3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. POYNTON presented two petitions, from certain electors of South Australia, one containing fifty-seven and the other thirty-four signatures, praying the House to reduce the duties on agricultural and mining machinery.
Mr. LIVINGSTON presented three similar petitions, . containing twenty-six, thirty-nine, and forty signatures.
Mr. COON presented a petition from 483 workers in the confectionery trade, praying the House to agree to the proposed duties on confectionery.
– In view of the ever-increasing number of wrecks on the west coast of Tasmania, and the great suffering inflicted thereby on the passengers and crews of ships, will the Government, for humanity’s sake, assist the State of Tasmania to erect shelter, provide food, and build and maintain a lighthouse at Port Davy?
– The question of lighting that portion of the Tasmanian coast is under consideration, because of the probable early transfer of. the control of marine lights to the Commonwealth.,. Proposals in connexion with it are now in the office of the Treasurer. I understand that, and their reason for improving the lighting of that part of the coast, is , that the honorable member represents it.
Resolutions of the Western Australian Parliament.
– I should like to know, Mr. Speaker, whether copies of the correspondence respecting a resolution passed by the Western Australian Parliament concerning the Tariff, which has taken place between yourself, as representing this House, and the Government of Western Australia, can be laid on the table.
– If the House desires that the papers should- be laid on the table, I shall have much pleasure in presenting them to-morrow, because by that time the latest letter will have reached Perth.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Australian correspondent of the London Times was correct in informing that journal, on the 1 6th August, that the Prime Minister had sent through him a message to British merchants and the supporters of preference on the subject of the Government’s intention in reference to that policy? If so, does the honorable and learned member not think that the members of this Legislature are now entitled to the fullest, or, at least, the same information ? Will he explain the meaning of his statement to the British merchants that “ the Government is determined to make preference effective,” and state whether, in his opinion, it is in keeping with that determination that the Government proposed a preference equivalent to 16.2/3 °n wire netting, which, under pressure, they changed to a preference equivalent to ‘33.1/3 per cent., and finally voted for an amendment making it 50 per cent. ?
– Is this an essay ?
– The honorable and learned member is approaching very near to - if he is not entering on - a debate on the Tariff, which is now under consideration in the Committee of Ways and Means.
– 1 shall make my question shorter, so as not to touch on debatable matter. Will the Prime Minister explain the meaning of his statement to the British merchants that the Government is determined to make preference effective? Will he inform the Parliament what he means by his statement to the British merchants, through the Times correspondent, that the present arrangements are only a first step, and state what other step is contemplated, so as to enable the Committee now sitting to understand the Government policy ?
– An answer to those questions must necessarily be” part of a debate on a matter referred to the Committee of Ways and Means, and1 I could not allow the Prime Minister to make such a reply.
– May I ask for an answer to the first question, whether the Australian correspondent of - the London Times was correct in informing that journal, on 16th August, that the Prime Minister had sent through him a message to British merchants, and the supporters of preference, on the subject of the Government’s intentions in’ regard to that policy. If so, does he not think that the members of this Legislature are now entitled to the fullest, or at least the same, information?
– On my way northwards, about the date mentioned, the correspondent of the London Times met me in Sydney. To his request for some statement regarding the Tariff, I raised the objection that there was nothing new at that - time. He then asked a question or two, adding that he thought even the shortest answers would be of great interest at that time to merchants and others in Great Britain concerned in the preferential question. Accordingly, I replied, practically in terms which differ only in trifling verbal construction from the summary which the honorable and learned member has- just read. The correspondent had mentioned at the commencement of the interview that he thought my replies would be of interest to merchants and preferentialists, but they were given by me as answers rather than messages to any particular class of persons. The statements are correctly given. I hope, if the debate advances far enough, to- have’ an opportunity to touch upon this very question this evening.
– Arising out of my question, I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether the Times’ correspondent is. right in saying, “ Mr. Deakin sends this message to British, merchants and supporters of preference,” and then quoting as coming from the honorable gentleman these words -
The preferential schedule of the Tariff has been compiled after a careful study of foreign imports, and will, on close examination, be found to be much more favorable than it appears at first sight. It shows that the Federal Government is determined to make preference effective, and regards the present arrangement only as a first step.
– That is a perfectly correct statement.
– At page 273 of the report of the debates of the Imperial Conference appears a statement by Mr. Lloyd George, to the effect that he was consulting the Prime Minister in reference to the appointment of six correspondents in Australia to the Board of Trade, and’ as to their personnel and duties. I wish to know from the honorable and learned gentleman if he has been consulted, and if the appointments have been made on his recommendation.
– The six correspondents of the British Government were appointed before we arrived in England. The consultation which Mr. Lloyd George proposed did not follow, so far as I remember, because I had already -had an interview with the head of the branch of his Department charged with the nominations. I learned from him at first that they had not been finally confirmed, and at a later date that they were practically confirmed. The correspondents were appointed without any recommendation from this Government.
– Arising out of the reply to the question of the honorable “member for Corio, I desire to ask the Prime Minister if any claim has been put forward that there should be a consultation in regard to the appointment of correspondents of the Board of Trade, and if so, does it involve our submitting to a claim, if made, by the British Government that” they should be consulted in reference to the appointment of AgentsGeneral ?
– Without putting it as an official claim, it is in the highest degree desirable that the British Government, before making appointments of. this kind, should give the Government of the Commonwealth an opportunity of knowing whom it is proposed to appoint, and of making any representations they think necessary. A similar practice, of course, would be adopted oh the first intimation from the Government of the Mother Country that they desired information in regard to any similar appointments in England that we proposed to make.
– If a claim for consultation is put forward from this side in regard to the appointment of such comparatively unimportant persons as the correspondents of the Board of Trade, will not that involve a claim that the
British authorities should be consulted in reference to the appointment of much more important persons, such as the AgentsGeneral or the High Commissioner ?
– The honorable member will see that there is no parallel between the cases mentioned. In this case we appoint an Australian to proceed from Australia to Great Britain as an officer of the Government to carry out its directions and the policy of the country. In the other cases the appointments which are made in Great Britain are of a comparatively minor character from persons selected here, agents of the Government for special duties, which bring them in contact with certain Departments of the Federal Government, notably, for instance, the Department of Trade and Customs.
– Which occurs with the Agents-General.
– I fail to follow that parallel ; in fact 1 understood the first part of the honorable member’s statement to set it aside. It does appear to me that it would have been a courteous and also a wise act if we had been informed beforehand of the names of the persons proposed to be appointed correspondents.
– I beg to ask the Prime ‘ Minister whether he is in a position to give to the House any information in reference to the tenders for the mail service to Europe, and, if not, will he mention any time when he is likely to be in such a position?
– I have every hope that within the next week or ten days we shall have advanced far enough to make the statement the right honorable member desires, which the House is- entitled to receive at the earliest possible moment.
– In this morning’s newspapers it is announced that the committee appointed to consider a design for a Commonwealth stamp have submitted a report in which it is stated that the first important recommendation is fully concurred in by the Postmaster-General, and that it is to the effect that a representation of the King’s head must appear on the new stamp. I wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral if it is his intention to afford to the Parliament an opportunity to decide whether the stamp shall bear a representation of the King’s head or something emblematic of Australia?
– I see no obstacle to having on the stamp a good emblem of Australia, and also a representation of the King’s head. That is my intention.
– Has the honorable gentleman any objection to saying whether or not the Parliament will be afforded an opportunity of expressing an opinion with regard to the design approved by him ?
– It is my intention to instruct that a part of the design shall be a representation of the King’s head, and the Parliament can overrule that decision at any time if it thinks fit.
– I desire to ascertain from the Prime Minister whether the Government has received any information as to the approval by the Parliament of South Australia rendered necessary by the Act for a survey of a railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta? A considerable interval has elapsed since a copy of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Sur.vey Act was forwarded to the Government of the State, and as it will be much more difficult to make a survey in the summer than in the cooler parts of the year, I would suggest to the honorable gentleman that he might with advantage urge upon the Government of South Australia that valuable time is being lost, and that the Parliament and the Government of the Commonwealth will be very glad if they will deal with the matter as promptly as possible.
– My recollection is that within the last week or so we have received from the South Australian Government a reply to our inquiries, the effect of which is that as soon as the business immediately before the House of Assembly is disposed of the question will be dealt with.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether he has’ any ground for supposing that persons other than Mr. Wren and Mr. Oxenham,, in respect of whom an order was recently made forbidding the transmission of postal matter, are engaged in the practice mentioned in section 57 of the Post and Telegraph Act of 1 901 ; and, if so, whether the ground of his suspicion is reasonable within the meaning of the section?
– To say that I have no ground of suspicion in the cases to which the honorable member has referred would be to say what is not correct. But I do say that the cases mentioned are the only ones of the kind which have been brought under my notice.’ I have taken action in regard to them, after consultation with the Crown Law officers, and in accordance with the provisions of the Post and Telegraph Act. I have not discriminated between persons, and will not discriminate in any way.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 5 p.m. to-morrow.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will the Customs Department direct that the State Departments withdraw their demands (if any) on shippers for payments for grading produce, where such payments are demanded ?
– The answer to the honoroble member’s question is as follows -
Inquiry will be made, and if it is found that any such charges are being made under the provisions of the Commerce Act, request will be made for their discontinuance.
Government Agent, Rigo, and Commandant of Police
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. Not that I am aware of. The Assistant Resident Magistrate stationed at Rigo, Mr. Boucher, is at present absent from the Territory on sick leave. A despatch received onlyyesterday says : - “ Mr. Belford to continue to act as caretaker at Rigo until the return to duty of Mr. Boucher, Assistant Resident Magistrate.” Mr. Belford is, I believe, a white man.
– I move -
That leave be granted to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to marine insurance.
In submitting this motion, I desire to say that it will not be proceeded with for a few weeks, as it is desirable to allow the parties who are interested in the measure an opportunity to peruse it, and to make any representations that they may deem to be necessary. The Bill purports to embody a codification of the law. In the six States of the Commonwealth at the present time, the law relating to marine insurance is based upon what is known as the common law, and in order to ascertain what the common law is it is necessary to consult something like 2,000 decisions of the various Courts. In England, Sir M. D. Chalmers, the “famous draftsman, who drafted the Bills of Exchange Act, codified the law in respect of marine insurance, after having spent a considerable time upon it. Between 1894 and 1906 the measure which he drafted camebeforethe Imperial Parliament several times, and was carefully considered by expert Committees.Last year - after it had undergone several modifications - it became the law of Great Britain. It is proposed to adapt that law to the conditions of Australia, and, accordingly, we desire to afford those who are interested in the measure every opportunity to see how far the provisions of the British Act are applicable. My advice is that the Bill is suitable to Australian conditions, but, inasmuch as it relates to a matter which concerns particular interests, it is highly desirable that those who will be affected by it should have an opportunity of becoming familiar with its provisions before its second reading is carried. I desire to have the measure circulated at the earliest possible moment.
– What is the need for hurry ?
– We wish to afford those whose interests are particularly concerned an opportunity of looking into its provisions.
– Is it proposed to proceed with the Bill thissession?
– If possible, it is.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented and read a first time.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Consideration resumed from 18th October, vide page 4955) :
Item 40 (as amended), Candles, Tapers, and Night Lights : -
Paraffine wax, wholly or in part per lb. (General Tariff),2½d., and on and after 19th October, 1907, per lb., 2d. (United Kingdom), 2d.
N.E.I, per lb. (General Tariff),1½d. (United Kingdom),1d.
.- Upon this item I desire to test the feeling of the Committee on the general question of whether or not any preference should be extended to the Mother Country. I do not intend to labour the matter, as upon two previous occasions I have advanced reasons for the excision of the second column of this Tariff. These reasons really amount to this : that I believe the initiation of a policy of preference will make against, rather than for, the integrity of the Empire. I therefore desire to move -
That after the figure “2d.” the words “and on and after 23rd October, 1907 (United Kingdom), free,” be inserted.
SirWILLIAM LYNE (Hume)- Treasurer - [3.28]. - In dealing with this matter I do not propose to occupy the time of the Committee at any length. From events which have occurred during the past two or three years - and particularly during the past six or twelve months - the desire of the Government in. reference to the extension of a preference as between Australia and Great Britain must be very clear to honorable members. If they desire to obtain further information upon that question, they need only read the Hansard report of the debate which took place in this Chamber a little more than two years ago, and also the report of the proceedings of the Imperial Conference.
– The proposal submitted to the Conference was to extend’ a preference to the Empire.
– The Prime Minister and myself dealt with this matter so far as Australia was concerned. We had no authority to deal with - it from any other stand-point. In the official report of the debates of the Conference, honorable members will find set out in detail the position which the Government have taken up regarding this question, and they will also discover that the proposals which were there foreshadowed have been honestly embodied in this Tariff. I intend to quote from a few English journals, because, I regret to say, that owing to the formation of the cable syndicate, the public of Australia obtain only news which has been censored by its representative in London.
– The honorable gentleman managed to get his “ stuff “ through all right.
– Because it was worth sending, although both the Prime Minister’s observations and mine were curtailed. They did not send anything more than they desired to. send. In some of the newspapers which I have had an opportunity to read, extracts from which I shall quote in the course of my speech, it. is shown that what has been represented in Australia through the cables published in the newspapers, to the effect that Great Britain is against a policy of preference is not warranted - that what has been published here is not a true interpretation of British feeling to-day.
– What about the last general election in Great Britain?
– I do not desire to make a speech which will lead to almost interminable debate, and that is why I have referred honorable members to what took place when the Prime Minister and myself were in Great Britain. We then stated that this question would be settled, and that we could settle it readily enough when we were dealing -with the Tariff. There is, of course, a great’ temptation to make a lengthy speech, but I shall not embrace the present opportunity to do so. It had been intended. I think, to commence a debate upon the subject on Thursday, but the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Angas today affords a better opportunity than we should then have had, because, under the circumstances which then prevailed, the question might have been mixed up with matters arising in connexion with the general tariff. I think the honorable member’s amendment now before the Committee will have the effect! of shortening the debate. It has been said by honorable members opposite, and by other people outside, that the preference proposals of the Government are made by way of bargaining. Nothing of the kind is the case. There is no bargain of any sort.
– Unfortunately, no.
– I cannot help saying, in reply to the interjection of the honorable member, that I should have liked very much to see our proposals reciprocated by Great Britain.
– That is what the honorable gentleman said at the last general election.
– And I should . like to see them reciprocated now. I said the same in Great Britain, where my argu-.ment went to show that the policy of preference would do a great deal of good in the development of our agricultural resources in Australia, and’ also in cementing all parts of the Empire together. But to say so much was not to advocate this policy by way of bargaining. The Government, as I shall show by references to the Prime Minister’s speeches, said at the Imperial Conference that a policy of preference would be proposed, but that nothing in the nature of a bargain would be put forward. There is no understanding, there is no bargain of any kind as between Great Britain and Australia. Therefore the statement that there has been any bargaining is absolutely without foundation.
– There could not be a bargain without two parties to it.
– That is what I say. The proposal of the Government is simply to extend a preference to Great Britain. I shall show presently that the preference proposed in this Tariff is not the mythical preference that some honorable members seek to make out. It is a substantial preference.
– Does the honorable gentleman .mean the 16 per cent, preference which the Government proposed, or the 50 per cent, which the Committee adopted.
– The honorable member is surely going “ ratty.” He should ask more sensible questions. The proposals of the Government are of such a character as to be absolutely substantial.
The question was asked last week - “ Upon what basis is this proposal made ? ‘ “ The basis is to take the large foreign importations as shown by the figures in the .papers circulated in connexion with the Tariff, and to give a preference in respect of those importations in favour of Great Britain. That is the main basis. I shall presently quote some figures to show to what extent it has been carried out. The principle upon which the Government has acted has been to have regard to the immense foreign trade which is undermining British importations to Australia to-day, and leading to an increased foreign trade.
– That is denied.
– Where there is a large importation from foreign countries, part of which, at any rate, we think could be transferred to Great Britain, our principle is to endeavour to so divert that trade or a portion of it. The Government wish to see a change from foreign trade to British trade. It must not be thought for a single moment that anything which I say is to be interpreted to mean that we do not intend to protect our own industries. It would be a most absurd thing to so lower our Tariff as to lead to an increased importation from the ‘Mother Country of goods which we ourselves can manufacture. I say that we, in a young country like this, have to protect our own industries, or we shall not be doing justice to Australia; and one of the great objects of this new Tariff is to do justice to Australian manufacturers and producers of raw material - to give them increased opportunities of converting that raw material into manufactured goods. But our object is at the same time so to arrange the Tariff as to secure that a greater portion of the large importations from foreign countries shall be transferred and enter Australia through British channels. , Let us have these goods, as far as possible, brought from Great Britain. To secure that will be to do an immense amount of good to British trade, and to British manufacturers, while at the same time conserving to a very great extent our trade within the British Empire.
– Does the honorable gentleman really believe that?
– The honorable member ought to know perfectly well that I am always earnest in anything I say, and that I always mean it. I mean this absolutely. On the question of what the press think, and what a very large section of the public in Great Britain think, I may perhaps be permitted to read a few extracts. I shall first quote from the London Globe, which says -
But the main principle of the Australian Tariff is in plain conformity with the declarations of the Commonwealth delegates to the Conference. “ Our first consideration,” said Mr. Deakin, “ will be that of the circumstances of Australia and its demands.”
That is what was said at the Conference; and yet there are honorable members and people outside who have attacked the Prime Minister, the Government, and myself for going back upon what was said at the Conference. What I have quoted were the words uttered by the Prime Minister. But we have not seen anything of that in the telegrams from Great Britain which have been published.
– The Times said that the proposals of the Government were derisory.-
– This article continues - “ The next will be the possibility of giving a preference, and therefore entering into closer commercial relations with the Mother Country and our sister dominions. The third will be how far and in what degree it shall apply to foreign countries who single us out for special disabilities.”
I have heard a good many people say that the Government proposals are calculated to do injury to our commerce, inasmuch as our raw materials will be excluded by Germany, the United States, and other nations. “As a matter of fact, Germany taxes almost everything possible at the present moment. That country does not take our wool, wheat minerals, or other raw materials for the sake of Australia^ but for her own sake; and, therefore, the argument as to injury to our commerce in this connexion is nonsensical. Then, again, the United States imposes a duty on- every commodity we export, but, nevertheless, that country will accept what raw material she requires, while at the same time most effectively protecting her own industries. Under the circumstances, the argument about our making enemies of great nations is not worth a moment’s consideration.
– Do not all nations trade for their own benefit?
– Australia and Great Britain should trade, not only for their mutual commercial benefit, but in order to promote the sentiment of a unity of Empire. That is what the Government are trying to bring about now. In another leading article we read -
And even under the new Tariff we receive something for nothing-we cannot blame Australia for any steps she may consider it necessary to take in her own interests. A man who has refused a gift cannot complain when he still receives it, though it is perhaps a less intrinsic value than before. …. But they were unable to answer Sir William Lyne’s statement that, when the duty of is. a quarter was imposed in Great Britain oh imported corn in 1902, the price fell off slightly while it rose when the duty was taken off…..
The grant of colonial preference would, as the same speaker urged, encourage the colonies to put fifteen to twenty million more acres of their land under wheat, and to. find employment for at least 200,000 more men.
I say that is true; and that that would be the result if we had the whole, or nearly the whole, of the British market for our foodstuffs. Let me rive one other quotation from the Bristol Times and. Mirror -
It is understood on all hands that Australia, like Canada, is definitely committed to a protectionist policy.
No one will deny that, I .think - not even honorable members opposite - and yet the Government are blamed for introducing a protectionist Tariff. The article from the Bristol - Times and. Mirror proceeds -
But the essence of the Tariff reformer’s plea is that the 10 per cent. - according to some figures pf ; Sir. William Lyne’s yesterday it is really 13 per cent. - might be indefinitely extended under a widely comprehensive Imperial scheme.
A preference of 13 per cent, is very considerable.
– Is that the percentage of preference on candles?
– -r We have not yet dealt with t’he preference on candles, but that, I think, will amount to 25 per cent., and so the average will be raised. In the Commercial Intelligence , Markets of the World, New and Old, there appears the following -
So, in regard to the Australian Tariff, of which particulars had just come to hand when we went to press with our issue of 14th August, we pointed out that there was “ assuredly no intention to put British manufacturers on a level with local producers, but to keep them in front of their foreign competitors”-
That is the true position - though we maintained that the preference given was not a “sham,” as some politicians would have us believe. Further study of the Tariff - of which we published a fortnight ago all the details that are even yet available in this country - does not incline us to qualify our first expression of opinion. Even the Westminster Gazette acknowledges that “ Sir William Lyne and his school have been absolutely frank about their intentions since the question of preference was started.” They; have never made any secret of the fact that their first object was the fostering of their home manufactures, and that nothing would be done for the Mother Country which interfered with it. If, therefore, they think, asthey undoubtedly do, that the proper way to. encourage and aid home industries is to impose a high Tariff on competing imports, how can. we blame them if their policy is shaped in> accordance with their beliefs? And since something like two-thirds of the Australian over-sea commerce is with the United Kingdom, howcould they carry out their policy unless they protected their own manufacturers against the competition of British firms, since they alonehad so large a share of the trade?
That is the position which the Government have always taken up. Our object is to. restrict foreign competition with our own. manufactures, and, as far as possible, transfer the existing foreign trade to GreatBritain.
– Has the honorable gentleman what was said by the London Times, the great advocate of preference?
– No; but I amnot bound by what the Times says. That newspaper is hot read so much in Great Britain as it is by the Tory readers of Australia. The London Times may be thought much of in Australia, but its circulation did not seem, to me to be as large as that of some other London newspapers.
– I wish I owned the Times.
– From all I hear, I do not think the honorable memberwould find the property a gold’ mine. Of course, it is a great free-trade journal. Thenewspaper from which I was quoting further says -
If the Australian Government desired to protect the Australian manufacturer, it could onlydo so by protecting him against his most powerful competitor….. If we believe the strict free-traders, nothing but disaster can. await a community that strives so earnestly tolax itself on every article of every day consumption:
– Hear, hear.
– Will the honorable member who says “ hear, hear “’ listen to this? but the history of the United States and of” Canada should bid us beware how we abandon ee firm field of fact for the treacherous parts, of conjecture.
That, I think. is an answer to the honorable member who said “ hear, hear.”” Then, in an article in the BirminghamPost -
– Will the honorable trieTreasurer read the Prime Minister’s speech,. wherein he said that Australia would not give anything unless we got something in return ?
– I believe the Prime Minister intends to speak on this subject, and I do not wish to trench on his province’; ‘ but I have no doubt that he will . give good reasons for any course he may have taken. The Prime Minister has acted straightforwardly all the time.
– Quite so; but why does the Treasurer not quote his own speech about reciprocity?
– I should like to, get reciprocity if I could, but I am not prepared to play “ dog in the manger,” and, because we can get nothing, give nothing. The following is from the article in the Birmingham Post: -
Really Australia is but following the course which from the first they have predicted.
– Are these extracts from articles published since the introduction of the Tariff ?
– I think so; I received them only lately. Here is another paragraph from the Birmingham Post -
It pleases free-traders to sneer at the preference given ; to depreciate its importance, and to regard it as Australia’s “ last word “ on the subject. A more mistaken view can hardly be conceived. Let all who desire to discuss the question be perfectly candid and endeavour to realize things as they are. It would not have been surprising if after the Colonial Conference there had been no preference; but Australia has given one without bargaining,” and on the basis of present conditions.
The Westminster Gazette, referring to the question to which I alluded a few moments ago, writes -
These complaints are very unreasonable. Sir William promised to give preference; he never promised not to raise the Tariff before he gave preference; he never promised not to make the Tariff prohibitive before he gave preference. . . . Sir William Lyne and his school have been absolutely frank about their intentions since the question of preference was started. They have told us that the fostering of their home manufactures was their first object, and that nothing would be done for the Mother Country which interfered with it. . . But they are free to alter their Tariff as they think fit, and they have been perfectly frank with us. It is therefore useless and unjust to complain of deception on their part.
The Financier of Friday, August 23rd in referring to myself, wrote -
AH he proposed to do was to raise the duties against foreigners, while leaving the duties which British importers would have to pay at a level which would confer complete protection to the Australian manufacturer.
These are a few paragraphs which I have selected from a number recently sent to me from Great Britain. They indicate that there is on the part of a large section of the people of Great Britain a feeling that we are carrying out our promise, and there has been no deception. Every one clearly understood what we proposed to do. They recognise that although we failed in our efforts to induce the British Government to enter into a reciprocal agreement, we did not decline for that reason to grant any (preference to the old country. We are granting her a preference, asking for nothing in return, and are content to wait until she is prepared to reciprocate, if that time should ever come. It is all .very well to urge that we have attempted to interfere with the free-trade policy of Great Britain. I do not intend to discuss that question, except in passing to inquire why our Australian wines could not be admitted duty free into the United Kingdom without raising the price of bread and foodstuffs generally.’ The wine industry in Australia is a very large one, but our wines to a large extent are purchased by French people, carried to France, and after being blended, there with much lighter wines, a large proportion of them probably find ‘their way into Great Britain. It would be very much better if we were in .a position to secure the direct introduction of our wines free or nearly free into Great Britain.
– Did not the honorable gentleman ask for that at the Imperial Conference ?
– And although the British Government would not agree to that proposal, the Commonwealth Government are now offering Great ‘Britain’ this preference.
– Yes. I raised the point when Mr. Asquith was dealing with the question of free-trade versus protection.
-Forrest. - Wines from France are not admitted free into the United Kingdom.
– I think that there is a duty of 4s. per gallon on wine, but I am not quite sure.
– There is a duty of 4s. per gallon on sparkling wines and 3s. pet gallon’ on other wines’.
– Vignerons on the Murray have standing agreements, entered into at the date, of the Paris
Exhibition, under which they are still sending wines to France and making a fair profit.
– That is not owing to a difference in the duty.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that we should not send our wines direct to Great Britain if they were admitted free of duty?
– Probably some would be sent to France in the same way as they are now and then re-exported to England.
– When I was in London I tried at the Hotel Cecil for three days to obtain a few bottles of some of the wines produced at the vineyard of the honorable member for Grampians, but could not buy it in smaller quantities than two gallons. I propose to read a few items with a view of showing the principle upon which the Government have largely acted in dealing with the question of preference. The following table shows our principal imports from foreign countries during the year 1906 -
List of the principal large items of imports from foreign countries into Australia.
The total imports from foreign countries in 1906 was ^11,417,809.
– Are those items on which the Government are granting a preference ?
– Most of them are. The total value of foreign imports in respect of which we have granted a preference is ^8,115,294, and the percentage of foreign imports on which a preference is given to the total foreign imports is 71. After hearing these figures, which have been obtained from the Department, I do not suppose that those honorable members who have said that we are not giving a substantial preference to Great Britain will have the conscience to repeat the statement.
– The Government are” notgiving an effective preference.
– The preference will be found to be fairly effective. The general average percentage of preference in favour of the United Kingdom is 231 per cent.
– The honorable gentleman cannot show where the Government have proposed a reduction of duty in favour of Great Britain.
– It is all rubbish.
– I know that the figures I have given are not very pleasing to some honorable members, but there they are, and they can.be analyzed to ascertain whether or not they are correct. They bear the imprint of the Department. ‘They are not my figures at all. I shall read another statement, comparing the preference ; offered by us with that offered by the Canadian Tariff. A number of items are shown with the percentage of preference that each of them carries.
– What was the 71 per cent, which the honorable gentleman mentioned?
– That is the percentage proportion of foreign imports on which preference is given to the total foreign imports. The total foreign imports amounted in value to£11,41 7,809, on £8,115,294 of which preference is offered, or a proportion of 71 per cent. I desire honorable members to listen to the following comparison -
The reason why the seventy-six items mentioned under the Australian Tariff carry a preference of 100 per cent, is that they represent a large number of 5 per cent. duties in the general Tariff on goods which are free if they come from the United Kingdom. The 5 per cent. duty is but little protection to us, but still there is a preference given in each of those cases of 5 per cent, to the article from the United Kingdom as against the foreign article.
– We gave 100 per cent. preference on wire netting on that basis.
– I do not wish to discuss wire netting now, or to criticise the honorable member’s vote on it.
– Those figures tell us nothing unless against each one is shown the amount of imports involved. We might have a preference of 100 per cent. where the imports totalled only £5, and a preference of only 5 per cent. where the imports totalled£1,000.
– Honorable members will find that the items taken are the larger items of foreign imports.
– A preference of½ per cent, might mean a proportional preference of 100 per cent.
– It might, but in every case I am giving a comparison between the two Tariffs. I have also this statement -
Instances where same items are traceable in Canadian Tariff, 187. Deductions from above figures : -
Practically every item in the Canadian preference is over 20 per cent.
Approximately one-half of Commonwealth items show preference of over 20 per cent.
That is what honorable members say is not a substantial preference -
The Canadian preference averages34½ per cent. This is a true average, because it will be noticed that the majority of the items cluster around the 31 per cent to 40 per cent. mark. The Commonwealth preference items show an average of 44 per cent. -
I draw special attention to this, because I do not wish to mislead honorable members - but this is inflated by the inclusion of 76 items each 100 per cent. The goods enumerated in these 76 items are free if of United Kingdom origin, but low ad valorem rates have been imposed against the imports other than thosefor the United Kingdom (66 items, 5 per cent. ad valorem ; 10 items, 10 per cent. ad valorem). Ex. cluding these 76 items, the Commonwealth average is19½ per cent. However, a reasonable al lowance should be made for these items, andthe placing them at331/3 per cent. results in a genera average of23½ per cent., which, from the figure above, seems to fairly represent the case.
– The Minister stated just now that the average of our preference was 13 per cent. Can he give the average of the Canadian Tariff on the same basis?
Sir -WILLIAM LYNE.- That is quite a- different matter, but I have here a statement that has reference to it. It is as follows - ,
The preference concessions will, on the basis of our present imports, represent ^1,250,000, or n£ per cent. That is to say, that amount reprepresents the difference in duty between the general Tariff and the preference Tariff; but as it is expected that the imports from Great Britain will increase in consequence of these preference proposals, it will not be improper to estimate that the concession will amount to, say, ^1,500,000, or 13^ per cent.
– How did the Minister arrive at his statement that the concession offered by the Government is a percentage of 1.3 per cent. ?
– That was a calculation on a different basis, which, did not include the whole of the items. In the last table I read I included a number of items with a percentage preference of 100 per cent. If. the honorable member will go through the figures when they are printed, I shall be glad to hear every criticism that he has to offer upon them, because I have instructed the officers to be exceptionally careful in this matter, and to give me all the particulars, so that I might lay them before the Committee. My main object was to get from independent individuals who understand this question thoroughly - and no one understands the preference proposals better than does the Comptroller-General of Customs, under, whose direction these figures were prepared by one of his officers - a true comparison of the percentages of preference offered by Canada and Australia, showing as a whole the advantage that we propose to give to Great Britain. I have given that information to honorable members, and I shall be very glad to hear what holes they can pick in it.
– We do not doubt that, but we cannot understand the contradictions without some explanation.
– I ask the honorable member to look at the figures carefully, and he will find there are no contradictions. The other evening certain honorable members said that I was giving away the preference in connexion with biscuits, and I think also in connexion with blue. The preference proposed in con nexion with those items amounts practically to nothing. Neither the Prime Minister nor myself attach much importance to the preference proposed in connexion with small items. What we are concerned about are the proposals in connexion with the main items which give a considerable and important preference to Great Britain.
– For instance?
– Which are the main items ?
– I have only just now referred to the main items” of foreign importations.
– The honorable gentleman read a jumble of figures.
– I read no jumble of figures. I referred honorable members to the main items.
– Which are they?
– Those to which I referred as representing large foreign importations. I am not to blame if the honorable member could not follow them. If the debate on preference is not concluded to-night, honorable members will have an opportunity to see the figures to which I have referred in print. I hope they will go through the various calculations carefully, to see how they have been worked out by the officers of the Department, when I have no doubt they will find that the figures I have quoted are correct. I wish particularly to impress upon honorable members that in what I am saying I believe I am giving expression to the very strong feelings entertained by the Prime Minister in regard’ to this matter. It will be admitted that the honorable gentleman would be placed in a very unenviable position were the Committee, to refuse to grant the preference submitted after he had given his word that preference to Great Britain would be proposed. The newspaper extracts I have made show that some of the press writers understand exactly what was said, and have correctly interpreted what was stated by the Prime Minister. The Government have brought down proposals which will give a substantial preference to British manufacturers in respect of the main items affected, representing at the present time large importations from foreign countries. We desire that a certain proportion of those articles should be manufactured by ourselves, and that the balance should be imported from Great Britain rather than from foreign countries. I have no doubt that a considerable importa-tion of these articles will continue to be made from foreign countries, but at the same time I believe that a substantial proportion of them will, under the Government proposals, be imported in future from Great Britain. If we carry, not a halfandhalf, but a truly protectionist Tariff, as the country intended, British manufacturers will obtain a share of our present trade with foreign countries, whilst there will still be ample room for the local manufacture and production of many of the articles now imported from foreign countries. Australia is a continent nearly equal in area to the United States, and yet in spite of its great possibilities and mineral wealth, we can. never expect that it will be populated as we desire, unless we establish our own manufactures for the production of articles which we are at present importing from foreign countries. Whilst we desire that our own kith and kin in Great Britain should supply us with what we are unable to manufacture and* produce locally, we hope under this Tariff to induce our own people to do a great deal more- than they are now doing to supply Australian requirements in the manufacture of the raw materials we produce. That should be the object of every Australian. Whatever he may call himself, I do not call any man an Australian who encourages the importation of articles which are the production of the cheap labour of the Continent of Europe, to the detriment of our own people. That very thing is being done bv some members of the Committee who still call themselves protectionists. If we do nothing else we should at least stand by Australia and the development of Australian industries - the object being that this may be made a self-contained country, When Federation was established, Victoria, by reason of the policy she had adopted, was the only selfcontained State in the Union, whilst the State that was least self-contained was New South Wales, the wealthiest State in the Union.
– The State that, was increasing her population most rapidly.
– The State that was borrowing more money, and paying bigger interest for it than other States. Fortunately, we have not been compelled to borrow money since the establishment of Federation. Free-trade representatives of New South Wales will very soon find that the old Tariff has done good for that State, and that if the hew Tariff is passed’ in the form the Government desire, manufactures and employment will increase to a greater extent in New South Wales than in any other State, because she possesses such immense latent wealth. They will also find that Australia will become, I hope during my lifetime, a self-contained country of which we can all be proud.
-Will, the honorable member for Angas state exactly the amendment he intends to’ move?
– The Tariff, as amended, contains a duty of 2d. per lb. under the general Tariff, and a similar duty is imposed on goods from the United Kingdom. I desire to move the excision of the second duty. The duty on candles would then be 2d. all round. We must come to some understanding as to what the Ministry will, do as a result of the voting on the amendment. What I suggest is that we should test the question whether there should 1 be any preference by a vote for or against my amendment. If, however, the duty is left in, the same object will be accomplished, as there will be no preference given, seeing that the duty proposed will be the same under the general Tariff as under the special Tariff. But if it is struck out, the Ministry can take that as an intimation from the Committee that there is to be no preference given at all, and can re-construct the Tariff on that understanding.
– I do not think that the Ministry will do so.
– If they do not they will not be doing their duty. All I can say is that they will have to do so or resign. They must do one thing or the other.
– We might do something else.
-The Treasurer can lead the Committee only up to a certain point. The Ministry must accept a mandate of the Committee or resign. It is absurd for the Treasurer to say that the Government will not follow a direction of the Committee.
– I did not say so. I said that I did not know what course we should take.
– We are now talking of the practice to be followed, and I contend that if this Committee decides that there shall be no preference in the way I suggest, the Ministry will be bound to amend the second column of the Tariff throughout, or allow it to remain as a perfect anomaly and contradiction. The Treasurer, with a certain ‘amount of petulance, says that the Ministry will not accept the vote of the Committee. But we shall see whether they will or not. If it is the wish of the Committee that the question should be tested in the way I propose, I shall be prepared to move that the figure in the second column be struck out.
– I wish to point out that in whatever way the honorable member for Angas moves his amendment, I wish it so put that if it is not carried an opportunity will still be afforded to reduce the amount. I do not wish an amendment carried which would mean that the 2d. per lb. should stand in both columns. I desire that an amendment should be moved which would leave it open to the Committee, if honorable members saw fit, to reduce the duty proposed in the second column.
– If I put the amendment proposed . by the honorable member for Angas in the form he suggests, and the Committee, by rejecting that amendment, decides that the figure shall stand as it is in the second column, no further amendment by way of reduction can be moved.
.- There is another way of dealing with the matter, if Ministers are willing to help the Committee.
– I wish to help the Committee.
– The duty proposed in the two columns is now the same. The Treasurer can, if he pleases, propose a reduction in the duty in one column, in order to make it different. An amendment might be moved reducing the duty on imports from the United Kingdom to i£d. per Jb. That will test the feeling of the Committee as to whether preference should or should not be granted.
– As the result of an amendment which I moved on Friday last, the rate in the general Tariff was reduced from 2½d. to 2d. per lb., and I gave notice of my intention to reduce the rate against importations from the United Kingdom from 2d. to 1½d. per lb.
– Move the amendment now.
– I desire to ask the Chairman if it will be in order. If so, I shall move it.
– It will be quite in order.
.- The Minister promised on Friday last that the honorable member for Angas should be given an opportunity to obtain a straightout vote on the question of preference ; but if the honorable member for Cowper is permitted to move the amendment which he has indicated, which he has been almost begged by the Minister to move -
– That is not so.
– I do not suggest that there has been any verbal communication between the Minister and the honorable member ; but the statements made by the Minister to the Committee were equivalent to asking him to move the amendment. A number of honorable members who are opposed to preference do not wish to vote for any reduction, while an honorable member like the honorable member for Parramatta, who,, no doubt, would like to see candles admitted as cheaply as possible, and yet is in favour of giving preference to the United Kingdom, would be placed in a difficulty, because he would either have to vote for a higher duty, or against preference. I do not believe in preference without reciprocity, but I do not wish other honorable members to be put in a position similar to that which I have occupied on two previous divisions. The Minister distinctly promised that only amendments of the general Tariff would be proposed until the question of preference had been dealt with.
– The honorable member is quite mistaken.
– Then it is unfortunate that there should be these misunderstandings. If the proposal of the honorable member for Angas were adopted, we should have a straight-out division on the question of preference. In my opinion, if the amendment indicated by the honorable member for Cowper is moved, it will confuse the issue.
– I move -
That after the figure “2d.” the words “and on and after 23rd October, 1907 (United Kingdom), per lb., i£d.” be inserted.
The carrying of the amendment will leave the ratio of preference as before, and, I think, will give effect to the general wish of the Committee.
– In my- opinion, the amendment is not the most convenient way of achieving our end, which is to take a test vote on the question of preference or no preference. Why cannot we proceed as we have done in connexion with other items, and take the lowest amount first.
– This is the arrangement made on Friday.)
– In any case, it seems to me most inconvenient. The honorable member for Angas, who is opposed to preference, will be called upon- to vote for the rate of id. per lb. In putting before the Committee a proposition in regard to which we are nearly all in agreement, altogether irrespective pf the merits of preference, the opinion of the Committee on the subject of preference is not properly tested. I submit that the proposal of the honorable member for Angas is the only way of testing the question. If the Ministry desire to help us, there might be an understanding that a vote on the amendment is not to be taken as fixing the duty.
.- I was surprised by the remarks of the honorable member for Corio. It was distinctly stated on Friday that the two Tariffs should be considered separately, so that a clear vote might be taken on the question of preference. The Minister is, therefore, carrying out his promise. It was I who suggested to the honorable member for Cowper that he should move his amendment, but he allowed it to stand over until today, so that there might be a clear vote on the question of preference. It seems to me that this is the easiest way of obtaining a vote on the subject. If the honorable member for Angas and those who are opposed to preference vote against the amendment of the honorable member for Cowper, the opinion of the Committee on the question of preference will be elicited.
.- On the amendment, which, I believe, the honorable member for Angas proposes to move, the question of preference or no preference can be determined.
– If the Government help, but not otherwise.
– Surely the Government cannot decline to help.
– -They will have to sanction the collection of the duty at the lower rate.
– Last week, there were two proposals before the Committee, namely, one for a lower duty on the article, and the other for its free admission. If the honorable member for Angas will move to amend the amendment, the Committee can then determine whether or not they are in favour of the general principle of preference.
– I suggest that if the amendment of the honorable member for Cowper be withdrawn, and an amendment by the honorable member for Angas, to omit the words “ two pence,” be carried, it would create a blank, when, unless the word “free” were inserted, the duty would still be 2d., as it is now. Any honorable member would be at liberty to move that the blank be filled by the insertion of the figures “ 1½d. “ or “ £d.”
– - There is another way by which we can proceed, and which would leave the item intact, and that is to postpone the item until the next item had been dealt with. That would not touch the figures at all, but would raise the question of preference just as completely as it is raised now.
.- Mav I suggest to the Committee that a test vote on the question of preference could be taken on a proposition to omit from the amendment the words “and on and after.” Those who hold that there should be no preference could vote against the insertion of the words. If the anti-preferentialists were in a majority, they could thus destroy the preference. That, it seems to me, is the only way to separate the question of preference from the question of figures. We have* often taken a test vote on the first word of an amendment.
. -The amendment suggested by the leader of the Opposition is open to a slight objection. We have to remember that the imports from England are collected at the lower rates, and that if the question of preference be tested in that way, or in accordance with my suggestion, the Government must still co-operate, either by promising not to sue those who have imported at the lower rates for the difference, or by putting in words to the effect that, notwithstanding the alteration, goods imported before the abolition of preference at the lower rate are not to be charged the extra duty. That is the reason why I ask the Government to cooperate with me. Any intelligent Government would get the Committee out of its present difficulty by making the necessary provision afterwards. If I were to move to strike out the heading of the column, that would raise the whole question, but, as the Chairman has stated, we have already passed some figures under that heading, and it would be inconvenient to go back now and deal with the heading. M we strike out the second figure there will be no preference given, and the Government can provide subsequently that, notwithstanding that goods were imported at the lower rates, no further duty will be charged.
.- The question before the Committee is that on and after to-morrow the duty should be i£d. per lb. Can we not obtain a fair test on the question of preference if an honorable member will move to strike out of the amendment the words “and on and after”?
– That is what I have just suggested.
– Those who were against the grant of preference would vote for the omission of the words “ and on and after.” If they were defeated in the division those words would remain, and we could still deal with the rate of duty. Otherwise I and others would be placed in an awkward position. I do not intend to move, if I can help it, against a reduction of the duty. The test vote ought to be taken in such a way as to preclude the possibility of any honorable members being charged afterwards with having voted against a reduction of the duty. If a test division were taken in the way I have suggested no complication could arise in dealing with the item afterwards, because it would leave the Committee with a free hand as regards the rate of the duty.
– It will be quite competent for any honorable member to move that the amendment be amended by the omission of the words “ and on and after.”
.- To bring the discussion to a point, and relying upon the good sense of the Government to make the necessary alteration to protect those who have imported the goods at the lower rate, I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “ and on and after.”
That, I think, will meet the desire of the Committee.’
– I desire to say that it isscarcely fair to attack me for attempting, to do other than to carry out the arrangement which was made the other evening. It was then clearly understood that the honorable member for Cowper intended totest this question by moving a reduction in the duty proposed to be levied upon, candles imported from the United Kingdom. The honorable member for Angaswished to eliminate the preference altogether, but I objected to that suggestion at the time and it was not’ persevered with. What I then said was that I was quite prepared to give the Committee an opportunity to vote upon this question to-night. I do not care in what direction the proposal is made so long as it does not result in any complication of the issue. Why I raised the question in the first instance wasthat if the original proposal of the honorable member for Angas had been submitted in the form in which such proposals are usually submitted, the proposed preferencewould, in any case, have been eliminated. I do not withdraw, from the position which I took up the other evening.
– What is the position now?
– The honorable member for Cowper has moved to reduce theduty upon candles imported from the United! Kingdom by Jd. per lb., and upon his proposal the honorable member for Angas hasmoved the omission of the words “ and onand after.’-‘ I take it that if those wordsare excised the effect will be to destroy the preference proposed to be granted tothe United Kingdom right through theschedule. It will probably destroy the Government too.
– No cracking of the whip !
– I am not cracking the whip. The question is onewhich has to be determined by the PrimeMinister. If the words in question are not struck out the amendment will stand asit does at present, and the duty can bereduced to 1½d. in the case of goods imported from the United Kingdom.
.- I think that fewer references to possibilities as the result of the vote of the Committee would be more desirable in the interests of that independence which every Parliament ought to have in discharging its publicduties. If Ministers, prematurely - on thefirst breath of opposition - throw such decisive statements across the table, in manycases they practically close the debate be- fore it has begun. I think that such expressions should be avoided in a House which is supposed to be composed of independent, representatives of the people. I am very glad that upon the present occasion we may hope to have the satisfaction of hearing a statement from the Prime Minister upon this important question. I propose therefore to deal with it much more fully* than I should have done under other circumstances. The Treasurer concluded his remarks with a very patriotic peroration, in which he aspired to the time when Australia will be a self-contained country. It is a noble ambition, but an impossible one. There is no country in the world which has ever been, or which ever, can be, self-contained.. If we settled fifty persons in the centre of .the most abundant natural resources, with every product capable of satisfying their pleasures, or tastes, or industrial dispositions, there would still remain something wanting without which the whole of their wealth would lead not to happiness but to misery - I refer to intercourse with other intelligent human beings in other countries. Take the case of the United States, with their marvellous natural resources, marvellous population, and with the most rigid protective policy the world has ever seen. If honorable members study the statistics of that country, they will find that in spite of their enormous export trade they have an enormous import trade, which is valued at several hundred millions sterling, or more than $1,000,000,000 dollars annually. These sentiments are often unsound. Man was not created to live in isolation from his fellow man in different parts of the world. One would think that the human being in a state of isolation, who had everything that he could desire, would reach the highest pitch of happiness and wealth. But he would not. He would be the most melancholy and miserable individual in the world unless he had the freest intercourse with his fellow man. We ought to feel deeply impressed by the eloquent aspirations of the leading protectionists in Australia for a closer commercial intercourse with the greatest freetrade country in the world. It is one of the most striking developments of Australian protection that we find the eloquence of its leading advocates devoted to an expression of the most profound desire to cultivate closer commercial relations with the greatest free-trade nation in the world, which happens to be the mother country. How can there be closer commercial intercourse without an increase in the exchange of commodities between the two countries? Would it be commercial intercourse to exchange sovereigns for goods - for Great Britain to send out her millions of pounds in coin or bullion each year in exchange for Australian meat or wheat ? Would that be commercial exchange ? No ! The expression conveys the idea of the exchange of commodities which are produced in the respective countries.
– Gold is also a commodity.
– But when we talk of commercial interchange, we do not speak of gold as a commercial commodity. It is used to pay for an article which has been transmitted.
– It is something more than an ordinary commodity, in that its value never depreciates.
– It is a medium of ex- ‘ change, but it is not a medium of interchange. There is a great difference between the two expressions. But I wish to direct the attention of the Committee, first, to the fact that the perorations of the greatest protectionists in Australia are now being devoted to a development of commercial interchange between the great markets and the great manufacturing powers of the Mother ‘Country and the great markets and producing centres of Australia. Apart from the patriotic consideration, this fact represents a striking development in the political attitude of leading protectionists. The theory of protection itself is absolutely opposed to any such arrangement. The theory upon which Australian: protection has been founded always has been that there are industries in Australia which in their period of infancy must be protected from the pressure of outside competition on the part of older nations in a more advanced industrial condition. Well, that policy is entirely opposed to the policy of increasing the hold of British manufactures upon the markets of Australia. The two policies do not harmonise. They are absolutely opposed one to the other. The first question that I want to ask on this Tariff is - Are those duties in the second schedule - which form the offer of a preference to the Mother Country - supposed to be a sufficient protection for Australian industries, or not ? If they are not a sufficient protection for Australian industries, the Ministry are not faithful to the mandate which, according to their own statement, they received from the people. We are told - and I have never denied it - that the result of the general election has shown a distinct desire on the part of the people for a protectionist policy. Did that mean a sufficient protection or an insufficient protection? Was it a verdict for real protection or not? Does this Tariff - in the second column - represent the views of the Government as to rates of duties which are sufficient for Australian industries? If they are sufficient for Australian industries, there is no real preference given. If they are not sufficient for Australian industries, there is a preference given at the expense of the main principle of the Administration and of honorable members opposite. It is impossible to reconcile those two things.
– What about diverting foreign trade into British channels?
– I want first to start with a broad view of the tests which weought to apply in this discussion. That is the dilemma which the Government are in - either these duties against the Mother Country are sufficient to protect Australia or they are not. If they are sufficient to protect Australia, the suggested preference is a sham. If they are not sufficient to protect Australia, the protectionist policy of the Administration is a sham. That is the issue which I put. My honorable friend the member for Wimmera puts a very fair question to me. He asks whether something cannot be done which would change the current of foreign trade. Now, that is an aspect of the matter which is well worthy of consideration. But I want first to take the broad aspect of the policy of British preference, and then deal with it in detail. I shall not overlook the honorable member’s question, I hope. But let us endeavour to know where we are, and what this thing means. Take the rates in the second column. If they have safeguarded Australian manufacturers from British competition,, then I say the preference is a sham to that extent.
– The right honorable member is assuming that the rates fixed in the second column will shut out all importations.
– I aim asking questions; I am not assuming anything. It is .impossible for me to say whether the rates of duty will or will not shut out importations. Perhaps the Government, as the authors of the Tariff, could say whether they think it will or will not have that effect. But if the duties are sufficient to shut out foreign and British competition in manufactures, there is nothing in them from a preference point of view. If they are insufficient to shut out British competition, there is a good deal in them that is hostile to the main principle of this Tariff. That is the dilemma which I put to the Government. I admit at once that there is a great deal to be said apart altogether from that’ dilemma and on the point suggested by the honorable member for Wimmera. I wish to say parenthetically that, much as I differ from the views of the Prime Minister, so far as ability and force are concerned he was a perfectly worthy representative of Australia at the Conference. So that I hope it will be understood that my criticisms have no personal bearing. The impression which the Prime Minister made upon the people of the Mother Country was-evidently a very strong one. To us in Australia there was the difficulty of quite grasping the change which had come over the Prime Minister in his ardour to encourage closer commercial intercourse with Great Britain. If it were a mere desire, under cover of a cloud of beautiful words, to entice the people of the Mother Country into a policy which would simply yield a large return for Australia, that would be an attempt of which I am sure no one would feel the slightest approval. There must be a serious purpose beneath this policy. But while the Treasurer pictured Australia as a country which is to be peopled by means of a protectionist policy, the Prime Minister in his brilliant visions pictured Australia as peopled owing to the consumption of Australian wheat by the millions of the people of the Mother Country. The Prime Minister over and over again has pointed out that if there were a preference to wheat grown in countries like Australia and Canada, such an enormous impetus would be given to our farming enterprise that Australia would indeed enter upon a career of unexampled industry and prosperity. These pictures can scarcely be made to hang together. The one picture1 suggests that a Tariff wall will enable Australia to be peopled and developed,’ while the other picture suggests a free interchange between the manufacturers of England and the primary producers of Australia. In what other way can we encourage British industry except by) opening our doors to the manufactures of the Mother Country? If you talk to the people of England of opening the door to their wheat or their turnips they will laugh at you.. You can offer a trading inducement to the people of England only by opening your doors to the enterprise of their manufacturers. If you are prepared to sacrifice your manufacturers for- the benefit of your farmers, say so. Because if this is to be an honest bargain, it is not something for nothing. It is something for something. It must mean that or it is a s’ham. Well, this something for something must mean more than an interference with’ the current of foreign trade. At the present moment the Mother Country, in spite of your protective Tariff and your barriers, sends more than £26,000.000 worth of goods per annum into Australia. The whole of the foreign trade of the world with Australia is only about one half of that, and one half of that trade would be impossible to the Mother Country if you opened your ports to-morrow, because it consists of articles which could not be produced in that country. In other words, one-half of your foreign trade is a trade which you could not divert in that direction. Let me just show by reference to two or three items only the magnificent hold which this “decaying” Mother Country has in the markets of Australia. Having no preference here, having to compete on equal terms with ‘ the mighty enterprise of an awakened Germany and of the magnificent United States on this impartial battle ground, what is the position of the Mother Country ? In respect to three items - piece goods, cotton and linen, woollens, and iron plates, corrugated and galvanized- products to the value of £6,000,000 sterling a year come into Australia from the Mother Country. How much from all the other countries in the world? Only £298,000 from France, Germany, and the United States - from- the cheap white and coloured labour of the world, to whom our market had been as free as it was to the people of the Mother Country. What sort of _ substantial advantage would Great Britain ‘ reap if we wiped out that £298,000 of foreign trade altogether? It is not by wiping out the ‘foreign trade that we can give Great Britain a substantial advantage ; that must be done by wiping out our Australian manufactures.
– Does the honorable and learned member desire to wipe out Australian manufactures?
– No; I am only talking ot a policy, and not expressing any personal wishes. But we owe to the people of the Mother Country straight plain talk. We are told that the Treasurer, at the Conference, deplored the fact that the lifeblood of England was being sucked out of her bf foreign trade. I have been looking at Australian figures in regard to this neutral battle-ground. I find that, during the four years from 1902 to 1906, the increase of imports from the Mother Country was £2,700,000 worth, as against an increase of under £200,000 worth from France, Germany, and the United States combined, there being a positive decrease in the case of France and the. United States. Whether protectionists or free-traders, we are glad to see, written in the undeniable figures of our own trade statistics, the marvellous energy and success which still remain with the industries of the Mother Country. Those results have not been won by favoritism or preferential trade. The Treasurer, at the Imperial Conference, not only deplored the sucking of the life-blood out of the Mother Country, but said that, in spite of his having a father and a grandfather from the old land, something more was wanted - that some further link was required. What was it? The missing link he longed for was a closer unity of commerce between the Mother Country and the rest of the Empire. What a strange utterance from this rabid protectionist Treasurer !
– Hear, hear.
– And I heartily applaud that noble sentiment. But we cannot have much closer commerce with the manufacturing millions of England, without impinging on the developing industries of protected Australia; we cannot have a displacement in favour of one force, without injuriously affecting another force. The Prime Minister at the Conference, in a burst of eloquence which, happily, never costs him an effort, made this statement -
I am assured by an authority that a substantial preference to the goods of Great Britain-
Let me stop there. In 1902, there was a resolution in favour of substantial preference ; and, in April and May of this year, the Imperial Conference, after debate, and in spite of the attitude of the British Government, deliberately re-affirmed the substantial preference of 1902. Consequently, the Commonwealth Government stands pledged in honour to a substantial preference - not only a preference, but a substantial preference - an unconditional, substantial preference without any bargaining for something in return. The Government stand pledged twice over to an unconditional substantial preference. Can we be surprised at the attitude of the British Government, although our Prime Minister, with his great eloquence and ability, brought all his genius to bear on their position? Was there ever a. more extraordinary, expedition outside the pages of Don Quixote than that in which the Prime Minister engaged when he went to the Mother Country to upset a free-trade policy which had just been affirmed by millions of the electors of Great Britain, and which, in the House of Commons, had been further affirmed by about 500 votes to 98? Was there ever anything more, I shall not say ridiculous, but anything more chivalrous in the region of practical politics, than for a practical statesman to go to the people and Ministers of the Mother Country, with the enormous mass of parliamentary support behind them, and expect, by the charm of Australian eloquence, to melt away those solid battlements behind which millions of the people stood - to charm away the solemn faith of the British Government, and destroy, with a breath, the policy on which, for good or evil, the destinies of the Mother Country solidly rest to-day ? It was one of the most extraordinary positions. Can we be surprised that the British” Government had to say “ no “ ? What would our Prime Minister have thought had the British Ministry said “ yes “ ? How unfair, as the Treasurer practically did, to put the Ministers of the old country in a false position, as if they were ungracious and offensive in their attitude of negation. What would have been said if we had had an overwhelming protectionist vote at our elections, affirming the policy of protection, and British statesmen had come here, and at a Conference board, thundered with all. their eloquence, asking the Ministers of Australia to abandon their protectionist policy as a fetish - as a thing which had no real sense or substance in it? What would have been said of such British Ministers? What would our newspapers have said of them? I think that Mr. Asquith made one of the manliest expositions pf the question I have ever seen in a heated controversy.
– Hear, hear.
– This is what Mr. Asquith said -
What is the good of protecting and fostering the growth of native industries, if at the same time you are going to admit against them into the market the most dangerous competitor in the whole world - because that is what the British manufacturer is?
That is what the British manufacturers are, and it is the sort of talk we would expect from a protectionist. But Mr. Asquith had the manliness to realize what the policy of protection in Australia meant. He said: -
You are not going to admit anybody, British or foreign, to compete on level terms in your markets in respect of the industries which you desire to protect. You could not do it. It is a negation of protection. Obviously the thing itself is contradictory. I will not go into the question whether the British manufacturer will remain the most dangerous. I think at this moment he still is, at any rate, very dangerous, and you cannot have him in. You know you cannot without abandoning protection
Is that not a straightforward statement of the case from a protectionist’s point of view? I think it is - a straightforward recognition of the view of protectionists. If the protectionists say to the Mother Country, “ We are going to give up our policy of shutting you out; Ave see you can do us a great deal of good if we cripple our manufactures for the benefit of our farmers,” they will make the only substantial offer that can be made. Listen to the words of General Botha, who was one of the bitterest, although one of the bravest and straightest, enemies the British race ever had. Sitting at the Conference table; he made a very short speech, from which I shall quote a few words. He said -
The resolution of 1902 should continue to stand as it does-
That is the unconditional substantial preference proposal.
I do not see any chance of pressing upon the Mother Country any addition to that resolution. The position that we take in the Transvaal now that we have responsible government, is that the Mother Country ought to leave us alone as much as possible to regulate our own affairs, and, therefore, it is all the more difficult for me to come here and interfere with matters concerning the Mother Country. So far -as I can judge it appears to me that the British people made their voices and opinion heard on this matter during the last general election in England. . . Although no preference is given by the Mother Country to the Transvaal, the bond beween the Transvaal and the- Mother Country will not thereby be weakened. That is all i have to say.
That erstwhile bitter enemy of England - now one of the Ministers of the British
Crown - manfully says in effect, “ Just as we claim the right to regulate our own affairs, so we leave to the Mother Country the same right. We respect her decisions, and whether she gives us this or that or refrains from doing so, our attachment to her will not be weakened.” The unconditional preference which the Commonwealth Ministers propose to give is one to which, if substantial, no human being ought, I think,’ to object. I look upon the idea of giving an unconditional preference to the Mother Country as a generous one, and to the extent to which the Ministry fight for it, I am not one to criticise them. If they carry out their pledge of a substantial preferential treatment, I shall be the first to applaud their efforts. It is a generous policy, and, having regard to the facts of the case, one which ought to commend itself. It is all tha more striking, coming as it does from public men who are protectionists ; since it is much easier for free-traders to support preferential trade, as incidentally reducing, or seeming to reduce, the height of protectionist duties. I have no word of criticism to offer against the conduct of a Ministry in standing up as the champions .of substantial preference; but the question is: Have Ministers fulfilled their promise? What would have been the shock to that august assemblage in London if, after the impassioned speech delivered by the Prime Minister of Australia, an anticipatory draft of the Tariff now before us had been laid on the table of the Conference? What would have been the shock of astonishment that would have run through the British Isles if the people had heard then of what was to be done by. those who were clamouring for the imposition of taxes on the very bread and meat of struggling millions - under a glorious programme of lightening the burdens of competition and opening the bright gates of Australia to the depressed, ‘oppressed, and decaying British manufacturers? What would have been said if, immediately after the Prime Minister’s speech at the Conference, the people of Great Britain had been told that on the main lines of British industry the Australian duties, in some cases, were to be doubled? When the oratory of the Prime Minister was gushing so freely there was a duty of 15 per cent, on woollen piece goods. .We have now a duty of 30 per cent, against such imports from the Mother Country. The duty has been doubled. The duty on machinery was, in. respect to a number of lines, i2h per cent. ; it is now. 20 and 25 per cent. I am not quite sure whether the duty on cotton and linen piece good’s has been varied. If I remember rightly, it was 5 per cent, under the old Tariff, and that duty remains as against British imports, whilst those from foreign countries are dutiable at 10 per cent. But let us look for a moment at the main lines of British export. Cotton manufactures, £100,000,000 ; woollen manufactures, £32,000,000; linen, jute, and apparel, £19,000,000. I think that we now have duties ranging from 25 to 40 per cent, on apparel imported from the Mother Country.
– And that is the so-called preference !
– This is a first instalment; there is more to follow. The Prime Minister, through a newspaper reporter, sent a cablegram to the merchants of Great Britain, saying “ There is more to come.lr Did he mean another 20 per cent, on apparel - another message of brotherly love? The British export of metals, including new ships, are of the value of £40,0001,000, and the exports of machinery are valued at .£20,000,000. We have a total value of £217,000,000 in respect of these five items. Has the duty on a single line been altered in favour of theMother Country ? Not one’; in four case* the duties have been either doubled or substantially increased. That does not fit inwith the glorious position which the Prime Minister took up at that distinguished gathering at Home. We can readily give a substantial preference if we begin by doubling the duty on imports from theMother Country. This decaying MotherCountry, whose expiring energies elicited thewarmest sympathy of the. Treasurer of Australia, has, during the last ten years, increased her trade by £322,000,000, or 431 per cent. May I remind honorablemembers that these figures do not relate merely to imports. Great Britain, in tenyears, had an increased importation of the value of £156,000,000, but an increasein exports of £166,000,000. That is the position of the poor decaying Mother Country ! Her trade has now risen to- £1,000,000,000. In order to show thather marvellous position as a countrythrough which products are exchanged” by other countries is in no waydamaged, may I remind the Treasurer that, during this ten years’” period, the increase in her imports which were re-exported was £25,000,000. Not only are her great internal industries expanding at an unprecedented rate, but that marvellous, that wonderful feature of her commerce, which must excite the envy of all nations - the fact that, although she is situated in a remote and inconvenient corner of the globe, she has a re-export trade in respect of imported articles of nearly £100,000,000 a year - is well maintained. The pity and anxiety of Commonwealth Ministers at Home for the condition of England was rather thrown away. They hit upon ‘a time when the Mother Country had never seemed so majestic in her power and strength. Duties on wheat and raw materials were asked for. Do honorable members forget that in those three little kingdoms there is a larger area under crop than there is in the whole continent of Australia? We hear men speak of the declining, decaying agricultural industries on a little spot of earth which has been cultivated for 1,000 years, yet there are more acres under crop to-day in the United Kingdom than there are in Australia. The product of the crops of the United Kingdom in a year is 256,500,000 bushels, in addition to about 26,000,000 tons of potatoes and turnips. Surely when protectionists talkof a tax on food, they must think of beginning with some protection for the farmers of England. What anextraordinary spectacle would be presented by the adoption of a policy which excluded the farmers of the Mother Country in favour of the farmers of her great dependencies. The fact of the matter is that this policy of putting taxes on food is not a policy that ever came out of any Liberal camp in the world. It is the old desperate policy of the land-owners of the Mother Country. We ought to remember that. Englishmen, down to sixty or seventy years ago, were half-starved, in order to promote the comfort of a few rich landlords. That was the effect of the food duties in the Mother Country, and all the Tories of England are behind the Radicals of Australia in order that a tax may be placed on food to inflate the value of their agricultural lands. That is the influence which brings this embattled array behind the Australian Prime Minister, Was it not an extraordinary spectacle to find all the Tory squires of England arrayed behind the Prime Minister and Treasurer of the Australian Commonwealth? What a grand entourage they had in all those people, whose predecessors, in old days, fattened on the miseries of the poor ! The fact is that a horror of taxation upon food is in the very spinal marrow of the children of the people who were so deeply wronged in days gone by.
– By whom?
– By the very interests which the suggested duties on food would help again to-day. Who is it that owns those farms in England? They are mainly owned by men who have enough without the advantage of a duty. May I suggest to honorable members that even the decaying agriculture of England has more hands engaged in it than all the hands in all the industries of Australia - farming, pastoral, and manufacturing?
– Which shows that we want a good land tax.
– That is a local matter. It is well in politics to have more than one idea. That decaying country has engaged in agriculture - its most decaying interest - 2,200,000 persons. There is an aspect of this matter which, I think must appeal to honorable members. The Mother Country has never been slow to respond to the wishes of the people of any of her dependencies. Australia has had - as Canada has had - many proofs of the readiness of the Mother Country to meet their every wish and every desire to the fullest possible extent. Why is it that Britain stands so staunchly against these proposals? I think for obvious reasons. In the first place, we are thanked for any generous preference which we give to the Mother Country unconditionally. In the second place, the people of the Mother Country have not yet realized - and I think never will - that by putting duties on food they would increase the cheapness of the necessaries of life. The bitter experience of their ancestors taught them differently. Ministers like the Prime Minister and Treasurer of the Commonwealth, if they really believe that duties would make food cheaper for the people of the Mother Country, may be full of sympathy and humanity for those people. They say : “If you would only carryout our ideas of managing the affairs of the Mother Country, you would give your people bread cheaper than ever, and enter upon a new lease of prosperity in a sympathetic, practical relationship with the vast self-governing dependencies of the Empire.” But the people of England, rightly or wrongly, do not believe that. They believe that taxes on food would make food dearer. They believe that taxes on raw material would cripple the manufacturing strength of’ the Mother ‘Country. A self-contained people ! Where would England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales be if they were a self-contained people? What a miserable insignificant remnant they would be if their power were limited by their geographical boundaries ! In that remote little spot, far removed from the currents of the great oceans of the world, there is a power which extends its grasp and control over the whole surface of the globe ! Leaving out the selfgoverning States altogether, there are 400,000,000 human beings in direct and absolute subjection to the power of ‘ Great Britain. There are 11,000,000 square miles of the earth’s surface over which floats the flag of the British Isles as a token of supremacy and irresistible power. A self -contained country ! Why, the glory of Great Britain is that she draws from all climes and all races nourishment to renew the marvellous vitality of her majestic strength. Talk to her of the closed ports of the world, and she will say, “ They have been closed against me for a long time, and my people are still thriving.” The people of the Mother Country find that those who shut themselves in give to those who do not an opportunity they would not otherwise have. What would be the position of the Mother Country in twenty years’ time if the United States opened their doors to the abundance and the resources of the world? Where would the Mother Country be if free-trade were the policy of the world? It is the fact that her manufacturers can bring every resource from all countries of the world without a toll or a tax, which constitutes one of the secrets of her marvellous greatness,
– Where would she be if she paid a ‘living wage to her workers ?
– Is it not a wonderful thing that she pays so much? If the people of England do not get a living wage, had we not better let their bread alone? Has the honorable member enough acquaintance with history toe know that seventy or eighty years ago, when England had protection in its most absolute form, her people were a writhing mass of poverty and starvation?
– So they are now. They are the most impoverished people in the world to-day.
– Here is patriotism ! Here is the advantage of a visit to the Mother Country ! Here is an Australian statesman ! Does he know that the working men in the unprotected factories of England work at least one hour a day less than do the men in the factories of the United States ?
– The Prime Minister of England, when we were there, said that there were 12,000,000 people starving in that country.
– He was something like our Prime Minister - an orator.
– Does not the right honorable member think that we are living, all round now, in more enlightened times than were the people of eighty years ago?
– Can it be so if there are 12,000,000 people starving in the richest country for its size in the world? Can we be improving if that be the fact?
– Honorable members are all apparently advocating Socialism.
– Might I suggest to those who say these 42,000,000 of our English, Scotch, and Irish brethren are a miserable race of starving paupers, that if there are 12,000,000 of starving people in Great Britain, they should, at least, allow the bread of the world to enter freely into British ports. What a marvellous thing it is that the workers of Australia should shut their ears to the appeals of the workers of England. Surely if there is a prescriptive right to statesmanship in a man’s position as a member of a Labour Party, those distinguished gentlemen who are members of the Labour Party of Great Britain are worthy of some respect. Can we forget the appeal which Labour members in England have made to their fellow workmen in Australia? And if so many people are starving, can we not understand it? Who clamours to be taxed on bread when he is starving, when he has not enough food for himself, his wife, and children ? Who clamours for a tax on raw ‘ materials that would interfere with the chance of raw materials being imported from all over the world, and with the facility and freedom ‘with which they could be brought into his ports to be converted into articles of human ingenuity ? If you injure the British worker in this respect, will you not increase his misery ?
– Nobody advocates a tax. It is a duty, and there is a great distinction between the two.
– I think that the honorable member for Corio, even as a protectionist, will admit that if a country is not able to produce enough for its requirements, then such a duty as is suggested has all the elements of a tax. It may be a matter of controversy in large countries where sparse populations are able easily to supply their own wants. For instance, I admit that a duty on cereals here would be like the humour of a Christmas pantomime so far as any real benefit to the farmers of Australia would be concerned; bub ‘in Eng-‘ land, where they cannot produce sufficient food for themselves,, surely such a duty must be a tax. It seems to me that that ought to be pretty obvious. What magic can be worked in such conditions? I should like also to point out. that whilst the trade of the self-governing dependencies of the Empire, from which this urgent appeal comes, is a very valuable trade, and compared per head is probably the most valuable trade with the Mother 1 Country - I think there is very little doubt about that - still as a matter of actual employment at present, as represented, at any rate, in British exports, this is the relationship of the trade of the self-governing dominions to the trade of the Mother Country : The trade of the Mother Country with Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand amounts to £53,000,000 a year. The trade with British dependencies other than these amounts to £60,000,000 a year. The dependencies that are not self-governed take a larger share of British exports than do the self-governing dependencies of the Empire. Foreign countries take British trade to the value of £216,000,000 a year, so. that we have £276,000,000 of trade between England and countries that are not self-governing dependencies of the British Empire. When £276,000,000 are compared with £53,000,000, honorable members will understand that it is a matter of grave interest to the people of the Mother Country not to endanger the stability of a trade which is so very important as this trade with other parts of the Empire and with other parts of the’ world is shown to be.
– We are giving them another £r ,000.000 under these proposals.-
– That will help them. Let us take the case of India. That country has an open market. The Mother Country sells to India £46,000,000 worth of goods, and all the other countries of the world together sell to India only £20,000,000 worth of goods. In the free and open contest of enterprise in the East Great Britain sends to India goods to more than double the value of those sent by all the rest of the people of the world. It is an extraordinary fact that whilst foreign countries send only £20,000,000 worth of goods a year to India they buy from India £73,000,000 worth a year. The position is this: The excess of purchases by India from the United Kingdom amounts in value to £19,000,000, whilst the excess of sales to other countries is £53,000,000. Honorable members will see that Great Britain has the lion’s share of selling to India, while it is left to other countries of the world to perform the useful operation of buying Indian products.
– Because India puts an Excise duty on goods which England manufactures.
– I ami talking of foreign trade, and that has nothing to do with Excise.
– Where India competes with England she imposes special duties.
– I am not talking of the competition of India with England or with other countries, but with the sales of India to other countries with which Excise duties have nothing to do. Foreign countries send to India £20,000,000 worth of goods a year and buy £73,000,000 worth. That shows that the people of India must think twice before they favorably consider proposals for preferential trade. It is the foreign countries outside’ the Empire that form the backbone of India’s ‘trade. They ask her to buy little and they buy much. The Mother Country sells much and buys little. This is only one of those problems which men who have the responsible custody of the affairs of the Empire have to consider. In Australia there is a desire to help our farmers and a fear that we may injure our manufacturers. That is what paralyzes preferential trade when its practical phases are considered. When the Prime Minister was so beautifully eloquent in the Mother Country at the table of the Imperial Conference we had in. force a duty of 15 per cent, on exports of apparel from the Mother Country. We have now added to it 25 per cent, and made it 40 per cent. What would have been said by General Botha, who cannot talk much English but who has a sagacious brain, if on the conclusion of the eloquent oration of the Prime Minister of Australia he had been told that the hon- orable gentleman had the intention when he got back to Australia to make the duty on a large line of British exports 40 per cent, instead of 15 per cent.? Honorable members will perceive the divided duty. The makers of apparel in Australia were knocking at the door ; they got in, and the Mother Country was shut out. Was the 15 per cent, fence put up to a 40 per cent, elevation out of love for the Mother Country or out of a desire to promote the industrial interests of manufacturers of apparel in the Commonwealth? We cannot do both ; we must make a choice. The duty on woollen piece goods under the old Tariff was 15 per cent. . I wonder what the gentlemen who were present at the Imperial Conference would have said if they had been told that that duty was to be increased to 30 per cent. If they had been told that the Mother Country was to get 5 per cent, preference out of the additional percentage, what a sensation of disgust would be created amongst; the millions of British people. Great Britain has to buy her wool from us, and to carry it across the oceans of the globe to the mills in which it is manufactured into piece goods. She takes our raw material, and returns to us the finished product. Surely if there is room for the application of this benign policy, it was not necessary to double the duty. Yet the duty has been doubled in respect to importations from the Mother Country. I have already spoken about the machinery duties. I ask .honorable members to recollect that, whilst the position of Great Britain is a grand one, the enormous Empire under her flag entails vast’ responsibilities. The 42,000,000 v human beings who constitute the population of Great Britain are responsible for the security and protection of 420,000,000 scattered over the face of the earth, and for the integrity of 11,000,000 square miles of territory in all parts of the globe. Just think of the “ starving “ population of the Mother Country being called upon to raise £73,000,000 a year for the <> defence of Australia and other parts of the Empire. The ordinary annual expenditure of the United Kingdom upon its Army and Navy is £66,000,000, and its capital expenditure for the last year for which I could obtain the figures - I think 1906 - was £7,000,000. Great Britain spends £73,000,000 a year in protecting the British Empire, and we are to withdraw our little contribution of £200,000. We are to break the agreement made by the people of Australia with the Mother Country. We are to say to the “starving” 12,000,000 of the old land, who contribute towards the £73,000,000 paid for our protection, “ Give us back our £200,000. We are not rich enough without it to buy a few torpedo boats for our ports, and want to spend the money ourselves1.” The whole of the Customs and Excise revenue of the United Kingdom - about £66,500,000 - is absorbed in expenditure on the Army and Navy. What would be thought if it were proposed that’ Australia should spend the whole of her Customs and Excise revenue on the defence of the Commonwealth? In addition to the vital necessity of free-trade in food products, even to the injury of her own farmers, and in raw material, another consideration stands for a great deal with the British people. If the conquests of Great Britain had meant the exclusion of the peoples of the other nations of the world from the conquered territories, Great Britain would not have the Empire which she has to-day. Of course, the British fleets have helped to keep other nations quiet ; but these earth-hungry nations have allowed Great Britain to annex territory after territory, because her policy of an open door gives free entry to them as well as to her own people. That wonderful fact is one of the pillars on which the security of the British Empire rests. The inducement to attack a country whose territories are open to your trade, and who is a large consumer of your products, is not so strong as the inducement to attack -al country which shuts her ports and territories against you. The sentiment of friendship between the United States and the Mother Country is steadily growing. Has the fact that Great Britain buys from the United States £130,000,000 worth of goods a year nothing to do with that ? Do not honorable members think that Americans look upon this marvellous fact as a strong reason for not cultivating unfriendly feelings? According to the protectionist idea, what a marvellous convenience Great Britain is to the United States, from which every year she buys £130,0*00,000 worth of goods, and to which she sends only about £25,000,000 worth in exchange. According to the protectionist idea, Great Britain is beggaring herself to tEe extent of £100,000,000 a year, which is the balance of trade in favour of the United States. But that and other facts in connexion with the open door policy of the Mother Country are a guarantee for a great deal. I wish now to refer to one or two of the utterances of the Prime Minister at the Conference -
Australia obtains fair play from no foreign country.
What an extraordinary complaint ! How can a protectionist country expect anything from another protectionist country? Have we been coddling the manufacturers of Germany ? Have we been earning their gratitude by giving them specially con- ‘ siderate treatment? I think not. All the duties on our protectionist Tariff are as much directed against Germany as against the Mother Country.
Preferential trade will enable Australia to secure a large proportion of the British trade.
– Hear, hear.
– Now, what is the honest finish of that sentence? -
Preferential trade would enable Australia to secure a large proportion of British trade and would enable British manufacturers to secure a large proportion of Australian trade.
That is the finished sentence. Did the honorable and learned gentleman mean that?
– Hear, hear.
– I am very glad to hear that, and I regret that I did not see it. I am not going to disparage altogether this system of preference, because it would not be fair to do that.
– What is the honorable member trying to do?
– I am endeavouring to express myself as well as I can. What I wish to point out is that, as compared with the Bill of 1906, this is an infinitely-
– What Bill?
– The little Bill with the white label.
– Let us get on and not waste time.
– I hope that we are not wasting time. What is the use of our cudgelling our brains over preferential trade in respect of 150 or 300 items if there is going to be put in a condition which will make the Bill waste paper? My honorable friends can offer as many preferences as they like if they put in a postscript which makes it impossible for the Mother Country to accept them. In spite of her alleged decay she carries more than half the cargoes of the world ; she sells £10,000,000 worth of Britishmade ships to other countries every year. Australia, we are told, has much to gain by preferential treatment. I do not want to deny that at all. Duties on raw material would never be agreed to. But supposing that Great Britain could arrive at a stage at which she thought it was possible to impose duties upon her foodstuffs, I do not say that that might not be of substantial advantage to Australia. I think it would. The amount of the advantage might be problematical, but look what it means. It means a two-story preference. In the first place, the duty would operate as a protection to the 250,000,000 bushels of agricultural, produce which are cropped in Great Britain every year. That would be the immediate result so far as these 250,000,000 bushels are concerned. Then there would be another story of a special character intended to discourage the import of foreign foods. Thus we get two stories in this preference proposal, both of which are directed against the free and untaxed supply of food to the British people. I am sure that no honorable member upon the other side of the Chamber would wish to give a penny in the name of patriotism or of preference in order to get 5s. from the “ starving “ millions of the Mother Country. I do not think that my honorable friends have reached that depth of meanness. In dealing with the 42,000,000 of people swarming on that little surface - 12,000,000 of whom are said to be in want - surely the protectionists of Australia have not descended to such a depth of meanness and hypocrisy as to wish to put burdens upon the food of those millions without intending to give them shilling for shilling and pound for pound. I do not think that any honorable member would approach this question in that spirit.
– Then, why make the suggestion ?
– Because I wish to draw a conclusion from it. My honorable friend’s vision does not go far enough. This is not a matter for argument - it is supposed to be a business suggestion to the people of the Mother Country, its object being to induce them to rebuild the foundations of their fiscal policy. That, in itself, is no light matter. Unless protectionists are prepared to give substantial entry to British manufactures into Australia, preferential trade can never ‘become a reality, because, when it comes to a matter of payment, pound for pound will be wanted by the people of the Mother Country. They will not be content to give us a pound and accept in exchange
– Mr. Chamberlain would perhaps do as he did at Glasgow - first make a speech upon preference and afterwards correct it.
– How could the Prime Minister face his party in Australia if he had said to Mr. Chamberlain, “ I will give you substance for substance. If you open your” ports to our wheat, I will open our ports to your manufactures?” How, in the first place, could he say such a thing ?
– Mr. Chamberlain is the root and branch of the whole policy.
– Probably. But the honorable member must recollect that we have responsible statesmen - apart from Mr. Chamberlain - making suggestions and proposing schemes. This Committee must recognise that our Prime Minister could not say; to Mr. Chamberlain, “ We will allow you to make substantial inroads upon our manufactures if you grant our wheat substantial entry into your markets.” That is the point upon which all these reciprocal arrangements are shipwrecked. All sorts of attempts have been made, but they have always broken down because of the rival interests. The reciprocal arrangement with New Zealand was no sooner made than it was repudiated. It was practically stillborn. But that agreement was one of slight importance as compared with an ar rangement with the Mother Country. I ask . honorable members to listen to these words of the Prime Minister -
Australia has much to gain by preferential treatment, nor is it obvious what it is possible for her to lose if she in her turn gave preference to the produce of Great Britain.
What can that mean? If it meant a genuine, substantial relaxing of the obstacles in the way of British competition in Australia, how could the statement be made? Of course it could have been made in regard to Australian farmers, inasmuch as they .would not be injured by such an arrangement. But how could it be said of Australian manufacturers, assuming, of course, that the preference was to be substantial? If we only intended to pick out a bit of foreign trade here and there, and to say to Great Britain, “ We will impose heavy duties upon that trade with foreign countries so that you may ultimately get it,” that would be another matter. But if the preference were to be substantial - if it were intended to help great industries, such as the machinery, woollen and apparel industries - great lines of British production which are also important lines of Australian manufacture - if it were to injure the infant industries of Australia, it is very questionable whether the Prime Minister could carry his party with him to that extent. Here is a sublime sentence -
It is a case of all for each and each for all.
What a magnificent sentiment ! One would think that it came out of the New Testament. The Treasurer glowed in the hope for a time when Australians will be a selfcontained people. That ideal is the very opposite of the sentiment of “All for each and each for all.” The two Ministers do not keep step.
– At any rate, I am . consistent.
– I admit that when the honorable member does not indulge in flights of oratory he is much safer than when he does.
– I am not “ Yesno.”
– The sentence which I have just quoted embodies the biggest “ yes-no “ ever constructed in this world. Now that the Treasurer has used that epithet, I say that while he would go down to a factory in South Melbourne and make the employes believe that he would sacrifice the whole universe to get them another is. a week, he would also go to London and tell the people there that he is dying to increase the trade of Australia with the Mother Country.
– The honorable member has grown so accustomed to it’ that he does not know when he is saying “ ves-no.”
– I said “ No-yes.” That was a logical position. I ask honorable members to note the difference from the stand-point of logic. The transition from “ no “ to “ yes “ is an operation of logic which specially distinguishes men who make .bargains. But it is only the fool who at the beginning of a bargain says “yes” and winds up with “no.” The Prime Minister, in speaking at the Imperial Conference in April-May of the present year, with the old Tariff before him, under which the duties very rarely reached 25 per cent. - upon machinery the duty was 12½ per cent., and upon woollens it was 15 per cent. - said -
Our rates of duty afford . wide margins for concessions-
That is a wonderful statement to emanate from a responsible Prime Minister who did not tell his hearers that he intended to increase a duty of 15 per cent, to 30 per cent., or 35 per cent, and 40 per cent. -
Our rates of duty afford wide margins for concessions.
The Prime Minister was speaking of the Tariff as it stood then, because I am sure that he would be incapable of applying such language to the new Tariff which was to be framed upon his return.
– In England they knew perfectly well that we were going to propose a new Tariff.
– What must they have thought of Ministers?
– They thought a lot of us.
– They did in the entertaining line, and we got the best of that. The British people are very generous to their guests, and it would have been well had some of the guests observed the rules of political courtesy.
– Do not give us any of the Winston Churchill business.
– Whilst the Conference table was a perfectly legitimate place for the freest expression of the views of the representatives of Australia, political addresses to meetings in other places were undesirable.
– Does the honorable member want to shut a man’s mouth?
– No; but there, are certain rules which for centuries have governed representative men even in half-civilized countries, and which are worthy of some observance even by the high-minded statesmen of Australia. I am not alluding to the fact that the hotel expenses were defrayed. I -am not referring to such a contemptible thing as that.
– That is what the honorable member is referring to if he is referring to anything.
– I am referring to’ the fact that the honorable gentleman . and the Prime Minister were guests in this sense - that they went as official representative men to meet the Government of the United Kingdom in conference, and as guests to a Conference with that Government, any attempt to help the Opposition by public addresses was, I think, a great abuse of the amenities which should attend . such gatherings.
– That is not correct.
– Suppose that in 1910 Ministers arrived from the old country to attend an Imperial Conference here, and they went down from the Conference table to, as the honorable gentleman went to Sheffield-
– To the Trades Hall.
– They would be more at home in the Trades Hall than our Ministers were with the Tories of .England ; they would be more in unison with the trade unionists, I am sure. But suppose that they went down to the Trades Hall, or to a manufactory in Footscray, or South Melbourne, to deliver a strong freetrade speech, just after a general election, and told the people that protection was a fetish, that they were starving, and would never be happy until they got free-trade.
– As Governors have done often - Lord Brassey, for instance.
– If that has occurred, I am very sorry to hear it, but I have no recollection of any such abuses. As a man who has been in public life as long as most members of the House, I think I can. say that any departures from the proper rules on the part of the representatives of the Sovereign in Australia have been wonderfully rare, considering that every man is liable to make mistakes. If Imperial Ministers went to meetings which were held in the interests of the Opposition it, to say the least, would create a nasty taste in the mouth .of those who believed in the Ministry and were in policy opposed to the Opposition.
– None of the other representatives at the Imperial Conference did that.
– I do not think that any other members of the Conference went to
Any of these semi-political meetings.
– Dr. Jameson did.
– Yes; Dr. Jameson made a raid on London.
– The honorable member knows nothing about it.
– It is true that Dr. Jameson addressed a meeting there.
– The honorable member really knows nothing about it.
– The Prime Minister continued -
I am assured by an authority that a substantial preference to the goods of Great Britain in our markets would result in an increase of British trade with Australia to the extent of perhaps 50 per cent.
The actual value of British imports into Australia is £26,000,000. An increase of 50 per cent, on that trade represents £”13,000,000, or more than all the foreign trade put together.
– Do not look so hard at me.
– I beg the honorable gentleman’s pardon; I cannot say it is because he has any fascination for me. Let honorable members note the significance of that peroration. An increase of 50 per cent, on a trade of £26,000,000 is equal to £13,000.000. Could Great Britain get additional importations of that value into Australia without affecting our protected industries? The fact of the matter is that if not one-half, a large proportion of the foreign trade consists of articles which we could not, under any circumstances, expect England to send us if our ports were opened to her.
– That might have been an embellishment of the speech.
– It was the peroration. Let honorable members listen to this passage -
This would be the effect of substantial preferences, and substantial preferences are contemplated by the third resolution of the Conference of 1902.
Honorable members will see that the Prime Minister not only voted for that proposition, but said, and very properly said, that substantial preferences were intended. Instead of giving the Mother
Country a- substantial preference the Treasurer has brought in a Tariff- which has made the wall against the Mother Country very much higher than ever it was.
– And it is giving a still greater preference to her.
– To raise the duty on apparel from 25 per cent, to 40 per cent, against the Mother Country and say that it will help her and be a substantial preference - that sort of talk does for men who have no serious intentions, but it is utterly misleading in every possible way. I want to show honorable members the . details of the trade of the. three’ great countries which are supposed to be sucking the industrial blood of the people of the -United Kingdom. So far, according to these figures, they have been equal: they have had no preference. Germany and the United States enjoyed just the same rates as Great Britain had. In 1902 the United States had a trade of £4,991,000, and in 1906 a trade of £47633,000, showing a decrease of £358,000 in four years.
– And with higher prices.
– I am much obliged to my honorable friend for his remark, for it is a most important addition. In spite of the fact that since 1902 the prices have been substantially higher, the United States - this Hercules among the nations with her population of 80,000,000 and her marvellous and unrivalled resources in a territory of 3,000,000 square miles - goes down in the race to the amount of £358,000 in the course of four years. The trade of France with Australia, £526,000 in 1902, went down in the four years to £462,000 - a drop of £63,000. The trade of Ger.many, £2,656,000 in 1902, in the four years increased to £3,205,000 - an increase of £549,000. Putting those three together - those three mighty competitors of England -their trade increased by only £128,000 in the four years - or 1½ per cent.
– The trade of Germany increased by 21 per cent.
– There is a difference of £549,000 in the case of Germany against an increase in the case of Great Britain of £2,725,000. I admit that the German increase is greater proportionately.
– That was inevitable.
– It was, of course, inevitable. That sort of argument - it was pushed rather far by *be Treasurer - seems to me to be really silly. A young man is bound to grow more rapidly than a fullgrown man. It is in the course of nature. Great Britain had a phenomenal, an unnatural, predominance over the commerce of the world forty or fifty years ago. Where was the law of nature. to keep the great peoples of Germany and of the United States in the background? Their trade was bound to grow. Suppose that in a race, one horse being at the winning post, another is half-a-mile away. The second horse may have gained a quarterofamile in the last mile. But should we, therefore, admire the horse that gains most in the last mile? I think it is the winner that we should admire most all the time. You have to look at this matter from every point of view. Look at the task set to Great Britain,, with a trade of £24,000,000, to increase it at all. It is an infinitely greater burden on her to increase her trade from £24,000,000 to nearly £27,000,000 than for Germany to increase her trade from £2,600,000 to £3,200,000. But instead of that she has increased her trade eight times more rapidly than the combined trade of those other great nations increased.
– If a foreign nation were sending goods to the amount of 1 per cent, of our whole trade in one year, and next year increased her trade by 1 per cent., that would be said to be an increase of 100 per cent.
– That is so. Now I should like to quote a sentence from the very able speech made at the Conference by Mr. Lloyd George. My honorable friend, the member for Dalley, practically expressed the same idea in different words on Friday last. I have quoted Mr. Asquith’s fair and manly view of the protectionists of Australia. Now I wish to quote the view of the British Government; in connexion with a system of arranged or reciprocal preference. Mr. Lloyd George says - and says very frankly and ably- - -
We are not in a position to pledge ourselves to anything which will involve the setting uo of a Tariff on foodstuffs and raw material in this country.
The Prime Minister, at the Conference, made the interjection -
Without the Tariff we do not get the opportunity of preference.
The same idea was expressed by the Treasurer the other day on an item before this Committee. He was asked - “Why are you going to put these duties on animals - horses, sheep, and pigs? There was no duty before, and we have had very few imports.” The Treasurer said - “ I wish to put them .on, because I want to have something to give away to New Zealand when negotiating.” Are we to take it, then, in regard to a good deal of this preference scheme, that the Government propose to put on duties in order to have something to give back when negotiating? If so, it lets a lot of light into the position. Mr. Lloyd George went on to say -
We are not here to endeavour to manoeuvre each other info false positions,
A very pregnant observation. but to discharge the practical business of the
A very pregnant observation also.
We are in perfect accord as to the objects we would strive to promote. . . . We are in complete agreement with the colonial, delegates in their belief that the attainment of this object would be assisted by any scheme or system which would develop Inter-Imperial trade, provided such a scheme did not inflict sacrifices on any individual community so great as to produce a sense of grievance with the conditions of the Empire, so deep as to introduce elements of discontent and discord into the Confederation, and thus imperil its efficiency, and, may be, its continual existence as an organization.
That puts a view which has been put more than once - a view put there very forcibly - of the tangled skein which British statesmen have to unwind. British statesmen have to consider large questions of policy affecting their relations with one or other of the parts of the Empire. There are al multitude of considerations which they must take into account. When, for instance, Australia comes forward enthusiastically with some definite proposal, or when Canada submits a matter of policy, the Mother Country, with the vast weight of responsibility upon her shoulders, has a multitude of other considerations to take into account. But my view of the grievance which the Mother Country has against Australia is this - that Australia, in the person of her representatives, does not mean business. I think that one of the greatest possible wrongs in the higher sphere of Imperial statesmanship is done when ardent and impassioned appeals are made at the centre of Imperial power to re-arrange a system upon which, perhaps, the stability of the Empire depends, not in response to a genuine offer intended to give pound for pound, but in response to an appeal which is not backed up by a readiness to give a fair exchange.
The Prime Minister said that this isonly a beginning. If it is only a1 beginning, I should like to know whether the Prime Minister’s party indorses that view. I should like to know that, because even the ablest Prime Minister has to obtain the support of his party, and the party of. the honorable gentleman is not a very numerous one, although I admit that on the question of protection it is comparatively large. It is a matter of great consequence to the public - to the , people of the old country and of the Empire - if the attitude which the Prime Minister describes in that statement, which was made a message to British merchants, is adhered to, that even the preference in this Tariff is only a beginning - to know to what extent and in what direction other steps are to be taken. Are the protectionists of Australia ready to carry the principle of preferential trade te the extent of endangering the growth of Australian manufacturing industries?
– It is not necessarilyimplied in the Prime Minister’s vague statement that this is a* beginning : it may be a beginning only of this sort of preference.
– For the time I am taking that as an expression which has a substantial meaning behind it, in harmony with the resolution which, was passed at the Imperial Conference, where the same expression was used.’ Are [protectionists prepared to endanger the growth of Australian manufacturing industries in order to help Australian farmers? Are they prepared, in order to smooth the path of Australian fanners into the markets of the Mother Country, to make the path of Australian manufacturing more difficult? Are they prepared to endanger the growth of Australian manufactures by making the competition of British manufactures a reality? I think I interpret fairly the views of a great many protectionists when I say that they are not so prepared. If the preference that is to be offered will not affect the manufacturing industries of Australia, it is not worth the serious attention of any man. That would be an absurd basis on which to appeal to the people of the Mother Country to disarrange their present fiscal system - a ludicrous basis. I remind honorable members that Mr. Chamberlain, in the early stages of this great controversy in the Mother Country, so lost himself in an eloquent peroration as to depict the time when British manufactures would have a free entry into the markets of the selfgoverning Dominions. He painted a bright picture of the opportunity that would be presented, when this door was opened, for British manufacture under some preferential arrangement. But there was a storm at once; and Mr. Chamberlain, great man and resolute as he is, had to climb down a great deal, and in an official statement I think he went so far. as to say that he did not wish to interfere with any colonial industries then in existence, but that the effect of his policy would in the future be this - that Australia, for instance, might preserve the little infants she had, but that there were to be no more infants in the manufacturing future of this country - that under the new policy the British manufacturer would provide what was wanted. That, of course, was absurd. Imagine a young and already great country tieing its hands in regard to its industrial development ! Mr. Chamberlain had to move from that point of view, and say that he did not expect to seriously interfere with Australian manufactures. But, first of all, I regard this project as a waste of time under any circumstances. Of course, the next election may show a marvellous change of feeling in the did country, though I do not anticipate such a change. I think that, from present prospects, at the next election public attention will be occupied .with more burning questions than that of preferential trade, and, so far as we can see, the fiscal policy of the Mother Country is more firmly established than ever. That division in the House of Commons of, I think, 498 votes to 90 was a tremendous fact so soon after the general election. The question then decided was put in the most plain and Straightforward fashion ; it could not be shirked, and there was an overwhelming, majority in favour of the existing policy. Honorable members can see that, solong as that policy is maintained, the project of a reciprocal arrangement is impossible. Of course, I do not forget that there are different kinds of protectionists as there are different kinds of free-traders. There are some free-trader? who would not have any duties at all, and, as a rule, those are gentlemen who have another scheme of taxation which they prefer infinitely, absolute free-trade being one means to that end ; and even protectionists may be graded. There is the prohibitionist, which the Treasurer is in his speeches, at any rate, if nowhere else. The prohibitionist is a man who will have nothing short of shutting out all products which can be made in this country. Then there is the high tariffist, who looks- on a Tariff such as we have had as a very milk-and-water production, and who regards any duties under 40 or 50 per cent, as by no means the real thing. Then there is another section, who, I am glad to think, have great weight both in this House and in the country - those who, in adjusting the duties, have some anxiety with regard to other than the manufacturing industries of Australia. I think I may fairly point out the difference between what I call the natural or primary industries of Australia and theindustries to which a Tariff is essential, by saying that I call the latter Tariff industries, while I consider Australian industries those which are born and whichcan expand and strike their.roots in their natural atmosphere.
– Did not the industries of England first develop under protection?
– I think it is likely, just as I think it is extremely likely that, if the honorable member were an advocate of measles, he could put forward a most convincing argument in the fact that he had never known a nation which, at some time or other, had not had the measles. That argument, however, would not necessarily mean that it is a blessing to a nation to have the measles. In the Mother Country there was a marvellous appetite for nourishment even among “ infantile “ industries that had been flourishing for 200 years. It is one of the marvels of protected industries that their infancy is eternal. Their appetite becomes manly, but their appeals for consideration are always those of a weakling, of a child who will die if it is not nourished and sheltered. The moderate protectionistdraws a distinction between duties which have sole reference to the interests of the industries for the benefit of which they are imposed and the interests of people engaged in other industries of Australia.
– In other words, he is a revenue tariffist?
– No; I have in view a genuine protectionist.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I wish now to refer to the operation of the new Tariff in reference to three very large lines to which I alluded before we adjourned for dinner. Take the item of cotton and linen piece goods. The duty, as against imports of such goods from the United Kingdom, is the same asthat under the old Tariff, but to show the wonderful command which the. UnitedKingdom has in respect of that line over the markets of Australia, I would point out that her exports to this country in one year were of the value of over £3,000,000. In the markets of Australia Great Britain hasto meet on equal terms the competition of the rest of the world, and yet her proportion of the trade is £3,000,000 as against only £160,000 for foreign countries. Cotton goods comprise most of the articles coming under the heading of “ Linen and cotton piece goods.” And yet that decaying country, Great Britain, is able to import cotton from the farthest ends of the earth to supply her own wants in cotton manufactures, and toannuaJly export , £100,000,000 worth of manufactures, the raw material of which is mainly produced in the United States and in India. Great Britain obtains cotton from the United States and India, transforms it into manufactured articles,. and sends out every year a surplus of £.100,000,000 worth of those manufactures. What is the use of describing as a decaying people a community that is able to take away every year from the United States £100,000,000 worth of trade in respect of manufactures, the raw material of which is produced in unparalleled abundance in a part of the States where any quantity of black labour is available. I do not think that we need be very nervous about the position of Great Britain in regard to its industries. Imagine what would be said if Germany could pointto this one achievement. The whole world would ring with the story of the decadence of the Mother Country ; it would be said that she was ruined, that her doom was sealed. The old country, with its little bit of earth, which has been ploughed over and over for a thousand years, with its mineral resources, so far as iron is concerned, giving out to such an extent that she spends millions on imports of iron ore from all parts of the world, still sends out this enormous export of cotton and linen goods the raw material of which is not produced within her own borders. What is the use of talking about preferential trade regarding a line of this kind, in respect of which, with the exception of imports of the value of £160,000, she holds the whole of our trade? Another wonderful achievement on her part is that she imports wool from all parts of the world, and in one year sends to Australia woollens valued at £1,820,000 whilst the rest of the world sends here only £78,000. Great Britain is one of the largest buyers of our wool, and yet we find that the duty on woollens is raised against her from 15 to 30 per cent. - that is, by 100 per cent. That is the treatment we extend to her in respect to a line of manufactures, the raw material of which we produce ourselves. It is idle to talk of the little items to which the Treasurer has referred.
– She largely gained her position in regard to the manufacture of woollens by what may be described as a system of compulsory preferential trade. She forced the Irish people to send their woollens only to England.
– When the blissful policy of protection was in force in England, Irish produce could not be sent there, because it was said to be the result of pauper labour. The history of protection in England is a beautiful one !
– Of preferential trade.
– Preferential trade was not then dreamt of. In those clays of protection England would not’ allow a foreign nation to send even £100 worth of goods to a British Colony unless they were first sent to an English port. That was protection hot and strong! Before America gained her independence - when Great Britain had Colonies scattered all over the WOrld- if a merchant in the United States wished to import some French’ commodity it was necessary to have that commodity sent first of all to one of the ports of the Mother Country.
– We have the same treatment now under the Shipping Combine at Brisbane.
– The system to which I have referred prevailed under the same policy of protection as we have to-day. The principle was the same, although the manifestations of it were different. What a magnificent spectacle free-trade Great Britain, with her liberal policy, now presents compared with the Great Britain of the Tory, days, when protection was rampant, when she trampled on the people of Ireland and of every country over which the British flag flew,- in order to maintain the most iniquitous advantages at the expense of the people of her dependencies. She now gives political liberty. She gives even the territories themselves to the self-governing parts of the Empire. She says to the selfgoverning Dominions and Colonies, “ If you think it is wise to tax us we are prepared to endure any taxation you may choose to put upon us.” That is a magnificently unselfish position for a dominant power to occupy. We do not hear of Germany, France, or any other nation acting in the same way. The duty on iron plates, corrugated and galvanized, has been increased, and out of a total trade of £1,068,000 done in one year in this line with Australia Great Britain has £1,028,000 worth. Is it not strange that, having regard to the development of the United States and Germany in respect of metals, Great Britain, meeting foreign competitors’ here on equal terms, has nearly the whole trade in respect of this item?
– There was no preference.
– There was no preference at the time I am speaking of. What is the use of giving a preference in respect of goods where no preference is required, whilst at the same time we increase duties at the rale of from 100 to 150 per Cent, where the pinch is- felt ? Where there is a pinch between the trade of the Mother Country and the protectionist interests of Australia - such as there is, for instance, in respect of apparel and woollen piece goods - there is no friendly, generous consideration extended to Great Britain. She is treated like a foreign country. .When the Prime Minister,, speaks of “further steps” in this direction one cannot help asking whether they are to be like those already taken : A duty put up against the old country by 100 ,per cent, and as against the foreign countries by 150 per cent. Take the duty on apparel. Under the old Tariff there was a duty of 25 per cent. We now have a duty of 45 per cent, against foreign countries and 40 per cent, against Great Britain. In other words, a preference of one-ninth is given to the Mother Country; 5 per cent, in 45 per cent. Is the next step to be the imposition of a duty of 60 per cent, against foreign imports and of 50 per cent, against British imports? That would be another advantage to England ! It would mean a difference of ro per cent, between the duties on foreign and British imports, instead of a difference of only 5 per cent. But it would at the same time mean a duty of 50 per cent, instead of 40 per cent, against British imports. That sort of an ascending scale really means no preference. It is worse than nothing, because it is the very opposite of what we profess to do. The Treasurer, by interjection this afternoon, attributed to the Prime Minister of England a statement which I cannot believe he used in its literal sense. It was to the effect that there are 12,000,000 starving people in Great Britain. I cannot speak of the statistics of the United Kingdom, because they have only been kept properly with reference to England and Wales, but the number of able-bodied paupers in England and Wales fifty years ago, when the population was, perhaps, half what it is now, was very much greater than it is to-day. It ran up to something like a million in those days, when the population of England and Wales was about 17,000,000. Those figures refer to people who are capable of working, but are unable to get work to provide them with the means of living. Their number has marvellously diminished, according to the records of the last fifty years. Just think what 12,000,000 starving people, out of a population of 43,000,000, would mean in a country like Great Britain !
– The investigations of Charles Booth and Rowntree show that there are 12,000,000 people in England on the poverty line. That is the quotation which Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman used.
– The “ poverty line “ is a vague expression.
– We were on the “ poverty line “ at £400 a year.
– I think that is a sentiment with which honorable members in the Ministerial corner will heartily agree. Consider for a moment the enormous amount of money that those “ starving “ people spend on drink.
– Charles Booth proves that to be altogether incorrect.
– Do not they spend much on beer, spirits, and tobacco? I. am delighted to hear this.
– Poverty is the cause of drink.
– Sometimes it is the cause of not drinking as much as one otherwise would.I should like to quote from a little publication, for which I am indebted to the honorable member for Barrier, a few facts, in view of what I call the disgraceful statement which has been attributed to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. How many people are on the poverty line in Australia ? If the poverty line is taken in the sense of people not having all the proper comforts of life-
– That is not the definition of those who have dealt with the matter in England. They mean£1 a week for five persons.
– I would rather have a downright enemy than a professed friend of Great Britain who uttered such a slander upon the people of the Mother Country. . It is a thing our worst enemies have never said of us. They have made many false statements about the British people, but our worst enemies have never been insane or mean enough to make such an accusation as that quoted by the Treasurer this afternoon. It is a vile falsehood to say that 12,000,000 people in England have not the necessaries of life.
– Who made that statement ?
– I care not who first made it. I apply the same expressionto any one who makes it.
– It was the Prime Minister of England who made it.
– If he used it in the sense in which the Treasurer used it this afternoon, he ought to be hurled from office as the vilest slanderer of his country. I do not believe that he did so use it.
– The right honorable member does not attribute a lie to me ?
– The honorable member does not know enough about the matter to have anything attributed to him. He was only in England on a visit of a few days. Surely he does not want to be placed in the same class as the many persons who come here for a few daysand profess to know more about Australia and about Australian conditions than we know who have lived hereall our lives? If there are 12,000,000 starving people in England now, nearly the whole population must have been in that state fifty years ago,” becausethe people of England are infinitely better off now than they were then. I wonder if there is an honorable member opposite who will have the audacity to say that the general condition of the British people is worse than it was sixty or seventy or eighty years ago.
– Henry George says so in Progress and Poverty.
– I am not asking Henry George ; he is gone. Is there a man in this House who has the courage to say that the conditions of the people of England are worse now than they were then? I should hope that not one would say so. We have slanders enough uttered against the old country outside the British Empire without manufacturing them in this Parliament.
– Large masses of the people of England are poor in proportion to the riches of the comparatively few wealthy.
– That is another matter. I do not deny that there is a horrible disproportion between the position of the millions of England and the few. I am not speaking of that. I am speaking of the statement that there are practically 12,000,000 starving people in the Mother Country. I cannot use language strong enough to express my opinion of that statement.
– If one out of every four dies in receipt of public charity, as stated by Charles Booth, the condition of things is pretty bad.
– A larger amount is spent on charities in Australia to-day in proportion than is spent on charities in England.
– Does the right honorable member include old-age pensions?
– I always hope that the old-age pensions system will never be associated with the idea of charity. That is one of my reasons for wanting to see a certain proportion of the money required to provide the pensions taken from the pockets of those who are to enjoy the benefit, so that no one can afterwards sneer at them and say that they did not find it for themselves. Mo matter what our views are as to how the money ought to be raised, once the old-age pensions system is looked upon as a charity, I would rather not see it established here. I do not want any systematized charity of that sort.
– The right honorable member must not proceed on that line.
– I am very much obliged to you, sir, but I would request you to askmy honorable friends not to proceed on that line either.
– Rowntree says - “ Onefourth of the population of our towns is living on a standard which is below bare physical efficiency.”
– The point is that wages in manufacturing industries have gone up.
– Wages have increased, and the prices of the necessaries of life have been lowered.
– A workman can produce much more now.
– There is a great deal more machinery in use.
– The condition of the workers has improved.
– I hope my honorable friend will have the courage to believe that. He is very generous in making that acknowledgment. As I have said, over and over’ again, the superfine inhumanity of people who try to put taxes on the bread of starving millions excites my amazement. But if there is any truth in it, those who want to engineer taxes upon the bread of those starving people are in a queer position - especially those who are supposed to be representatives of the working classes. It shows how self-interest will work as against flesh and blood. My honorable and learned friend, the member for Parkes, has given me the exact figures to which I wished to refer. In round numbers, the total population in England and Wales in 1901 was 32,500,000 as compared with 29,000,000 in 1891, ten years before. The total number of paupers receiving relief on 1st January, 1901, was 956,000, being a decrease of 5,000 on the previous year. When the population of England and Wales was only half what it was later, there was an equal number of paupers to provide for. The luxury of the rich few does not come to much when we are dealing with national figures, and I find that the total expenditure of the United Kingdom is set down at £878,000,000 a year in 1882, whilst in1903, twenty-one years later, it was reckoned at £1,386,000,000. The total yearly expenditure in the twentyone years from 1882 to 1903 increased by more than £500,000,000: That does not look as if the millions of England had a smaller purchasing power.
– What had production increased by ?
– I am on the question of pauperism. I might admit that numbers do not get enough of production, but I am talking of what the people spend. They would not spend a larger amount if they had not got it to spend, and I have shown that the expenditure of the Mother Countryincreased to a total of £1,386,000,000 per year in 1903. That is a fair expenditure for a population of about 42,000,000. Dealing with four big groups of industries - building, coal-mining, engineering, andtextiles - I find that the movement in money wages was from 82.8 in 1877 up to the 100 in 1900. That was an increase of 17 per cent. between those years. The fall in the price of corn, which is the staple of life - wheat is called “corn” in England - is shown by the fact that whilst in 1871 the price was represented by the figure 100, the price to the “ starving “ millions in England in 1902 was represented by the figures 63.7, a fall of nearly 37 per cent. in the price of bread. That is a tremendous fail in the price of that necessary of life. The fall in the price of meat was not so great; it amounted to not more than 6 per cent.
– Can the right honorable gentleman give figures with respect to house rent?
– I can only give totals. In 1882 the figure set down as representing expenditure on house rent, including furniture, coal, gas, and water, was £121,700,000. In 1903 the expenditure on this account amounted to £223,000,000.
– The right honorable gentleman should now tell us how many families occupy, one room.
– How can I tell the honorable member that? I am giving him all the information I can at the present time. Surely honorable members will see that an increase of nearly double the amount spent on house rent is not a sign of ruination?
– Yes; it is a sign that the landlords have taken more from the people, thus making them poorer.
– The point is that they have had it to pay. You cannot take the breeches off a countryman of ours, you know. When the people paid £100,000,000 more than they had previously paid on this account they had to get it and earn it somehow. On food and drink they spent nearly £468,000,000 a year, and the prices of sugar and tea, and articles of that sort, which are amongst the necessaries of life, went down from the index figure of 100 in 1871 to the figure 46.1 in 1902, a decrease of about 54 per cent, in the period named. Taking the whole of these groups referred to, prices went down from the index figure of 100 to 78.8 per cent., or a decrease of 21.2 per cent.
– Whilst thousands could not get separate rooms for their families to live in.
– Is that a very strange thing? I . have known people in Australia who could not get proper accommodation for their families. That is true of every country in the world. But I am not talking of 1,000,000 or 2,000,000 unfortunates, but of 12,000,000 of alleged paupers. That is the monstrous statement with which I am dealing.
– They must come to pretty nearly 12,000,000.
– The honorable member ought to take some anti-bilious pills.
– I notice that the right honorable gentleman did not quote the particulars to which I referred.
– I beg the honorable gentleman’s pardon for the remark I have just made, but really his contentions do seem to suggest a disordered liver. With reference to all tills talk about Germany, I wish to point out that whilst the average wages in fifteen skilled trades in the capital cities of the United . Kingdom were 42s. a week in Germany they were 24s. a week.
– But they have insurance funds running there.
– I have no doubt they have many wonderful things there, but I am talking only about the wages, and I remind the honorable member that in Germany the workers pay out of the wages I have quoted for a share of the benefits they get.
– The employers pay.
– The employers pay part, the State part, and the workmen part. The workman is not a pauper since he contributes to the allowance he receives.
– In the majority of cases it is only the employer who pays to the fund.
– Let us admit that. It is the 12,000,000 of “ starving “ people of the United Kingdom that I am referring to. I. desire only to refute that astounding and abominable calumny. The difference in the wages paid in Germany and in England in connexion with skilled trades in the capital cities is the difference between 24s. and 42s. per week. In cities other than capital cities the average wage is 36s. per week in the United Kingdom “and 22s. 6d. per week in Germany. That is a difference of 13s. 6d. per week. That is not all that requires to be considered. I would point out that the longest hours have to be worked in- Germany. Of the fourcountries, Germany, France, the United States, and . the United Kingdom, the longest hours are worked in Germany, the next longest in France, the next in the United States, and in this country, where there are said to be 12,000,000 starving people, the shortest (hours are worked. Iri that old country, with its- teeming millions on a little spot of earth, surely it will be considered a merit by our honorable friends opposite that the workers have to work shorter hours than are worked in the United States? Surely that is something to be proud of? Any one who has the slightest regard for the old country must feel proud that when she has stood the storm and strain of universal protection in other parts of the world against her - including the ports of her own daughterlands - she is able to pierce these universal barricades, and with her open ports to give her millions shorter hours of labour than are given to the people behind these protective systems, including the people of the United States. There is no doubt that wages are . immensely higher in the United States than in England, but the cost of living in. the American States takes a great deal out of that. Some authorities say that although wages have undoubtedly gone up since the Dingley Tariff, the cost of living has also gone up at such a rate that the increase in wages has practically been- of no benefit ato the workers in the .United States. Let us compare Germany and Great Britain on another important point. I am indebted to the honorable member for Barrier for the figures which. I am giving; they have been taken from a work published in the old country. During the period between 1871: and 1881, the cost of food, in a German workman ‘-s family might be represented by the figures 11,2, and in an English workman’s family by the figures 140 ; but during the four years between 1897 and 1901 the cost of the German .family, instead of being 112, was 100, and that of the British family had made the marvellous improvement of. from 140 to 100.
– What is the name of the book from which the right honorable member has been reading?
– It was written by Mr. Morrison Davidson, a very well-known man. I look upon any genuine, unconditional .preference to the Mother Country as something of which I must heartily approve. In my opinion, it would be a wise and patriotic step to grant such a preference, and I shall be only too pleased to do what I can to make our preference as substantial as possible. I draw the sharpest possible line between a generous unconditional preference and an agreement between the
Mother Country and the self-governing dependencies of the Empire. We must all_ be profoundly sensible that, whilst Aus-‘ tralia can afford to make mistakes which may cost her very little, a country like the United Kingdom, with the pressure of Empire responsibility upon her, cannot afford to do so. She is not in the position of a youth in the fulL possession of his powers and energies, who can afford to bungle along the path of life, ultimately, despite his mistakes, becoming a successful man. “With the enormous strain upon her to which I have referred, Great Britain finds all the problems which affect her trade’ and her fiscal policy of the greatest magnitude and concern. There should not be the slightest feeling of soreness on our part if the Mother Country regards this matter in the- light of the interests of its own people. We, too, must look at it from both sides, and I have never concealed the opinion that, from the ‘point of view of the Mother Country, it would be a vital mistake to abandon the system upon which her trade and industry rest.- Therefore, I have ‘ no grievance against the people of the United Kingdom for refusing to enter into reciprocal arrangements. ‘ I believe that, in doing so they are. consulting their best interests, and that such arrangements would not make their bread cheaper’, or the conditions of their masses better, but, on the contrary, would make’ things, worse for them. The honorable member for’ Corio has made an interjection which was ‘frequently uttered by the Prime Minister at the Imperial Conference. When speakers, notably members of the British’ Government, used the expression “ tax ‘.’ ,in relation to imposts . on food, he’ interjected more than once, “ Not a tax,’ but a duty.” Even a protectionist must admit that if goods subject to the Customs_ impost cannot be produced entirely in the country in which they are subject to taxation, the duty on them must have the effect of increasing their price. That has’ been brought home to us clearly.
– Does it not depend largely on the ratio of the importations? . Mr. REID.- No. If the United King dom could supply all the foodstuffs she wants, the .effect of the duty on foodstuffs would be to stimulate production to the extent of making the importations, .of Australian wheat unnecessary. . If . Great Britain could produce its own requirements, what would be the use of our talking about getting there” a market for Australian wheat ?
– There was a duty in 1894., and the price of wheat in Great Britain then went down.
– The honorable member’s interjection reminds me of the story of the young man who, after some trouble, obtained, his father’s permission to go to Paris. When he got there it was raining heavily, so that he had to remain indoors, but whenever he looked out of the window of the hotel, a fair-haired young woman passed. Accordingly he wrote home, “ Father, this is no place for me. It is always raining, and all the women have red hair.” Faulty generalizations of that sort are often made from imperfect data. It does not follow, because prices went down in England in 1894, that that was due to the imposition of a duty. The fluctuation of prices is brought about by a thousand conditions. If, owing to a drought, the- production of wheat in the United States shows a falling off, prices harden, while if there are good harvests, prices drop. It is an elementary fallacy to attribute a falling wheat market to the imposition df a duty. Therefore I do not think ‘that the honorable member for Corio is sound on the point.
– The price of wheat fell outside the duty.
– I think that it fell below the duty. The fluctuations of the markets of the world are so familiar to honorable members that they know that the fact that a commodity was at a certain price in one year and at another price in another year is . no proof that its value has been affected by an Act of Parliament.
– Acts of Parliament have not had much to do with the rise in the price of wheat here.
– My honorable friend has brought me back to the point from which I was straying. Up to a certain point, the wheat duty may have had some protective incidence when Victoria was a separate State. But take Australia.’ now, with her enormous wheat production and her small population. The price of Australian wheat is not regulated by the Tariff, but by the markets of the world. Every bushel of wheat that is sold on the farm in Australia is sold at a price which leaves to the buyer a margin of profit after allowing for. the expense of conveyance and shipment and the chances of the market based on the quotations. A fall of a fraction in Mark-lane will affect the wheat market all over the world.
– On what basis are these prices regulated?
– They are regulated by the demand. I should be just as foolish as I was tempted to suggest somebody elsewas if I endeavoured to assign all the causes’ for a fall in price in Mark-:lane. There may be many causes. For instance, on the share market, though not so acutely, without any rhyme or reason sometimes the value of shares will go up and down in the most extraordinary way. The market is sensitive and may be frightened. All sorts of elements seem to affect quotations, even in the wheat market.
– The act of the millers in holding wheat will send up the price.
– That is so, but what will be the use of their holding wheat if there is no prospect of a shortage?
– They are holding.
– That means that there is a drought coming on. If it was thought we were going to have a magnificent season that Wheat would be . got. rid of before the abundant harvest was reaped. What possible benefit would a duty on wool be to the pastoral industry ? None whatever. If we put a duty of 100 per cent, on wool, the price would still be regulated by the demand in the markets of the world. With reference to the proposed duties on food in England, those who believe that they will not increase the prices are- at liberty to enter into these projects in the gayest possible spirit. But .1 honestly believe that, situated as the people of the Mother Country are, any barrier between them and the abundance of the world would inflict serious loss upon them. Therefore, I support the view which has been so ably expressed by British Ministers, and so emphatically endorsed by the British people, that a preferential treaty would not be a good thing for the Mother Country. No Australian can want to injure the Mother Country, and, what is more,, no Australian can want to interfere with her liberty in fixing her own domestic policy. Sometimes a cruel strain has been put on the people of the Mother Country and their statesmen by insinuations of the sort which I am going to mention, and which’ I have not noticed in any speeches by the Prime Minister. In this respect I acquit the honorable gentleman.” It has been insinuated that if the people of the
Mother Country do not change their minds, and do not give this project a more friendly reception, the ties between the Mother Country and the self-governing Dominions will be weakened.. I think it is cruel and unjust to ask the people of the Mother Country to choose between the affections of the people of Australia and Canada and a reversal of their conscientious belief as to the best policy for their own government.
– Who said that, anyhow ?
– If the honorable member will accept my assurance, I have seen the statement made often, and General Botha referred very strongly to it in the opposite direction. I have expressly acquitted the Prime Minister of making any such statement, but it has been made repeatedly by over-zealous champions, probably more so in the Mother Country than here. During the great electoral struggle between, the Liberals and the Conservatives, this was the most ordinary argument to use:. “Oh, you are alienating the affections of the people of the self- governing- States. If you do not go in for this preference, you will weaken the ties between the selfgoverning Dominions, such as Australia and Canada, and the Mother Country.” I heartily agree - because I have expressed the same sentiment over and over again - with Mr. Lloyd George in this view, that perhaps the simple secret of the phenomenally harmonious relations which prevail between the self-governing Dominions and the Mother Country might be summed up in a very simple phrase - “ This attachment, this harmony, these magnificent aspects of our British Empire, mainly have come from the assertion and the enjoyment of liberty “ - liberty in each of the selfgoverning Dominions of the Empire. This is the life-blood of the strength of the British Empire. Give any of the self-governing Dominions an honest grievance : let the Imperial power, backed up as it is with its mighty fleets, endeavour iri the smallest particular to encroach on the freedom of our political institutions, to make upon us demands which it is in a position to enforce, and , to which
Ave do not see our way to accede, and it will create a crisis which will more imperil the majestic strength of this tie than any other conceivable situation. It is a marvellous thing, but it seems absolutely true, that the frailer, the more elastic, the tie which unites the Mother Country with her great self-governing Dominions, the more powerful, enduring, and reliable it becomes. When times of adversity break upon us, and the old flag is flying in troubled skies,, then we lay aside our fiscal differences, ‘ forget our views about this form or that form of policy, and an elec? trie thrill of sympathy passes to the” farthest extremities of the Empire, which shows that there is a living connexion existing between the great Imperial heart and the farthest Dominions, such as those in these Australasian seas. I believe that to maintain that system, to preserve the marvellous harmony and stability of the Empire, the fewer ties and bargains we have the better. In those circumstances, whilst I hail with delight any generous unconditional preference which is given to the Mother Country, and which she so richly deserves, so long as she honestly and fearlessly believes in the policy which she has adopted, a policy which I regard as being essential to her stability and her strength, I hope that Australia will be found none the less loyal because the Mother Country asserts, on her part, the independence we claim for ourselves.
– I cannot pretend to possess the power to follow the right honorable and eloquent member’ over the vast fields of economic interest filled with social problems which, in the exercise of his undoubted right, he has- thought fit to traverse. It will only be possible for me in the briefest way to attempt in a conversational manner to deal with some of the points he has raised which relate to the fiscal policy of the Government, and especially to my statement of that policy made in Great Britain, comparing it with the actual proposals now submitted. I hope, by frequent quotations, in an incidental manner to touch upon most, if not all, of the issues which the right honorable member has raised that appear to me to be vital to the question before us. To enter upon a discussion of the different degrees of social progress, rates of wages, or conditions of poverty, which obtain amongst modern nations would launch us upon a sad survey of a vast subject - one far too profound to attempt to drop a plummet line casually into its depths. But we cannot fail to be struck by one contrast. We have heard to-night an impassioned plea from the right honorable member for a grant of preference to the Mother Country 499’4 Tariff [REPRESENTATIVES.] (Cannes, efic). from her Dominions, but based upon an angry refutation of a statement made by the present Prime Minister of England, shortly before he attained, that office, for exactly the opposite purpose. It was in reply to Mr. Chamberlain, and in order to weight the English refusal to listen to his plea for preferential trade, that Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman gave as one of the reasons why it could not and should not be considered that some 12,000,000 or 1.3,000,000 of the people of Great ‘Britain being constantly upon the verge of starvation, they could not afford the risk of raising prices ever so little. That statement was afterwards interpreted’ by that right honorable gentleman as referring to that large class who are dependent upon their daily labour without any security for its continuance, and who from time to time, therefore, have to face starvation. His statement included all those classes not in settled employment and not provided with the means to face the want of settled employment. The assertion was used by him as the basis for a plea against preferential trade. Curiously enough, it has been absolutely repudiated to-night by my right honorable friend as fatal to the very plea for which it was originally asserted.
– Against the imposition of duties upon foods.
– Against the particular form which it (was assumed Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals must necessarily take. The right honorable member for .East Sydney then proceeded to indulge in a series of verbal antitheses, to which I. shall merely allude in passing. According to him. our choice is either between protection or the sacrifice of our industries. To lend any force to this argument he must imply such a degree of protection as would secure to us practically the whole of the trade in any particular commodity. That goes. beyond protection to prohibition. . Failing a full measure of prohibition, according to him, we must sacrifice the whole of our industries to free imports from the Mother Country and elsewhere. Such an antithesis would oniy.be possible if prohibition were being- contrasted with free- imports. It has no relevance to protection. . As. honorable members are aware, there may be a protection of a ,trifling character conferred by a duty of 5 per cent, or 10 per cent., still more protection is conferred ‘.by a duty of 15 or 20 per cent., and so on, though prohibition may not be reachable even with a duty of 100 per cent. The right honorable member’s antitheses go wide of the doctrine we uphold, to which he ought to have directed his word-play. When he went on to say that we were compelled to choose between the sacrifice of Australian industries to British manufac- ‘tures or the exclusion of preference altogether, he again used a short and convenient summary justifiable in a few particulars, but wholly false when applied to industries generally grouped under a single title - as, for example, woollens, textiles, or iron - which in themselves embrace dozens of industries with special- products. Some of .these may be dealt with by one rate, .and the rest by other rates of duty ; some may bear only a light duty, others be subject to a heavy duty ; some bearing no- duty at all, whilst others need no preference. The general statement that protection must necessarily be exclusive of preference applies to a very limited number of cases, and to a- very small’ area indeed. When the honorable member passed from such antitheses to the resolutions of 1902,- to which he pointed as pledging us to a policy of preference of a substantial character, he used only a part of the third resolution re-affirmed at the recent Imperial Conference
That, with a view to promoting the increase . of trade within the Empire, it- is desirable that those . colonies which have not already adopted such a policy should, as -far. as their circumstances permit, give substantial preference to the products and manufactures of the United Kingdom.
The right honorable member omitted the words “ should, as far as their circumstances permit.” ‘ . . (
– I did not read the resolutions.
– True. .Nor did “the right honorable member add that the next resolution affirmed^–
That the Prime Ministers, of the colonies respectfully urge” upon’ His Majesty’s Government -the expediency, of granting in the United Kingdom preferential treatment for the products and manufactures of the colonies, either by exemption or by a reduction of the duties now or hereafter imposed. ‘
– I did not read any of the resolutions. I merely mentioned the question of preferential’ treatment.
– But in fairness the qualification embodied in’ the third resolution requires to be recalled, and the fourth resolution requires to be read. Besides, so far as Australia is concerned, the whole situation is transformed by the fact that, prior to attending that Conference, we had given notice of a proposal to omit from the fourth resolution the qualification embodied in the words “ either by exemption or by a reduction of the duties now or hereafter imposed.” We struck out those words. The effect of this is that the offer of a substantial preference on our side was made subject to the condition that we received an equal and similar preference from the Mother Country. Again the right honorable member’s shot goes wide.
– Did not the honorable gentleman vote for the resolution about giving substantial preference?
– Yes; in order to attain unanimity. As the proceedings of the Conference disclosed, I voted for the resolutions as they, stood rather than have no resolution passed on the subject of preference from the Mother Country. Better preference by exemption or reduction of duties than no preference at all. But when my right honorable friend seeks to impeach us for inconsistency, it is Tight to point out that substantial preference on our part was always made subject to a substantial preference on theirs. ; We mayhave been wrong, but at least we were consistent.
– While the honorable gentleman is on’ that point, may I ask what he meant when he spoke about the “ Dominions oyer sea “ ?
– That phrase included the self-governing parts of the Empire, now officially styled Dominions.
– Only those?
– Yes. Then, again, the right honorable the leader of the Opposition complained that we approached the Mother Country with the offer of a shilling and a request for a pound. Again and again he put that illustration, as if it were possible for us, by some manner of means unknown to me, to coerce the Parliament of Great Britain into an unequal exchange. Now. as a matter of fact, we proposed a business bargain on a business basis, in which each party was to be the judge of what it would grant in, return for the preference offered by the other.
– That must always be so.
– It must always be so, and, therefore, the imputation of the right honorable member disappears. No ohe can coerce the British Government into giving a sovereign for a shilling. We pointed out from the first that any engagement of this kind must be absolutely free and spontaneous, and, hence there was never a possibility of our imposing upon them the onerous burdens to which the right honorable member alluded several times. I have now to point to a portion of his speech which I repudiate in the most absolute terms. The right honorable member more than insinuated, he almost directly charged me with having taken up an attitude directly or indirectly in the interest of the present Opposition in Great Britain. As a matter of fact, I declined every invitation to every gathering of a party character. There were some apparent exceptions, as when we were- the guests of the Eighty Club, of the National Liberal Club, the Palmerston and other clubs, representing the Ministerial Party ; or when we were the guests of the Nineteen Hundred Club, a powerful organization of the Opposition party.
– What about that . Baltic meeting?
– That I declined to attend until officially assured by those charged with its promotion that it was a non-party meeting of merchants, including supporters of the Government, as well as supporters of the Opposition, freetraders as well as Tariff reformers. I was assured that the meeting was one of highly representative men, having no party complexion ; a fact indicated in the course of that great influential and enthusiastic meeting - by cheers and other indications that it was not the gathering of a single party.
– The honorable gentleman heard them crying “Shame” with regard to the attitude of the Government at that meeting ?
– Not that I remember. It may have been with reference to the main cause of our attending so many meetings and taking advantage of all of them to put our case. To that the right honorable member did not allude, though it is most material. If anything was calculated to demonstrate the propriety of the course we took, it has been the little impression made by this Blue Book when it was flung at the heads of the people of the Mother Country and of Australia. This volume contains the records of the Conference, so fas as they were not confidential, published weeks after it had closed, and when the public mind had turned to other questions.
– Published after we left London.
– Yes, after. It was because of the closed doors of the Conference that we were compelled to turn to all open doors to lay our case before the public.
– Has there even been a case in which there were not closed doors at such Conferences?
– No,, except that in 1887 the proceedings on the opening day were attended by the press and by the leaders on both sides in politics. The whole of the occurrences and speeches on that occasion were reported in the newspapers. But although the general proceedings of previous Conferences had not been held with open doors, we were of opinion that the time had come for a change to be made. When the absolute necessity for the change appeared, and it was denied, we felt that we had a right to appeal to the people outside. The Conference, it has to be remembered, was not a body possessing Executive or legislative authority. Its resolutions did not bind any one. . Yet they were all it had to show. Its members came pledged to expound certain lines of policy ; and unless its meetings where this was to be done took place in the full sight of the people of Great Britain and of Australia, it was bound to fail in its aim. - So far, it has largely failed in that aim. Misrepresentations regarding it are still being propagated even in this House, and these occur because the meetings of the Conference were held behind closed doors. The particular speech alluded to by the honorable member for Parramatta, and which it has been asserted provoked cries of shame, contained no more than the speeches made bv me previously at the Conference itself. Only thus could we convey to the public the views we were sent to express, which could not be grasped from the bald precis published-
– What about the speech at Sheffield ?
– I did not go to Sheffield.
– I will answer for what occurred at Sheffield.
– Any one who will turn to those outside speeches made at different gatherings - in the presence of Ministers on some occasions, of the leaders of both parties on others, at several of which the Secretary of State for the Colonies was present - will see that the same ideas were presented to the public as were being presented at the Conference. They were treated in a slightly different manner, but the questions dealt with, especially that of mutual preferences, were those Ave were discussing at the Conference. That Aas our plain duty. When, in 1900, our delegates went Home, representing the several States of the Commonwealth, to endeavour to secure the passing of the Constitution which, with some amendments, Ave now possess, Ave found the Ministry of the day resisting our demand for the acceptance of that Constitution, as passed by the people of Australia, without the additional dotting of an “ i” or the crossing of a “ t.” The Government that was then resisting us represented the party which constitutes the Opposition of to-day, while the Government of to-day consists largely of members of the then Opposition who generously came forward to assist us. There was no accusation at that time that in taking the course Ave did Ave were endeavouring to support the Opposition. On both occasions the .Opposition supported us.’ In a country in which party government obtains, the appearance of party relationships of some kind can scarcely be avoided. Nor need they be avoided, when all that is said arid clone is said and done in the eye and ear of the public. Preference is as much our question as it is a British question, vet. although OVerwhelmed with invitations to Tariff Reform meetings, and often pressed to take part in other gatherings capable of bearing a party complexion, on no occasion did my colleague, the Treasurer, or myself attend anypart meeting, or any meeting at which a. resolution affecting British party politics was proposed or carried.
– Was not the question of closing the doors of the Conference put to the vote ?
– The question Avas put to the vote, but in conference, as my right honorable friend knows, the understanding is that, unless unanimity obtains, there is no action. There was one Dominion against complete publicity, and that one was enough. To return to less personal matters, it appears to me that we suffer, as all political, philosophical, and theological discussions suffer, because of a loose application of terms. There is a great deal of ambiguity in the arguments which have been addressed to this Chamber in reference to preference, because of the several senses in which the term may be applied; and until we get a very much more elaborate terminology that looseness of usage is perhaps inevitable, though it is extremely embarrassing. Now, so far as we are concerned, we did not fail at every turn to intimate, both in the Conference, and outside - having the’ Conference Official Reports before me, it is .to these alone I shall refer - that, when we spoke of preference, we aimed at something very much wider than that word might at first appear to convey. It is scarcely possible to use a single word which shall cover all that is associated with the greatest of great movements within the Empire for the co-operation of all its parts. What we aim at is, as a British Minister put it,. “ the free union of free Commonwealths. !! Towards that great ideal there are many ways of approach ; and it must not be forgotten that we were obliged to use the word “preference’*’ continually when, covering or referring to one or other of these, besides the very great means of preference that is presented to us by our Tariffs. From the very first I pointed out. as, for instance, at page 259, that -
The policy is large, and the principle of that policy applies not only to trade and commerce, but is capable, as already suggested, of indefinite expansion.
Then at page 387 -
Preferential Tariffs are only part of the policy of preferential trade.
We included any association fur mutual ends, by means of improvements in our shipping communication, of our cable communication, or of our .postal facilities. I went on to sketch the possibility of a committee of experts being appointed, who would periodically review the trade of the Empire as a whole in order to retain trade as far as possible within the Empire, pointing out that the idea .was capable of indefinite expansion, and that there were many stand-points which we could not yet attempt to touch. We were in favour of the adoption of every means pf cooperation for common ends. I had already written a despatch, the first from any Dominion challenging the maintenance of the high rates of charge on the Suez Canal. We asked for a reduction, either by the British Government itself - the possessor by means of a happy investment of an enormous interest in the Canal, from which it receives a superb return - or. if that were not directly possible, for some indirect assistance by which we could meet the needs of our shipping. Having raised that question by despatch and received a refusal, I was not deterred from including that at each opportunity, as one means available for Imperial co-operation. In addition to the reduction of freight charges, we referred to the direction of the great stream of emigration from the mother country to coun-tries under our own flag, instead of to countries under foreign flags. These and other methods of co-operation were pressed forward in the Conference and out of it whereever opportunity offered us open- doors or open minds in order to provoke and promote schemes worthy of practical consideration.
– There is no distinction in the charges on the Suez Canal between British ships and foreign- ships.
– There is not, but there are suggestive means of meeting them. “One country with an infinitesimal marine already pays out of the Government dues the charge on its ships. I took the opportunity of calling attention to’ a practical concession, which could be adopted, if the whole of the reduction asked could not be made. At present, passenger steamers passing through the canal pay a due on the whole of the passenger accommodation, although little of it may be occupied. There are certain seasons in the Australian trade when, as a matter of fact, the mail ships and other vessels carry very few passengers, and yet are charged ‘ on the whole of the accommodation. I made the very simple and reasonable request that, although I believe the vessels are in regard to cargo charged on their gross tonnage, so far as passengers are concerned, there should be a concession to commence with by charging only for the accommodation occupied. Finally, at page 426, I explained that -
Every time I have touched this question I have’ from the first, included improved cable communication, mail communication, and the diffusion of commercial intelligence, the multiplying of commercial agencies in the country all as parts of one system. I have never severed them. Preferential trade, with me, means all those things, as well as promoting our dealing with each other’s commodities.
But, of course, the centre and pivot of the discussion at the commencement, and for the major portion of the Conference, was Tariff preferences. On that, I have now to show, in reply to the leader of the Opposition, .not only that there has been no variation in the attitude of the Government, but that, as I shall evidence b.y very few quotations, the mind of the
Government was laid open to the members of the Conference, and even the Tariff now under consideration was, in its broad principles, outlined in advance so far as such a measure could be, by my colleague and myself to the British Ministers. The memory of the leader of the Opposition in regard to the official report is, perhaps, not so fresh as my own.
– I remember the 40 per cent-.
– I think I shall establish the principle involved in the 40 per cent.
– - The principle is all right.
– That is the principle of what the right honorable member is pleased to call “ high” duties. Tariff preferences, of course, as it was necessary to remind the Conference, even excluding those other forms I have temporarily dismissed, are of many kinds. We specially warned the British Ministers that we should be putting forward only one particular set of proposals, with a. full understanding that these would be merely the seed which might hereafter grow to something much greater. We were about to adopt the forms now .available, whereas other forms of preference .might become useful at a later date. Here is the exact proposal which I ventured to submit, as reported on page 235-
What we suggest is a trade in preferences, in trade advantages which should be conceded to each other, on the usual principle of trade, that it should be to the benefit of both parties concerned.
I think that is explicit enough in itself.
– It is magnificently explicit, and means anything.
– I said-
So’ far as I am aware, no one has yet fathered, or is likely to father, any such proposition as that this matter of business is to bc dealt with to the advantage of one of the parties only.
That answers your j£.: for a shilling idea.
There is not any business of that character, or which is assumed to be of that character. It must yield mutual advantage, and of the value of that advantage each carty must be the best judge.
– That is all right, but. it is the carrying of it out that I am concerned with.
– A moment ago my right honorable friend did not agree with the statement.
– I agreed with the statement, but I said it might mean anything.
– My proposal for trade preferences is contained in the words I have read ; when Mr. Asquith interjected, at once -
I entirely assent to that proposition, if I may say so. It admirably states the case.
– What about the fulfilment?
– I need scarcely remind my North Country friend that we cannot get a fulfilment before we get the proposal. I am only at the proposal now. I said -
That is why the goodwill cannot be disturbed. It must always be admitted that each of the parties to the bargain must be the best judge of its own gain. We may have a strong and clear opinion as to how the other bargainer should proceed, in. his own interest, but after all, that is his affair. We may regret that we cannot do the business,, but necessarily we must in every case bow to> his decision. So, in -the present instance, it appears to us to be possible for each to imposeduties on a certain scale - putting aside the advantage which may be gained from those duties- - granting each other preferences under them without loss or- risk of loss.
That is a proposal which it is impossibleto misunderstand ; it is a proposal for mutual preferences.
– A very cold-blooded’ one.
– One quotation did not please the leader of the Opposition, because it was hot-blooded. That which I have, just made does not please the deputy leader of the Opposition, because it is cold blooded. Let us come a little nearer toour Present proposals. At page 256 it will be found that I pointed out in London, that -
It is not possible for the Commonwealth to abolish its Customs duties, or reduce them in the aggregate in any considerable measure. Whatis possible is discrimination and readjustment in> both countries by reciprocal concessions. It is,, and will remain, necessary that at least the present amount of revenue should be obtained inAustralia, but this allows ample room withinwhich preference may be given to British imports.
I there warned them that reductions in ourduties were not likely to come; that wemust at least raise as much revenue as wehad done, and that the one consideration of reductions would be in connexion withreciprocal . preferences. Even, in thisassembly, comparatively familiar with fiscal duties, confusion frequently arises. asio what “high” and “low” duties mav be, and in order that there might be no mistake I went on to say that - 15 per cent, wilh .is ranks as a very moderateduty, indeed, in most cases.
The Committee has been asked to accept the statement that when we spoke at the Conference we led Great Britain to believe that” we had in mind the low percentages with which they are familiar. I took especial care, in that ease (as well as in others) to safeguard the members of the Conference against any misapprehension by pointing out that with us 15per cent., as a rule, was a very moderate duty. Having so paved the way to an understanding of the scale of duties we had in mind, I went on to point out that there were two modes of preference -
The Commonwealth may proceed either to lower existing duties in favour of Great Britain or to increase these duties to the foreigner. This latter course has been followed in Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, and probably in no perceptible degree influences’ the amount of duties collected. The immediate object of preference in our case would be to exclude foreign goods and to favour British goods. On a more general view, and subject to this, its object is to obtain fair terms abroad where fair terms are granted byus, It isnatural then, that the extent of the preference should be such as to be calculated to accomplish the first of these objects - that is, the cessation of importation of foreign goods, and ‘an increase of present duties would seem to be the best means to achieve this end.
– That is an increase as against the foreigner?
– Yes, and other increases where necessary.
– How could we help England by increasing the duties as against imports from that country ?
– The right honorable member thinks that it might be supposed that this suggestion of an increase related only to the duties on goods from foreign parts. To that I shall recur in a few minutes. I went on to point out the field of preference afforded in the first instance by our free list, which covered nearlv 34 per cent, of our total imports. In that direction, I said, it was possible to do agreat deal, and we have done much in regard to them under the Tariff proposals now before us. At the same time, I warned the Conference - and this shows that I was speaking not merely of an increase of the duties on foreign goods - that an increase of local production must be allowed for where our circumstances were favorable. At page 258, pursuing another line of exposition, I said -
This would be the effect of substantial preferences, and substantial preferences are contemplated by the third resolution of the Conference, of 1902.
Having quoted the fourth resolution of 1902, which, provided that we might give to the products and manufactures of other self-governing Colonies similar concessions to those extended to the United Kingdom, under what I termed a system of “ Imperial reciprocities,” I proceeded -
Repeating for the. last time that the Commonwealth postulates your absolute independence in the judgment you are to exercise, and adding that we are not pleading for something which is to involve sacrifices, but for a co-operation which is to be mutually beneficial - repeating that for the last time- surely the endeavour to look at this question from what I have termed a corporate pojnt of view, and the endeavour to secure corporate action, can be productive of nothing but good. . . . The policy is large, and the principle of that policv applies not only to trade and commerce, but is capable, as already suggested, of indefinite expansion.
The latter statement appears at page 259, and lower down in the same page honorable members will find the following -
We have not yet propounded a complete scheme for anv of these on either basis : that is to say, neither as a one-sided preference tendered by ourselves, nor still less of the possibilities of a preference balanced by concessions from you.
Later, on. I am reported at page 261 -
It is hardly necessary to remind the Conference that preferences may be of all kinds, degrees, and extents. They vary, and will vary, from time to time, between the same parties, and even more greatly between them and other parties. The Customs Tariff which we. shall submit will be framed on the same principle I have been enunciating here.
Now what is it? Could any one mistake this-
Our first consideration will be that of the circumstances of Australia and its demands. The next will be the possibility of givinga preference, and therefore entering into closer commercial relations with the Mother Country and our sister dominions. The third will be how far, and in what degree, it shall apply to foreign countries who single us out for special disabilities.
I clearly showed that our Tariff, whether “one-sided” or reciprocal, was to be framed with due regard to three considerations, given in the order of their necessity : Australiaand its demands, preference making for closer commercial union with the Mother Country, and, finally, retaliation on those outside who were discriminating against us.
– I presume that the honorable gentleman would take any one of them ?
– I desired to take all of them., going on to say -
The larger trade exchange with the Mother Country towards which we look, ample in its proportions, and immense in its possibilities, will be constantly before us, but the extent to which we can approach a complete mutual exchange will, of course, be governed by the’attitude which is adopted here towards our proposals. I think I can fairly say that any encouragement we may receive -
This was not a cold-blooded statement - will be met, not in a spirit of barter, but with a desire to prove our appreciation of it and of our family relations.
– That is much better.
– It is the sort of talk that is always indulged in when one is endeavouring to make a bargain.
– I doubt if any member of the Committee, who is indebted to the brilliant speech of my right honorable friend for his knowledge of the proposals that we actually submitted, had any suspicion that there were such pertinent and practical passages, in this report, dealing with the very problems with which the right honorable member was gallantly wrestling without making any reference to them. No one who reads can doubt for a moment what we proposed. Our preferences were to be proportioned to theirs. So far from our standing alone, the same attitude was adopted not only by Natal, Cape Colony, and New Zealand, but by ‘Canada, the greatest and most populous Dominion of all.
– With something added. The honorable gentleman did not quote that.
– I do not quite catch the honorable member’s meaning, or he does’ not catch mine. Sir Wilfrid Laurier said - page 411 - that a complaint had been made - that the Canadian preference has not done as much for British trade as had been hoped for. I repeat, there is a way of doing it. It is bv adopting a mutual system of preference. But again, I suppose, the British Government represented here may say, “No, we are not preparedto do that. We might improve our trade with our self-governing dependencies, but whilst we might do this, we would disturb the whole ,Y SO tem of trade, and would lose, perhaps, more than we would gain otherwise, by disturbing the whole system of trade that we have in this country.” This is a question which is not for us.
– He said he would give the preference if the British Government still maintained their, views.
– He does still give the preference, but points out, as we do, that the preference given without, return is nothing like the preference which would bp offered in return for a reciprocal preference from Great Britain. That is his point.
– It would not be 33 per cent. It might be 66 per cent.
– It might be anything that both Parliaments thought fit. Precisely the same attitude was taken up by the representatives . of the other self-governing Dominions. They all said, “ So far as we are concerned, what we seek* is reciprocity with the Mother Country - a preference extended to us and a preference granted by us - the question of the details of those preferences to be worked out, as they must necessarily be, according to the judgment of the several Parliaments concerned.” Until we were at one, of course the arrangement would not be mutual. -As already said, whatever preference were given to us we should at least balance by equal preferences of our own. That mutual preference meant far more than that .which we now propose. This is a preference by way of gift without return, made as an indication of good-feeling and attachment. The context must be examined with regard to the word “preference” in each case to discover when we were referring to reciprocity - preference by return - or only to preference by gift. In several of the passages cited to-night by the right honorable member, the Statements relate to the reciprocal preference and not to the preference which is before us at the present time.
– I thought I made that clear. When I was speaking of the honorable gentleman’s statement about the 50 per cent, increase of trade, I alluded to a reciprocal arrangement,
– I may say, although I have not his permission to name him, that the gentleman who made that statement was well acquainted with all the circumstances of Australian trade. He entered into most careful and elaborate calculations before we left this country, and, on my expressing doubt as to the estimate which he had formed, pointed out that he meant the estimate of 50 per cent, to apply to the circumstances which would arise if, in consequence of preference being granted for our agricultural products in the Mother Country, larger areas of land’ were placed under cultivation in this country, a larger population found employment on the soil, the consumption of British goods brought here under preference being by that means increased. He said it was fair to assume that, .within a comparatively short period, those circumstances would lead to an increase of 50 per cent, in our importation of goods from Great Britain, only a part of that increase being gained at the expense of the foreign goods which at present enter into competition with them, the rest being derived from the great growth which he foresaw in our consumption of. British goods under the stimulus of preference. _
– In other words, if we did 50 per cent, more business with them, they would do 50 per cent, more with us.
– Let us hope, -more. In order to show that we approached this subject from a perfectly equitable stand-point, I took pains to give “the rather unnecessary reminder - page 236 - that we recognised to the full the perfect right and freedom! of the Mother Country, consistent with her adoption of this policy, to levy protective duties against us on any and every product that she thought fit. I said that we made our proposal subject always to the condition of .the complete freedom of the Mother Country to impose duties upon our products to any extent she thought necessary in regard to her own local consumption.
– We should not like it, though. ; . .
– That is another question. But the case was put fairly by us. It was only right to show that ‘ we asked nothing that we were not prepared to concede. The liberty that we desired for ourselves was necessarily extended to the Mother Country- the greater and senior partner.
– If they taxed our goods, we should not be likely to tax theirs so much.
– That is a question for their statesmen.
– What the honorable gentleman has- stated is a repudiation of Mr. Chamberlain’s first’ dictum at Glasgow that “ the colonies ‘ were not to increase their scope of manufactures.”
– I remember that proposition. It really resolves itself into a Question of the class of manufactures. If the right honorable gentleman said, “You shall not increase your duties upon your iron manufactures,” that would be an impossible condition. But if he said, as he reasonably might-“ Here are a great quantity of high-class iron goods, which can only be profitably made in huge quantities; you in Australia cannot at present consume’ such quantities; you ‘cannot expect to start manufactures on a sound basis for that particular kind of goods; offer them no protection, but allow us a preference on them, and then,’ instead of suffering, you gain, and we gain also” - that would be a different thing.
– That is a bit of daylight. I like to hear that. .
– If the right honorable member is interested .in that bit of daylight, .1 would remind him that two orthree years ago it broke: upon an interviewer representing the Westminster ‘Gazette, then in Australia, who waited uponme, and; I think upon the right honorable member’ among others.’
– They never came to me. I. am -not preferential. %
– The right honorable, member gave an interview with .regard to the question ‘of trade generally. I do not say that he advocated preference. In dealing with the question then, I pointed out ‘ this very method, by which it will be possible for us to lend most valuable assistance to’ many departments, pf English industry without in any .degree interfering with our own .manufactures. In order to make assurance doubly sure - I fear I am rather tedious, but wish to satisfy the right honorable member’ once and for all on this point- I shall- show that at the Conference when I had concluded, whether’ in warm blood or cold blood, no less a critic than that singularly’ able economic exponent; Mr. Asquith, commended our starting point. As he took the principal part in the campaign against Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals, he has been generally -recognised as the foremost speaker for the present Government on these subjects.. “ He commenced with “a reference to that ^principle of liberty to which my right honorable friend has made eloquent allusion. He is reported on page 305 - I am leaving out unnecessary words -
Sir Wilfrid Laurier lias often said that in this matter each community of the Empire must primarily pay reward to the interests of its own members, and I was very glad to hear that statement reiterated with great emphasis and explicitness by Mr. Deakin more than once in the course of his speech. There we are all agreed.
A little lower down he says -
But” particularly, in these fiscal and economic matters, . the ‘ primary and governing consideration of every one of us - the first consideration - must be how does it affect the community with which we are more particularly connected, and which we have’ the honour’ here to represent?
He applauded our watch-word, “Australia first,” whilst Great Britain’s -interest came first for him. . On the next page, 306 of the report, he went on to say- “
For the first time in the history of the world we have managed to reconcile, what hitherto has been found irreconcilable in every political combination, namely, the completest development of local liberty and independence without impairing, nay, rather with an enhancement of, a sense of corporate unity and attachment between the parts and the whole. If that is true, gentlemen, of ourEmpire as a whole, of its structure and its foundations, nowhere is it truer, I think, than in this department of fiscal policy. It is by giving, as the Mother Country has done, complete fiscal autonomy to her Colonies - I will not say only by that, but it is partly by that, and largely by . that - that we have succeeded in arriving at a workingImperial arrangement.
There was no hostility to our doctrine of “Australia first.” He went on to say that he would not. even criticise our fiscal policy, though he did not agree with it, and then at page 307 of the report he showed his complete -understanding of our intentions.
I call attention to it again, not as a matter of Complaint, but simply as a matter of fact - in these very preferential Tariffs that have -been the subject of discussion during the last few days there is not one of them which proposes to let British manufactures enter into the Colonial markets to compete on level terms with the Colonial manufacturer in regard to the class of commodities the production of which you think it your duty to encourage by protective duties. And quite rightly, from your point of view, if Imay say so
– No protectionist could have put the matter more fairly.
– No; but the point is that people here are invited to believe that in the Tariff now before the Committee we have departed- so absolutely from the principles laid down at this Imperial Conference debate, as to take the British Government by surprise. I wish to show how frankly and freely Mr. Asquith, and afterwards Mr. Lloyd George, recognised our exact position, and realized the meaning of the words that we there used. On the same page it willbe found that Mr. Asquith further said -
You are not going to admit anybody, British or foreign, to compete on level terms in your markets in respect of the industries which you desire to protect. You could not do it. It is a negation of protection. Obviously the thing itself is self-contradictory.
– That is what we say, but the Government try to do it sometimes.
– A little lower down I find this passage which the right honorable member for East Sydney also quoted -
Under the system of preference, or the mitigated form of protection which it is proposed your protective Tariff should now take, it is. essential for your purpose”, in the exerciseof your fiscal independence, and in the maintenance, as vou conceive it to be, of vour economic interests, to exclude the British manufacturers to a very large extent from your markets. I say I do not make it a matter of complaint, but I note it asa fact taken for granted by every one round this table.
Yet we are told that every one who sat round the Conference table in’ London is now amazed that we acted on the principle of “Australia first, ‘” in protecting our own manufactures before granting a gift preference.
– It is the jump from a moderate duty of 15 per cent. to an extreme duty of 40 per cent. that might take their breath away.
– One more quotation from Mr. Asquith ‘s colleague, the very able President of the Board of Trade, Mr. Lloyd George.
– There are some able freetraders in the world.
– There are indeed, and I think that Mr. Asquith and Mr. Lloyd George rank amongst the ablest in Great Britain. It was a great privilege to hear them, and a great honour to meet them.It is said that there was no knowledge in Great Britain with regard to our Tariff proposals, but this is how Mr. Lloyd George referred to the matter. At page 360 referring to our elections, he said -
I believe that at that election Mr. Deakin also sought and secured a mandate for raising the protective duties now levied by the Commonwealth against the importation of goods in which Britain drives a very considerable trade with the Australian consumer at the present moment.
My right honorable friend would have drawn tears from stones to-night by his picture of the grief and horror of the British Government when they discovered that we were raising the duties, not only against the foreigner, but against some British goods as well.
– Doubling them.
– My right honorable friend insists that they never dreamt of. such a thing when we were in England. I have read what I said, he knows what my. honorable colleague said, and here is the President of the Board of Trade stating that after hearing us he was in no doubteither as to the verdict of our last elections, or as to the intention of this Government as to the Tariff now before us.
– He would be. astonished to hear the honorable gentleman call that “ preference.”
– Not at all. I pointed, out that Mr. Lloyd George had inverted the order in which preference was to come. I said -
There are two issues. The first issue, as we put it, was protection.
Then Mr. Lloyd”‘George, with sympathetic intuition and understanding, said, “ A higher Tariff,” and I went on to say -
Yes, because without the Tariff we do not get the opportunity of preference.
Is this explicit enough?
We mentioned preference second in order of importance. In logical order, we say protection and preferential trade.
– Let the right honorable member for East Sydney explain that away.
– It is the “and” that staggers us. “ Protection and- .”
– If my honorable colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, is wise he will not challenge the right honorable member for East Sydney. That right honorable gentleman can explain anything away. I believe he would try to explain even this away.
– I admit that the right honorable gentleman can explain most things.
– If I am given the last word, I can explain a great deal.
– It is unnecessary for me to make quotations from them at this hour, but I have here some very frank and straightforward statements which appeared in the columns of newspapers published in the Mother Country not friendly to the proposal of preference, but absolutely hostile to it - the Daily Chronicle, which, though Imperialist in sympathy, is uncompromisingly free-trade ; and the Westminster Gazette, the “Sea-green incorruptible” of English economic orthodoxy. Both these newspapers admit, in articles on the present Tariff, that, as framed and submitted here, it is exactly in consonance with what Sir William Lyne and I stated in Great Britain. They say that any persons who have been misled have been misled owing to their own fault. The Westminster Gazette says no statements could have been more explicit than ours.
– The leading newspapers at Home supporting preference . condemn the Government proposals.
– The honorable and learned member is, perhaps for the first time, entirely wrong.
– I have a newspaper here which says so.
– One newspaper only.
– The Times ; and able statesmen writing in its columns also condemn the proposals.
– And several other able statesmen reply to them most cogently in the same columns.
– The Times is the leading organ in favour of preference in Great Britain.
– The Times is first in standing, but it does not stand alone. The Daily Telegraph is recognised as a great organ of Tariff Reform in England, and is supposed to have the greatest circulation. It has published a leading article in which it says that the grant of preference under this Tariff is generous, and ought to be received with acclamation as more than they had reason to expect after the utterances of the free importers.
– The Daily Telegraph is a party organ.
– Not more than others. The Daily Telegraph takes a very high stand.
– It is a bitter party newspaper on this question.
– It is generally spoken of as the organ of the middle classes in England. Then there is the Morning Post, a most able and absolutely independent newspaper, very influential because, following its own policy, and not fearing to criticise the leaders and members of its own party, it always holds its own course. This paper has referred in the strongest terms of favour to our proposals for preference.
– Has it? I can show that it has referred to them in other terms.
– Let me assure the honorable member he is in error. Every week we have sent to us extracts from all the articles published in British newspapers affecting Australia.
– I have a quotation here from the Daily Telegraph in which it is contended that the preference is all “bluff.”
– The honorable member must be wrong. I have r<o wish to delay the Committee, but in the London Daily Telegraph of 30th August last there is a leading article which commences -
Owing ‘to the infinite ignorance with which the Australian Tariff has been discussed in most quarters, anl the incorrigible partisanship, the almost criminal prejudice with which that measure h.is been attacked in other quarters, we are threatened with what would be no less than an Imperial disaster.
And then, again -
It cannot be too clearly understood that this matter stands clean outside the fiscal;, controversy amongst ourselves. Canada gave preference without entering into a- . bargain. : Australia, in the same way, provided for special treatment to the Mother Country without making, any stipulations or waiting for a return. In the “ second case, as’ in the first, we were offered ‘something and were asked for nothing. Whether the absolute’ worth of the Commonwealth concession be more or less - and it has been much better worth having than is generally thought - its. withdrawal would be a sheer, unmitigated loss to British trade. It would be impossible to stigmatize too harshly the- folly of those responsible for such a calamity.
That very important organ of public opinion, The Standard, is equally emphatic. The National Review, among reviews,, with the Saturday Review, the Outlook’, and other leading weeklies,- take identically the same view. The Spectator seems the only exception.
– The Saturday Review advocates protection.
– Why not? I do not suppose that my honorable and learned friend will go so far as to say that that puts it outside the pale of controversy. Even protectionist organs must be allowed to express opinions. .
– No doubt; but I wish to qualify the reference to it as an authority, by showing that it has a bias for protection, out of which preference- springs.
– We have been told that it is the protectionists of Great Britain, our friends there, who have been offended, and disappointed by the Tariff. In answer to that, I have shown that all - the leading newspapers, favoring Tariff reform, take the view which I have read, although the Times, in its customary judicial manner, balances both sides.
– The honorable member- has all the Conservative perverts in his favour.
– On the other’ side, men like Mr. Asquith and Mr. Lloyd George were perfectly logical in their attitude on the fiscal question. Mr. -Asquith’.s Cobdenite principles are pure and absolute, with no admixture of protectionist admissions of the kind to which we are getting accustomed in this country. He stated boldly, in effect, that,, whatever protectionist Tariff we mav impose, it cannot injure the United Kingdom. Alluding to all protectionist Tariffs, foreign or colonial, he stated - ,
I assert these two propositions : that we stand better at this moment industrially in the Tariffprotected markets of Europe than any of the nations which have protected themselves inter se by retaliation. That, is one proposition. I say next, and I believe this to be equally true as a matter of tact, that our foreign trade has been growing of late years in those very protected markets, even at a more rapid rate than it has elsewhere. . .
The kindest thing we can do, according to Mr. Asquith and the gentlemen who agree with him, is to raise our Tariff still higher. The more, we raise it the faster will British goods come in.
Mr. Thomas. ExSenator Styles said that in another place.
– I have now shown that our friends, the Tariff reformers of Great Britain, are satisfied with our - proposals, and that their opponents, the Ministerial party,- are, according to their great spokesmen, either satisfied, or, at . least, . indifferent to the rates of. duty which we .may choose to levy. What .then becomes of the plea of our Cobdenites in Australia professing, to protest on behalf of the Cob.denites in Great Britain, while these last are saying openly . that; there, can be nothing unsatisfactory to the Mother Country because of increasing Tariffs in .other parts of the world.
– The more the people of other countries tie themselves up the .better it is for those who remain free.
- Mr.. Asquith continued - .
There is no Tariff wall that has yet been erected, even in America, which is the highest of them all, which has succeeded in excluding, or ever will ‘ succeed in .excluding, British goods from a market, so long as British goods retain their pre-eminence in quality and adaptability to the needs of. mankind, and so long as. those needs remain a constant or” growing quantity. You cannot do it, and no power ,on earth can do it. .” ‘’
Then why are we asked to mingle, our tears with- those of the leader of the Opposition on account of our’ Tariff increases?’
– Great Britain has not to thank for her success those who have tried to shut her out of their markets. She does not thank them for trying to shut her out.
– What I have read is Cobdenism pure and undefiled.
– It’ is manliness. British manufacturers do not crawl behind’ barricades; they pierce them.
– It seems to me very like Cobdenism in a trap and squealing..
– I admit the. manliness of the position ; but the exhaustion which the right honorable member’s demand for sympathy may have caused will, I hope, be repaired, by the consolation extended to us by Mr. Asquith. It may be said that the British Government is indifferent to preferences offered to it. ‘ -
– No one would say that.
– The right honorable member did not say it?
– No. The more preference we give the better; but, in any case, preference is a good thing.
– Many influential newspapers have taken thatview, and, on the point, I am happy to quote Mr. Lloyd George, who said -
We heartily concur in the view which has been presented by colonial Ministers that the Empire would be a gainer if much of the products now purchased from foreign countries could be produced and purchased within the Empire. In Britain we have the greatest market in the world. We are the greatest purchasers of produce raised or manufactured outside our own boundaries. A very large proportion of this produce could very well be raised in the colonies, and any reasonable and workable plan that would tend to increase the proportion of the produce which is bought by us from the colonies, and by the colonies from us and from each other, must necessarily enhance the resources of the Empire as a whole.
That is what we have been Saying from the commencement. It is the position on which our preferential trade proposals are based. . Although Mr. Lloyd George is a confirmed free-trader, making no departure from the faith, except, as I shall presently show, under certain possibilities, he “grasps the fundamental principle underlying them, which is the employment of ‘ the forces of the Empire to develop its resources. He said again that the preferential Tariffs already in force in other Dominions - and remember that they were made by raising their own Tariffs first, and then raising them more against the foreigner - were “ substantial concessions.” Canada has added to hers of late. Yet on page 386” he describes the preferences as “enormous advantages.” On page 387 he says that Great Britain was grateful for the concessions, and recognised the spirit of comradeship in which they were made. Consequently, we have from the lips of the President of the Board of Trade a sufficient statement of appreciation from the British Government - by free-traders, who grant no preference, remember; by those who are usually supposed to attack preference. We have these frank admissions on the face of this report. Nevertheless in regard to ourselves there is a significant admission by Mr. Lloyd George on page 372, when he said -
I agree something seems to be wrong in the trade between our country and Australia, and I should like to know something more about it. It is no use concealing that fact.
There is special justification, if one was sought for the policy which we have adopted.
– He has stated that we are adopting an exclusive policy.
– Thisquotation extends back to a period beginning in 1901.
– Can the honorable gentleman tell us what Mr. Lloyd George has said about the preference in the Tariff now that it is submitted?
– I have seen no statement by Mr. Lloyd George on that head. As his own agent pointed out, between 1901 and 1905 British imports to Australia fell by 13 per cent., whilst foreign imports to Australia rose by 11 per cent.
– It is a most extraordinary thing that from1 902 to 1906 the official statement which Mr. Knibbs has published shows an increasein British imports.
– But not in the percentages.
– It shows an actual increase in value of £2,700,000.
– My figures are taken from Board of Trade returns for the years I have named.
– Percentages prove wonderful things sometimes.
– At present we have no proposal for any kind of reciprocity from the Mother Country, and consequently all the statements which are to be found in these reports relating to reciprocal preference, no longer apply. We proffer a preference of thesame class and character as that already given by Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, but we have illustrations in the German and FrenchColonies of reciprocal preferential trade in those countries. Algerine grain is admitted free to France, while foreign grain is taxed at the rate of 12s. 3d. a quarter. In German Colonies German goods are exempted or placed on a lower scale. Mr. Lloyd’ George went so far as to say, on page 393 -
The German railway is a bonus on exports ; the British railway is a bonus to the foreign exporter to this country.
That is to Great Britain. He pointed out that this was a suicidal policy, and one into which it was necessary that his Government should inquire. . These are some of the illustrations presented to us of our neglected opportunities for reciprocity.
– How can they correct that unless they first nationalize the railways ?
– That is a large question. Another consequence of the neglect of reciprocity by the Mother Country is that Canada has now an intermediate Tariff, and, from a cablegram which has arrived during the last few days, we learn that negotiations are already on foot with Germany and Italy. This means that the British preference hitherto granted by Canada will be reduced by exactly the amount of that intermediate Tariff to these two countries - one of them the most formidable competitor the Mother Country has. That is because Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s proposal for reciprocal preference, again repeated at the last Conference, has been declined.
– Oh, no.
– He has announced that policy on several occasions; for instance, in Paris two years ago.
– Exactly; but it- is a consequence of the absence of reciprocal treatment. The Premier of Cape Colony has warned the British Government that the preferences granted there are being opposed by a portion of the people whom he represents, until reciprocity is conceded.
– Does the honorable gentleman intend to follow on his lines?
– Is that relevant? Are we not proposing a preference this very moment? I am not, at this late hour, to be led off the track.
– In view of a quotation from a statement by the honorable gentleman in London it is relevant.
– The honorable member will have an opportunity of mentioning that statement, and, as we are in Committee, I can refer to it if necessary. Now we have two out of the three Dominions which have already granted a preference, qualifying it on account of the absence of reciprocity. But, for all that, we have the best of reasons for proposing a preference, and a liberal one.
– Without reciprocity.
– Yes. In the first place, we have the example which has been set by every self-governing Dominion - South Africa, Canada, and New Zealand. And, in addition to that, we have this fact - that, whilst it is true that there is no discrimination in our favour in the Mother Country, there is a discrimination against us in some foreign countries. The Mother Country gives us no greater advantages than she gives to the foreigner ; but in Germany to-day there is a distinct discrimination against certain Australian goods. Germany subsidizes steamers, which are not allowed to take meat and other of our raw products, to German markets. That discrimination is being adopted by Sweden and another European country, to some extent.
– Differential railway rates, too.
– Differential railway rates exist, too, particularly in Germany, There, and elsewhere, we are being subjected to so-called Customs, examinations, especially in regard to meat, which amount to absolute prohibition. ‘ That treatment is accorded to us by , foreign countries, from whom, at least, we have a right to- expect, not exceptional favour, but the same treatment as is accorded to other parts of the world; we have, therefore, another justification for extending to the Mother Country, whose markets arcal ways open to us, better treatment than to those who employ their powers against us.
– And for other reasons also.
– And for many other reasons. The greatest reason of all I do not propose to enter upon because it really does not come within the scope of this debate. It seems to me that the relations between the Mother Country and the selfgoverning Dominions are now in process of re-adjustment, and that this must go on” until, on clearly thought-out arid wellestablished lines, we have adjusted our relative responsibilities to each other. These are incidental to our approach towards national manhood and can no longer be put aside. But each requires to be dealt with as far as possible ‘on its own merits. To-night the leader of the Opposition indulged in some persiflage with reference to the possible defence proposals of the Government, which will be dealt with in clue course. But it is undesirable to confuse the defence question with the trade question. It is true that we owe all he said, and more than, we can say, to the protection of the British flag and fleet. I have urged it” again and again for many years. But this is to be met by the discharge. of our responsibility in connexion with the defence of the Empire. That can partially be measured, and ought to be related to defence as a whole. In the same way it appears to me that we require to consider trade in respect to trade, and to adjust our mutual commercial relations through the freedom of our markets, and share all the advantages which’ we can obtain from trade preferences. .. And so of the several other relations which we are now establishing, most of them imperfect and unformulated, and all of them open to -definition and. improvement. We can attempt to re-adjust them one by one. Among the greatest tasks which lie before us, so Boon as our hands are somewhat freed from the great and pressing questions of a local character that now confront us, must be the taking up in connexion with local questions of the issues involved in our Imperial relations un- til these are fully and fairly balanced. The most encouraging feature is that, on the part of the British people and its Parliament as a whole, there is to-day an even more generous spirit than has obtained hitherto. In recent years there has been carping from some quarters at the Do minions for not having taken their share of the defence burden of the Empire. The last debate in the House of Commons, when that question was considered, was marked by- a striking speech from the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Balfour, with which ‘-“the Government immediately associated itself. This proceeded exactly on the same broad lines as the official statement afterwards made to us by Lord Tweedmouth on behalf of the Government Although they felt that we had a responsiblity in connexion with Imperial defence, hey left it to their self-governing Dominions to determine - for themselves how rar, when, and- to what extent, they would undertake to share that purden. Greater and more generous treatment there could not possibly, be. .It is upon the sentiment thus expressed and the practical developments that we may anticipate from it, that .we may confidently rely to bring us and keep us together in the future. Sio, though as to the Tariff we were met by Mr. Asquith in an absolutely uncompromising manner - as my quotations will have shown - it was with the utmost courtesy and consideration, and an almost anxious desire to avoid trespassing, even for a moment, upon the privileges which had already been conceded to us. Having been met in that spirit, it seems to me ab- solutely, essential that the self-governing Dominions of their own accord should take into serious consideration their relations with’ the Mother Country with a. view of discharging, according to their own consciences, and their consciousness of the fitness of things, their duty ‘ in regard to’ the world-power under whose shelter we have grown up. Under its shelter- our children must continue’ while rising gradually to. the full measure of their responsibilities, within the Empire to the end of time. This digression is cognate, because it brings me back to the question of granting a preference to the United Kingdom at the present moment. That preference is due upon commercial and trade grounds alone. I .put it upon no higher grounds now, because it is to be dealt with as a matter of business. At the same time, 1 realize that considerations of business in this instance can be as much invested with spirit, sentiment, and aspiration as if there were no bargains We bring forward our proposals with far greater warmth, zeal, and hope for their future development than we would do if they merely represented a business transaction. They ought to represent at contract of the character that a father would make with his son upon the latter entering into business on his own account. These arrangements are very different from- those which they would make with outside competitors. Therefore, this Committee will do well for itself and well for the Commonwealth if it grants such a preference as is here proposed. This particular schedule must be .of a temporary character, because, by carefully observing the effects of each of these concessions, we shall seek to discover, those which! are practicable, those which may be further extended, and those which should be withdrawn as having failed in weir effect. Hereafter, in the light of experience, we shall be able to do what, at present, we can only attempt in a general and theoretical fashion, that is, to foster trade with the Mother. Country where it will best suit her development and that of the Commonwealth. I have put the matter in this way, although we are now viewing it from our own side of the shield. Despite the coldness with which our overtures for reciprocity, are being received in the Mother Country, I have by no means abandoned the opinion that it will not be long before we discover a change in the attitude lately adopted towards us. in this matter, and in the course Great Britain will be prepared to take. Her feeling for the Dominions could not be warmer than it is at present, and, if I am not much mistaken, it will find adequate channels of expression before many, years. If asked why I venture this daring prophecy about a country with which I can claim no immediate political acquaintance except -that which has been derived during three short visits, I turn for one illustration to the impassioned language of Mr. Lloyd George, than whom there is no more determined free-importer. Upon page 362 of the report of the Conference he says -
A considerablepart of the surplus population of the United Kingdom, which now goes to foreign lands in search of a livelihood might then find it to its profit to pilch its tents somewhere under the Hag, and the Empire would gain in riches of material and of men. We agree with our Colonial comrades, that all this is worth concerted effort, even if that effort at the outset costs us something. The federation of free Commonwealths is worth making some sacrifice for. One never knows when its strength may be essential to the great cause of human freedom, and that is priceless. I am not one of those who believe that the value of great ideals is to be assessed always by Board of Trade returns. In the main purpose, therefore, which has brought you and ourselves to this Conference, we agree. We differ only on ways and means.
Every self-governing Dominion has adopted a protective policy. The Mother Country alone stands aloof. If the words of Mr. Lloyd George mean anything, this distinguished free-trader is prepared in the future, if he finds it necessary for the cohesion and development of the Empire, to make some sacrifices of his own opinions.
– Of principle ?
– Not of principle; no sacrifice of principle is demanded.
– Everybody thinks that there are greater things than free-trade.
– Exactly ; there are greater things than any fiscal system, and the occasion to demonstrate it may arise. Certainly the cause of human freedom is priceless. If we are met in that spirit, many ways will be open to us in the future for many kinds of preference, not excluding Tariff preference.
– Would the Prime Minister mind reading the following sentence uttered by Mr. Lloyd George?
– Certainly -
We are prepared to make even greater sacrifices in the future, but we are convinced that’ to tax the food of the people is to cast an undue share of the sacrifice on the poorest and most helpless part of our population, and that a tax on raw material would fetter us in the severe conflict we are waging with the most skilful trade competitors with whom any nation has ever yet been confronted. That would be a sacrifice which would diminish our power for further sacrifice, and we doubt the wisdom of making it.
But I misread that statement altogether if the first is not the major and permanent proposition, and the second the minor immediate qualification of Mr. Lloyd George’s present undoubted, firm, and clear convic tion. Though he believes that sacrifices may be involved, he will be prepared to make them. He is against us at present; but not beyond hope.
– He actually implores them not to attempt a change.
– When we speak of the treatment which our goods have received in foreign ports, we have to remember that which was meted out to our ships, in the Marshall Islands - a wrong winch has remained unredressed even to this day, and for which a reasonable demand has been knocking in vain at the door of the Chancellor at Berlin during the past eighteen months or two years-. How can foreign powers who take that course of action wonder if we extend preferences elsewhere, and even impose disabilities upon them? Before I conclude, mayI remind the Committee - as my honorable colleague has done in detail - that the preference proposed at present covers £15,000,000 worth of British goods, upon some lines of which, at all events, decided inroads have been made? Within the last few days I have learned, from communications direct from several houses interested in importing leading lines, that deliberate attempts - quite proper and reasonable attempts in their way - are being made to undersell some of the stapleproducts in which, to-day, Great Britain holds the pride of place, by a deliberate reduction in the ordinary prices of foreign goods brought here. I have had evidence placed in my hands relating to a particular line in which the foreigner has no footing whatever, and in which his prices have been reduced below the cost of production in order to obtain our trade. This is only one of several dangers. Whilst Great Britain now holds £15,000,000 worth of trade which will be affected by the proposed preferences; experience shows that she must not rely upon retaining it, and, therefore, any assistance we can render her must be counted. The preferences proposed also cover £9,000,000 worth of goods from foreign countries, over all of which the British importer will obtain an advantage. I propose only to mention the effect of our preference upon seventy-six items which will be free to the United Kingdom, sixty-six of which will be subject to a 5 per cent. duty in the case of a foreigner, and ten of which will bear a 10 per cent duty. These affect nearly three and a half million pounds worth of imports, of which one and a half millions are foreign goods.
Our preference protects the three and a half millions, and gives Great Britain the opportunity of competing for the one and a half millions a year. I am informed from a careful calculation that this will probably mean a trade of three millions to the Mother Country at once. I have taken out a list of some twenty odd lines in which foreign competition is or may become severe, and on. which this preference will afford considerable relief, but pass from this because 1 have already exceeded the time for which I thought it would be possible for me to address the Committee, or for honorable members to consent to listen. I had intended to allude to another proposal which was received at the Conference - if I may use the expression - with scant courtesy. It was that, following the original suggestion of .Mr. Hofmeyr, in 1.887, afterwards elaborated by Sir George Sydenham Clarke, there should be formed an Imperial fund, contributed to by all the Dominions, to be devoted to Imperial purposes. This fund was to be raised by the imposition of a rate to be agreed upon, equivalent to a duty of 1 per cent, or less upon foreign imports-, together with a condition enabling a country which did not desire to impose such a duty to make its contribution in some other fashion. This proposal for the establishment of an Imperial fund to be devoted to the encouragement of quick and cheap communication between the mother land and her oversea Dominions, or cheaper freight for British manufacturers, and cheaper freight for our producers here, cheaper cable messages, the lowering of canal rates, or in any other manner in which we could increase trade and intercommunication between the parts of the Empire - this proposal was first scouted and then ridiculed. So strong was the Little Englander spirit which, having banged the door on the policy of preference, bolted and barred it, then practically rejected a proposal for Imperial union for Imperial ends, only making at last a lame effort to frame a meaningless resolution which we declined to adopt.
– I do. not think that the honorable gentleman should say that there was scant courtesy.
– The proposal received scant courtesy, though, indeed, it was not fully debated by those present. Some strong statements were uttered.
– Nothing like what was said on the other side.
– I know of nothing of this nature that was said on the other side, but that, is a detail.
– They were very courteous.
– This was a proposal that meant no fiscal sacrifice on the part of any country. It afforded an opportunity of proving, apart from fiscal relations, that if they were willing to meet us for mutual ends this was an opportunity of doing so.
– Was that matter proposed with the consent of the selfgoverning Colonies?
– It was supported by some only of the representatives.
– The honorable gentleman will see the difference between a tax of 1 per cent, on the enormous imports of Great Britain and a similar tax on the imports of Australia.
– But, as I pointed out at the time, the 1 per cent, was merely put as a figure for purposes of illustration. Any other amount could have been substituted. Mine was a proposal for the establishment of some fund for Imperial purposes. The 1 per cent, was only suggested as a measure. Each Parliament would have controlled its own contribution. It was simply to be dedicated to Imperial purposes by each, so that there was no interference with its selfgovernment. There was also a debate on the proposal for an “All Red Line” - an old proposal known for ten or twenty years in this country - which is now being discussed with warmth in Canada. I fear that the direct or indirect interest of Australia in such a line is at present small. Nevertheless we supported the proposal on Imperial grounds so far as it affected Canada. What helps one Dominion helps all’. A precedent of this kind would have been valuable to us. That is all the gain we should have had from it now. To send ships quicker to Canada than to New York would have been an Imperial gain. The British Government has already subsidized ships to New York, arid”, having done that, why not subsidize steamers to connect with their own Dominions, and make the route through Canada the quickest route to the East, and perhaps in the future to Australia?
– It was to prevent the Cunard Company from entering into the American syndicate that the British Government subsidized that line.
– That was one object, but if they could do that to. meet one set f conditions why not then do the same in order to link up Canada with the Mother Country, and ultimately with New Zealand and Australia?
– Imperial interests actuated them in the first instance, and might have actuated them in the second.
– The honorable member has put it admirably. Canada has more claims on the Imperial Government than we have, and has recently proved in connexion with the Japanese and other treaties - matters of great moment - that she is able to make her weight felt. She may succeed, having the immense assistance of the great Canadian Pacific Railway, with its enormous resources in money and of influences behind it. That great company patriotically wields its influence to benefit Canada, being a very great land-holder in Canada. Hence the company’s influence is used in helping Canada in matters of consequence. I am happy to read in the Canadian papers and reviews - in the Canadian -Magazine, for instance - expressions of opinion decidedly encouraging from the Australian point of ‘view. The Canadian Magazine reminds us that just the same cry as is now being raised in some quarters against the Australian Tariff was raised against the Canadian Tariff when it was introduced. But it adds that Canada declined to be affected by outside interests which clashed with those of her own people, and Australia is urged to do the same. I find in the daily newspapers of Canada that, although they do not hope for much in the way of a reciprocal arrangement with us, they nevertheless point out that Australia is taking the course that Canada has already followed. When Australia makes her weight and influence felt, as Canada has done, it will be recognised in England that in building up our own resources in this country we are doing the best service we can for the Empire. It is not for us to remain dependent; in these respects. It is for us to blaze our own trail and follow it, maintaining a policy which will be beneficial to. the Mother Country, since it will enable us to go more efficiently to her aid in any hour of need. In regard to dealing with
Australia, Australians are the best judges; if not, there are no others to whom we can appeal.
– No one has said the contrary.
– In what way is Australia interfered with ?
– In no way directly, but we are at present being subjected to certain criticisms in the House, and by the foreign trade party outside, who object to Australia judging for herself; urging that she should be governed by other considerations. To these, with apologies for having detained the Committee so long, I make this brief reply. The present proposals for preference, incomplete as .they are, and immature as they must be, requiring, like other political proposals, to be adapted from time to time to circumstances, were the best that could be made just now. They are an instalment of preferences which, if adopted, can and will be made more effective as time goes on. I trust and believe it will be seen that the real object we have in view is to adopt a distinctly different line of conduct towards the Mother Country, and to approach her commerce in a distinctly different spirit, with a warmth of blood begotten of kinship and community of interest such as no other power can claim. All. questions affecting our trading and commercial relations with the Mother Country must be approached with the sentiment of the family, otherwise such schemes will have been launched in vain. I confess that this schedule is imperfect - it is temporary - as all fiscal proposals must be, but believe it will accomplish much more than is anticipated. The leader of the Opposition to-day, in one of his passages, pointed out that the increased trade between independent powers such as the United States and England had made for peace, harmony, and strength between the two countries. If that be so, how much more will increased trade between the Mother Country and her Dominions make for increased harmony, strength, and peace within the Empire? I accept the right honorable’ gentleman’s argument, and apply it here. In another glowing passage he referred with disdain to the. impossible ideal of making Australia a self-contained country. He said that it was folly to hope or believe that it would be well for Great Britain to be self-contained. There is another ideal which includes both. We are confident that the Empire, if not selfsufficing, can approach more nearly to that con- dition than any other power in the world. Every climate, every soil, every source of wealth, every means of strength and greatness are already within its bounds.
– Hear, hear. Free-trade within the Empire.
– Let the right honorable member read Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s statement of the impossibility of freetrade within the Empire, even if the British Government offered it - let the right honorable gentleman read the admission of British Ministers that free-trade within the Empire is impossible from their point of view, even if we wished it - and he will no longer discuss that question.
– Can the honorable member quote a passage in which anyBritish Minister says that?
– I can do so. With preferential trade linking the various parts of the Empire together, and ma’king it, if npt wholly self-contained, as nearly selfsufficing as is wise, we shall be all the stronger and more prosperous, not only on that account, but because of our harmony in the many other intimate relations which will knit us closer still. .
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [,0.201.-I desire to congratulate the Prime Minister on his evident return to robust health. I suggest that progress l>e reported.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN laid upon the table the following paper -
Customs Act - Provisional Regulation. - No. 55(A) - General and Private Warehouses for the Storage of Explosives - Statutory Rules 1907,. No. °5-
House adjourned at 10.21 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 October 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071022_reps_3_40/>.