government wish to make us drunk with protection, but we decline to allow them to do so. The desire of honorable members in the Opposition corner is to deal with these questions on business lines, and to secure the granting ofa good measure of protection for the people of Australia. When we reach other items relating to the industries of Australia, it will ‘ probably be found that there is not much difference of opinion between the Government and the members of the Opposition corner. But a question of this sort involves the prosperity of Australia as a whole. For a long time we have been confronted with the problem of what steps are best calculated to enable us to cope with the rabbit invasion, and I think that this item is, therefore, not in the same category as many others in the Tariff. I should like to read a short extract from The Commonwealth of Australia, by Professor Harrison Moore, with a view to showing what a long time the rabbit has been with us. This book, I may mention, has been kindly placed in my hands by the honorable member for Parkes. On page 34 I find the following: -
It was not until the conference of1881 that the matter passed beyond the stage of a discussion and a Bill was agreed to, which, saving the Prerogative, provided for an Australian Court of Appeal. But it was entirely in accordance with custom that the matter should end there. The Tariff as a subject pf conference had been already considered ; and the other principal matters suggested for joint action were the regulation of Chinese immigration, and the suppression of another “ undesirable immigrant,” the rabbit.
That was as far back as 1881, but we arestill fighting the rabbit pest.
– The rabbit is the best land monopolist in our midst.
– Yes. The rabbit will displace, not only the land monopolist, but the farmer, and everybody else connected with the land. I have seen rabbits in country which was covered with snow 10 feet deep. I recollect that at one time itwas urged that rabbits would not live in Gippsland. ‘ But the fact remains that today that country is threatened with an invasion of the pest. I look upon this question as an extra-fiscal one, and I say that it ought not to be dealt with from a fiscal stand-point. I am one of those who favour the establishment of local industries, and, in order that we may place a check uponour importers by insuring healthy competition, and thus allow the users of wirenetting to obtain that material as cheaply as possible, we ought to impose a fair duty upon it. By that means we shall preserve the industry, which has already been established in our midst. With that object in view, I think that we might levy a duty of 10 per cent, upon netting of foreign manufacture and of 5 per cent, upon netting of British origin. That would be a fair thing.
– What is the difference between the manufacturers of Great Britain and foreign manufacturers? Canada would1 be treated as a foreigner.
– If Canada chose to enter into a reciprocal agreement with the Commonwealth we should be able to extend the same preference to her that we offer to Great Britain. But the fact remains that Great Britain is the mother country, from which we obtain most of these manufactures.
– But from a protectionist stand-point, what is the difference between British manufacturers and foreign manufacturers ?
– We are quite willing to extend to any part of the Empire which produces upon the same lines as ourselves the facilities that we accord to the old country. But as a preferential trader, I do not think that it is necessary for me to discuss that question/ at the present time, because, so far, no wire-netting hasbeen imported from Canada) nor does there seem any likelihood of any being so imported. I think that the Government would be acting wisely if they agreed to levy a duty of 10 per cent, upon wire-netting of foreign manufacture and 5 per cent, upon netting of British origin.
– Does the honorable member think that 5 per cent, would be any protection at all?
– I really do not think that the industry requires any protection. The duty is merely a revenue duty. I know. that a little protection very frequently has the effect of imposing a healthy check upon importers, and of thus allowing the consumer to purchase commodities cheaper than he would be able to get them if no duty were operative. Further, in the absence of any duty, rings and combines are likely to be established. I believe that such a thing is not unknown even in labour circles. The general experience is that directly a local industry has been established, down comes the price of the imported article. I do not blame importers for endeavouring to get as much as they can out of the consumers. I am a business man, and I always try to get as much as I can for my money, and I know that others endeavour to get as much as they can out of me. I have no desire to detain the Committee at greater length. A duty of 10 per cent, upon wire-netting of foreign manufacture, and of 5 per cent, upon netting of British origin, over and above the cost of the raw material, would, I think, represent a fair compromise. The actual cost of the raw material has not yet been stated. Any impost upon that material must necessarily increase the price of the locally-manufactured article. I repeat that, in my opinion, the duties should be 10 per cent, and 5 per cent, respectively in excess of the duty which may be levied upon the. wire. That would leave our manufacturers a clear protection of 10 per cent, in the case of wire-netting of foreign manufacture, and of 5 per cent, in the case of netting of British origin. The users of this material would then be able to purchase it as cheaply as possible, and that would be a consideration to those upon the land, who are really building up this great country.
.- It is rather a pity that the Treasurer was not in his place yesterday when the honorable member for Calare addressed the Committee. The latter gave honorable members a graphic description of the labour conditions which prevail in the factory of Messrs. Lysaght Brothers, Sydney. Had the Treasurer heard the honorable member’s speech, he would have derived a great deal of information, which, I venture to say, was not -proffered to him by those who were instrumental in persuading him to propose this particular duty for their especial benefit. What I am surprised at is that a large number of honorable members, who claim to directly represent labour, should be found supporting a proposal to encourage the wire-netting industry by means of a protective duty after they have heard the deliverance of the honorable member for Calare. Just now, we had a most impassioned deliverance from the honorable member for Batman, who .is a staunch protectionist. Of course, we can all admire his loyalty to the cause which he advocates and the fervour with which he advances his views, although we may disagree with his conduct in’ arrogating to himself the position of lecturer-general to the Committee.
– I thought .that the honorable member occupied that position.
– It has been chiefly assumed by new members who occupy seats upon the Ministerial side of the Chamber,, or in the Labour ‘corner. In horrified terms, the honorable member for Batman referred to the immense importation of wire-netting from Germany. He said that he was not only prepared to protect Australian industry against the competition of foreigners, but that he was so ardent a protectionist that he did not care twopence for the preferential sentiments which are supposed to permeate the Ministry he was elected to support. He declared his willingness to increase the Tariff against both British and foreign manufactures. We hear so much from the Treasurer and his followers in regard to the importation of wire-netting from Germany that any one who did not know better might be pardoned for believing that the great bulk of the netting imported into the Commonwealth is of German manufacture. But, as a matter of fact, it is of British manufacture. The value xv< origin of the imports of this material cun be ascertained from the Customs returns, t com those returns I find that the total importations in 1905 were valued at £335,000, of which £220,000 worth - or about two-thirds - came fr->m the United Kingdom. Last year, the figures were even more striking. During that, period, the total importation of wire-netting was valued at £521,758, of which £382,872 worth came from Great Britain. Consequently, there has been an advance from two-thirds to three-fourths in the total of our importation of wire-netting which comes from Great Britain. Yet the Treasurer and his supporters speak of this importation as if. it were of foreign origin. It is perfectly clear that Great Britain does not require a preference in this connexion. She already enjoys a natural preference - probably because the British article is superior to the German. Perhaps those who advocate the imposition of a high protective duty upon wire-netting are not aware that they are desirous of subsidizing an industry which employs chiefly boy labour, and which, from its very, nature,, can never do’ anything else. I think that the proportion of boys to men engaged in the industry is as four to one. It is certain, however, that boys are mostly employed. The process of wire-netting manufacture is not one that involves any specially skilled labour, except in regard to the fixing of the mesh and the width. The netting is woven on a power frame, and, after the frame has been set to the mesh and the width, the labour required is simply that of feeding, which is done by boys, who are engaged at comparatively small wages. The honorable member for Calare told us yesterday that the most skilled workman, who was supposed to be an expert, received no more than £2 2s. a week, and we may well wonder what the boys are paid, if that is the remuneration of an expert.
– And that man had been with the firm for ten years !
– That is so. We are also informed that the labour cost per mile is something like 23s. 6d., while the price charged for the netting runs from £27 to £37 per mile, in some cases, perhaps more; and yet we are asked to afford enormous protection to the industry. What is to become of the boys when they become too old for this class of work? They will drift into the world, with the best years of their lives, which should be devoted to learning some trade, absolutely wasted on work the knowledge of which is of no utility in their future. ‘ Only a small proportion of those boys, even if they do become skilled workmen, can be employed in this or any other factory of the kind. On these grounds alone/ from the labour point of view, the . duty proposed by the Minister, or the proposal of the honorable member for Riverina, is most, undesirable. Something has been said about the reduction in theprice of wire-netting, and the Treasurer informed us that if the duty proposed be passed, the manufacturers in Australia areprepared to give a bond not to increase their present charges. It will be interesting to consider the question of cost. Theprices I am about to quote were sent by Messrs. Gibbs, Bright, and Company, the. Melbourne agents of Lysaght Brothers, toone of the principal hardware merchantsin Melbourne on the 3rd of this month. For imported wire-netting f.o.b the cost per mile in June last was £18 19s. gA.r for wire-netting 36 inches wide by if-in., mesh, and 17-in. gauge. The import expenses amounted to £2 3s. nd., made up> of freight, insurance, commission, exchange,, wharfage, cartage, and stacking. The total cost of the imported wire netting in the Melbourne store thus amounted te* £21 3s. 8d. r
– That type of wire isbelow the standard.
– If we take Lysaghts’: price for the same article, we shall get a fair comparison. Lysaghts’ price for the same article delivered, net cash, was- £27 2s. 6d. ; so that it will be seen that thelocallymade article already commands a. higher price, and that there is no necessity for ‘ imposing a duty in order to raise the imported price.
– Will the honorable member quote the price for Lysaghts’ standard1 wire-netting 42 inches by 1 j inch ?
– The quotation I have is for wire 42 inches by inch, and the price is ,£37 per mile. Another quality of imported wire-netting is 36 inches by 1¼-in. mesh by 17-in. gauge. The cost per mile, f.o.b., was £27 16s. 2d., anc? importing expenses £2 18s. pd., or a total of I4S- nd.
– That wire-netting is only* 36 inches wide.
– The importer’s price for wire-netting, 42 inches wide, if inch mesh, and 17 inches gauge f.o.b. was, ira June last, £20 11s. 3d. per mile. The importing expenses amounted to £2 us. 9d., making the cost in the Mel– ‘ bourne store .£23 3s. The price for wirenetting of the same standard, supplied by Lysaght Brothers, was £31. Now, let us’see how those figures work out under the influence of the proposed duty. In the case of the wire-netting which cost f.o.b.. £18 18s. 9d., the duty at 10 per cent, would amount to £1 18s., or a total of £20 17s. 9d ; while a duty of 25 per cent. would amount to £5 4s.5d., which, with import expenses at £2 3s.11d., would make the landed and duty paid cost £28 6s.1d. The price of Lysaght Brothers for a similar article is £27 2s. 6d., while, as the figures show, the effect of the duty would be to increase the price of the imported article from £21 3s. 8d. to £28 6s.1d. In the case of the wirenetting 42 inches wide, the duty at 10 per cent, would amount to £21s.1½d., making a total of £22 12s. 4½d. ; while a duty of 25 per cent, would amount to £5 13s.1d., which, with import expenses at £211s. 9d., would make the netting landed, duty paid, cost £30 17s. 2½d., as against £23 3s. without the duty. The price of Lysaght Brothers, for a similar article, is £31, so that the firm still has a natural advantage even with the rate of duty I have calculated. I have here some correspondence, from which I learn that the natural protection which Lysaght Brothers enjoy amounts to something like 10 per cent. in the shape of freight, insurance, and other charges of importation, which gives them a natural protection of 10 per cent, in the advanced price they are able to command.
– Is that because cf the superior quality of their wire-netting?
– It is a natural protection given by the cost of importation, as I have shown ; but there is also a preference shown for the local wire-netting, partly because of its superior quality and partly from the fact that it is loosely rolled, and thus affords to the consumers a convenience for which they are willing to pay the extra price. “Under the circumstances, Lysaght Brothers enjoy a substantial natural protection without any of the proposed duties. Mr. Watson. - On the honorable member’s own showing the natural protection is only 10 Der cent.
– The advantage in the shape of freight, insurance, and other import charges amounts to 10 per cent., but there is’ the further advantage, equal to from 5 per cent, to 10 per cent., in the advanced price which the local article commands.
– Does not the honorable member see that the better quality involves greater cost of production ? ‘
– That I do not deny, but I am merely pointing out that Lysaght Brothers are in such a favourable position that they could really command the market if they could meet the supply. As a matter of fact - and this is the trouble - the firm are not able to meet the supply, and are not likely to foe able to meet it for many a long day. That is the reason why, notwithstanding the preference for the local article, it is necessary to import such immense quantities. The wire-netting locally produced is worth something like £500,000 per annum, and the quantity imported is of similar value, so that, altogether, about £1,000,000 worth of wire-netting is used every year in Australia. No matter how high the duty may be, the importation will continue until the local manufacturer is able to overtake the demand. We have heard much about the lowering of the price of wire-netting, but it will be seen from the figures already quoted that the Treasurer has had his leg pulled very successfully and very vigorously by the gentlemen connected with the industry. It is evident, from the prices I have quoted, that full advantage of the duty has already been taken by local manufacturers. According to a letter quoted by the leader of the Opposition yesterday, from Noyes arid Company, it appears very clear that if no duty be imposed, it will only be a short time before the price of wire-netting will be reduced, not by £1, but by £5 or £7: I am speaking, of course, of imported wirenetting.
– Why the reduction?
– During recent years the cost of wire-netting has advanced very considerably, and manufacturers have charged accordingly ; but prices are now rapidly falling, and they can consequently afford to sell cheaper. The honorable member for Hunter was quite right in sayr ing that the Labour Party is primarily responsible for thisTariff.
– We are responsible for everything.
– The Labour Party is responsible for everything that this Government does. If its members desire to take from the shoulders of the unfortunate wage-earners the burdens which press so heavily upon them - and they are the main sufferers - they have only to intimate through their leader that the proposed duties are unsatisfactory, and the Tariff will be thrown under the table at once.
– In which case the leader of the Opposition would bring it in again, or one like it.
– He would not do such an insane thing-; but, if he did, I should vote against him. The Treasurer has introduced this Tariff knowing the Opinions of those who support him. If the members of the Labour Party desired to cut down duties, to lessen the burdens of the wage-earners, it would be done at once on an intimation of that desire to the Treasurer. But if no such action is taken, we shall probably be engaged in the discussion of the Tariff until June next.
– The Government would resign rather than be dictated to in that manner.
– The Government is being dictated to now, and could not exist without the support of the Labour Party, which is dictating to it all the time. I hope that the leader of the party will intimate to the Treasurer that the Tariff is not satisfactory, because it presses heavily on the masses of the people, who are complaining loudly. He has only to say the word and it will be thrown under the table immediately.
.- I have listened with a great deal of interest to a number of the speeches which have been delivered. Although the discussion has been long, I’ do not think that the time has been wasted. As has been observed by several speakers, the item before us is one of the most important in the schedule. But its discussion has involved some rather comical elements. We find that some of those who in the past have proclaimed protection from the housetops are now going to vote for free-trade, whilst others who have preached free-trade all their lives are now going to vote protection. I listened with a great deal of interest and profit to the pathetic and eloquent appeal of the leader of the Opposition on behalf of those who are suffering from the rabbit pest. But some of the grounds on which he based it I regarded as very faulty. Taking, up the schedule, he pointed- out that the duties collected, on machinery used in hat and woollen mills are to be refunded to the manufacturers, and he asked why the farmers should not be similarly treated. If it were a right thing to return the duties that I speak of, it might also be a right thing to return the duty on wire-netting; but I say, emphatically, that it is not right, and being wrong in one connexion, it is wrong in both. I am going to be consistent in this matter, and shall therefore do my best to remove the exemption in favour of the manufacturers of hats and woollens. But I do not think that a case has been made out for admitting wire-netting free of duty. I have tried to ascertain how the proposed duty will affect the farmers. For many years I lived in a farming community, and a number -of small farmers are my personal friends, so that I know: exactly the difficulties with which they are faced in rabbit infested country. But those difficultieshave been exaggerated. It is those who hold large tracts of country who find the rabbit pest most serious. In a sense this, pest is likely to prove a blessing rather than a curse, because it will bring about the cutting up of large holdings and the increase of small settlers.
– If the number of holdings is increased, a larger quantity of wire-netting will Le needed.
– Where there is closer settlement, the rabbit pest is. a less serious thing than where the holdings are large. I admit that where closer settlement is confined to a small area, and is surrounded by a large area of practically unoccupied land, the position is different; but where there is a large extent of close settlement, the land being divided up into small blocks, the farmers have little trouble in keeping down the rabbits, with the aid of their children and a few sporting dogs.
– How can there be close settlement in the western district of New South Wales, where a man cannot make a living on 50,000 acres? The rabbit- cannot live there half it.s time.
– Then there is no wire-netting problem there.
– One can get a 10,000- acre block there for almost nothing.
– The honorable member for Calare said that on inquiring the price of wire-netting, he was told that it was £40 a mile, or per ton, to the consumer, whereas the manufacturers sell it for £30, and the imported article is brought in at about £26 10s. -He pointed out that the farmers are, therefore, called upon to pay £14 a ton for the expenses of retailing. But I do not think that we are called upon- to safeguard the farmer when he has at hand the means of studying his own interests. In many cases the farmers have gone in largely for cooperation, and, by joining associations, are able to purchase wire-netting and other requirements at wholesale prices. Therefore, they have a remedy in their own hands. To ascertain the probable effect of a duty of 15 per cent., I have worked out its application to the wire-netting of a 640-acre, or square mile, block. Four miles of 42-in. wire-netting, of1¼ in. mesh, at £26 ros. per mile - the contract price of the New South Wales Government - would cost £106, on which a 15 per cent, duty would be.£15 18s. The honorable member for Wannon, a practical farmer, assured me that the life of a wire-netted fence is about twenty . years.
– Does the honorable member know that 6 inches of the wire is underground?
– Is not a special preparation used to preserve it? ‘
– I am satisfied to take the assurance of a practical farmer that a wire-netted fence will last for twenty years. The sum of £15 18s., spread over twenty years, would mean an annual cost of 15s. That is what the farmer will have to pay, assuming that he pays the duty.
– That amount could be taken off the cost of his food supplies.
– Exactly. I am going to support duties of 15 and 10 per cent, on wire-netting, and shall vote for reductions on other articles which will improve the position of the farmer. He finds that he must pay this £15 18s. per annum direct, and that makes him think that he is going to be killed. But- much higher charges may be piled up on his food supplies indirectly and continuously without protest. Honorable gentlemen who are revenue Tariffists, would pile up duties on food supplies, although they make a huge outcry against the proposed ‘ duty on wirenetting.
– We, on this side, will not pile up any duties.
– The honorable member , is a revenue Tariffist, but he could not’ get revenue from the protective duties, and would, therefore, have to impose taxation on articles of daily consumption.
– The more moderate the duty, the larger the revenue.
– Is not the honorable member a protectionist?
– I am a fiscal atheist. I believe that the great nroblem is not how to increase wealth by the adoption of free-trade or protection, but how to provide the best means for its fair distribution. I do not look upon either fiscal policy as the great cure-all of the ills of humanity, and, therefore, do not advocate either. In dealing with the proposals of the Government, I shall vote as a case is made out for or against them, and I shall be prepared subsequently to justify my action to my constituents. I have tried to correctly weigh the evidence for and against the proposed duties on wire-netting. Opponents of the duty have not been able to adduce any facts which would warrant me in voting against it. If the farmers had to pay a 10 per cent, duty - the British preference proposal - the holder of a 640 acre block would incur a liability of £10 12s., and under the arrangement made by the Government of New South Wales he would have twenty years within which to pay that amount. This is assuming that the local price is raised to the extent of the duty. The Government of New South Wales are importing wire-netting for distribution amongst the farmers, and as three-fourths of the duty is returnable to the State in which it is collected, they are calling upon the farmers whom they supply to pay only one-fourth of the total impost. The duty in that case therefore would work out at less than 4 per cent., or spread over 20 years - the life of a wire fence - at less than 1 -5th per cent, straight out. It is open to the Governments of the other States to follow the example of New South Wales. In these circumstances there is no justification for the outcry that has been raised in regard to these duties, or for the tearful and eloquent appeals made by some honorable members, who imagine that their speeches will be scattered broadcast, and lead the farmers to believe that they alone are mindful of their interests.
– Then the honorable member admits that the farmers will have to pay the duty.
– I do not. I am dealing with the assumption that they would have to pay the duty, and showing that, even in that event, the holder of a 640 acre block would not be in such . abad position as some honorable members would have us believe.
– There are thousands of selectors who must have much larger areas.
– Even the -holder of a 1,280 acre block would not have topay 25s. a year in the circumstances I have mentioned.
– Would he have to pay any more for his wire-netting if we imposed a protective duty ?
– If it could be shown that these duties wouldseriously injure the small farmer I should not be nre: pared to support them. I find, however, that the land monopolists will be chiefly affected by them. Thousands and thousands of acres on some of our best rivers are carrying only a sheep or half-a-sheep to the acre.
– I suppose that the holders of such areas lawfully obtained them ?
– Perhaps so, but it is not a good thing for the country that some of our best river frontages, comprising rich black soil, should be carrying only a sheep or half-a-sheep to the acre.
– Would the honorable member do an injustice to the holders of such areas who had lawfully obtained them ?
– No. To my mind, however, such. men are perpetrating an injustice upon the whole community. I have seen huge areas of land, comprising some of our best river frontages, overrun with rabbits. It is almost a crime that such large areas should be carrying only half-a-sheep to the acre, and that practically no labour should be employed upon them, whilst thousands of farmers’ sons are forced to compete with each other for positions in the Public Service, because of their inability to secure land on which to settle. Many’ young men trained as farmers, finding it impossible to secure blocks of land for themselves, seek employment in our cities, or are compelled to go to Canada or New Zealand, where a more reasonable land policy is in operation. I am not concerned with the financial institutions who own vast areas of land and want the Government to come to their aid in order that they may run a sheep or two to the acre. I do not think that there are many freetraders, but some honorable . members who so describe themselves-
– Did not the honorable member at one time describe himself as a free-trader ?
– I have never stood on a public platform and asked for support on the ground that I was a free-trader.
– That is not an answer to my question.
– The honorable member for Lang used to . be a land-taxer and a Labour man.
– I am more of a Labour man than are some who claim to be the direct representatives of labour.
– I should be pleased if the honorable member would point to any case where I stated that I was a protectionist or a free-trader.
– I shall do so.
– Then I shall be glad to reply. The honorable member for Parramatta . the other day suggested that he could make a damaging statement in regard to myself, but he was not prepared to indicate what it was. When he does, I shall be very happy to deal with it. The honorable member for Illawarra has submitted an amendment that wire-netting be placed on the free list, yet the section of the Tariff Commission to which he belonged recommended a duty of 5 per cent.
– As part of a general system of classification.
– That is a very nice loophole. The honorable member is not prepared to vote for part of a general system of classification recommended by himself and other members of the free-trade section of the Commission. If honorable members of the free-trade section of the Commission believe in the system which they recommended, why do. they not vote for it? If they did, we should then know that they were sincere in their professions. We find, however, that, as an electioneering dodge, an outcry has been raised in regard to the duties on wire-netting, and that these honorable members, yielding to public clamour, have forsaken one of their own recommendations; and now describe it as being only part of a general scheme of classification.
– We have not forsaken our recommendations.
– At page 29. of Progress Report No. 9, we find this statement by the free-trade section of the Commission -
No sufficient cause has been stated to warrant any duty on wire-netting -
– That was the conclusion arrived at by us. .
– But the free-trade section of the Commission is not prepared to stand by their conclusion. They went on to report -
On the other hand, there is evidence that a duty would be a direct tax upon rural industries and would seriously militate against the success-, ful occupancy of large areas of Australia:
That is all very well as a conclusion, but what did this section of the Commission recommend? Turning to page 31 of the report, we find, under the heading of ‘ ‘ Recomendations,” the following statement - .
We therefore recommend that the whole of Divisions VI. and VIa. of the existing Tariff be repealed, and duties imposed on metals, manufactures of metals, and machinery accord, ing to the following general classification.
– “ General classification.” Not a particular item.
– The item of wirenetting is included in the general classification.
– This is an item brought forward by the Government apart from our classification.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity later on to reply. At page 32 of the same report we find in the schedule of metals and machinery the item “ Wire-netting, suggested class, No. 2,” and at page 31 we have a statement showing that class 2 includes “ Wire-netting, nails, screws, ad valorem, 5 per cent.” It is all very well for these honorable members to say on the one hand that they believe that a duty on wire-netting would seriously militate against the successful occupancy of large areas of Australia, whilst in the same report they include the item of wire-netting in a” - general classification in respect of which they recommend a duty of 5 per cent. It is idle for them to plead in support of their present attitude that that recommendation is part of a general scheme of classification to which effect has not yet been given. So far we have dealt with only a few items in the Tariff, and there is absolutely no warrant for their forsaking the general classification deliberately recommended by them. I would rather accept a recommendation, made by them at a time when they were able to calmly consider the evidence before them than adopt a proposal made by one of them after an outcry has been raised by a section of the press against the Government proposition.
– Does the honorable member say that he adopts the recommendations of the free-trade section of the Commission ?
– I am not adopting them. I am simply pointing out the inconsistency of the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission. The honorable member for Boothby said that although a protectionist he would vote against the duty on wire-netting, because the industry was not of any magnitude. As a matter of fact, over £500,000 worth of wirenetting was imported last year, and the honorable member for Lang estimates that the quantity manufactured locally was of about the same value. In other words, something like £1,000,000worth of wirenetting was used in Australia last year. Surelv the manufacture of such a large quantity of netting would provide employment for many men. Something has been said about the conditions of employment in the Australian industry, but there has been no reference to the conditions of employment in Germany. One reason why I support the Government proposal, is that under the scheme of new protection we shall have a guarantee that fair wages and conditions of labour will prevail. Where the local manufacturer does not comply with our requirements he will have to pay an Excise equal to half the import duty.
– I do not think that the guarantee is worth much.
– Then the honorable member will have an opportunity later on to assist us in making the scheme an effective one. No doubt his desire will be to make it ineffective.
– The first instalment of the new protection has proved ineffective.
– We shall profit by past mistakes, and take cave that the new protection is made effective. If the experiments that we now contemplate are not successful we shall resort to another expedient. The leader of the Opposition has told us that it is possible to control trusts and combines.
– I have said that we ought to do our best to control, them.
– The honorable member has practically jeered at the inability of the United States of America to control combines. He has said, “ What about this mighty nation ? Can it not control these trusts and combines?” The inference to be drawn from his remarks was that it was a simple matter to control trusts, and yet when we talk of controlling manufacturers under the new protection some of the right honorable member’s followers declare that it is impossible to do so.
– Free competition is the only way to destroy trusts.
– We talk of freedom-
– I quite agree that under present conditions freedom is impossible. Those who cry out for it ought to know that “ freedom “ as understood by many, people, simply means the right of a man to sweat and grind his employes.
– I think that the employers are now being sweated for a change. It is not a bad idea ! It is time’ they got a little of it !
– We believe that this industry can be effectively controlled, but should experience demonstrate that they cannot be so controlled we shall then be able to come forward with a scheme for their nationalization. If the manufacturers absolutely refuse to submit to control in the interests of the people and insist upon having a free hand to sweat their employes, we shall be compelled to nationalize the industries in which they are engaged. One of the reasons why I favour the new protection is that if the scheme should prove effective it will accomplish a vast amount of good. It will mitigate many of the disabilities under which the operatives and the consumers alike at present labour. But should it fail in its object we can then give effect to a scheme for the nationalization of such industries, with a view to insuring fair treatment to the employes and to consumers. As the leader of the Opposition said at Toowoomba, if we are going to have protection why not establish industries of our own in which proper wages will be paid and proper hours worked? There would be no one to sweat then, because there would be no one to make a profit. Last night the honorable member for Swan exhibited great sympathy with the large land monopolists. He desired to put wire-netting on the free list, notwithstanding that he was returned to this Parliament as a Minister who was pledged to support a protectionist Administration.
Sit John Forrest. - Was not the honorable member for Adelaide a protectionist, and did he not put wire-netting upon the free list?
– Did he not propose to help the industry by means of a bonus ?
– How does the Minister of Trade and Customs know that I am not prepared to do the same thing? He knows that I am in favour of bonuses.
– After the honorable member’s change of front we scarcely know whether he would be prepared to support the payment of a bonus to the wire-netting industry if such a proposal were put forward. He did not manifest such great concern for the primary industries .when the first Commonwealth Tariff was under consideration. For example, I find that on the 16th January, 1902, when it was proposed to levy a duty of 25 per cent, upon engines, boilers, and pumps, and an amendment was moved to place the item upon the free list, the honorable member paired against the amendment, and the motion was lost by thirty votes to nineteen. Again, on the 9th April, 1902, he voted against a proposal to reduce the duty upon mining machinery, n.e.i., from 20 to 15 per cent. On the 2nd December, 1 901, when it was proposed to reduce the duty upon condensed milk, of which £100,000 worth had been imported into Western Australia, the honorable member - rather than vote against the reduction - left the Chamber. Yet to-day we find him sitting with the Oppositionists, who evidently desire ai change of administration. In conclusion
– Thank goodness for that.
– I have in my possession a list of sixty or seventy items in regard to which the honorable member voted in the same way. During the progress of the Tariff through Committee I shall doubtless be afforded an opportunity to glance at some of his actions in this connexion.
– I do not know the honorable member, and the honorable member does not know me.
– The references which I have already made to the honorable member will probably lead to our becoming better acquainted. If, under our new protection scheme-
Colonel Foxton. - Did the honorable member say “our”?
– Yes. I am proud that that scheme originated with the party to which I belong, and I may add that, for years past, nearly every scheme of decent ameliorative legislation has emanated from the same quarter. Whenever such, schemes have been placed upon the statute-book our opponents have been very careful to take credit for them.
– The Treasurer has taken credit for the new protection scheme.
– No ; the Treasurer honestly admitted that it originated with the Labour Party. If, under our new protection scheme, it is impossible to control the manufacturers of wire-netting, we can nationalize the industry.
– Mr. Bent is doing that now.
– I hold in my hand an estimate, of Mr Bent’s undertaking, which sets out the capital required to start the manufacture of wire-netting. The only difference between the amount that would be needed under his scheme - which, by the way, does not commend itself to me - and that required under a proper scheme for its nationalization would be accounted for by the fact that he would get his labour for nothing, whereas we should have to pay for it. Mr. Martin, the Secretary of the Public Works Department of Victoria, estimates that the erection of a plant, including house, machinery, and appliances, would be £7,000. This plant would be .capable of turning out sixteen miles of 42-in. width 17-gauge netting per week-, equal to 22.2-5 tons. A mile of this netting weighs 28 cwt., of which 24 cwt. consists of wire, and 4 cwt. of zinc (galvanizing). The cost of wire delivered is £14 10s. per ton, and of zinc £31 12s. per ton. Mr. Martin considers that the cost of a week’s operations, resulting in the production of 22.2-5 tons of wirenetting, would be as follows: - Raw materials, wire and zinc, £379 10s. ; labour, one expert at £4 10s., and thirty men at an average wage of £2, £64 10s. ; allowance for wear and tear, and depreciation in value of plant, at 10 per cent, per annum, £13 9s. 4d. j or a total of £457 9s. 4d. That represents the cost of manufacturing 22.2-5 tons, so that the cost per ton would average £20 8s. 5d. If wc add to that, interest on capital at 5 per cent, per annum per ton of output, it would represent 5s. 6d., and 2 per cent, as office and selling costs would represent 8s. 2d. ; so that the estimated cost of placing one ton of wire-netting upon the market would be £21 2s. ToG.
– How much do Messrs* Lysaght Brothers charge?
– About £2’6.
– I think that they charge £30 a ton for rabbit-proof netting.
– Their quotation for 36-in. wire of 1¼-in. mmesh is £26 10s. per ton. The cost of the 42-in. wire is set down at £31 per ton, or £30 10s. upon trucks. The Treasurer stated that, at the present time, Messrs. Lysaght Brothers were selling wire-netting, 42 inches wide, with i£-in. mesh, at £30 10s. per ton. He added that they had agreed to alwayskeep the price down to £1 per ton less than that charged for the imported article.
– He did not say that.
- Mr. Martin states-
I have endeavoured to make liberal allowance . for all costs, and I calculate that the annual profit on outlay, including plant, material, labour, allowance for wear and tear, and selling cost, would be 7.15 per cent.
– Does the estimate which the honorable member has quoted refer to the Pentridge factory?
– Will the union label be placed upon the wire-netting manufactured there ?
– I do not mind an occasional interjection which is destitute of point, but continual interjections of that character I protest against. Mr. Martin continues -
This is on a very small scale of operations. A larger plant would, perhaps, return quite 8 per cent, per annum. In England raw material would cost less; labour would also be cheaper. Against these are c.i.f. charges, which would amount to about £2 per ton.
I say, again, that if, under the new pro- .tection scheme, we cannot control the manufacturers of wire-netting - if we cannot insure that the consumer shall be called upon to pay only a fair price for this material, and that the operatives engaged in the industry shall receive a living vn.ge - the State should establish its own works. I am sure that if the industry were nationalized it would be able to produce quite as good, if not a better, article than that manufactured by private enterprise, and any profit that might accrue from the undertaking would find its way into the Treasury.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the broad arrow be the union label ?
– There ought to be a union label on all manufactures to show that they have been produced under fair conditions. I have no doubt, however, that the honorable member objects to a union label.
– I most distinctly object.
– The honorable member does not care whether goods are or are not made under sweated conditions.
– Yes I do; but the union label is a boycott.
– We shall agitate for a union label, or a Commonwealth trade mark, in order to insure those fair conditions for labour under which we hope to build up a great Australian nation.
.- I am sorry that some remarks of the honorable member for Cook compel me to take up a little time in reply. I refer, of course, to the honorable member’s accusation against the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission of departing from their own recommendations as regards this classification. I have no doubt that I shall have to return to this subject many times before the debate is ended, because every protectionist member, who may have been absent when I explained the position, will probably find their classification a very useful means of attack. The position that the free-trade members of the Tariff Commission occupy in connexion with this classification is so simple, and, at the same time, so sound, that I have no hesitation whatever in explaining it as often as it may be necessary for the benefit of the Committee. The honorable member for Flinders to-day pointed out to the Government the serious disability under which honorable members labour in considering this particular recommendation. That honorable member, with a great deal of force, urged that we were beginning at the wrong end in the consideration of the item of wirenetting - that there were other matters which ought to have been dealt with before we fix the duty on this commodity. It was exactly such a consideration as ‘ that which caused the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission to draw up a classification;, in a friendly attitude towards the Government, whom it would have enabled, in our opinion, to place before the House a Tariff which would have been scientific in its incidence, and which would probably have been disposed of at a much earlier date than is possible under present circumstances. Under the system suggested by the free-trade section of the Commission, the Tariff could have been made either moderately protective, highly protective, or merely a revenue Tariff ; whatever rates of duties might, have been selected, the Government would have found a method by which to build up a Tariff containing none of the anomalies and absurdities which, I feel bound to say, will be found in the present Tariff when it is completed. It is true that in the classification of the free-trade section of. the Tariff Commission, wire-netting was subject to a duty of 5 per cent, j and we have been twitted “ with the fact that most of those free-trade members intend to vote that the commodity shall be’ placed on the free list. The position is like that .which would arise if the Government had taken a -brick out of a house that I had built, and, having put it into art erection of their own, asked me to come along and approve of the latter as my owns building. The Government have taken a brick out of the erection of the free-trade section of the Commission, and put it in> their own building, saying, “ There you. are, gentlemen ; there is a building that’ contains one brick of yours, and you ought: to admire the structure.” But we decline very respectfully to do anything of- the sort. However, I say, in reply to the honorable member for Cook that, if the Government, or any one else who desires to see a scientific Tariff, are prepared to adopt our system of classification in its’ entirety, I shall, although there are several1 anomalies in it, and several duties which I should not be prepared to support individually, vote for every particular item as it stands.
– It is a great idea for a free-trader to talk about a revenue Tariff with this enthusiasm !
– The honorable member knows that I am now a strong advocate for the new protection, and that I caneven claim to have led the Government into the right path by. some amendments which I proposed in the anti-trust legislation of last year. Although I am here as a Labour representative, I must say I am getting somewhat tired of listening to this claptrap about the necessity of protecting the worker in this particular industry by a. high duty. It has been shown this afternoon, that even if Germany - to the competition of which members like the honorable member for Batman so much object - did this work for nothing, 7 per cent, would more than equalize the difference as represented by the wages.
– Something more could be said on that point.
– I dare say that if there had been anything more to say, the honor-‘ able member would have said it ; but I take it that he dealt with the subject, from his own stand-point, in the most effective way of which he was capable. At any rate, considering that 7 per cent, would cover the whole cost of labour, I fail to see any necessity . in the interests of the workers, for any higher duties. Honorable members who talk of a higher duty must be thinking of some other interests than those of the workers.
– The duty now proposed is only 10 per cent, against Great Britain, and ‘the honorable member for Lang says that the bulk of the wire-netting comes from there.
– I agree with the honorable member for Lang on that point ; but it is- singular that we hear so little in this connexion from those who talk of a higher, duty. On the contrary, it is the foreigner whom those honorable members desire to keep out of the market, and not the manufacturers of Great Britain. The preference scheme amounts, according to a confession by one protectionist before the Tariff Commission, to a prohibitive wall against Great Britain, and an ornamental coping on the top against the foreigner. I ask honorable members, who hesitate about placing the white workers of Australia in competition with the workers of Germany, whether they intend free men in Australia to work in .competition with unfortunate prisoners in Pentridge gaol? Is that the idea? There is no doubt that the Government of Victoria intend to establish this industry in the principal gaol of the State, and I, for one, do not desire to see free, honest men in competition with those engaged in what the State Government intends to make the occupation of criminals. In view of other facts that have been placed before honorable members, showing that’ there is much. more labour involved in the erection of wire-netting, if it can be obtained at reasonable cost, than in its mere manufacture, I believe that, if there is any virtue in protection, the policy ‘ ought to be applied to the greatest number. If protectionists are true to their own principles, they will follow the example of the honorable member for Batman, who, having a large confectioner,)’ establishment in his electorate, voted for the introduction of glucose free of duty. That is undoubtedly common-sense protection ; and yet a good many protectionist members gird at the free-traders as being more or less inconsistent. I expect I shall have an opportunity to retort on some of those protectionists more than once before the Tariff is disposed of. The honorable member for Cook thinks that the rabbits might be allowed to run the squatters out of the country. I have strong objection to the man who takes up an area of land which might be occupied by many more human beings with advantage to themselves and to the country. But I believe in changing the present conditions, from which Australia undoubtedly suffers, by an honest and straightforward method. I hold the opinion that even a squatter ought to be treated according to the rules of ordinary justice.
– This Tariff affects ten times more small farmers than it does squatters.
– But even assuming this to be altogether a squatters’ question, I say, in regard to the evil of squatterdom, that we have no right to create conditions which would enable the rabbits to do what we cannot honestly and straightforwardly do for ourselves: But I do not agree with those who say that this is merely a squatters’ question. It is . unfortunate that many honorable members have addressed themselves to this subject from a very local point of view ; but, seeing that they have done so, it is necessary for me to add more local colour, so that by-ana-by we may have a general blend applicable to the whole of the Commonwealth. I come from Western Australia, the whole. of the southwestern portion of which, with very few exceptions, is being taken up in comparatively small areas. Although there are no rabbits in that part of Western Australia, the settlers there suffer from the dingo pest, and many of them are compelled to wire-net their holdings. The honorable member for Cook says that the imposition of the duty will impose a tax of only £15 on the farmer who has 640 acres to wirenet.
– If he pays the duty.
– I think that the local manufacturers will see that the price is increased to not very much below the duty.
– What about the new protection ?
– It will benefit the workers in protected industries, but I doubt if it will reach the farmers in the interior of Western Australia.
– What is the height of .a dingo-proof fence?
– I do not know ; but it. is a fact that selectors in Western Australia have to erect netting to keep the dingoes off their land. Is it any satisfaction to a man who,, because of the duty, has had to pay £15 more to wire-net 640 acres, to be told that that is only 15s. a year if spread over a term of twenty years? Is the honorable member prepared to recoup the amount to any of these unfortunate selectors, seeing that to do so would mean very little if the payments were spread over a long time?
– In New South Wales, the Government is spreading the payments over a period of ten years.
– In Western Australia, which I think the honorable member will acknowledge as part’of the Commonwealth, no such concessions are given by the Government, and the settlers there have a right to expect that this proposal will be considered on its merits.
– Messrs. Lysaght Brothers will not give any such concession.
– It is a most ineffective argument to say that the tax, if spread over a number of years, will amount to only a few shillings per annum. These people cannot spread it over a number of years, and many of them have to look at every £1 they spend, because their capital is very limited, so that an addition, of £15 to the cost of their wire-netting will be a very serious thing to them. No doubt, the effect of the duty will be that many persons will be prevented from using wire-netting, and thus settlement may be retarded. However, as the debate has been so fengthv, I shall not say more on the subject. I do not think that votes are changed by the speeches which are made in this Chamber, and I am becoming very cynical as to the effect on the views of members of parliamentary discussions. In my opinion, they might be curtailed with great advantage to the country.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Perth that ‘nothing that may be said is likely to influence votes, but it is necessary that members should, on occasions, state their reasons for voting in a certain direction. I shall vote for the highest duty on wire-netting that I can get. I am sorry that the Government has agreed to a reduction of the original rates proposed. With regard to what has been said about thg making of wire-netting in a Victorian prison, I think that the Minister would be well advised to propose an Excise duty, which would enable the Commonwealth, to control these operations.
Mr.Hutchison. - Why not give the farmers the benefit of them?
– It may be urged that the competition of the wire-netting produced in Pentridge will cause Messrs. Lysaght Brothers to reduce their prices, to the consequent benefit of the farmer.. But as this Parliament has enacted that goods made in prisons abroad shall under no circumstances be “admitted into Australia, I am opposed to the making of goods in Australian prisons. If an Excise duty were imposed on wire-netting, and the Government of Victoria desired! to have it made in the prisons of this State,, it would be compelled to pay the regulation rates of wages. The speeches of members of the Opposition must lead a stranger to conclude that those who support the Ministry desire to prevent the farmers from getting wire-netting cheap ; but, as one who has the interests of our settlers at heart, I say that we shall be doing them the best service by imposing, a high duty on wire-netting, because that will cheapen its cost. When the first Commonwealth Tariff was under consideration, the honorable member for Adelaideproposed a duty on cement of is. per cwt., or about 3s. per cask, which Parliament in its wisdom or unwisdom reduced to- 9d. per cwt., or about 2s. 6d. per cask. Theprice of cement at the time was 13s.- 6d. per cask, and it was argued that the pricewould be increased by the amount of the duty, which would have brought it up to 16s. a cask. But what has happened?” I take the facts which I am about to relate from the Sydney Morning Herald, afreetrade newspaper. In an article published in that journal a short time ago, it was stated that the Portland CementCompany of New South Wales paid 13s. 6d. a cask for the cement which it used’ in establishing its works, and that it is now supplying better cement at 10s. a cask. The writer also states that the. Governmentof the State has saved £30,000 by using local cement in the construction of theCataract dam.
– This is the only baby thatthe honorable member has to nurse.
– It is a real good,, healthy baby, and a credit to its parents.
– A similar result has; followed the imposition of a duty on plough shares.
– What about the effect of” the duty on harvesters ?
– Many similar examples could be given, but none more conclusive than that which I have mentioned. It is admitted on all hands that the result of the duty on cement has been to decrease the price of that article, and a similar result will follow the imposition* of a duty on wire-netting. The honorable member for Boothby stated last night that the New South Wales industry has grown to its present proportions without the assistance of protected duties, but, according to the Statistical Register of New South Wales there was a duty of 5 per cent, on wire-netting in 1887 or 1888 when the industry was established. The JenningsDibbs Government was then in office, but the previous Parkes Government - a freetrade Administration - had imposed a duty of 20s. per ton on wire work. Besides, those who are conversant with the affairs of New South Wales must know that differential railway rates in favour of locallymanufactured articles, such as wire-netting and galvanized iron, ruled there even when the -present leader of the Opposition was in office. I am sorry that the Government has suggested a reduction of these duties. I shall vote for a rate of 15 per cent, against all imports, abolishing the preference, and if that be not carried, I shall vote for the highest rate that I can get. I hope that the Treasurer will stiffen his back as regards this duty, and that he will also take into consideration my suggestion to impose an Excise on wirenetting, to enable the Commonwealth to control prison manufacture.
.- I do not think that the solution of the whole social problem is involved in this question, or that the position of the States in regard to closer settlement will be seriously affected whether we impose a duty on wirenetting or place it on the free list. In any event, we must have closer settlement. When the first Federal Tariff was under consideration, the principle which guided us in determining the rates of duty to be imposed was that some protection should be given to industries already in existence which needed assistance, but that the requirements of the people on the land should be absolutely free. Wire-netting was therefore placed on the free list, and I have heard nothing during this debate to satisfy me that we should depart from the decision then arrived at. Even if the wirenetting industry is a going concern, we have to consider whether it really needs protection, and whether, in the absence of a protective duty, it would be crushed out. As a matter of fact, the wire-netting industry was in existence in New South Wales when the first Federal Tariff was under consideration; but we then heard nothing about it. It is a remarkable fact that
Lysaght Brothers did not see fit to give evidence before the Tariff Commission. The Commission visited Sydney and other cities, and invited every one concerned to appear before it, yet no representative of the company in question saw fit to go before it and submit himself for crossexamination. I do not believe in attaching much importance to ex -parte statements by those who have neglected an opportunity to give evidence ‘before a “body of men who could submit them to the test of cross-examination. It is true that one of the company’s experts, receiving the remarkably high wage of 42s. per week, went before the Commission, but he could say nothing as to the profits of the company or the lines upon which it conducted its business. We are now asked to impose a duty in favour of a company which has enjoyed a monopoly, and which’ has not been paying extravagant wages.
– How could it pay high wages?
– The honorable member ought to know that wages have no relation to profits. Some companies, making very large profits, pay very low wages. Apparently Lysaght Brothers were so well satisfied with existing conditions that they did not think it necessary to go before a Commission specially appointed to inquire into the conditions of Australian industries to ask for a duty. One honorable member seems to think that it is undesirable to allow wire-netting to be used for rabbitproof fencing purposes. He spoke of the rabbits as being a good thing, and a source of profit. If he paid a visit to my electorate, he would have his eyes opened to the true position. I happen to have within my constituency the greatest number of persons directly interested in this question. They comprise, not big pastoralists, but the smaller men, who are entitled to expect the support of the Labour Party. These . men carry on operations in the western part of the Central Division of New South Wales, and their holdings are within the drought area. The Government subdivided the land in that part of the district into blocks of 2,560 acres, and a little further on they offered blocks of from 5,000 to IO,000 acres to settlers. Those holdings have been settled. A number of Victorian farmers, who were sturdy protectionists, and whose knowledge of farming could not be gainsaid, took up land in the neighbourhood of the Bogan River. Every one of them went there with plenty of money, yet to-day they are practically down to their last copper. Their losses have been due, not to want of skill or enterprise, but to purely adverse conditions. I suppose that the 2,560-acre blocks were intended for mixed farming ; yet I know of holders of such blocks who have not had a hoof on their land for five years. I wish to appeal to the Committee on ‘behalf of these people. Representatives of metropolitan constituencies seem to know nothing of the actual situation in rural districts. The erstwhile Victorian farmers to whom I have referred, although stout protectionists, are crying out against this impost. I have received letters from every Farmers’ and Settlers’ Association in my electorate, and have presented to the House a petition from fifty-four shire councils in New South Wales, praying that these duties be removed. The farmers and settlers are absolutely unanimous in their opposition to the duties on wire-netting. I suppose that the men to whom I have referred, on an average, do not enjoy more than three good seasons out of ten. When they do have the good fortune to be blessed with a good season,, and secure some grass, the rabbit comes along and eats it up. I have just returned from the Trangie district, where the farmers just now have, to combat, not only rabbits, but a plague of grasshoppers. One could pick up bucket.fuls of grasshoppers from the ruts along the road. Imagine the position of men who put in a crop, not” knowing whether they are likely to have any rain, or when their work may be destroyed by rabbits or grasshoppers. It may be true that some years ago wire-netting was used mostly by the pastoralist. The Australian rabbit, however, is more enterprising than any of his brothers in other lands. It has been said that he can climb trees and get over a wire fence. He has, at all events, worked his way from the pastoral areas into the farming districts. Last year I saw magnificent crops being destroyed by rabbits, and t-he pest is working its way from the wheatgrowing centre of Naromine right down to Bathurst. In these circumstances, therefore, the bond fide farmer has been forced to buy wire-netting. As a matter of fact, in the trans-Darling, wire-netting is not of much use iri combating the pest. There sand-drifts are formed by the wind, and bury the fences. I have driven over a stock-yard “fence entirely covered with sand, and, on some runs, have seen sand ridges as high as the homestead. . I have also seen a place where a wire fence was buried in the sand within three years of its erection, and another fence erected on top of it. What nonsense it is to talk of this item being one that affects only the big man. The smaller settler also needs wire-netting, and must have it. The Victorian farmers found that in the Bogan River district the soil was rich, and paid no heed to the big pastoralists, who told them that the rainfall was insufficient. They were inclined to believe that the pastoralists, as they sometimes do, simply desired to discourage them from taking up the land, but they have since found that the statement was absolutely justified. The Government of New South Wales let a contract for the supply of 4,000 miles of wire-netting, and Mr. Ashton,. ex-Minister of Lands in New South Wales, states that applications have been received by the Government for 9,000 miles of netting. No private firm could give the farmers wire-netting on the easy terms upon ‘which the Government are able to supply it. The advance of socialistic thought in New South Wales has led the Government to come to the assistance ot the settlers. A practical man, writing to the Stock and Station Journal, gives an estimate of the cost of enclosing with wirenetting a small area. Taking the case of a farmer who desires to enclose an area of 40 acres, he estimates that the cost of the wire-netting which he would require - plus the duty originally proposed by the Government - would be £50 ; that the cost of the fence to carry the netting would be £15; and’ the cost of the wire about £7; or a total of £72, equal to 36s. per acre. In the Bogan River district a man cannot make a living on a 5,000-acre block, and yet it is said that, it would be nothing to ask holders of such blocks, many of whom are in an impoverished condition, to pay these duties. Something like 16,000 of my electors require wire-netting, whilst, on the other hand, only 400 persons are employed , in the wire-netting industry. Are we to have no regard for the 16,000 farmers and settlers? Is all the consideration- to be extended to the 400 men and boys engaged in this industry ? I should like honorable members to recollect the principle which guided us in framing the first Commonwealth Tariff. I notice that the free- trade section of the Tariff Commission recommend the imposition of duties upon such -articles as bags, sacks, tents, tarpaulins, hessian, and wirenetting. They even recommend the taxa- tion of the working man’s regalia, of the pipes of organs such as are used in churches, and of brass instruments which are used in town bands. I should like the honorable member for Lang to recollect this fact, because, when he twitted the Labour Party with supporting the present Government he did not say a word about the only alternative which confronts us. When the Kingston Tariff was under review in 1902, a good deal of agricultural machinery which was not manufactured in Australia was placed upon the free list, so that the user might obtain it as cheaply as possible. If we do not assist those who are already settled upon the land, a number of the holders of small areas will be driven off them. We shall then find ourselves in this position : We shall have established a wire-netting industry, but there will be. nobody to purchase that material. I am speaking from personal knowledge of the circumstances of a large number of settlers.. I have had an opportunity of learning their exact condition, and I say, without hesitation, that they ought to receive first consideration at our hands. Unless we do our best for them, they will disappear from the land entirely. In my opinion, the wire-netting Industry can be encouraged far better by the payment of a bonus than it can by the imposition of a protective duty. At the present time there is only one firm engaged in the industry, and it is paying its operatives very low wages. If it is unable to successfully carry on when it possesses a monopoly of the trade, I do not think that a duty of 5 per cent, upon wire-netting will help it very materially. If we Had the absolute facts before us, it would probably be found that the industry can get along without any assistance whatever. It is scarcely fair to. charge the Premier of Victoria with being a competitor in this industry. I understand that he intends to supply the farmers of this State with cheap wirenetting, but it is not to be inferred for a moment that he intends to enter into competition with the manufacturers of that article in the open market. I hold that to have a monopoly is worth a great deal to any firm.
– Messrs. Lysaght Brothers are not to have a monopoly, because a factory is about to start in South Australia.
– It is all very well to say that a factory is about to start. The statement of the honorable member reminds me of that of the man who had millions of pounds in his pocket.
– Barbed-wire is being, manufactured in South’ Australia at the present time, and the building for the manufacture of wire-netting is in course of erection.
-Of course, if we impose a sufficiently high protective duty we shall encourage other competitors to enter the field. I contend that if we promote closer settlement the rabbit pest can be easily dealt with. It stands to reason; therefore, that after a time the demand for wire-netting will probably diminish. Consequently that article can hardly be included in the same category as other Australian productions which we desire to encourage. The wire-netting industry is not one which will grow with the increase of population, as will most industries. The new protection scheme puts a different complexion on the Tariff generally, and if I thought that there was any real danger of the wire-netting industry being destroyed,, my view upon this question would be very materially . modified. But I see nothing to justify the belief that it cannot live and succeed under similar conditions to those which have existed since Federation was accomplished.
– Does not the honorable member want it to expand?
– It is expanding. It would be cheaper to buy Messrs. Lysaght Brothers out and to pay their hands £3 a week for being idle than to impose a. high duty upon wire-netting.
– The same argument would apply to three-fourths of our industries.
– I cannot conceive that the industry will be seriously affected by placing wire-netting upon the free list.. The evidence available to us is that it has lived and thrived-
– And lost £100,000.
– I have never heard of that. I cannot accept exparte statements. Why did not the principals in the industryappear before the Tariff Commission, and give evidence to that effect? I take no notice of these wild statements. I attach as much importance to them as I do to the statement of the man who declared that he intended to withdraw £10,000,000 from Australia because of the influence of the Labour Party in politics. We all know that it does not require a very large . amount of capital to embark upon the wire-netting industry, and the increased demand offers a fair return for investment.
– I confess that I am in somewhat of a dilemma as to how to vote on this item, in view of the Government proposal to reduce the duty. If the Government had attempted to press the duty they first proposed, I should have had no hesitation in voting for placing wire-netting on the free list. But the. Government have consented to make a big reduction; and, before casting my vote, I should like to know from the Treasurer whether a duty of 10 per cent., as against Great Britain, and 15 per cent., as against foreign countries, is regarded by him as protective, or merely as revenue producing. If the reduced duty is regarded as sufficiently protective to enable the manufacture to be carried on in Australia, it was, in my opinion, unfair, and, I might say, almost idiotic to, in the first instance, propose a duty of 25 per cent, and 30 per cent. I am not prepared to support a duty which is merely revenue producing, on wire-netting, or any other commodity. At any rate, it would be scandalous to impose a revenue duty on wire-netting; and, before we go further, I should like an answer to the question I have asked. If I am told by the Treasurer that the lower duty now suggested is sufficiently protective, I shall not object to its being imposed. The only justification for the existence of the present Ministry, is their protectionist policy.
– Before the discussion closes on this item; I shall answer the question of the honorable member.
– There may possibly be some advantage in having wire-netting locally manufactured, and, therefore, if a 10 per cent, duty will assist to that end, it shall have my support. I take it that the Government now regard a duty of 10 per cent, as sufficient to enable the wire-netting industry to be carried on in Australia, because, otherwise, it was for the Treasurer to adhere to the original proposal.
– The inference is that the Government have given up their protectionist policy in regard to this item.
– I want to know whether that is so or not. It may be that the Government have obtained some further information which indicates that a duty of 10 per cent, is sufficiently protective ; if not, they should have proposed a higher duty. Whether I should support the Government in imposing a higher duty is, of course, another question. I am opposed to any preference being given under this Tariff, because, in my opinion, whatever duties are imposed ought to. apply all round. Although I am not a protectionist, I am prepared, under this Tariff, to give fair and reasonable protection in the case of commodities which can be manufactured in Australia, but, in the case of commodities which cannot be manufactured here, I shall vote for their being placed on the free list, no matter from what country they come.
– Anything can be manufactured here.
– I spoke of reasonable protection ; I “ am to be the judge of what is reasonable, and I think I may say the Government will not find me too exacting. The Treasurer, when in England, talked a great deal in favour of preferential trade; but I do not know whether he made it clear, as he did after his return to Australia, that he is anxious that everything possible shall be manufactured in Australia.
– I made that clear enough in England.
– The Treasurer does not desire wire-netting to be imported.
– I take it that the Treasurer does not desire wire-netting to be imported, even from England.
– If wire-netting has to Le imported, I would ratheT it came from England than from any other country.
– I think honorable members are of the same opinion; and I take it that the honorable gentleman’s policy, and the policy of the majority of honorable members, is that everything that can be reasonably made in Australia, shall be made here. If a duty of only 5 per cent, were imposed, there would be no necessity for preference, because it would be only a revenue duty. Under all the circumstances, I shall vote against any preference in regard to this or any other item, simply supporting those duties which I am assured will enable manufactures to be carried on in Australia.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45p.m.
.- I do not intend to add to what has been said in regard to the proposed duties on wire-netting, but as, if we let the item pass as proposed to be amended by the honorable member for Riverina, our action will amount to an admission of the advisability of the adoption of the principle of preference, I intend, as one who is opposed to that course, to state my views on the subject as shortly as possible. The matter, affecting as it does our Imperial relations, is one of the most important which can come under our attention. The preferences given last year applied to only £1,473,189 worth of British imports, the total imports from the United Kingdom, in 1905, being £23,074,717; and of those affected, only £790,607 compete with foreign imports. Therefore, what was then agreed to was merely a petty modification of the principle of protection in favour of one of the biggest consumers of our exports, even if it were not the country, which, with real significance, we continue to refer to in the language of affection as “ Home.” The principle of reciprocal commercial concessions is now proposed to be substituted for the ties of affection and blood which have withstood every strain of Empire so well. I intend to state my objections to this recognition of Chamberlainism with as much effect as I can, while curtailing my remarks to an extent that the necessities of expedition justify. Honorable members will bear in mind that the question was raised in a speech made by Mr. Chamberlain in, I think, May, 1903, in which he laid it down that preference must become the basic principle of Empire; that the Empire would fall to pieces unless it became- commercially self-contained ; that, in fact, unless we went, through reciprocal preferences, to an intermediate stage of free-trade between British possessions, and ultimate political union, the days of the Empire would be numbered. On the 8th December, 1904, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth took up the tune, and in a series of resolutions declared, in effect, that the proposals of the then Secretary of State for the Colonies must increase the unity and power of the Empire I am pleased that some months ago the House of Commons absolutely repudiated the principle of preference as having anything to do with our continued Imperial integrity. If one had to rely merely upon expert authority as to the unwisdom of preference, I could quote several in support of my position. Let me first refer to Mulhall. He says that -
Any attempt at an Imperial zollverein between Great Britain and her Colonies would be ruinous to the latter, and would ultimately break up the Empire. .
In an article in the Spectator it is said that anything df the sort “ would act as a destructive force, and nothing else.” Lord. Rosebery, speaking on the 13th December, 1903, said that the- return to protection through the preferential duties advocated by Mr. . Chamberlain was “a blow which must be fatal to the majestic structure of our commerce, and of our Empire.” If we require proofs for those statements we mav find them in English experience. Great Britain recognized preferences up to sixty years ago, when they were abolished. In 1842, speaking on one of the first motions for their abolition, Lord Grey made a declaration which is applicable to the present moment -
Industry should cease to be diverted from its natural channels, and a useless burden imposed on the consumer by different duties levied for the purpose of favoring colonial produce in our markets and our produce in the markets of the world.
England abolished preferences in i860, while France and other countries have continued to grant them to their colonies; but the condemnation of the system is to be found in the fact that the external trade of British possessions is about ten times that of those of France. In 1842 a duty of 3s. a quarter was imposed on wheat imported from the United States into Great Britain, and a duty of is. on that imported from Canada, a preference of 2s. in favour of the Dominion. In 1846, when the corn laws were repealed, that preference, of course, ceased. The Canadians strongly remonstrated, and almost talked of secession, so that Mr. Gladstone was obliged to mention in a despatch, dated 3rd June, 1846 -
That it would be a source of the greatest pain to Her Majesty’s Government if they could share in the impression that the connexion between this country and Canada derived its vitality from no other source than the exchange of commercial preference.
It seems to me that, when the real force fails upon which the unity of the Empire depends, when the subtle, magnetic, and attractive influences of race, tradition, and common destiny, which operate among nations as the domestic affections do among families, begin to wane, then, and not until then, need we feel anxiety as to the stability of the Imperial framework, or fear that the greatest alliance of selfgoverning communities which the world has ever known, is approaching its dissolution. When sentiment fails, it will be idle to think that Acts of Parliament, or the power of purse can do anything to check the inevitable disintegration. The bane at present is that everything is measured by the mercantile standard. Let me refer to a resolution - one of a class passed each year by this body - agreed to by the Chamber of Commerce at its meeting in London on the 9th July, 1906. The members of that body then affirmed that the bonds of union would be strengthened by preferences. This reliance upon commercial preferences for the continued integrity of the Empire is expressed by bodies whose members have a direct pecuniary interest in the policy which they say they regard as the true nexus of Empire. Happily, the nation is not altogether imbued with the shopkeeping spirit and sentiment, and at the last elections it rejected, by an overwhelming majority, the declaration of the basic principle of connexion contained in the resolution just referred to. In an article in the North American Review of last year, a Canadian protectionist writes -
In Canada they want not to abolish the British preference or even reduce the percentage of preference, but to raise the general Tariff so high that when the preference is allowed the minimum Tariff will be high enough to set off the greater cost of labour and higher rates of interest, thus placing the Canadian manufacturer on an equality with the British competitor.
That was. the explanation of the protectionist policy of ‘ Canada given by a leading protectionist at a time when, I believe, the Canadian Minister of Customs was introducing a change from a 33^ per cent, preference to the present system of differentiating according to the item, which is the principle which we” are asked to adopt. The best of the British writers at the present time condemn the principle of preference. Let me give an extract from an article dealing with the result of the Imperial Conference which was published in the Edinburgh Review of July, 1907-
To our thinking the safest condition of that magnificent and unique political entity called the British Empire,, is that it should remain as Amorphous as possible, and that it is best described and will be most safely maintained as a number of practically independent States, acknowledging one sovereign, bound together bv unembarrassing ties of blood and origin, and of consequent affection, filial and parental.
There is no doubt that if the political goal which is the objective of Mr. Chamberlain and those who follow him is ever attained, in . the matters delegated we shall lose our independence of judgment and decision. It means the submission of questions in relation to which we now have an absolute voice to the majority vote of a body in which we shall ultimately have representation in ‘proportion to ‘ population. Might I remind honorable members that just before the opening of the last Imperial Conference a very strong series of articles appeared in the London Times, declaring the true objective of those advocating prefer7ence. In an article on the Conference and Imperial unity which appeared in* the issue of 12th April, 1907, a writer dwelt particularly upon the great burden of the defence vote, which is practically borne entirely by the Imperial power. After an elaboration of the position as regards what he considered to be the true nexus of Empire and the necessity of the dependencies of the Crown and its Colonial possessions recognising their liability for a more equitable contribution towards naval defence, he continued -
The whole position is an impossible one, and cannot last. Some solution of the difficulty must be found. The one is separation, the other Imperial partnership. The colonies must become absolutely independent States, conducting the whole of their external affairs without interference and without help, or else they must become equal partners in a united Empire, based upon the principle of mutual support and joint responsibility. There can be no final solution which stops short of the two alternative conclusions.
I merely give this as a statement of what is in view in connexion with the policy of preference. It is the deliberate pronouncement of the leading organ of public opinion in England, so far as the press can be assumed to be an organ of public opinion. What is meant, supposing that’ we are brought into the political net of Mr. Chamberlain and the Times? The naval expenditure of the United Kingdom is 15s. 5½d. per head of its population, and the average per head of the seven colonies is 6d., and that of the Commonwealth is. 3jd. If, as the Times probably desires, our contribution to naval defence were upon a. per capita contribution of the white citizens of the Empire, instead of being is’. 3jd. it would be us. or 12s. per head.
– That would mean equal control, or in other words a control equal to our contribution.
– We should have, as I have just said, whatever control we were entitled to, either on the basis of wealth and “ population or on that of population alone. The corollary of that would be that we should have, on the subject matters in relation to which we now speak with the independent voice of Australia, to submit ourselves to the rule of the majority. Let us consider for a moment the position of the mother country. It is a country of vast responsibilities. If the politics of any of its dependencies give rise to international troubles, the burden of the responsibility has to be. borne by the home country. Wo all remember the tremendous outlay - I think it was £235,060,000 - incurred by England in connexion with the Boer war. That was a colonial war, in which she had no direct interest; but up to the present she has practically borne every penny of the direct outlay, represented by payments out of revenue, and the debt incurred. I believe that the responsibility as to £25,000,000 which was to be undertaken by the new self-governing colonies of South Africa is still merely a possibility, rather than a real burden shifted from the Imperial taxpayers to the Colonies in question.
– If we granted Great Britain this preference we should net increase her burdens.
– This means the beginning of a system- advocated by Mr. Chamberlain. It is not for us to embarrass the Liberal Party at Home by giving Mr. Chamberlain and his party an opportunity to say that we have made a specific offer of preference to the mother land. If we do, we shall put the Conservatives, in a strong position when they attempt to renew the agitation for reciprocal preference. The position is that France, Germany, Italy, the United States, and Japan, during the last twenty or thirty years, nave become powerful competitors with the United Kingdom for the trade of the’ world. Nevertheless, Great Britain has 38 per cent, of the total external “ trade of France, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom. That being so, we are not galled upon to make any petty preference for the purpose of strengthening her socalled waning supremacy. The imports of Great Britain in 1906 were of the value of £607,000,000, and 76.6 per cent, of those imports came from foreign countries, only 23.4 per cent, coming from British Possessions. If we glance at the comparison of percentages of imports from 1854 to 1906, we find that they are practically constant, and therefore, as being, apparently, natural commercial relations, ought not to be disturbed by any new system. In addition to that, the effects of the unfettered policy of the mother country justify a continuance of the old system. The exports of the United Kingdom, deducting re-exports, are equal to £8 15s. per head, those of Germany to- £5 2s. id. per head, France £5 3s. 6d. per head, and America £4 12s. 4d. per head* of the population. That is very strong evidence that there is no necessity to make any petty concessions in favour of the mother country. Let us take the positions of Australia. It was said during the dis. cussion at -the Imperial Conference early this year that Great Britain’s trade with, Australia was gradually diminishing. I think that the present Federal Treasurer, in a speech extending from page 325 to Page 33° °f the Minutes of the Proceedings, gave a rather doleful description ot the position of the mother country, in sofar as her exports to her possessions were concerned, The burden of his tale was that, unless some system of reciprocal preference were instituted, the mother country would go to the wall.
– Did he say that her exports were diminishing, or that the relative increase in them was not being maintained ?
– I have not the exact > words used by the Treasurer, but the effect of his speech was that the exports of British products - and I think he was dealing, with manufactured products - to British. Possessions, and especially to Australia, were gradually diminishing.
– That would be an incorrect statement.
– I repeat that I have not at hand a report of the exact words used” by the Minister. The position is that, deducting exports to us representing loans, from 1881 to 1905, the value of British exports to Australia increased from- £69,500,000 to £141,000,000. There has been undoubtedly a slight decrease recently in her exports of manufactured products to us ; but in reports from the Colonies or Dependencies, obtained* some years ago by Air.- Chamberlain, as Secretary of State for the Colonies, that was attributed to the increased manufacturing activities of the Colonies. That fact ought to be borne in mind in connexion with our present scheme. We are now imposing, under the guise of preference to Great Britain, new duties upon articles that we are importing from the old land.Thus we shall be checking our import trade with the Home country by the imposition of duties on articles which, under the old Tariff, were free or, at all events, subject to lower imposts. ;
– The free imports of the largest State of the Commonwealth have been stopped under the Commonwealth Tariff.
– Is it not a fact that Great Britain has not held her share of the trade of the Colonies in proportion to the increase shown in Germany’s trade with them?
– I shall not contradict the honorable member upon that point, since there has been a great increase in the trade of foreign countries with Australia.
– Not lately.
– I believe that Great Britain has more than held her own. There has been an increase in the aggregate exports of Great Britain to the Colonies. At the same time, our trade with foreign countries has increased, and has been marked principally by an increase of exports. That is a healthy state of affairs, and one which by our preferences ought not to be discouraged. The details of the trade will be found in the appendices to the Budget papers. I do not wish to burden my speech with too many figures, but I could add to those I have already quoted, others pointing to the same facts. ‘ I come now to another point that honorable members ought to Lear in mind. If we expect to obtain from Great Britain anything in return for our preference - and it seems to me to be a rather mean expectation-
– We are not now asking for anything.
– No doubt. But we are, as I have said, putting in a false position the opponents of preferential treaties at Home. Something more than the mere giving of a- trumpery concession to the old country is involved in this proposal. Canada granted concessions to Great Britain, and an agitation for some reciprocity on the part of the mother country is still going on there. If it be cabled to England tomorrow that we have made a concession of even 50 per cent, in favour of British imports, the Conservatives will be immediately supplied with a handle that may be used by them in their efforts to induce the country to reverse the decision which was given at the last general election there.
– The honorable member is dealing with this question from a party point of view.
– If the honorable member thinks so, I cannot help it. I am simply asking honorable members to take an Imperial view of this question ; to put themselves in the position of the English people who have large interests represented by the proportion of their trade with foreign countries, as against our own.
– It is the first time I have heard Mr. Chamberlain described as a Conservative.
– I did not so describe him. I spoke of the Conservative Party in England. I am sure that we all deeply regret that Mr. Chamberlain is now physically unfit to be the protagonist of preference, but since the Home Rule Bill of 1886, he has been allied with the Liberal Unionists, or Conservatives. No man has a greater respect for Mr. Chamberlain’s past than I have. When -some honorable members were in their swaddling clothes I read and, digested his Newcastle programme of 1883 and 1884.
– He has now turned his back on all that.
– He has ; he is a politician. What was Mr. Chamberlain’s attitude some years ago may be gathered from the fact that the great article on disintegration, which appeared in the Edinburgh or t!h.e Quarterly twenty-five or thirty years ago was directed against him, and was supposed to have been written by Lord Salisbury.
– We could quote Churchill’s opinion of Campbell-Bannerman.
– Perhaps so. What I wish to point out is that there is no justification for any expectation of reciprocation by the Imperial Parliament. Great Britain could not make her ports freer to us than they are at present. If we are to give her a preference, then let it be a substantial one. Let it not be a petty preference, or what is to a large extent a sham.
– There was apparently a great necessity’ for giving preferential consideration to the item of wirenetting !
– Before. I proceeded to deal with this phase of the question I asked the honorable member several times whether he preferred to discuss it now or f) have it postponed. To that inquiry I received no answer. If we pass one of the amendments that has been moved, it will mean the indorsement of the principle of preference, and that being so; without unduly trespassing on the time of the House, I wish to put before honorable members my considered views upon the question. I have done all in my power to defer the consideration of this phase of it. In 1905 the Commonwealth exported to the United Kingdom £26,995,126 worth of goods, of which only £148,348 worth were subject to duty. Where, then, is there room for anything in the way of reciprocal preference? On the other hand, what do we do? Our net annual imports from the United Kingdom are of the value of £21,375,942, and of these the dutiable imports represent a value of £15,405,325. I ask honorable members to compare our treatment of imports from Great Britain with the almost perfect freedom of our exports to the United Kingdom. If we are going to manifest our affection, for the home country bv any concessions as regards duties against the foreigners let them be substantial. Do not let us insult the mother country by a pretended preference.
– The Government proposals will mean a preference of £1,500,000..
– I shall give the Committee an indication of what the preference will amount to.
– Does not the honorable member think that 50 per cent. is. a fairly substantial preference ?
– The honorable member is now referring to the preference to be given in relation to only one item, and even that proposal has not yet been carried. If there is to be a preference I hope that it will be one of 50 per cent. I should, like to refer to ‘fifteen or sixteen items to show what the proposed preference amounts to,’ and to ask Ministers, if they really mean business, to accept the larger abatement which is suggested on the import duties. The preference is given in some; cases in respect of goods which Great Britain is not naturally favored to produce, and therefore to the extent to which it is not “the tax will be one upon imports. As Great Britain cannot supply under the lower rate, the higher rate against the foreigner will be the operative one, and to that extent it will mean protective taxation, or taxation of the local consumer. In regard to some commodities, Great Britain is already practically the sole exporter or producer, and upon these lines the preference will be inoperative for the purpose of increased trade. In other instances the duty has been fixed so high that, irrespective of whether or not we make an abatement of it to the extent suggested, it will still be prohibitive of imports from the United Kingdom. These are the leading characteristics of the scheme suggested by the Government. Let me take a. few items by way of illustration. The Tariff imposes a duty of 5s. 6d. per cwt. upon ammunition from foreign countries, and of 5s.1d. per cwt. upon ammunition from the United Kingdom. In 1906 the imports from the United Kingdom totalled 233 cwt., those from Germany 3 cwt., and those from the United States 4 cwt. Upon that item, therefore, the preference - upon the basis of the imports of last year - would amount to 3s. 6d. “ Upon double-barrelled guns and rifles of foreign manufacture the Tariff imposes a duty of 11s.1d. each, and of 10s.1d. each on those from the United Kingdom. The old duty was 10 per cent., and, consequently, the new rate is really protection under the guise of a pretende’d preference. Upon a gun which, is worth £2 the preference would amount to 2½ per cent., upon one which is worth £5 it would represent 1 per cent., and upon a weapon which was worth £10 it would represent½ per cent.
– But the duty levied upon a £10 gun has not been raised?
– I am showing the incidence of the preference. In the matter of agricultural, viticultural, and horticultural machinery, including cream separators, the imports from the United Kingdom in 1906 were valued at £14,845, and from other countries at £129,187. In that case a very substantial, addition will be at once made to the taxation of consumers, because the operative duty will fall upon the imports from other countries. -This will mean an increased taxation of about £13,000. In the matter of cutlery, practically the whole of the imports come from the United Kingdom. Under the general Tariff imports of this class from foreign countries are taxable at 20 per cent. , and those from the United Kingdom at 15 per cent. The imports from the United Kingdom in 1906 were valued at £112,000, those from Germany at £20,000, and those from the United States at £6,800. Similarly, sewing and stitching machines of foreign manufacture are dutiable at 10 per cent., whilst those from the United Kingdom are admitted free. But, inasmuch as the United Kingdom sends us only £13,608 worth of these machines, whilst other countries export to us £127,169 worth, the proposal of the Government really amounts to a tax upon these articles. Upon tin plate, plain,a duty of 5 per cent, is levied under the general Tariff, while the imports from the United Kingdom are admitted free. Now the imports from the United Kingdom in 1906 were valued at £257,112, those from Germany at £11/ and those from the United States at £1,360. .Under these circumstances, the United Kingdom evidently does not require any preference. These are items which have been selected at my request by one of the leading importing houses in Australia, with a view to showing the incidence of the duties proposed. Upon lubricating mineral oil the general Tariff imposes a duty of 6£d. per gallon, whilst imports from the United Kingdom are charged 3d. per gallon. Under this heading the imports from the United Kingdom in 1906 totalled 597,335 gallons, and those from other sources - chiefly from the United States - 2,239,996 gallons. - An increase has been made upon the old rate of duty, and consequently under the guise of extending a preference to the mother country the Government are really proposing an increased measure of protection. The United States is, of course, the largest exporter of natural mineral oils. To my mind, it is exceedingly inexpedient to impose upon that large exportation to us an increased duty. I come now to the item of glass, sheet. Upon this item the general Tariff imposes a duty of 2s. 3d. per 100 superficial feet, whilst imports from the United Kingdom are charged 2s. id. per 100 superficial feet. In 1906, from the United Kingdom, the imports under this heading amounted to 690,124 superficial feet, whilst those from other countries - principally from- Belgium and Germany - totalled 8,322,783 superficial feet, which means that in this case also it is proposed to afford an increased protection under the guise of preference. Under the general Tariff, watches and clocks are dutiable at 30, per cent., and those from the United Kingdom at 20 per cent. The imports” of these from the United Kingdom in 1906 were valued at £47,296, and those from other countries as £113,549. This is one of those cases in which the principle of preference cannot operate, because the watches and clocks which are imported from the United Kingdom differ from those which are imported from other countries. Even as a protective duty the impost proposed by the Government will be useless, because there are no local makers of watches and clocks. Under the general! Tariff, printing paper from foreign countries is dutiable at 10 per cent., whilst that from the United Kingdom is admitted free. Under this heading the imports from the United Kingdom in 1906- were valued at £124,188, and those from other countries at £313,385. The Government proposals will, therefore, mean that, in regard to a very large importation of printing paper, which I understand must come from foreign countries-
– The biggest proportion of the labour involved in the production of the paper which comes from England is. employed in Norway.
– The 10 per cent, will? undoubtedly be the operative duty, and it: will fall with considerable incidence upon? the consumers of printing paper. I think I have shown that the Tariff is capable of being divided into the three categories, which I have mentioned. Under the clrcumstances I hope that the Committee, rising to a sense of national respect, and to the decencies of our Imperial relations, will reject .the proposed preferences. T dosay that if we are going to substitute the material for the moral bond, and if in future we are to appeal to self-interest rather than to historic loyalty, we should make the preference material in extent and degree as well as in character and kind. To rely no longer upon the old attractive forces of racial relationship, affinity, and common traditions extending through many a generation into a not inglorious past, but at the same time to recognise trie other principle to an extent only that serves to weaken the significance of the Imperial connexion, seems to me to indicate both art impairment of national character and a lack of common-sense.
. The honorable member for Angas hasfound himself in the rather awkward position of having to raise a question which may involve a very long debate before wereach a settlement of this item. I do not agree with him that we should pause toconsider whether we are going to embarrassthe Liberal party in England by granting the preferences proposed. If there is oneparty in the old country which has donelittle for the great masses of the people, itis the Liberal party.
– They have nothad the power to do much.
– If the honorablemember will take the trouble to read the- history of industrial legislation in the old country, he will find, for the most part, that we have been indebted to the Conservative party for it.
– The Liberals have been out of office during the past fifteen years.
– We are even indebted to the late Lord Beaconsfield, who was considered an extreme type of Conservative, for some of the legislation which the great Liberal, Mr. Gladstone, failed to pass.
– The Conservatives have been masquerading in Liberal clothes.
– That does not matter so long as the people have benefited. The Conservative party can wear the clothes of the Liberals to-morrow, so long as they will do something for the advantage of the people. The only question which weighs with, me in considering the proposed preference is whether it represents something substantial to the people of England. I “think that it does go a little way in that direction, though not so far as I should Tike. But, at any rate, it is something. While it is not true that other countries have been able to obtain a greater share of Britain’s colonial trade, it is well known that Great Britain has not made the advance in her manufactures during the past ten or fifteen years that the United States And Germany have made. Indeed, if it had not been for her colonial possessions she would not be able to show the advance that she can show to-day. Therefore, there is room for us to extend a preference to her. Though we are not growing as fast as we should like to do, from the stand-point of population, I look forward to the time when we shall have a great stream of immigrants to Australia. If we can possibly do anything to assist the old country to change her fiscal policy, it is time we did it. I need give only one illustration. Honorable members know that aniline dyes were a British discovery, and subsequently gave rise to an enormous trade in England. What is the position to-day? Germany has annexed the whole of the aniline dye industry, with a trade amounting to something like £15,000,000 a year; and that represents a loss to Great Britain to that extent. I should like to see that trade in the hands of the old country as before; and, consequently, I do not agree with those who say there ought to be no preference under this Tariff.
– It was not a Tariff that caused the change in the aniline dye industry, was it?
– No; it was the want of a Tariff. If Great Britain had. guarded herself, as Australia, the United States, Germany, and other countries guard themselves, against outsiders, I am sure she would not only have retained the dye trade, but much other trade which has been lost under, a free-trade policy.
– The development of the dye industry in Germany was due, to a large extent, to technical education.
– How can the honorable member say that, when I have pointed out that the discovery was a British one, showing that the chemists in England were superior to German chemists ?
– It was the commercial men who had not the education to enable” them to take advantage of the discovery.
– Would the honorable member for Hindmarsh approve of British protection being applied against the Colonies?
– Undoubtedly ; I should like to see the old country protect herself against her own Colonies, if the Colonies will not grant her a preference. The honorable member for Angas dealt with some of the items as if the proposed duties are going to be carried just as scheduled ; but if the speeches of those who call themselves protectionists, on the wire-netting item, are . any indication, I hardly see any necessity for the introduction of this Tariff. Honorable members in the Opposition corner went about the country saying that they were going to carry out the recommendations of the Tariff Commission.
– No; we did not.
– The honorable member for Grampians has to admitth at he went on the platform as a protectionist.
– Hear, hear ; but not as a prohibitionist.
– I should like to quote from speeches made by some honorable members who sit in the Opposition corner. The honorable member for Fawkner, as reported in the Melbourne Argus, of 26th October, 1906-
– Where did the honorable member get that extract?
– It is open to honorable members to read the Melbourne Argus and the Melbourne Age, and I am sure that no one is more zealous in preserving journalistic titbits than is the leader of the Opposition.
– I thought that the honorable member might have been saved the trouble of collecting the extracts.
– That is the great trouble with the Labour Party. Gentlemen like the honorable member for Angas have only to write to any of the great importing firms to get all the information they require.
– I have done nothing of the sort. I picked the information up myself.
– Honorable members on the Opposition side can get all their information prepared for them, but the unfortunate Labour members have to hunt up the facts for themselves.
– I do not get any one to prepare my information.
– I am referring to the figures which the honorable member said had been prepared for him.
– I merely had my figures checked.
– I know that we always receive eloquent and intellectual addresses from the honorable member, and I am just now only referring to the figures he quoted. We unfortunate members of the Labour Farty get very little of that kind of information supplied to us.
– The honorable member can afford £100 a year for a secretary now.
– I should not endeavour to sweat a secretary by offering him £100 a year, though I know, under freetrade conditions, I could easily get one for that remuneration. I came to this House as a protectionist, for the purpose of trying, if possible, to help the Government to frame a protective Tariff. Honorable members in the Opposition corner also declared that thev were returned for that purpose; but what do we find ? The honorable member for Grampians asked for something definite; and, in reply, I shall read the following extract from the Argus report of a speech by the honorable member for Fawkner -
He was a thorough protectionist. If returned he would try to give effect to the recommendations of the Tariff Commission. He would certainly be in favour of effective protection. The new protection was included in that.
That is definite enough. But where is the honorable member for Fawkner to-day? I am sorry that the honorable member for Corangamite is not here, because, on the same date, he was reported in equally definite terms, as follows -
He was a protectionist, and he would always vote for protective duties where protection was necessary.
– Hear, hear.
– Ah, but listen to what follows -
If the Tariff Commission discovered any grievances the party to which he belonged would endeavour to have them rectified.
The honorable member for Balaclava, when, on the “hustings,” said -
I will vote with the Government on protection.
We all know that the honorable member for- Balaclava was the nominee of a protectionist association. But listen to what the honorable member for Indi said, as reported in the Melbourne Argus. I am sure that that honorable member believes that whatever is written in the Argus is correct, and these are the words, which, so far as I know, he has not taken the trouble to contradict -
He advocated the enforcement of the recommendations of the Tariff Commission.
– Did the honorable member for Indi except the wire-netting proposal ?
– The honorable member accepted the whole of the recommendations, and, therefore, he promised to support a duty of 25 per cent, on wirenetting.
– The honorable member has got hold of a garbled statement.
Mr.HUTCHINSON.-As if the words I have read were not definite enough, the honorable member also said -
He would by vote and action endeavour tohave a good liberal protectionist Tariff framed.
– And so I shall,, but not a prohibition Tariff.
– I do not accuse the honorable member of being anything approaching a prohibitionist. The Minister in charge of the Tariff has given a good deal of encouragement to honorable members in the Opposition corner; and I wish to point out the position in which that encouragement has placed his protectionist supporters. I am prepared to support the Treasurer in giving effective protection, but when, after introducing a Tariff, inwhich 25 per cent, is proposed as fair protection in the wire-netting industry, her without the slightest pretence of fighting, consents to reduce the duty to 15 per cent, -and is evidently quite prepared to take less - I must have something to say. I hope we shall be able to “ stiffen up “ the Minister a bit before we deal with other items, and then we may be able to also “ stiffen “ up the spurious protectionists in the Opposition corner. Otherwise, we shall only waste time and dislocate: the whole commercial business of the country ; and under the circumstances it would be just as well to go back to the old Tariff, and be done with the question. All sorts of reasons have been given why we should not protect this particular industry, and I shall, as briefly as possible, indicate some reasons why we should. It is said that this is only a small industry; and the honorable member for Darling trotted out the old argument of the freetrader, that we might as well support the 400 employes in idleness. If that argument were applied to all the small industries of the Commonwealth, I am afraid we should have a large army of men out of employment. But is this a small industry ? It is stated by the Treasurer that one firm alone employs 400 hands, and a further statement, has been made that the employes number 600. When it was denied that spelter was obtained in this country, it was alleged that the wire-netting industry was not worth preserving. But, as a matter of fact, not only wire-netting, but spelter is produced in New South Wales at the present time, and it is to be hoped that spelter works will be started elsewhere than at Cockle Creek.’ I am glad to say that iron is now being made in Australia; and it will not be long before there will be manufactured locally the wire necessary for making the netting, and in this way employment provided for more men.
– In the meantime, I suppose, we are to let the rabbits have their fling.
– That is a specimen of the ridiculous statements we hear from time to time. That interjection would lead one to believe that the proposal is that, if the Tariff be agreed to, no farmer or pastoralist will be able to get a yard of wire-netting.
– Wire-netting will be procurable, of course, but at £& more a ton.
– If wire-netting is £% a ton more under this Tariff, we may be sure that it would be £10 or £15 if the local industry were destroyed. The honorable member for Grey knows very well that, before this industry had attained any proportions, the importers of wire-netting in South Australia charged much more than the present prices. According to the Commissioner of Crown Lands in South Australia, as shown in an official record the other day, the importers were then charging £3 7s. fid. a ton more than a fair price.
– That was long after this industry had been started in Australia.
– As a matter of fact, the price was £6 per ton more than it ought to have been, but there was a desire to keep within the mark when making the calculation. At that time, comparatively speaking, only a few yards of wirenetting were produced per week, and the industry was conducted under free-trade conditions. If we ask manufacturers to conduct their business under free-trade conditions, we shall have but small hope of extending industries in Australia. I do not intend to speak in favour of Messrs. Lysaght Brothers, who, I believe, have not treated their employes fairly ; but the Ministry, and the party to which I belong, intend to insist that firms to which protection is given shall in the future act fairly towards their employes. This firm turns out 330 miles of netting a week, so that its business is considerable, and will have the effect of preventing importers from charging such prices as they may think fit to impose. No honorable member has shown that the local manufacturers are likely to increase the price of wire-netting. They have already reduced it by £1 a ton. But if Messrs. Lysaght Brothers, and the South Australian firm which is now making barbed wire and nails, and intends to make wire-netting, increase the price after the Tariff passed, the Board which the Minister intends to establish will have an opportunity to declare whether thev are charging more than is fair.
– The Excise provisions which were agreed to last year with a view to regulating prices, have not proved a success.
– That is because effect has not been given to them ; but I believe that something is now going to be done in that matter. If the ‘ Government will not do its duty, Parliament can deal with it. If this-Ministry will not do what we think should be done, we can put another in power. .But I prefer to give the present Ministers a chance first. When the Government of South Australia found that the farmers and pastoralists- of that State were being charged £6 a ton more than the fair price for wire-netting, it acceded to a request of a deputation from the Labour Party, asking it to purchase netting and sell it to the people on the land. If, after the Tariff has passed, the local manufacturers and importers combine together to raise prices, it will be open to this Government to buy wire-netting in the old world and supply it to the people of the Commonwealth, or, if they cannot get it reasonably enough in that way, to manufacture it.
– The NewSouth Wales Government were forced to purchase because the importers were charging unfair prices.
-That was the South Australian experience. We who desire to encourage the establishment of industries by means of protection, are willing to take measures for the protection of employes and consumers as well. If they fail, we shall not be to blame; we can but try them. But, at all events, they will bring about a better state of affairs than we have at present. The more our industries increase, the better it will be for the country. I understand that 400 men are employed by Messrs. Lysaght Brothers directly, while employment is given to a large number of others in the making of spelter. In the near future, the netting industry will also give work to men at Lithgow, who will be employed in making wire. The present output of the firm is valued at something like £500,000 ayear, or about £10,000 a week.
– Their netting must be good, because they sell so much of it.
– The industry is worth protecting. It has been said that the ‘firm has managed to get along without protection.
– It has practically had a bonus.
– It has enjoyed State assistance. Previously, it lost an enormous sum of money.
– It has arrived at its present output without the assistance of a duty.
– But it lost £100,000.
– Many other firms have lost as much.
– Why should we allow our manufacturers to lose because of foreign competition?
-Is Parliament to make good the losses of every manufacturer ?
– The interjection, of the honorable member for Grampians is. a strange one for a protectionist to make. Does he think that we should get everything from other parts of the world if, by so doing, we can get it cheaper? Undoubtedly the price of commodities will, inmany instances, be reduced by the imposition of protective duties. The honorable member for Herbert showed that the effect of the duty on cement has been to reduce its price. In South Australia a little protection enabled Messrs. J. and D. Shearer, of Mannum and Kilkenny, even before Federation, to undersell foreign makers in the protected States, by supplying anadmittedly superior article. I could multiply similar instances. Honorable members connected with the farming industry know all about Shearer’s plough-shares, because they have been used all over the Commonwealth. With protection, not one shilling need be lost by any manufacturing, industry.
– Money must be lost before any business can be established on sound lines.
– We have heard a great deal about natural protection, but what natural protection does the manufacturer of wire-netting enjoy, seeing that he has to import the wire, which is his raw material, and that the freight on it is almost the same as the freight on wire-netting? The other day a gentleman well known to every honorable member bought in Melbourne a piano, which he wished to send to Sydney. He was told that to send it by sea ‘in the cheapest way would cost from 15s. to 17s. 6d., but that pianos were brought from Germany for 10s. Yet, in face of facts like this, honorable members talk about natural protection !
– We have been discussing this matter now for two davs.
– I have not spoken before, and I am speaking now in order to save time. My object is to stiffen the backs of the Ministry and of those in the protectionist corner. The Minister allowed a day to be wasted in the discussion of a motion changing the position of this item, and yesterday and to-day have been taken up in discussing the proposed duties, so that it is time to express our opinions on the manner in which business is being conducted. When honorable members find that their constituents are surprised at the way in which they are treating their election pledges, we may perhaps make better progress.
– There are many, exemptions on the Tariff.
– I do not object to them.
– Wire-netting was admitted free under the old Tariff.
– The right honorable member is a splendid protectionist ! It is remarkable how many protectionists wish to allow free importations. Had the recommendations of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission been accepted, almost every import would be dutiable.
– That is not so.
– There would have been a great many exemptions.
– The free-trade section recommended the imposition of duties on 150 items which formerly were free.
– Yes, and I believe that if its recommendations were adopted more revenue would be raised than by the proposed Tariff.
– With much less hardship.
– I do not wish to occupy time unduly, but I am surprised that honorable members who professed tohold the same views as I do are not prepared to assist the Government in protecting industries.
– We are not all prohibitionists.
– The honorable member lias not learned the rudiments of protection. I shall vote for the highest duty on wire-netting I can obtain, and I hope that, in regard to other items, honorable members will keep their election pledges, and try to give effect to the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission.
– I thought that honorable members wished to expedite the consideration of this proposal.
– We are anxious to deal with it, but two or three vigorous attacks have been mia.de on. the members of the Opposition corner party, and I desire to reply to them.
– The honorable member never professed much protection, so that they did not apply to him.
– I declared myself to be a moderate protectionist.
– A very moderate protectionist.
– I deny the honorable member’s right to say what the extent of the protection I favour should be. The Government originally proposed duties of 25 per cent, and 30 per cent, on wire-netting, and although they have accused honorable members of the Opposition corner who favour lower rates of having lent an attentive ear to a merely “hysterical cry, we find that without any pressure on the part of the Committee generally, they have deserted their original proposition, and now propose duties of 15 per cent, and 10 per cent.’ Many honorable ‘ members have urged that the duty should be reduced to 5 per cent, in the case of British imports, and to 10 per cent, as against foreign imports. That is the proposition which I intend to support. Honorable members of the Opposition corner have been impeached for inconsistency. I am going to plead guilty. No individual who has lived for twenty-five years is able to say that he has never been guilty of fnconsistency.
– The honorable member is starting early with an experience as a politician of only something like twenty-five weeks.
– Honorable members of the Labour Party are ever ready to hurl accusations against honorable members of the Opposition corner, and the honorable member for Cook particularly made an attack upon us on the ground that we lacked consistency. He was particularly strong in his condemnation of those who are really loyal to the principles of protection. Since he spoke I have had an opportunity of looking through the files of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and I find that in a letter written bv him to Mr. Carruthers on 22nd April, 1903, and published in the Daily Telegraph of 23rd November, 1906, the honorable member wrote -
I am desirous of assisting in any way I can the liberal element in politics. I have always been an out-and-out free-trader.
– He was then- very young.
– The honorable member for Cook wrote a second letter to Mr. Carruthers on 29th April, 1903, in which he said -
The main thing is to organize before the Labour Party.
The honorable member, who spoke of the inconsistency of others, was at that time standing shoulder to shoulder with Mr. Carruthers; yet a few weeks ago he proceeded to New . South Wales for the express purpose of fighting against the Carruthers Government. So much for the consistency ‘ of an honorable member who attacks others for their lack of it. Although he is now a pledged member of the Labour socialistic party, he wrote to Mr. Carruthers in the terms I have just indicated. Whilst I have pleaded guilty to inconsistency, I have the right to plead absolute justification for the attitude I take up in regard to this item. If I were the staunchest protectionist in this Parliament I should still consider that I was justified in abrogating the principles of protection in relation to the duty on wire-netting, having regard to its important bearing on our producing interests, and to the mighty financial, propositions which are involved in the production of wool, wheat, and butter. In the interests of those great and important industries upon which the welfare of Australia depends, I feel that I am justified in the course that I have taken up. I am prepared to support the Government generally in respect of a policy of moderate, reasonable, and sensible protection, but I am not prepared to penalize the whole of Australia, and to make our producers pay> so to speak, “through the nose,” for’ commodities with which we ought to supply them as cheaply as we can. P resent the attack that has been made upon the honorable members of the Opposition Gomer. The peculiar circumstances and conditions of the case absolutely require that on the present occasion we should rise superior to party politics and give a vote, in the interests of the producers as well as in the interests of the commercial prosperity of this great Commonwealth.
.- I should! like to reply briefly to the remarks just’ made by the honorable member for Echuca.. The honorable member for Lang would have acted wisely had he done His own dirty work instead of delegating it to another. I saw him call up the honorable member for Echuca, and I think that he might very well have dealt with the letters to which reference has been made.
– The information I have given to the Committee in regard to the honorable member for Cook was obtained by myself.
– This is not the first occasion on which the contents of the two letters in question have been thrown at me. I may say at once that some years ago Mr. Carruthers wrote to me and that I replied to him under the seal of confidence. Subsequently, I was asked to permit my replies to be published, but I refused to do so. Notwithstanding- my refusal, these letters were published for political purposes. They were written some years ago. The Labour Party in New South Wales for some years had followed the present leader of the Opposition, and this had induced the young labourites to follow free-trade labour men. Since they had supported the right honorable gentleman in p’olitics for some time it was difficult when the rupture took place to wean them. There was a special reason for the letters which I wrote to Mr. Carruthers. At the time in question, in the district from which I came, some labour members were making speeches in regard to the Boer war-
– Does the honorable member think that matter has anything to do with the question before the Chair?
– I merely wish to say, sir, that the reason why I nearly broke off my connexion with the labour movement was that several of the party at the time in question took up in regard to the Boer war an attitude to which I absolutely objected, and some correspondence with Mr. Carruthers took place in respect of it. The publication of private letters written by me to Mr. Carruthers was a breach of confidence. Every one knows that in a private letter one often expresses opinions to which one would not give utterance in a ‘public statement.
– The speech delivered about half-an-hour ago by the honorable member for Angas, who was emulated by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, will make it clear to the Committee that .we are upon the eve of drifting into a wide discussion upon the broad principle of preference. I do not think it desirable at present for the House to deal with that question. So far the discussion has been devoted almost exclusively to that of whether any duty should be imposed upon wire-netting, and, if so, as to what should be the rate. The question of preference has really not been considered except in so far as it has been incidentally involved in a variety of statements as to what duties should be imposed upon this particular commodity. I want, in the first place, to comment upon the absolutely drifting conduct of the Government with respect to the Tariff. The Ministerial policy was announced in a cockadoodledoo speech, delivered at Wagga by the Treasurer. It was said to be one from which the Government were never going to depart. The honorable gentleman on that occasion threw down the controversial glove, and practically told the people of Australia that the Tariff must be passed as introduced. We now find, however, in accordance with the habit of the Government, that as soon as the Labour Party display a desire or indicate an intention in the direction of modifying the Tariff the Ministry, like the American bear, immediately come down. The absolute want of resolution on the part of the Government in dealing with the Tariff is illustrated by the fact that thev suddenly depart from a proposal to impose 25 per cent, and 30 per cent, duties to a proposition that the duties should be only to per cent, and 15 per cent, respectively. I wish the Committee to see what the effect of that drop is. upon the preferential percentage. Every one knows that preference is represented by the concession which is offered to what are called, diplomatically, the “ most favoured nations.” The normal duty is the higher one, and th<> lower duty is that which involves the concession to those particular nations upon which it is desired to confer an advantage over other nations.
– It is generally accompanied by reciprocity.
– That is not the aspect which I am discussing. The duties originally proposed by the Government in respect of wire-netting were 25 per cent, upon imports of British manufacture, and 30 per cent, upon those of foreign manufacture. If honorable members will take the trouble to calculate what the preference was intended to be upon those duties, they will find that it was proposed to drop the duty, so far as the mother country was concerned, from 30 to 25 per cent. That was a preference, roughly speaking, of 16” ner cent, of the duty. But when the Labour Party intimated - I will not say “ intimated,” because its members had merely to suggest th?* there was a “ rift in the lute,” in order to induce the Government to at once change its attitude-
– The honorable member knows that that is not so, because the members of the Labour Party have a free hand upon fiscal matters.
– The statement of the honorable member is quite compatible with what I am saying. The Government were under the impression that the Labour Party would support their prosposals, but when the honorable member for Maranoa, in a perfectly straightforward way, informed the Committee that he intended to support the proposal to place wire-netting upon the free list, it was a sufficient intimation to the Government that they must devise some compromise in order to make their party a compact one. I have shown the Committee that, under the original proposals of the Government, the preference to the mother, country amounted to 16 per cent, of the duty as compared with the Canadian preference of 33.1/3 per cent. Now as soon as the Government altered those proposals by substituting a duty of 10 per cent, upon wire-netting of British manufacture, and of 15 per cent, upon netting of foreign origin, the preference to the mother country became increased to 33 per cent. The normal duty in that case is 15 per cent, and they proposed to lew a duty of only 10 per cent, upon imports from the mother country, thus offering the latter the preference of 33 per cent. A great many members have intimated that they favour placing the item upon the free list, but a still larger number are apparently prepared to levy a duty of 10 per cent, under the general Tariff, and of 5 per cent, .upon imports from Great Britain. What does that mean from the stand-point of preference? If the normal duty is to be 10 per cent., whilst the duty upon the imports from the mother country is to be only 5 per cent., it means we are going to offer the latter a preference of 50 per cent. So that the Committee are hanging in the balance between extending to Great Britain a pre’ference of 16 per cent., .of 33 per cent., and of 50 per cent. The moral that I draw from this is that the opinion of honorable members has begun to crystallize so far as the rate of duty is concerned, but is in a state of flux so far as the measure of preference is concerned.
– Bump out the preference altogether.
– I cannot say that I favour that.
– Is the honorable member complaining of the higher preference?
– No. I am merely pointing out that it is embarrassing to discuss the question of preference at the same time that we are discussing the question of the duty to be imposed under the general Tariff. The two subjects involve such a number of contradictions that we ought not to consider them simultaneously. I therefore venture to suggest that we should put on one side this question of preference at the present time, and deal only with that of general duties. So long as we proceed with the discussion of the Tariff upon the double-column principle, the question of preference will be open to debate upon each item. If, on- the other hand, we can devise some means - and I think that we can - by which the preference column may be temporarily set aside, we shall be able to discuss more satisfactorily the question of duty ; the Chairman would be able to restrict honorable members to that, and we should then be in a position to consider the preference proposals of the Government at a later period, having regard to the. duties upon which we had decided. I do not intend to debate the item of wire-netting, but I claim to be acting quite independently in this matter. The only industry connected with the manufacture of wire-netting is situated in my own constituency, but I am nevertheless prepared to vote in favour of placing that material upon the free list. In support of my statement that I am not immediately interested in the other aspect of this question - the destruction of the rabbits - I may mention that there is not a station or rabbit-affected farm within fifty miles of my constituency. But I recognise that we are dealing with a pest which - a» was pointed out by the leader of the Opposition - has become a veritable scourge in this country. If we reflect for a moment upon the manner in which the States Parliaments have hitherto dealt with other menaces of a different character, we shall recognise at once the propriety of giving this particular industry the maximumfiscal help within our power. When such scourges as plague and small-pox have been introduced into the community, the Government have not called upon any section of it to get rid of them, but the whole of the expense in that connexion has been borne by the State. If we adopted a similar course in the present instance, we should not only place wire-netting upon the free list, but we should supply it free of cost to the farmers and squatters, who are fighting the rabbit plague. That being the case, I claim that we are doing no more than is reasonable when we say to the pastoralists and farmers, “ We throw upon VOL the obligation to get rid of this pest, but we shall do all in our power to assist you by declining to place any embargo upon the importation of the means whereby you may effect your purpose.” I understand that it is the general feeling of the Committee that some steps should be taken by the Government to remove the column relating to preference from the Tariff during, the long discussion - which will probably extend over several months - upon which we are about to enter. I did intend io say something on the question of preference, but I am quite sure that it will come up again. If no action is taken by the Government in the direction I hive suggested, we shall be at liberty to discuss that question upon every item of the Tariff, and I shall avail myself of another opportunity to do so. If we impose a duty of 5 per cent, upon wire-netting of British manufacture, and of 10 per cent, upon netting of foreign origin, we shall be granting to the mother country a preference of 50 per cent. If, on the other hand, we impose duties of 10 and 15 per cent, respectively, we shall be extending to the imports of the United Kingdom a preference of 33 per cent. In choosing between these duties, we shall be : completely subordinating the question of preference to that of the duty which should be imposed, thus showing that we really have not the question of preference clearly before us. Under all these circumstances, it is desirable that the preference proposals of the Government should be set aside - at least for the present.
.- In the’ first place, I want to inform the honorable member for Parkes that no member of the Government or of the Labour Party has attempted to influence my vote, either for or against any duty in the Tariff.
– By way of personal explanation, I may be permitted to say that I did not intend to cast any aspersion upon members of the Labour Party, or to suggest that they have been dictated- to in any way. What I say is that the Government waited until they saw the result of the freedom of action on the part of members of the Labour Party upon the fiscal question, and then immediately climbed down and took up a so-called conciliatory attitude upon this item.
– I am afraid that the honorable member for Parkes does not give the Government credit for much sense.
– I do not ; the honorable member knows that.
– The Government must have known the fiscal opinions of every member of the Labour Party, if only from their utterances during the late election. I feel sure that the honorable member for Parkes, when he scanned the list of returned members, knew very well what fiscal opinions they entertained.
– I am sure I did not.
– I am sure the honorable member knew whether I, for instance, was a free-trader or a protectionist:
– I was too busy to think of the honorable member.
– I do not desire the honorable member to think of me; and I can only say that, so far as I am concerned, I naturally scanned the list of returned members, and knew fairly, well what the ifiscal opinions of each man were. It is not the fiscal division in the ranks of the Labour Party that concerns honorable members of the Opposition; the whole trouble is the attitude of the “push” in the Opposition corner. It amused me very much to hear the honorable member for Echuca plead guilty to a charge of inconsistency, and, a few moments later, declare that he always believed in straight dealing. I, too, am a. believer in straight dealing, even in politics ; I call a spade a spade, and not a scientific instrument for removing soil. The honorable member for Cook, after he has had the experience that some of us have had, will not be much concerned about inconsistency in politics, because it” is inconsistency that makes politicians. The Melbourne Argus, of 9th October, contains an article which, in my opinion, expresses all that any honorable member could desire to say on the subject of the proposed duty on wire-netting. In the first place, that article takes manufacturers of wire-netting to task for not taking the opportunity to lay their case before the Tariff Commission. We have it on the authority of the honorable member for Illawarra that the Commission asked again and again that some witness might be sent to give some information regarding the industry ; and the only response that the manufacturers made to that invitation was to send one of their employes, who contended that a duty ought to be imposed, because the industry employed eighty trade unionists. If we are to impose a protective duty in the case of every industry which employs eighty trade unionists, I should say, with the honorable member for Darling, that it would be much better to pension the employés. It is not just, in my opinion, to tax every individual in the community for the sake of providing eighty trade unionists with employment. In my constituency everything we eat, drink, wear, or use is imported, there being no manufactures of any kind. In that part of the Commonwealth, however, there are carried on the two great staple industries of woolgrowing and cattle breeding, which form the backbone of our industrial pursuits. Many representatives of metropolitan constituencies are under the impression that those interested in the industries I have men tioned are not worthy of any consideration, but are, rather, to foe regarded as something in the nature of fiends in disguise. I may’ say that there are now no strained relations between the pastoralists and their employes in the ‘ Western districts of Queensland. The work is being carried on amicably ; and the only desire of those engaged, whether as employes or employers, is to be left alone. They desire no protection, but merely to be permitted to carry on their work without interference. There is no doubt that the rabbit . pest is a national disaster. Every sheep, horse, or beast is an asset of the Commonwealth, and the periodical droughts which afflict the country occasion, not only individual loss, but suffering to the community as a whole. Instead of imposing a duty on wire-netting, and thus increasing the burdens of the pioneers of the western country, we ought to give them a bonus on every . mile of wirenetting which they erect. I should like to read the following letter which I have received : -
Brisbane, 3rd October, 1907
Hon. James Page, M.P.,
Recently we sent you a circular containing resolutions adopted by the Annual Council Meeting of the above association, and copy of which I now enclose.
Since that date we have received replies from the following agricultural societies approving of the resolutions, and also asking that galvanized iron should be included, as it is pointed out that this is a very largely used item among the farming community in our country districts, especially where timber is difficult to obtain : -
Lower Burdekin Farmers’ Association,
Charters Towers Chamber of Commerce and Mines,
Wellington Point Agricultural Association,-
Harrisville Farmers’ Progress Association,
Zillmere Horticultural Society,
Nontville Fruit-growers’ Association,
Hodgson and Dargill Creek Farmers’ Association,
Barron Valley Agricultural, Pastoral, and Industrial Association,
Queensland Pastoral and Agricultural Society (Ipswich),
Ipswich Agricultural and Horticultural Association,
Maroochy Pastoral, Agricultural, and Horticultural Society,
Central Downs Agricultural and Horticultural Society,
Bowen Pastoral and Horticultural Society,
Mungindi Farmers’ Association,
Currajong and Gin Gin Agricultural and Pastoral Society,
Dallarnil. Farmers’ and Dairymen’s Progress Association,
Woondum and Brisbane Rd. Farmers’ Progress Association,
Gooburrum Farmers’ and Cane-growers’ Association.
I trust, therefore, that you will give your influence and support against any increase in the Customs Tariff on these items.
I am, dear Sir,
Your obedient servant,
The people in the western districts of Queensland merely ask that no duties shall be imposed on wire-netting, wire, agricultural implements and machinery, or galvanized iron.
– Some of them are; but I do not think the honorable member can describe my constituency as coastal, seeing that it extends as far as 600 miles inland. But, even if these are coastal associations, are they not worthy of some consideration ? I also desireto read the resolutions arrived at by the United Pastoralists Association of Queensland, as follows : -
Brisbane, 16th August, 1907.
Proposed Customs Tariff.
I have the honour by direction of the Council of the above association to forward you the following resolution as adopted by the Council at its annual meeting held on the9th instant and following days : -
That this Council desires to enter its strong protest against the imposition of the proposed increased Customs duties on fencing wire, wire-netting, and agricultural machinery as being unjust to the interests of the pastoral and agricultural industries of the Commonwealth, because,
Trusting to receive your influence and support in the prevention of any increase of the CustomsTariff on the articles above mentioned.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
I think that is one of the most reasonable requests I have received during the whole of my parliamentary career. The Treasurer has told us that he was once a pastoralist himself; and I ask him whether, because he has become a brokendownsquatter, he desires to bring down every other squatter with him? That would seem to be what the honorable gentleman is aiming at, nothing more or less. I may say that the Mr. Jowett whom the Treasurer said he met in the train from Sydney to Melbourne, on Tuesday last, is a very strong free-trader, and in that interview he did not sail under any false colours. When I introduced Mr. Jowett -to the Treasurer, the very first words’ which the former said were, “I am pleased to meet you. but I am against you in politics, because I am a strong free-trader.” As honorable members may imagine, the two gentlemen, from that very moment, -got into “ holts,”’ and Mr. Jowett proved a foeman worthy of the Treasurer’s steel. Mr. Jowett, when* the Tariff Commission was in Brisbane, gave evidence on the item of wire-netting, and . he was the only witness who did so.. Mr. Jowett owns several stations, and is a man of wide experience; and I am surehis evidence may be relied on, because it has not been questioned by any one so far. He gives a plain unvarnished statement of the facts in relation to wire-netting ; and if honorable members read his evidence, I feel sure there are few who will not see the necessity* for placing this commodity on- the free list. My desire is to have both. wire-netting and wire free; and I do not see on what the Government have based their proposal for a duty. When the Tariff Commission was sitting in Sydney, the members of the firm of Lysaght Brothers did not see fit to give evidence before it. As the honorable member for East Sydney has told us, its business has thriven under free-trade.
– That statement is not correct.
– The Queensland Government offered to take every ounce of netting that the firm could make.
– The company is £100,000 worse off now than it was at the beginning.
– I do not believe that. If that is so, why did not some member of the firm go before the Tariff Commission and ask for a higher duty ?
– If the company has got at the banks, to the tune of £100,000, I say good luck to it. I am sure that the honorable member would not be allowed to do so. My experience of banks is that they always put on the screw unless they have a pretty good thing. I should like to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs on- what basis the duty was fixed at 30 per cent. ?
– We have been told that it was fixed because of an ex parte statement of the managing director of the company.
– If I did not know the Treasurer so well, I should think that he was interested in this concern. From a business point of view, this is one of the fishiest proposals in the Tariff, though I make no imputation againt the honorable gentleman. If the Committee will not agree to admit wire-netting duty free, I shall vote for a duty of 10 per cent, against the foreigner and 5 per cent, against Great Britain. I am not a “ shandygaff “ pref erentialist ; I believe in giving the old country a substantial preference. I may be told that I am an Imperialist. If to love the country which gave one birth and infant nurture is to be an Imperialist, I plead guilty to the soft impeachment. But if we are to give preference, let it be worthy of the name. I am not in favour of” a nominal preference. In my opinion, we should give the old country preference, not on one,but on every item. If, as the Prime Minister has told us, it is his ambition to give a practical preference to the old country, his policy will not have a stronger supporter than. I shall be.
.- As I am on the unpopular side regarding preference, I wish to state my position as briefly as possible. It is a good thing to cherish sentiments regarding the great mother country whence we came, whose prosperity, we hope, will be immortal. But often, as a great writer has stated, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. The honorable member for Maranoa has well said that he thinks of the mother country as of his own family, that she is entitled to every consideration, and that he would stand by and support her to the last. I hope that we are all with him there. But when we come to deal with business matters, we change our ground. If the honorable member had five brothers, and the halfdozen agreed among themselves, supposing ‘ they were all in business, to buy exclusively from each other such commodities as one might require and another sell, while the agreement might evidence great’ harmony, there would be, before twelve months were over, a row such as is rarely heard. Family quarrels are most dangerous, difficult, and severe, and it is hard to avoid them.
– When there is bargaining between the members of the family.
– What is proposed?
– Nothing. The Government has made a mere profession of its desire- for preference.
– No one knows better than does the honorable member for North Sydney that Great Britain is not a mendicant, that not a public man, or any one in an official position there, has held out the hat to the Colonies. She neither requires nor desires special treatment. Yet a young country like Australia, which needs every penny *of revenue which it can obtain for the development of its resources, is making a parade of handing a million of money to the manufacturers of Great Britain.
– It is not proposed to do that.
– More revenue will be obtained from the lower than trom the higher rates of duty.
– Not when the rates are as low as 5 and 10 per cent.
– Not when both rates are so low as that.
– Would the honorable member justify the imposition of higher rates merely to give preference ? Is it proposed to impose rates high enough to keep out British goods, and then to increase them by 5 or 10 per cent, in respect to foreign goods?
– That is the proposal of the Ministry.
– The Government seem to be following the Opposition policy. because I understand that the Oppositionists are all preferentialist. The honorable member for Parkes has coupled the most favoured nation provisions of treaties with preference. There is some reason for negotiations for reciprocity between nations producing different commodities, and treaties securing it can exist without creating jars or disturbances. But what we desire is not reciprocity. Other British communities are nearer to us in respect to policy and conditions; than is Great Britain.
– The stand-point from which preference is considered is not that from which reciprocity between two foreign countries is considered.
– The stand-point is much the same. Why did Ministers, when in Great Britain, advocate reciprocity?
– They tried to bargain.
– Was it not their idea that preference should be a reciprocal arrangement? If the statements published in the leading newspapers are to be accepted, they expressed a desire for reciprocity, nothing more nor less.
– We do not subscribe to their views.
– The Government represent Australia.
– Not on this point.
Mi. FISHER. - I have no sympathy with those who say that the Prime Minister when in London did not represent Australia. He represented it well, and I doubt if any other public man in the Commonwealth could have done better. If I had to make a choice, I would rather have him -than any one else representing the Commonwealth on any great question. I do not agree with everything that a leader may say ; but when I differ from him, I have the courage to state my views in a modest way, and to support the principles in which I believe.
– Although the honorable member is talking like this, he has a chain round his leg.
– Does not the honorable member think that the question of preference should be postponed until the Tariff has been dealt with?
– Yes. Preference has nothing to do with a protectionist Tariff, although it might have to do with a revenue Tariff. It should be put on ohe side now, and we should subsequently discuss it absolutely and freely. The chief protectionist organ in Australia, . the Melbourne Age, expressed that view six months ago, and again a month since. It said that preferential, trade should be kept separate from the real Tariff issue. The object of protective duties is to temporarily increase the price of goods, to encourage their local production or manufacture, with a view to the ultimate reduction of prices to even lower rates. Both protection and free-trade are logical policies, but protection could not be effective if the duties that were imposed kept out foreign goods only, allowing British goods to be imported. Another thing to be remembered is this : It is to be presumed that the desire of preferentialists is to assist British manufacturers.
– Hear, hear.
– As against foreigners.
– What about the Australian manufacturers ?
– It is a sensible and patriotic thing to wish .to help British manufacturers. But how much of the goods manufactured in and exported from Great Britain are made entirely from British products? Not a large proportion.
– Still, the workmanship is British.
-Many things are brought to Great Britain in a partly manufactured state.
– More power to “Great Britain. She is a very small country, and if she did not manufacture as she does, she would be insignificant.
– Great Britain has bought steel from the Germans to build ships, and to make cutlery and machinery. Is it intended to give preference to such goods ?
– What is wrong in that?
– Surely it is legitimate business.
– There is nothing wrong in that, but on what goods is preference to be given? If unpolished cutlery were brought from Belgium, and polished in
Great Britain, and the polisher’s name stamped on it, would preference be given to it?
– The Board of Trade has stopped such practices.
– The British Government would hesitate about placing Excise officers in every factory in the United Kingdom to see that our preferential provisions were not being evaded. The Treasurer desires to assist British manufacturers. With what view ? I suppose with a view to increasing the population of Great Britain bv providing more work for its operatives. But the leading statesmen, and nearly all v the leading land-owners, of the country desire to get rid of a large part of its population. Some of them go so far as to say that they would chase away surplus population. They favour an emigration policy, yet we say, in effect, “ We will offer you £1,000,000 to increase your commerce so that you may obtain more population from the rest of the world, and you can then send your goods here in spite of competition on the part of other countries.”
– They did not chase the honorable member out of the old country.
– No. I left of my own free will. If there had been in power in Australia thirty years ago a Government that was prepared to grant preference to the old country, I might not have left it. I should have been able to depend on the benevolent desire of the Government of Australia to supply me with the necessary funds to enable me to live in my own land. I agree with the Treasurer that there has been a display of something approaching hysteria in the discussion of this question. Undoubtedly, the wire-netting industry has been established in the Commonwealth, and I hope that whatever we may do as a Parliament it will continue. I hope, further, that all the essentials to the making of wirenetting and every other iron commodity will, as soon as possible, be produced in Australia. I would wipe out the preference altogether, and support on this item an allround duty of 10 per cent. That, I think, would be a fair and reasonable impost. The burdens of taxation must be fair, and honorable members who are opposed to the Government .proposal should be prepared to support even a higher duty than 1.0 per cent. Even the honorable member for Parkes,- strong freetrader as he is, stated just before the first Federal election campaign, that he thought a 15 per cent. Tariff would be a fair and reasonable one for the Commonwealth.
– I said that it would be a fair compromise between the Tariffs of New South Wales and Victoria.
– If, at that time, a 15 per cent.. Tariff, in the opinion of the honorable member, was a fair and reasonable compromise, it should be a fair one to-day. An industry which is already partly established, and is making progress, should be entitled at least to a duty of 50 per cent, less than that originally proposed by the honorable member. I have nothing to say about honorable members in the Opposition corner, save that their position is very serious in view of the statements which have been read regarding the policy publicly supported by them when they were before the electors. That is the time when a man should declare his policy.
– Surely not in regard to every item iri a Tariff.
– I never indulge in .personalities, but, speaking generally, honorable members should be governed as far as possible by the pledges they give to the electors. I stated plainly at the last general election that, whilst it was absolutely . necessary that we should have, in the earlier stages of Australian history, a largely revenue Tariff, I thought the time must come when Australia would be compelled to secure the development of industries necessary and essential to her position as a great and prosperous nation.
.- 1 am now in a position to give the Committee some information which I think will refute a number of grossly inaccurate statements which have been made in regard to the relative prices of the wirenetting manufactured by Lysaght Bros, and of that which is imported. I have -received from Sydney a certificate by an executive member of the Sydney Tender Board, who dealt with the tenders which were invited by the Government of New South Wales for the supply of 4,000 miles of wirenetting. That wire-netting was required, not for the large pastoralists of New South Wales, but for the farmers and selectors. I think honorable members will recognise that the Sydney factory, having regard to the extent of the order for which tenders were invited, would put down its price as low as it reasonably could. It would do so for the sake of securing not merely a big order but the prestige of a Government contract, which would certainly be very great. The secretary of the Tender Board has reduced the tenders for the wire-netting to exactly’ the same basis in each case. That is to say, he has supplied the cost of the imported wire-netting plus the cost of delivering it in trucks at the Darling Harbor railway station. We are thus able to make an equal comparison between the cost of the imported wire-netting in the trucks at Darling Harbor and that at which Messrs. Lysaght Bros, tendered to supply in trucks at the same place. Tenders were called for two lines, the one being for 42 x1¼ x 18 and the other for 36 x1¼ x 18. Four British tenders were received in addition to one by Lysaght Bros. The accepted tender for 42-inch wire-netting delivered in the trucks at Darling Harbor works out at £2511s. per mile, whilst Lysaght Bros.’ tender works out at £31, a difference of £5 9s. per mile.
– What was the highest tender ?
– What has that to do with the accepted tender?
– It is an important consideration when we are making a comparison of prices.
– If a lot of tenders were averaged it might make a difference, but when a distinct tender is accepted the question raised by the honorable member is unimportant. In the case of the 36-in. wirenetting the difference between the accepted British tender and that of Lysaght Brothers was not so great. The accepted tender was at the rate of £22 3s. per mile delivered in trucks at Darling Harbor railway station, whereas Lysaght Brothers’ tender was £26 10s., or a difference of £4 7s. per mile.
– What was the difference in quality?
– We may assume that the Government of New South Wales would impose proper business conditions in order to insure the supply of wire-netting of a satisfactory quality.
– That is not always done.
– We have to remember that these tenders were invited long before there was any question of trying to persuade this Parliament to do all sorts of wonderful things. When a Tariff is under consideration men make the most marvellous offers ns to what they will do if they get what they want. But these tenders were invited before there was any disturbance in regard to the old Tariff. Wire-netting was then on the free list. If Lysaght Brothers are able to turn . out 300 miles of wire-netting per week, a difference of £5 per ton on that output would represent £1,500, or more than double the whole of the wages paid in that factory during that time. We are told that £700 per week is paid by way of wages by this firm, and a difference of £5 per ton per mile on the weekly output of 300 miles is not only greater than the difference between the rates of wages prevailing in the old country and Australia, but represents double the total wages paid. I do not think that in a matter of this sort honorable members are prepared to go so far. ,
– Would the right honorable gentleman give the name of the successful tenderer?
– The successful contractors were Messrs. Barnard, Bishop, and Barnard, whilst the other tenderers were Messrs. Boulton and Paul, J. Lysaght Limited, Rylands Bros. Limited, and Johnson, Clapham, and Morris.
– Are all the prices mentioned ?
– I have only the prices of the successful tenderer.
– Possibly the successful tenderer quoted a dumping price.
– Lysaght Brothers had also an opportunity to quote a dumping price j but I do not want to try to untwist the honorable member’s bias. There has been an attempt to twit honorable members in the Opposition corner regarding their attitude on this item. Is there a more redoubtable protectionist than is- the honorable member for Riverina? And yet we find on the business-paper a notice of motion in his name that wire-netting shall be free for two years. That redoubtable protectionist, sitting immediatelv behind the redoubtable Treasurer, has given notice of his intention to move -
That in the opinion of this House the proposed duty on rabbit-proof wire-netting should be deferred for a period of twoyears from date.
That is a rabid free-trade suggestion,
– Will the right honorable gentleman read the rest of the motion ?
– I intend to do so. Here is the wonderful substitute for a duty which the honorable member proposes -
That up to that period a bonus of 12s. 6d. per ton be paid to the manufacturer within the Commonwealth upon each ton of rabbit-proof netting so manufactured.
That would be about 2½ per cent. - a wonderful bounty for a great Australian, industry.
– The honorable member must not anticipate a discussion on a motion of which notice has been given.
– I do not intend to do so. The honorable member proposes that a bonus of 12s. 6d. shall be paid upon each ton of rabbit-proof fencing manufactured within the Commonwealth. If this netting is sold at £25 per ton, that would represent <5d. in the £1. This marvellous, straightout protectionist suggests that miserable, contemptible, free-trade method of dealing with the industry. Last night the Treasurer rather took my breath away when he declared that provision for granting a rebate upon machinery used in woollen mills was contained in the previous Tariff.
– So it was.
– I propose to show where it was buried in the previous Tariff. What I said was that in the present Tariff there was a schedule rebating trie whole of the duty paid upon this machinery. The Treasurer led us to believe that the same method .was adopted in connexion with the last Tariff. But I would point out that that Tariff contained no schedule whatever with this provision. It was a straight-out exemption. There was no paying thirty sovereigns at the front door, and then going round to the back door and receiving them back. Other machines, such as printing and wool- washing machines, were admitted free of duty. But, under the present Tariff, they are dutiable at 2^5 per cent. The only item included in this special schedule is that of woollen and hat-making machinery. I was naturally surprised at the statement of the Treasurer, and I propose to show the Committee how the item was buried in the Tariff. Only an expert could find it. It was placed under the list of exemptions, and reads -
Machinery for scouring, washing, carding, weaving, and finishing the manufacture of fibrous materials.
Who but a sub-collector of Customs would know what Was hidden beneath that? But, nevertheless, that is the form in which the provision appeared in the previous Tariff as a straight-out exemption. With reference to the speech of the Treasurer last evening, I merely wish to say that to those of us who hail from New South Wales his methods are familiar. But his style is extremely interesting. He is aware that a large number of honorable members hold strong opinions upon the question of land -taxation, and therefore, in his remarks, he immediately associated the rabbit pest with unduly large land holdings. We call him the Acting Prime Minister, and there is no doubt that he. is acting all the time. If he believes that the imposition of a progressive land tax will remove this gigantic curse from Australia, why has he not’ the pluck to propose it? He also spoke of “ German rubbish.” That is another of his inflammatory phrases. Of course, we have not the same feeling for Germany that we entertain for the mother country, but from all that I hear, the Germans aire about as scientific and thorough in their _work as is any nation in the world. Certainly they take an awful lot of our “ rubbish.”
– Does the honorable member call our wool “ rubbish “ ?
– No. I am merely employing the sort of language which is fashionable with the Treasurer. All these considerations, however, are beside the question of whether the duty’ upon wire-netting ought to be 5 per cent., 10 per cent., or 15 per cent. They have no more to do with that question than the Treasurer has to do with the principles of logic. Then the honorable member .for West Sydney made statements in reference to myself which, if true, would fill me with remorse. He said that if, at the. last election, I had only come out honestly and straightforwardly with the free-trade banner,- there would have been no wire-netting duty proposed to-day.
– The honorable member never gave the matter a single thought.
– The honorable member has a singular facility for making statements which are the reverse of accurate. He also declared that I had advocated a progressive land tax. He knows that that statement is obviously untrue. .
– I never made it. I said that the honorable member had advocated a land tax.
– Who wants to be told that? Surely the honorable member sees a distinction between the position of honorable members in a State Parliament, which has the land under its control, and their position in the Federal Parliament? There is all the distinction in the world between the two things.
– Because one is feasible and the other is not.
– In the days when the land tax was imposed in New South Wales this was the position of that State: With her 308,000 square miles of territory she had only 2, 000 square miles under local government. AH the roads, bridges, and conveniences of government outside of mat small area were paid for out ot the public Treasury. That, in itself, was one of the strongest justifications for the imposition of a land tax. I have never felt at all ashamed of my connexion with that tax, and I may mention that I received the greatest assistance from the New South Wales Labour Party in carrying it. I do not forget the help which the honorable member for West Sydney himself gave me in those years when I was Premier of that State. When any man is Prime Minister, nothing can exceed the devotion and respect which the honorable member shows him. But when one ceases to be Prime Minister, nothing can exceed the devotion which he shows to one’s successor. I know that if, in the course of time, I should rise to the top again, I shall receive the same touching devotion and affection from the honorable member that he has showed me in the past. The honorable member who endeavours to reproach me with being untrue to the cause of freetrade ought to recollect that during my twenty years of fighting for that cause - although he was only too glad to come to me and get my indorsement of him as a free-trader- - he never once stood upon a public platform by .my side and endeavoured to strengthen my hands in that fight. Yet he took all the assistance that he could get from us by being announced in the newspapers as one of our candidates. What has he done recently ? He has been going round New South Wales endeavouring to get protectionists instead of free-traders returned.
– That is absolutely untrue. I endeavoured to get Labour candidates returned in preference to antiSocialists, and I. always will.
– Why cannot the honorable member treat me with equal fairness? Why cannot he recognise in me the same straightforward motive which possessed him? He thought that the cause of Socialism rose above the fiscal question, and because of that he endeavoured to secure the return of protectionists who believed in Socialism. I suppose that the honorable member for Dalley is one of the most radical politicians in Australia. But the honorable member for West Sydney visited Balmain and attempted to overthrow him.
– That is absolutely untrue, and . the honorable member is at liberty to ask the honorable member for Dalley whether this is not so. But the honorable member for East Sydney came over to my constituency.
– The honorable member for West Sydney never spoke in the Dalley electorate during the progress of the’ Federal campaign, But he took part in the New South Wales State elections.
– As a matter of fact, I have never spoken in the Dalley electorate during the whole period that the honorable member for Dalley has been a member of this Parliament.
– Order ! I must ask honorable members to cease these continual interjections.
– The honorable member for West Sydney has spoken in the Dalley electorate, but not when a Federal electioncampaign was in progress.
– I. understood from the honorable member for Dalley last night that the honorable member for West Sydney had spoken in the Dalley electorate during the course of the recent campaign.
– Did the honorable member ever visit that electorate in order to help the honorable member for Dalley?
– The honorable member for Dalley knows that he has only to ask me to go a thousand miles to help him, and that I would go.
– The honorable member for Dalley likes to help himself.
– I- believe that this question of anti-Socialism transcends in importance all other questions. It is this very tie of Socialism which has united the honorable member for West Sydney with protectionists, during the past few years. During the past seven years, he has been allied with protectionists.
– I have not, although I have been allied with the honorable member for South Sydney for thirteen years, and he was always a protectionist. But whenwe followed the honorable member he wascareful to say nothing about that fact.
– When the honorable member’s party followed me, I made freetraders and protectionists alike swallow a free-trade Tariff.
– We made the honorable member “swallow “ a few things too.
– I am happy to say that when I retired from office, the leader of the Labour Party, Mr. McGowen- and I believe that his word will be accepted by the Committee - publicly acknowledged that, during my whole career as Premier, I had maintained a position of perfect independence.
– So did we.
– I have always recognised that.
– Then why say that we were made to “swallow” things? The arrangement, whatever it may have been, was a mutual one.
– At all events, I obtained this advantage from the arrangement- I secured the passage of a free-trade Tariff, and the honorable member voted for it all the time.
– I admit that I did.
– Will the honorable member be good enough to connect his remarks with the question under consideration ?
– Yes. To-night, attacks have been made upon honorable members on this side of the Chamber for this or that assumed inconsistency in connexion with their public utterances. I have been attacked in the same way by the honorable member for West Sydney, and I am replying to both attacks at the same time. I wish to point out that the party to which the honorable member belongs has all along worked upon the basis of allowing its members perfect freedom in respect of their fiscal convictions, whilst uniting . freetraders and protectionists upon matters of high concern. I adopted that course at the last general election. I thought that the time had arrived when free-traders and protectionists might work together upon the basis of perfect freedom, so far as their fiscal convictions were concerned, and I am glad to say that none of my friends have charged me with acting unfaithfully towards the cause of free-trade.
– Then, the Sydney Daily Telegraph is not a friend of the honorable member ?
– The Daily Telegraph supported me in the course I took.
– Has the Daily Telegraph supported the honorable gentleman lately?
– Lately ! The election was ten months ago. The honorable member might give to others that credit for good motives which he claims for himself.
– I am willing to do so.
– The honorable member does not appear willing to do anything for me unless I am Prime Minister. He will then fetch and carry for me all the while.
– It did not look like that last week.
– But the honorable member for West Sydney has been a Minister himself ; and, having tasted blood, he has not forgiven me for depriving him of his distinguished position. Honorable members will recollect, that I was the opponent of the Labour Party all the time. When the Labour Government came into office, and honorable members trooped over as their supposed friends, I remained leader of the Opposition. Those honorable members have been thrown over several times of late ; but I am happy to say that, after all my relations with the Labour Party, we parted friends. There was no feeling on either side that there had been any treachery or unfairness. In the high position I occupy as a leader in public life, it is my duty to decide which ‘are the questions of most pressing importance; and I took the attitude I did because at the late elections I felt that the dominant question was Socialism versus anti-Socialism. How could I fight that battle if I endeavoured to start a cross fight on the fiscal issue? To do so would have been contrary to commonsense. The honorable member for West Sydney, the basis of whose whole political existence is a fiscal truce, admitting of an alliance of free-trade and protectionist members, should give me credit for equal political honesty in following that example. The indignation which is expressed against honorable members in the Opposition corner passes over the head of the honorable member for Boothby. Who questions the soundnessof that honorable member’s protectionist principles? Who throws a sneer at him, or accuses him of betraying those principles because he proposes to vote for free wirenetting, although he is a . protectionist. against whom no man can cast a shadow of reproach ?
– - I have my doubts - grave doubts.
– Those who have known the- honorable member for Boothby longer than has the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, have, whether they differ from him or not, the highest admiration for his straightforward conduct on all occasions. According to the honorable member for Riverina, there should be free-trade in wire-netting for two years, to be followed by protection to the extent of2½ per cent, in the shape of a bonus. Why does the honorable member -for Riverina take this action?. It is not from any political depravity - it is not because he is not a sincere protectionist. It is because he feels in his heart that the question rises above the ordinary disputes between people of differing fiscal faiths.
– I said so.
– Then why should honorable members in the Opposition corner not be credited with acting from similar good motives? It is a pity that reflections should be cast from side to side at this early stage of our proceedings, because we have a long road to go. In reference to preference, it is inconvenient to deal with the question on this particular item. But we have discussed this matter in the light of the proposal before us; and it would be most awkward to depart from the shape the debate has taken. It may be a question subsequently whether the consideration of the question of preference on each item, is a good or a bad plan ; but that is what we have done up to the present,and I suggest that we follow that course, at any rate in regard to wire-netting.
Mr.HUGHES (West Sydney) [10.35]. - One or two remarks from the honorable member i’or East Sydney call for some sort of reply. I am sorry that the honorable gentleman felt that anything I said called for such a lengthy criticism; but I have to say again that he seems incapable of understanding the difference between his own party and the party to which I belong. From thevery beginning the right honorable gentleman knew that members of the Labour Party did not put their fiscalism first, but always second ; and I remember that for years that was the gravamen of the complaint against the party. On the other hand, the right honorable gentleman has always put his fiscalism first. He speaks of a period of twenty years, during which, he said, I did not go upon the platform to help him. In reply to that, I have to say that I have not been in politics for twenty years - that I have takenan interest in politics for nothing like that period. But during the whole of my political career I have never once given a vote in favour of any duty, though it is perfectly true that I never went on the platform and advocated free-trade. I belong to the Labour Partv. and a man cannot serve both God and Mammon - he cannot serve two parties.
The honorable gentleman said that I was glad of his support, and so I was; but 1 most emphatically say that he also was very glad of my support.
– That is perfectly true, and I never underestimated the support.
– I have to say, however, that I was returned in spite of the honorable gentleman, who knows very well that in 1894 the Labour Party put up Mr. Reeves against him. I did what I could to keep the honorable gentleman out of Parliament, and he did what he could to keep me out; but that was not the attitude he took in 1895, and for the best of all possible reasons.
– I should like to know, Mr. Chairman, whether disagreements in the past between the leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for West Sydney have anything to do with the question before us?
– I would point out that the honorable member for East Sydneymade certain remarks concerning the honorable member for West Sydney, and I think that the latter ought to be allowed to reply to them.
Mr.HUGHES.- In 1895 the honorable gentleman and the party to which 1 belonged in the State Parliament were in accord, so far as land values taxation was concerned ; and we went to the country on that question. The honorable gentleman says that he got more out of the Labour Party than we got out of him, seeing that we supported his free-trade Tariff. But the. honorable gentleman knows thatMr. McGowen, the leader of the Labour Party in New South Wales, is, and has been all his life, a protectionist ; Mr. McGowen, however, was so committed to the Labour Party that he willingly abandoned his fiscal belief, in order to advocate land values taxation and other reforms.
– Hear, hear.
– When the honorable member for. East. Sydney left office in the State Parliament and the present Treasurer succeeded him, it was my turn ; and I did exactly what Mr. McGowen had done for the previous five years. I am now exactly in the same position as I was in the State Parliament, except that I am against the honorable gentleman instead of for him; and that is the whole charge against me. I am not against the honorable gentleman because he is in Opposition, but because he is against principles to which I am attached. He had every right in the last election to select the programme on which to go to the country ; and he should not now come here and say that it is a bad thing to have a tax on wirenetting. I desire to know from the Treasurer whether a duty of 5 per cent, and 10 per cent, will encourage the manufacture of wire-netting in this country. If it will do so, I shall vote for it, but I shall vote against any mere revenue duty, because I do not see why the farmers should be specially taxed to provide revenue.
– The leader of the Opposition has made certain statements in reference to the figures I quoted last night, showing the prices of imported wirenetting as compared with the prices charged by Lysaght Brothers. I have here the figures which were before me, and practically, the only difference I can see is in regard to the payment for placing the wire-netting on the trucks. 1 do not know whether a mistake has been made by the manager of Lysaght Brothers, but he informed me that while the Government did not pay this charge, his firm did the work without charge, and, therefore, credited the purchaser with 10s. per ton. I have had no opportunity to check what the leader of the Opposition has said,but, according to the figures which I quoted last night, the tender accepted by the New South Wales Government for the 42-in. netting was £26 10s.
– It was a long way below that.
– The tender of Lysaght Brothers, after deducting the 10s. per ton for trucking, was £30 10s., and for the narrower wire-netting of 36 inches it was £24.
– It was £22 odd.
– I am repeat-, ing the information that I have received ; and in the case of other netting the tender of Lysaght Brothers was £27, or, less the 10s. per ton for trucking, £26 T OS. I hold in my hand the figures on which I made my statement last night.
– The Treasurer must see that those figures are wrong.
– I do not think that they are much out. I am repeating the statement I made last night on the figures before me.
– There is a difference of only 10s.
– Something like that. That is accounted for by the 10s. charged for placing the netting on the trucks.
– The two statements substantially agree.
– There is no doubt that there is a difference of over £5 per ton.
– The right honorable gentleman, in his attack on me, said that the exemption of hat-making machinery was poked into an out-of-the-way place in the schedule, and could not be found in the old Tariff. But these words occur under the heading “Special Exemptions,” in the old Tariff - .
Machinery for scouring, washing, carding, spinning, weaving, and finishing the manufacture of fibrous materials.
Machinery for the manufacture of paper and for felting.
The provision in this Tariff is -
Rebate for home consumption. . . . Ma? chinery, and parts thereof, used in the manufacture of fibrous materials and felt, and felt hats, when installed for use in a woollen mill or a hat factory for the manufacture of such materials, felt, and hats….. the full duty paid.
The Comptroller-General of Customs informed me last night that machinery for the treatment of fibrous material was free under the old Tariff, and that the exemption was taken to include hat-making machinery, but, for the sake of clearness, the form of words which I have just read was adopted. This machinery was free under the Victorian Tariff.
– - Why are, the exemptions to which I referred the only ones of the kind in the schedule?
– I- am informed that the alteration was made for the convenience of the Department. The honorable gentleman suggested that the Government was trying to deceive honorable members, and was doing something for the advantage of the honorable member for Maribyrnong.
– Is he the Denton Hat Mills? I did not refer to him.
– I have nothing to do with that concern.
– The leader of the Opposition asked at whose request we made this change.
– I ask that now.
– The honorable . member tried to make it appear that the honorable member for Maribyrnong had influenced the Government to do something in his favour.
– I did not.
– As I have shown, the alteration was merely a departmental matter,, made for the sake of clearness. The meaning of the provision is the same as that of the exemption in the old Tariff. I had nothing to ‘do with the alteration, and it was not fair for the honorable gentleman to try to fasten upon me something which was done by the Department for convenience. The same arrangement was made under the old Tariff, but the form of words in the new Tariff is clearer than that formerly adopted. Questions have been asked in reference to the probable effect of the proposed duties of 10 and 5 per cent. I am a protectionist, and, if I had my will, I would impose stronglv protective duties on wire-netting, because I do not think that that would make it dearer or injure those who have to use it. I believe that in a short time it would reduce the cost, becauseunder it the internal competition would break down the importing rings. Duties of 10 and 5 per cent, will, to a limitedextent, protect the industry.
– Thev are useless.
– They will hot protect it as I should like to see it protected.
– What does the honorable member mean by “to a limited extent?”
– I mean that they will impose a check upon importations. I do not think that any one will say that in a case like this duties of 10 and 5 per cent, give effective protection, but they will put a stop to some of the inferior importations.. They will not be as effective as protectionist duties, or as I should like them to be.
– Will they, or will they not, do what is wanted - enable wirenetting to be made in Australia?
– Will, they keep the present employes at work?
– I hope honorable members will not adopt that standanddeliver attitude. The industry was started under a duty of 10 per cent, imposed by the Dibbs Government, and did fairly well until that duty was removed by the leader of the Opposition. Then it struggled -on without a duty, until it was practically ruined. Two or three years ago a new company took over the business, and with it a debt of £100,000 It is trying to work off this debt, and these duties will help that to be done. If I did not think so, I would rather have the item free. I do not desire the imposition of revenue duties. I do not like such duties, unless, as Treasurer, for the revenue which they provide.
– Are. what the honorable member is now proposing revenue or protective duties?
– They are not my idea of true protective duties, but, as I have said, they will check importations, though not effectively. Still, if the Committee will not vote for higher rates in this special case, I must be satisfied with what I can get.
Honorable Members. - Divide.
– I do not know that I should apologise for rising, because I have not spoken on this subject before, although several honorable members have spoken more than once. If it be true that coming events cast their shadows before, we may say, after what has occurred, good-bye to the protectionist policy.
– The Minister has gone back on the protectionists.
– Even the leader of the Opposition admitted that the country declared for protection, yet we have offered to us duties of 15 and 10 per cent.
– The Minister has come down to duties of 10 and 5 per cent.
– Am I, as a protectionist, to submit to a farce of this sort?’ A duty of 5 per cent, is merely a revenue duty. Notwithstanding my political innocence, I knew, when the honorable member for Robertson moved to give early const-deration, to this item, that the gun was loaded. I have always “admired the leader of the Opposition as a politician, though I never agreed with his policy. On this occasion, I am inclined to think that, like the renowned Duke of Plaza Toro, “ he led his regiment from behind,” and has been victorious, so that instead of having true protective rates we shall have- a shandy-gaff protection. There are members of this Committee who, on the platform, promised to support protection. I do not refer to members of the direct Opposition, but I ask those members of the Labour Party, of the Opposition corner party, and on the Government side who, at- the elections, declared themselves protectionists, if what we are now being offered is protection. Rather than accept a 5 per cent, duty, I should be prepared to vote absolute free- trade every time. That is what I intend to do in regard to this item. As .a protectionist,’ I am not going to foe fooled in this House or anywhere else, and I tell the Government plainly that every time they reduce a protective duty to a revenue one I shall vote against them.
– The Opposition are catching the honorable member.
– I intend to stand by my party, but, as every one knows, the members of our party are free to vote as they please on the fiscal- question. I am a staunch protectionist, and not a makebelieve one. No one will ever lead me to believe that a 5 per cent, duty affords industrial protection. I have the greatest respect for the Treasurer, but even he will not convince me that a duty of 5 per cent, on wire-netting will afford any protection to local manufacturers. We have been told that we had better accept what we can get. T am not prepared to vote protection for any industry that will not pay fair wages, nor will I vote for what is really a revenue duty - for one which will not afford industrial protection.
– I desire to offer a few observations upon this question.
– Just to explain the Honorable member’s position ?
– No. I wish to offer a word of advice, and also a word of warning.. Having regard to what has occurred to-night, I should have liked to refer to the question of preference, a project which is very dear to me; but I feel that it would be’ inadvisable to attempt to discuss that matter now, and I do not intend to do so. I have sat here for over three flours tonight awaiting an opportunity to speak briefly to this question, but nearly the whole of that time has been taken up by a sort of post mortem on New South Wales politics. We have had six years of that sort of thing, and far too much of it. I am- very glad to say that - and I do not make this observation in any pharisaical spirit - the Victorian representatives are free from such practices, and I wish to give a word of advice to the representatives of- other States.
– The representatives- of Victoria are too cute to bring up the past. ,
– No. I say that it is not fair that we should have here a constant rehashing .of State politics of years ago. Christmas is rapidly approaching, we- have, yet most important .questions to deal with, and every honorable member declares that we should expedite the consideration of the Tariff. Nevertheless, nearly every honorable member seems to have his own little axe to grind, and the consequence is that our proceedings are disturbed by the noisy whirr of the personal grindstone. The advice I wish to give is that we might well relegate personal matters to the limbo of forgetfulness ; whilst the warning I wish to offer is that on the very next occasion upon which personal recriminations are indulged in I intend to move the closure. I” am going to ask honorable members who have a desire to see the business of the country properly conducted to assist me in putting an end to such proceedings.
– Is the honorable member in charge of the business of the House ?
– No. But. I have sat here and suffered for three hours this- evening, and I think that this experience justifies the attitude I am now taking up. With respect to the item before us, .1 may say at once that I intend to vote in accordance with my political principles and my elec- tion pledges. I shall vote for protection, believing, as I do, that’ fair protection will secure in this case, as it has done in others, an almost immediate reduction of prices, and will therefore benefit those whom we all desire to assist.
.- I wish to know whether the Treasurer regards the duties now proposed by him in reference to this item as merely an expedient to obviate any dumping in anticipation of a higher duty, and whether, when the local industry is able to cope with the demand for wire-netting and to turn out a satisfactory article under the new protection system, he will be prepared to submit a proposal for the imposition of a prohibitive duty ?
– I have in mind an intention, before the Tariff is finally passed, to submit ‘a - certain proposal in reference to this matter which I hope will not increase the price of wire-netting, but will afford an opportunity to deal with the question in another way. I also hope that the proposed duties will, to some extent at all events, prevent dumping.
.- I desire to know whether the Excise duty which the manufacturer- will have to pay if he does, not give fair wages will’ be based on the higher- or the lower import duty that is proposed.. If, as we are given to understand, the duties proposed by the Government are to be reduced to 10 per cent, against foreign imports of wire-netting, and to 5 per cent, on imports coming from Great Britain, it will be interesting to learn whether the local manufacturer will have to pay an Excise of 5 per cent, or of2½ per cent. If he is called upon to pay an Excise of5 per cent, he will be placed in a worse position than that occupied by his competitors in Great Britain.
– Is the new pro- tection breaking down ?
– No. I have no doubt that the honorable member who sneers at the new protection policy, and many other honorable members of the Opposition, would like it to break down. They know full well that the workers will never have a chance of obtaining justice from them.
– That is all cant.
– At all events I should be glad if the Treasurer would give some information regarding the question I have asked.
– The Excise duty will be based on the general Tariff, which is the higher duty.
.- I wish to know whether the Government now propose to support a duty of 5 per cent, on imports of wire-netting from Great Britain and of 10 per cent, against imports from other countries, or duties of 10 and 15 per cent, respectively.
– I am going to vote against wire-netting being placed on the free list. I hope that we shall be successful in securing the imposition of 10 and 15 per cent, duties, but I do not know what the decision of the Committee will be. I shall get the best duty, that I can.
– In a leading article published in the Age this- morning it is stated that the contract entered into by the Government of New South Wales for the supply of wire-netting has “been made with a German firm. I understand that that assertion is based on a statement made by the Treasurer in his address last night, and I should like him to say whether it is correct.
– I cannot answer fifty questions just -as we are going to a division, but I wish , to give what information I can to the Committee. I said last night that I believed that a proportion of the wire-netting to be supplied under the New
South Wales contract would come from Germany. I believe it now. If honorable members knew how the Germans carried on their trade, they would be aware that a quantity of material has been imported into England, and re-exported to Australia as British goods. That practice has, I believe, been stopped by the Board of Trade. The goods which now come from Germany have to be branded with the name of their place of origin. They cannot, therefore, be exported from England as being the product of British labour.
.- Before a division is taken, I desire some information. The right honorable member for East Sydney has referred to a motion of which I have given notice. I have no hesitation in saying that if the duty is reduced to the extent to which the Government seems inclined to agree, it will be of no value to the industry. In that event, I wish to know what the Government are prepared to do in the way of assisting it by a bouuty? I am speaking, not merely in the interests of the manufacturers, but also of the farmers. I can assure the Treasurer that I have had conversations with several honorable members opposite, who have told me that they are prepared to vote for a bounty. I am a protectionist now, as I have always been. I am not going to vote for a revenue duty. But the people who sent me here are suffering extremely, and I have to regard this as an exceptional case. As honorable members are aware, I have given notice of an amendment to reduce the duty from 30 per cent, to 15 per cent. Some honorable members, however, are prepared to vote to kill the industry altogether. In my opinion, those who have invested their capital in the wire-netting industry in Sydney have as much right to be protected as have the land-holders. The amendment to make wire-netting absolutely free is, of course, a party challenge. If the duty is reduced to the point which some honorable members seem to desire, I shall do all I can in the direction of securing assistance to the industry by means of a bounty.
.- The latest information appears to be that the Government are prepared to agree to duties of 10 per cent, and 5 per cent, on wirenetting. As this is a New South Wales industry, I am prepared to see some assistance given to it, especially . as a number of the operatives reside in my electorate. I intend to vote for duties of 15 per cent. and 10 per cent. Duties so low as 10 per cent, and 5 per cent, would be of no assistance to the industry. I wish to make my position quite plain. I shall vote for duties of 15 per cent, and 10 per cent., and if a proposition to that effect is defeated, I should support the placing of wirenetting on the free list in preference to the imposition of duties which would not benefit the industry.
Question - That the words “ and on and after 10th October, 1907, Free” (Mr.’ Fuller’s amendment), proposed to be added, be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Mr.KNOX (Kooyong) [11.23].- In accordance with the notice which I have given, I move -
That the following words be added : - “ and on and after nth October,1907 (General Tariff), 10 per cent., (United Kingdom) 5 per cent.”
.- I wish to move -
That the following words be added : - “ and on and after11th October, 1907 (General Tariff), 5 per cent., (United Kingdom), 5 per cent.
– I desire, sir, to know whether I shall be in order in moving that this article shall be admitted free from Great Britain, and at a duty of 5 per cent, from the rest of the world.
– The honorable member will be in order in moving that amendment, but not at the present moment when there are two amendments before the Chair. The amendment of the honorable member for Grey will be put after that of the honorable member for Kooyong.
– It should be put first, because it proposes a lower duty.
– There are two amendments before the Committee, and one of them must be disposed of before another can be moved.
– I suggest, sir, that a division be taken on my proposal to fix the duty at 5 per cent. That will not prevent a division being taken afterwards on the. proposition of the honorable member for Kooyong. I desire it to be made clear, sir, whether, after a division is taken on my proposal, a division can then be taken on that of the honorable member for Kooyong.
– Honorable members should understand that this amendment means that Germany is to be placed on the same footing as the old country. I object to that. I desire to give a preference to the old country.
– I wish to move that the duty should be 5 per cent, in the general Tariff, and that the material should be free to the United Kingdom. As that would be the lowest duty proposed, would not that amendment be in order now?
– We are getting into somewhat of a tangle in connexion with the various amendments. The only rule which we have to guide -us is that I must put the lowest amount first. Our Standing Orders also provide that not more than two amendments should be before the Committee at one time. I suggest, in the circumstances,’ that the honorable member for Kooyong should withdraw his amendment, and that the honorable member for Grey should refrain from moving his until after the honorable member for Capricornia has moved the amendment which he has suggested. By that means we shall keep within our Standing Orders, and overcome the difficulty.
– In order to facilitate business, I desire leave to withdraw my amendment temporarily.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– As the Committee has decided against wire-netting being admitted free, is it now competent for the honorable member for Capricornia to move the amendment which he has indicated, as regards the United Kingdom?
– The amendment moved by the honorable member for . Illawarra was to the effect that the item should be- free altogether. The honorable -member for Capricornia suggests another, alternative - that the duties should be “ 5 per cent.” and “ free.” That is quite, a different amendment.
– The honorable member for Capricornia could have his proposal decided free from complication., even if the amendment of the honorable member for Grey were agreed to, because the honorable member for Grey proposes to insert “ five “ in the first column. I understand that that is also’ what the honorable member for Capricornia wants-. The discussion is rather complicated because of the two columns of proposed duties. It would be wise to distinguish between those columns rightthrough the Tariff, -so that honorable members may move any amendment they desire in the first column, and, if that is defeated, still, have the right to move, an amendment in the second column. It should be quite competent for any honorable member to take-‘ that course, because the general Tariff column precedes the other, and figures in the first column, as they.’ come first, are open’ to amendment first. I- suggest that you should rule that the first column is open to ‘ amendment before the second column in any particular item.. “ I do not see how it is possible to avoid a difference ‘of opinion as to the degree of difference between the two columns. : I do not agree with any of the later suggestions that have been made, but we ought to facilitate business by settling the . procedure clearly. .: . .
– The difficulty which I see about the suggestion of the honorable member for South Sydney is that we should affirm the principle of preference by adopting it. Assuming that there is to be a preference, no doubt the honorablemember’s suggestion is a first-class one. The proper method of testing whether there should be preference or not, without interfering with honorable members’ preferencesfor 5, 10, or 15 per cent, duties, would be to move to strike out the heading, “Tariff on goods the prod.uce or manufacture of the United Kingdom.”
– We cannot do that ‘ at thisstage.
– That would’ be the only possible way to test the question of preference, and to draw protectionists and free-traders together on that. point. If the two columns are taken separately, there will still be one column applicable only to goods from abroad generally, while the other deals with goods from the United Kingdom.
– The difficulty arises from the fact that proposals to amend a Tariff take a different form from amendments on Bills or ordinary schedules. ‘ We do nqt propose to omit a figure with a view of inserting another, but we propose to add to the matter already standing a complete sentence - that “on and after a certain date so-and-so shall apply.” . In dealing with such . amendments I ‘ agree with the honorable member for South Sydney that it is advisable to vote first upon one column and then upon another. The method to. be adopted should be for the honorable member who desires to move the lowest duty, and whose amendment is, therefore, taken’ first, to move with regard to the general Tariff first, and indicate at the same time whether he intends to move with regard to the second column at all, and, if so, to what- extent. In that way it- would be quite competent for honorablemembers to move amendments’ in their proper turn. I would also suggest that the mere fact of an honorable member stating that he desiresto move an amendment should, not be takento mean that he has actually moved it. ,
– If we are to separate the columns it will- be possible to form almost endless combinations. If weare to vote first on the first column, and’, if then such a ‘combination is formed in regard to the “ second column as to totally alter what was originally in the mind of the mover of the first amendment, we shall be helping to neutralize each other’s votes and views. The difficulty could be got over if, after we had dealt with an item according to the separate columns, the completed item were put from the chair for final confirmation.
– I wish to direct your attention, sir, to the fact that a vote has been taken on an amendment to make wire-netting free whether imported from Great Britain or elsewhere, and the Committee has decided that it shall not be free either from Great Britain or elsewhere. At this stage to carry an amendment imposing a duty on wire-netting under the general Tariff and making it free from Great Britain would be to reverse the decision already arrived at.
– The argument of the Treasurer would be very sound if we had only one column in the schedule. Under the Standing Orders the Chairman is bound to put the lowestduty first. He did so, and the amendment affected both the general Tariff and the Tariff for the United Kingdom. The amendment. now proposed is entirely within theStanding Orders and ought to be put, although it would affect both columns. To accept the view submitted by the Treasurer would be to deprive honorable members of their rights.
– I point out to honorable members that there is really nothing before the Committee. I have been trying to obtain suggestions from honorable members as to the best course to adopt. In reply to what has been said by the honorable member for Newcastle and referred to afterwards by the Treasurer I point out that there was no vote taken on the question as to whether wire-netting should be free from Great Britain and dutiable against the rest of the world ; but there was a motion carried that it should not be free under the general Tariff and also under the Tariff for the United Kingdom.
– Has not the Committee decided that wire-netting shall not be free no matter whence- it is imported ?
– The Committee has decided that netting imported from certain places shall not: be free. The honorable member for Capricornia desires to move that wire-netting imported from, the United Kingdom shall . be free of duty, and that a duty shall be imposed on wire-netting im ported under the general Tariff from other places. As regards the. suggestion of the honorable member for South Sydney to deal first with one column. and. then with. another, I think that to do so. would lead to endless confusion. It will, I think, be much better to follow the course I have stated.
Amendment (by Mr. Archer) proposed -
That the following words be added : - - “ and on and after nth October, 1907 (General Tariff) 5 per cent. (United Kingdom), free.”
– I rise to a point of order. I moved an amendment, proposing a reduction of the duty-, which applied to the United Kingdom and to other countries as well. The honorable member for Illawarra then moved an amendment on mine that there should be no duty imposed on wire-netting imported from Great Britain or from any other part of the world. Upon that the Committee divided, and by rejecting it decided that there should . be no free importations of wire-netting either from Great Britain or anywhere else. .
– The honorable member is canvassing the ruling of the Chairman.
– My amendment affected both columns of the schedule and the amendment moved bv the honorable member for Illawarra also affected both columns. and if carried, would have made wire-netting absolutely free of dutv. The Committee decided on that amendment as affecting both columns that the commodity should not be free. In the circumstances, I wish to take your ruling as to whether the Committee has not decided that wirenetting shall not be free of duty, no matter from where it is imported ?
– I have listened patiently to the honorable member’s point of order, and I do not. see that it is necessary for. me to alter my decision.
– On the question of procedure,, I think, sir, that you must have misunderstood my suggestion.. Perhaps I did not make myself sufficiently clear. I did not suggest that the- first column should be followed down as affecting each item, and that afterwards the same course should be followed in dealing with the. second column.. What I suggested was that, for instance, in. dealing, with this, item, we should first deal with the item itself if an honorable member should think it well to exclud’e some kinds of wire-netting. We should then deal . with the column in which 30 per cent, occurs, and subsequently with the column in which 25 per cent, occurs. Of course, if no amendments were proposed in any of the columns, the Committee would naturally go on with the next item.
– I would point out that it is open to any honorable member to follow that course at any time. But the amendment of the honorable member for Capricornia deals with both columns of the Tariff.
– That is why I suggested that the honorable member might well give way to the honorable member for Grey, because he is in agreement with that honorable member so far as the duty which he proposes to insert in the first column is concerned.
.- I have already submitted my amendment, and I do not intend to occupy much time in discussing it. I have taken this step, notwithstanding that the Committee has already decided that wire-netting shall not be free, because I hold that there can be no excuse for any honorable member voting for the imposition of a revenue duty upon that material. I can understand protectionists voting for a protective duty upon it, but, after all that has been said as to the necessities of the users there is no justification for honorable members voting for a revenue duty. That is why I propose that the dutv levied under the general Tariff shall be 5 per cent., and that netting from the United Kingdom shall be admitted free.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether it is not possible to accede to the desire of a number of honorable members to have the preference proposals of the Government discussed by themselves?
– We had better dispose of this item.
– I claim that by voting upon the amendment we shall be affirming the principle of granting a preference to the goods of the mother country. I intend to vote against the amendment because I am opposed to preference. If the Treasurer will intimate that the Government are prepared to afford honorable members an opportunity to discuss the question of preference upon another occasion-
– I endeavoured to sav something upon the matter, a few minutes ago.
– If the Treasurer will allow the preference proposals of the Go vernment to be discussed separately he will be acceding to a general desire on the part of honorable members. Is he prepared to allow that question to be discussed upon its merits ?
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Treasurer [11.50]. - It is very hard indeed to satisfy everybody. The Government do not wish to decide the question of extending a preference to the goods of the mother country by any “ catch “ vote. As far as. we are concerned . an opportunity will be afforded honorable members to determine it in the freest possible way.
– I desire to ask whether the amendment of “the honorable member for Capricornia cannot be put in two parts? If it can, we shall be enabled to decide the question of the duty that shall be imposed under the general Tariff without mixing it up with the preference proposals of the Government. By voting upon the amendment in its present form we shall be affirming the principle of preference.
– Will not the honorable member believe me when I say that: we shall not be doing that ?
– I know that the Government do not intend the amendment tobe regarded as a test vote. But if we decide to differentiate between goods from! foreign countries and those from the United Kingdom, we shall undoubtedly commit Ourselves to the principle of preference. Would it not be wise, therefore, to take a division upon the first portion of the amendment ?
.- I think that honorable members will recognise that this is not a fair occasion upon which to test the feeling of the Committee upon the question of extending a preference to the mother country, because the amendment proposes to admit wire-netting from Great Britain free of duty. Surely that proposal involves something more than the granting of a preference. It would confer upon netting from that country an absolute freedom of entry to our ports. There are many honorable members who favour granting a preference to Great Britain, but who might not care to go so far as to allow wirenetting from the United Kingdom to be admitted free. Upon a question of this sort I think that we must follow the Minister in charge of the Tariff, otherwise we shall1 land ourselves in endless confusion. I” agree that a test vote upon the question of preference should be taken upon a more convenient occasion.
– There seems to be an idea on the part of some honorable members that I am empowered to separate the amendment of the honorable member for Capricornia and to put it to the Committee in the form of two distinct proposals. I would point out that I have no power to do that. I can only do as I am directed by the Committee, and the honorable member for Capricornia having chosen to move his amendment in its present form, I am obliged to accept it.
– I wish to emphasize the difficulty of dealing simultaneously with the two columns of the Tariff. At present, even if honorable members desired to extend to other countries the preference proposed by the Government, they could not do so. For instance, some honorable members may desire to offer a preference to New Zealand or to our kinsmen in the South Sea Islands, who will have to share our fortunes, whatever they may be.
– An honorable member could not move in that direction under any circumstances.
– Because no such proposal is contained in the Tariff.
– I disagree with the honorable member. It is competent for me to move to extend a preference to the goods of New Zealand, of Canada, of Cape Colony, of Natal, and of the Transvaal, if I choose to do so. The possibility of dealing with the matter effectively in that way must be obvious to the Treasurer. With every desire to help the honorable gentleman in a trying situation, I think the Government would be well advised to deal with preference in. a separate measure. The only difficulty, I presume, is the absence of the Prime Minister, who is, undoubtedly, the father of preference, and a great enthusiast in regard to it. It is a great pitv that the Prime Minister is not nresent, because I am quite sure he would desire to divide the preference question from the Tariff generally.
– I think I have a right to ask that the two duties shall be put separately. I might desire to vote for a duty of 5 per cent, and 5 per cent., or for. 10 per cent, and 10 per cent. ; but I do not desire to vote for 5 per cent, and “free.”
It has been previously decided in the House and in Committee that, if an honorable member desires to vote for one part of a question only, the question should be put in two instalments. I think we are making a great mistake in according preference without- reciprocity ; and, therefore, I shall vote against such preference. Should I be in order in moving that the duty be 5 per cent, and 5 per cent. ?
– The honorable member would not now be in order in submitting that amendment.
– Then may I have the duties put separately?
– I have no power to separate the question. The honorable member for Capricornia- has submitted his amendment in a specific manner, and I must accept it as submitted.
– We are starting with the consideration of the Tariff, and every honorable member desires to see some method adopted that will facilitate discussion and decision. The Chairman, on the occasion of the first Tariff, had to make rules ; and if you, sir, were prepared to take the course of separating the question, I am sure the Committee would support you.
– Would the best course not be to have one motion only, namely, that of the 5 per cent, duty, and afterwards have the question of preferenceconsidered on the second column? If it were decided to have preference, we could1 then decide whether there should be an all round percentage or what differentiation should be made.
– I cannot understand why there should be all this discussion. The Chairman has said several times that he must submit the amendment in the form in which it was moved. ‘ Of course, the honorable member for Capricornia could ask permission to amend his amendment, but while it remains in its present form I do not see why honorable members should object to its submission in the way decided by the Chairman.
Question - That the words “ and on and after11th October, 1907 (General Tariff) 5 per cent. ; (United Kingdom), free,” (Mr. Archer’s amendment) proposed to be added, be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the words “ and on and after nth October, 1907 (General Tariff), 5 per cent. (United Kingdom) 5 per cent.” (Mr. Poynton’s amendment), proposed to be added, be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- To save time, as I think the Committee is determined to negative my proposal, I wish to withdraw the amendment which . I have moved.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Knox), proposed -
That the , following words be added : - and on and after nth October, 1907 (General Tariff) 10 per cent. (United Kingdom), 5 per cent.”
– I wish to ask the honorable member for Kooyong whether he has submitted his amendment as a protectionist or a freetrader ?
– The honorable member . for Kooyong, at. the last general election, said that he was a protectionist. If I vote for the amendment moved by him, I shall have to vote as a free-trader, and for that reason I am led to put this question to him.
– Is it in order, Mr. Chairman, for an honorable member to move the insertion of the figure and words 5 per cent, in the second column, in view of the fact that we have . already negatived a proposition to insert that figure in the same column ?
– I . am not resorting to any tricks. I am opposed to a 5 per cent, duty.
– We want no tricks.
– I repeat that I am opposed to a5 per cent, duty, and that I am playing no trick. I merely wish to know whether the amendment is in’ order.
– I have already ruled that the last amendment provided for an all-round duty of 5 per cent. The amendment now before us, on the other hand, provides for a duty of 10 per cent, in respect of the general Tariff, and of 5 per cent, on imports from Great Britain.
– I should like to know, Mr. Chairman, whether the two proposed duties could be put separately? A number of honorable members who are opposed to preference would . be prepared to vote for a duty of 10 per cent.
– We have already dealt with that matter.
– No. The amendment to which the honorable member refers was that there should be an all-round duty of 5 per cent. We should have a separate vote, on the proposal that the duty on British imports shall be 5 per cent., and another vote on the proposed general import duty of 10” per cent.
– I wish to know, Mr. Chairman, if, in the event of this proposal being agreed to, it will be open to an honorable member to move that there be an allround duty of 10 per cent. ?
– If the amendment be carried, it will not be competent for an honorable member to do that which the honorable member for Corio suggests. If it would be, we might gradually go back to the original proposal, and we should never reach finality.
– If this amendment be carried, will an honorable member be precluded from moving a further increase in the duty ?
– As a protectionist, I wish to be clear on this question. If the amendment now before the Chair be carried, will there be any opportunity to move for the imposition of a higher duty?
– It is open to those who wish to vote for a higher duty to vote against the amendment, and then submit a further proposition. ‘ If the amendment were carried, however, the Committee would have already decided the question.
Question - That the words “ and on and after11th October, 1907 (General Tariff), 10 percent. ; (United Kingdom) 5 percent.” (Mr. Knox’s amendment), proposed to be added, be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I desire to say thatI- am not a hypocrite; and that in regard to the vote just taken, it1 was thoroughly well known that it was not possible to secure the duties of 15 and 10 per cent. It was known that the Government would be short to the extent of ten votes. What was the use, for the sake of a placard, of the Government not recognising what they absolutely knew was going to take place?
– The honorable gentleman would not, I should think, like to have his supporters branded as free-traders.
– It was well known what was going to Happen.
– Do I understand that the honorable gentleman is going to submit a motion?
– I am going to move that progress be- reported.
– Then there can be. no debate.
– I have said all that I wish to say.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the House at its rising adjourn until to-day at 11 o’clock a.m.
House adjourned at 12.30 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 October 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071010_reps_3_40/>.