3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 5.0 p.m., and read prayers.
– In to-day’s Age,
Mr. J. M. Reid, president of the Annual Conference of the . Federal Council of Chambers of Manufactures, is reported to have referred in his opening address - to the interview with the Prime Minister on the desirability of enabling manufacturers to bring into Australia skilled white artisans under contract at not less than the union rate of wages.
I wish to know if Mr. Reid is correctly reported, and, if so, whether the Prime Minister does not think it time that a gentleman holding his position should have made himself acquainted with our legislation. Does not the law allow everything to be done as he desires?
– As the honorable member points out, the law allows all that appears to be asked for to be done. I cannot recall the interview referred to; neither can my honorable colleague; so that probably that portion of the address relating to it has been considerably condensed, to the obscuring of the speaker’s meaning.
Mr. SPEAKER presented the following paper
Commonwealth and State Parliaments - Correspondencc relating to a Resolution of the Western Australian Parliament respecting the Tariff and theRight of a State Parliament to Protest against Commonwealth Legislative proposals.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Government consider the advisability of introducing amending legislation enacting that the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration shall have jurisdiction, subject to such regulations as shall be prescribed, to hear and determine appeals from all awards, judgments, decrees, and orders made by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State or any persons who compose a State Industrial Authorityor Wages Board?
– The Government is advised that such legislation is not within the competence of the Parliament of the Com monwealth without the consent of the States.
In Committee of Ways and Means (Con sideration resumed from 22nd October, vide 5011):
Item 40 (as amended), Candles, Tapers, and Night Lights : -
Paraffine wax, wholly or in part per lb (General Tariff), 2?d., and on and after 19th October, 1907, per lb., ad (United Kingdom), ad.
N.E.I. per lb. (General Tariff),1?d. (United Kingdom),1d.
Upon which had been moved by way of further amendment -
By Mr. John Thomson -
That after the figure “ad.” the words “and on and after 23rd October, 1507 (United Kingdom), per lb., rid.,” be inserted.
By Mr. Glynn -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “ and on and after.”
– For several, reasons, I do not intend to add materially to the length of the debate. Last night we had speeches from the party leaders .which” have left little to be said on the merits of the question at issue. Moreover, there is not a great divergence of opinion in the Committee concerning the essentials of preference, but only as to the mode and method and quantum. Furthermore, a number of speeches have been delivered by most honorable members on the question generally. But I wish to make one or two brief references to the speech of the Prime Minister last night. We are all glad that he is again in possession of robust health. As to that, there can be. no’ doubt, after the brilliant address of last evening. One is always delighted to hear him at his best, as we did then’, and I offer to him my congratulations upon the evident signs of returning health, which I hope will continue. But I find it very difficult to criticise his speech. As most of his speeches are, it was. full of brilliant and glittering generalities. He glided from point to point with the easy movement of the humming bird, and with beautiful indefiniteness.
– Some of his statements were pretty definite.
– It is to those that I hope to make a brief allusion. As a whole, there was so little of definite statement in the speech, and so much of brilliant generalities, that it is very difficult to criticise. The greater part of it was occupied in showing that the honorable and learned gentleman pursued a consistent course in the framing of the schedule, and in his recent utterances in London. I am not going to find fault “with the statements he made there. They were very indefinite. He touched on all the points of preference, and spoke very gingerly about Australian protection. The same remarks may be made of his colleague, the present Treasurer, who is usually so outspoken and pronounced in his declaration of the protectionist belief.
In the attenuating atmosphere of London, even the Treasurer, for the nonce, forgot his robustiousness, and uttered only the mildest and most tentative statements regarding protection. But, in my view, notwithstanding his disclaimer last night, the Prime Minister when” in London went out of his way to identify himself with party politics. He told the Committee that he declined to attend several meetings because of their partisan character, but that, to my mind, makes more pronounced the heinousness of his conduct in making’ the speech which he made at the Baltic meeting, where, in spite .of the fact that both fiscal beliefs were represented, and he had been assured by both sides that the meeting was to be non-party, he took occasion to so criticise the utterances of Mr. Asquith as to compel those present to call “ Shame” repeatedly during his address.
– I do not remember that any reference - to Mr. Asquith had that effect.
– The Prime Minister did not mention Mr. Asquith’s name, but he took statements which had been made by Mr. Asquith at the Conference, and criticised them in such a way as to’ lead the meeting to cry “ Shame.” Therefore, he cannot be held not to have departed from a strictly neutral attitude regarding the political parties of the old country in reference to the fiscal question. To show the consistency of Ministers in respect to protection, I should like to quote a statement made by’ the Treasurer in London, in a speech in which for the first, and, I think, the only, time, the intention of the Government to introduce, a protectionist Tariff was definitely expressed by a responsible Minister. Referring to the preferential relations between the German’ States, and contrasting Australia and Germany, the Treasurer showed that while the German States were old-settled countries with a long-established policy, we had infant industries to foster; to which we must give protection. He went on to say -
So, to put the Australian manufactured goods on an equality as regards price with those of Britain, it is necessary to have some slight duty even on the latter’s goods, though this duty will be only trifling compared with that on foreign.
I should like to know whether the Treasurer regards the duties in the Tariff as trifling and slight. Do duties of 30, 35, and 40 per cent, come under that heading? I admit that the honorable member’s utterances in the Conference were different from some which he made outside, notably at Sheffield. While a member of the Conference, he seemed, for the time being, to recognise the judicial character of the proceedings, and, instead of roaring as he generally does, and gyrating along the Council table, he indulged in these mildmannered statements as to the intention of the Australian protectionist Ministry in respect to the trade of the Mother Country.
– If the honorable member will read the whole of my speech, he will find that I was very definite in everything that I said.
– That is the only definite statement that I can find regarding the intention of the Government to impose duties on the goods of the Mother Country. The Prime Minister told us last night that the relations of the Empire need a very radical adjustment. The trend of eventsof recent years, together with the development of other and possibly competitive nations, have made it impossible to longer continue in our old groove. We must re-adjust our relationship to the Empire in order that the relationship of the Empire may be re-adjusted to the surrounding countries of the world. In what respect does our Empire need re-adjustment internally? There never was a time when our Empire was so powerful, so prosperous, so rich, so contented, so peaceful, in every quarter of it, as at the present time. In an Empire of this kind, and under such conditions, we must attempt the re-adjustment of internal relations in the most delicate and tentative way. We must not. talk of radical re-adjustment in the manner indulged in by the Prime Minister last night. There must, of course, always be more or less adjustment proceeding, both in the internal affairs of the Empire and in . our relations to other countries ; but when we find conditions unparalleled in the world, and certainly unparalleled in the history of our own Empire, there must not be radical re-adjustment, but re- adjustment in the most careful and delicate way, susceptible of easy and safe treatment. Our Empire is not held together like a piece of machinery ; we cannot take out a part and put in “another, as we may take but and replace a small wheel in a huge machine. The Empire is not a piece of machinery, but an organism - a pulsating organism - and we must not interfere with that organism by mere mechanical means and methods. I made the same statement in reference to some observations of the leader of the Labour Party the other night; and I say again that we cannot too clearly realize that those great entities, which we call nations, are not mere cold pieces of machinery, parts of which may be adjusted as often as we choose, and with as much rudeness of touch as we like to apply to the operation. These nations are organisms, and, as such, can be guided, moulded, and treated only in the most careful way. That leads me to a criticism which I ventured, interjectionally, to offer last night in reference to the Prime Minister’s attitude in London, which I described as a coldblooded one. I had no intention of making the interjection apply to the whole of the Prime Minister’s speeches in London - very far from it. I was referring then to his detailed statement, in which he laid down his definition of the term “ preference “ - of the underlying principle - as applying to the Mother Country, without reference to outside countries. Those concerned were adjusting the internal affairs of the Empire - they were not shaping an attitude towards outside countries, but adjusting the internal affairs of a mighty organism, which to-day is throbbing with sympathy in every part. I characterized the Prime Minister’s definition of preference as decidedly a coldblooded one. What I mean is that I find the honorable gentleman’s definition to be such a one as would be applied to the formation of a syndicate - one that would be adopted if we were unfolding a business proposition beforea Board which eschewed sympathy and put aside all considerations except those which are represented by cold calculations and balance-sheets. I desire it to be understood that we are speaking now of preference within the Empire, and not of preference without the Empire, with foreign countries. The Prime Minister said -
The question of preference comes in only after you have considered your own interests, your own social system, your own financial system, your own industrial system, and whatever else you think fit to take into account. …. . . . Before closing this argument, may I say that a good deal appears to us to depend upon what you make theunit of your consideration. .. . After the United Kingdom has studied its individual interests; after Canada, and the Commonwealth, and South Africa have studied their individual interests within themselves, and in their dealings with each other, necessarily the greater question presents itself as to the mutual possibilities which those units possess to-day.
Their fortunes are bound up together, their trade and commerce are mostly with each other. You come, then, to the next stage of the question, which is quite separate from the first, be- cause you have a great political motive for inquiring how far it is possible for these units to assist each other by interchange. That interchange must be mutually profitable in itself.
A little later on the honorable gentleman recurs to the same definition -
For the last time I repeat our realization that preference begins as a business operation to be conducted for business ends. That is the preliminary of it all.
I take exception to that doctrine of preference as applying to our Empire. It maybea correctenough attitude as to the relations of the Empire with outside countries, but, as it is applied to the internal adjustment of our Empire, I say that the definition is too cold blooded and mechanical. And it does not meet the facts of the situation. I should like here to say that that has never been the attitude of Great Britain throughout the long course of our history. Has Great Britain ever considered her own interests first in connexionwith the process of Empire building? Had she done so, she would have avoided many situations which have cost scores of thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of money. She has not stopped to consider herown selfish interests as a self-contained country. She has considered the relationship which she holds, the trusteeship which she holds for the whole of the Empire - the bonds of relationship between herself andthe whole of the Empire. She has gone outside those ordinary mechanical considerations - those cold-blooded considerations of finance and business - and has poured out her life and her treasure in the endeavour to do something for those outside, seeking nothing in return. Did she proceed as a mere matter of business when the slaves were emancipated? Did she consider her own selfish interests before the interests of the slaves themselves? To take a more recent instance, what occurred in the Boer
Avar? Did England undertake that war for her own selfish ends ? What did Great Britain get out of that war, except a heap of trouble, a mountain of expense, and much resultant labour?
– But the financiers-the powers that be- got something out of the war.
– Which financiers ?
– British financiers.
– I venture to say that the British financiers got no more out of that war than did financiers in any other part of the Empire, or the world. I decline to believe that Great Britain went to war, as I know it is often said she did, for the sake of the magnates of South Africa. I have no such belief.
– Is the honorable member about to connect his remarks with the question before the Committee?
– I am pointing out, to the best of my ability, that the attitude of Great Britain in the case of the Boer war was prompted by pure patriotic motives - that that war was undertaken with the sole view of doing the best that Great Britain could do for the dependencies of the Empire, and for the consolidation of the Empire as a whole, having particularly in view the interests of the outlying colonies. I know that illconsidered statements are often made as to the justification and the outcome of that war.
– Order !
– I am now only speaking of the motives which induced Great Britain to enter upon that war, and endeavouring to show that those motives had no relation to mere matters of business, but to far higher considerations.
– To find work for Chinamen !
– I believe that all these troubles will be overcome. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is talking a little too early about the final settlement of matters in South Africa.
– The settlement has not panned out too clean up to the present.
– All this, I apprehend, has nothing to do with the motive with which Great Britain entered on the war.
– Hear, hear.
– If there be any mistake at all, they are errors of statesmanship.
– Order ! I cannot allow the honorable member to go into the details of the South African war.
– I donot intend to go into details.
– The honorable member appears to be following the interjections of honorable members.
– I am not going into details, but simply pointing out that that war, which cost£250,000,000, and scores of thousands of lives, was undertaken in the interest of people then living in South Africa under theægis of the Empire-
– I cannot allow the honorable member to follow that line of argument.
– Surely the honorable member for Parramatta is in order? Will you, sir, permit me to suggest that, on the question whether we are to give unasked a boon to the Mother Country, no observations are irrelevant that concern the relations of any part of the Empire. I submit, with the greatest respect, that it is impossible to discuss fairly such a subject as this, unless every kind of question in connexion with the past conduct of the Mother Country to portions of her dominions, is held to be in order.
– The honorable member for Parramatta was quite in order in making, and I took no exception to, general statements, but if the honorable member were permitted to deal with details, there would be no finality to the discussion, because almost every subject under the sun might be discussed in the same way.
– My proposition is that the Empire cannot be administered on purely mechanical lines - on purely business considerations - but that, over and above those’ there are other considerations which must be borne in mind. I submit that I am clearly in order in showing what the attitude of Great Britain has been throughout the course of her history in relation to the proposition I amsubmitting. I am now referring to the simple example of the attitude of Great Britain in relation to South Africa. I am showing how Great Britain spent her money and sacrificed her men for the sake of others, without any selfish consideration of her own interests. What followed the war? A simple grant of selfgovernment - a simple unrestricted, unconditioned grant of self-government. Surely there were no cold business considerations in that. To-day, those people, who were yesterday a conquered race, are living in the enjoyment of a grant of power unconditioned in any way, leaving them, so faras the franchise is concerned, to do precisely what they will. They have had given to them, as we have had, the power freely to tax the goods of the Mother Country. There has been no mere cool calculation of business results ire the grants and conferments of power which the Mother Country has made from time to time to her out-lying Dependencies. She has always acted unselfishly, and, as we sometimes think, without due consideration to her own purely business interests.
– Why has she not granted the same concession to the Irish nation?
– The difference between the two cases is the difference between a concession to a son and a divorce between man. and wife.
– I do not know that the present relations between Great Britain and her outlying Dependencies ever touch the question of the relationship of England to Ireland.
– Why does not England grant Ireland self-government?
– Order ! These interjections must cease.
-I should like to reply to the honorable member’s interjection.
– The honorable member would be out of order in doing so.
– To pass away from the apparently very delicate subject of the Boer war, let me ask what is the object of preference aswe broadly understand it? Preference, as an ideal to be aimed at by the constituent parts of the Empire, seems to be a simple effort to cement the Empire, in every way that may be open to us, so that we may, if need be, unitedly maintain and defend our position abroad; so that we may pursue the paths of peace and prosperity, and trade unrestrictedly in any legitimate channels which may be open to us; so that we may stand together - four square to all winds that blow - in an effort to show to the world the spectacle of an Empire which pursues by righteous and reasonable means her methods of advancement and progression, while seeking to secure the peace, amity and concord of the world. That is my idea of what our Empire stands for.
– There is nothing wrong in that.
– I am sure that the honorable member will indorse that statement of what our object really is. The British Empire to-day is a great world power. It cannot be looked at by itself and for itself, nor even as a group of allied nations bound together in the closest ties. We have a trusteeship and responsibility in relation to the civilized world. The British Empire to-day is the great winning force of civilization the world over, and the one thing that the rest of the world could not do without. All this bears upon what ought to be our attitude and -our relationship to the Mother Country in making these arrangements for preferential trade and in our desire to draw the Empire closer together. We shall hold our Empire only as we realize this mission and this ideal : The soul of a nation is something more than business, something above a bargain, however righteous that bargain may be. When we get into the higher region of the relationships of the nations of the world to each other, and of the relationships of the various parts of our’ Empire to each other, we reach the region of moral ideas and pass altogether beyond those cold business calculations which relate to balance-sheets and trade. We must not judge by mechanical standards, the supreme and ultimate objective which we all profess to have in view. That being so the question is : How may we best secure it? I subscribe entirely to the following statement by that brilliant young Britisher, Mr. Winston Churchill -
The British Empire exists on the principle of a family, and not on those of a syndicate.
He went on to say that it would be wrong to force the casting up of balances in connexion with the fixing up. of the relations of the Empire.
I cannot conceive any process better calculated to create an anti-colonial party than subjecting to a profit and loss basis the relations of Great Britain and her Dominions and Dependencies.
That is exactly my point of view. Believing, as I do, every word of that statement, I “repeat that I think the Prime Minister’s’ definition of preference within the Empire is based upon a cold-blooded mechanical consideration of what is really in question. The question arises : What is it possible to do in the circumstances? Hitherto those who have given most consideration to this problem and stand at the head of the movement have never taken this cold business view of- the matter. Mr. Chamberlain has always put his ideal upon far higher ground. Even in his most rabid declarations concerning the possibility of increasing our trade by means of preference he has always kept steadily in view a higher aim. No man has realized more keenly and clearly than he has done that our Empire can hang together only upon the basis of mutual sacrifice and not on mere cold business considerations. In proof of that assertion let me quote from a letter which, he wrote only the other day in reply to a welcome home which Sir Oliver Lodge, the great scientist, addressed to him on behalf of the Birmingham University. Amongst other things,, he said -
I think people generally have been induced by the recent Conference to see what I have long seen - the necessity of drawing closer to the Colonies, unless we would drift apart j and probably by the next Conference in 1911 they will be prepared to make whatever sacrifice is necessary - “ Sacrifice is necessary !” I emphasize those words because they contrast strongly with the Prime Minister’s dictum, that this is a mere bargain of preference, for the mutual advantage of each party in purely trading concerns. Mr. Chamberlain went on to say that he hoped to see sacrifices on the part of the various parts of the Empire for the purpose of bringing about a closer union which “ will make for our common prosperity and for the peace of the world. ‘ ‘ That is a view which does not find expression in the statements of the Prime Minister’ and the Treasurer:
– Mr. Chamberlain also believes in trade reciprocity.
– He does, and I shall show in a moment what he means by the term “trade reciprocity.” I do not know whether the Committee will permit me to tell a simple little story which 1 heard the other day, and which seems to me to aptly hit off the present relationship between the Mother Country and the Colonies.
– From a free-trade point of view?
– Not at all. It is a little story of Tommy and his mother. Tommy was accustomed to see his mother receive week by week her various tradesmen’s bills, and it struck him that it would be well to make’ out a bill showing his mother’s indebtedness to him. Accordingly he stole away one day and made out a bill for presentation to his mother. It contained a statement of the usual duties about the house which a boy performs, and Tommy having made up ‘the bill by appraising his services in a business spirit, put it bv his mother’s plate. Mother took the bill, looked at it, and savins; nothing, stole away and made out a little bill for Tommy. She stated the contra to his account; showed how she had nursed him, fed him, clothed him, and educated him, and then wrote at the end of the bill, “ Nothing.” Tommy, of course, felt very much ashamed of himself when he saw how the matter stood. I venture to say that that little story aptly hits off the present relations of the Colonies to the Mother Country. How stands the case as between Australia and the Mother Country? Let us, if honorable members please, make out a .bill. We have, in the first place, a free and generous grant of this land of ours; a Torrens title to this possession, and Ave can write against that grant, “ nothing in return.” I am speaking now from the point of view of a purely business transaction. 1
– We have paid a few pounds by way of interest to the British bond-holders.
– That is so; but whereas we have paid an average of about 3^ per cent, on our loans, the. Argentine, which has also had British .money poured into it, is to-day. paying 5 per cent, and 5! per cent, upon it.
– I merely wished to point’ out that we did not get the country for nothing.
– We got Australia for nothing. What did we pay for it?
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports thinks that we ought to get the money as well as the land for nothing.
– No doubt the honorable member thinks that Great Britain ought to find what money we require and demand no interest on it.’ During the whole of our youth as a nation we have had our shores defended. The British fleet has maintained a sleepless vigil,” and has seen that we were able to pursue our way in security and peace, as we attempted to develop the country of “which we are all so proud. As against that, we can set practically nothing. It is true that we are paying the sum of ^200,000 annually towards the maintenance of the’ British Fleet in our waters, but that is practically nothing to set against the item I have mentioned. Then I would point to the consular services which Great Britain . is performing for us. all over the world. She is performing numberless services for us, for which we do not pay a penny-piece. When -we come to deal with a country which has treated us so generously, which has never once affected a cold, business, cal culating method in her relationship to us, we ourselves ought not to unduly emphasize that side of the question, especially when making arrangements for the granting of an internal preference. What is the meaning of preference? Last night the Prime Minister very properly emphasized this aspect of the matter. He said that before we set out to discuss the subject of preference we must be careful to get a clear idea of what we mean. What is preference as the term is understood by the leaders of the preferential movement at Home, and by the leaders of it here? Their idea of preference and reciprocity - and here I reply to the interjection of the honorable member for Wimmera - can be readily understood by a brief reference to Mr. Chamberlain’s statement) and I suppose that we can get no higher authority on the subject than he is. What does he say as to the ideal and object with which he set out upon the campaign to enforce reciprocity from other nations of the earth ? Mr. Vince, who was the general secretary of the. Imperial Tariff Commission instituted bv Mr. Chamberlain, and of the Colonial Premiers at the last Imperial Conference, declared that preference was only the initialstep towards Imperial free-trade. Therein, I venture to say, he represented fully the ultimate object of Mr. Chamberlain’s crusade. Speaking a little while later in connexion with his resignation of the office of Colonial Secretary, Mr. Chamberlain made that very clear. In his letter to Mr. Balfour he said -
I feel, therefore, that as an immediate anc? practical policy, the question of preference to the Colonies cannot be pressed with any hope- of success at the present time, although there is a very strong feeling in favour of the other branch of fiscal reform which would give a fuller discretion to the Government in negotiating with foreign countries for freer exchange of commodities, and would enable our representatives to retaliate if no concession were made to our just claims for greater reciprocity.
– What is the date of that letter?
– It is Mr. Chamberlain’s resignation addressed to Mr. Balfour ; it was written in 1903. We can find no later utterances of Mr. Chamberlain which in any way conflict with the thought therein expressed, that his supreme objective in regard to the foreign side of the preference campaign is to force freer trade upon foreign nations, and ultimately to bring about greater, conditions of freedom as between the various parts of the Empire.
At the Imperial Conference of 1902, Mr. Chamberlain clearly told the delegates that his object was to find a readier entrance into the Colonies for the manufactures of the Mother Country. Whilst recognising all the difficulties which they experienced in establishing infant industries in face of the competitive conditions of the world, he declared that his supreme object was to get the products of Great Britain into closer relationship with the markets of the Empire. That is his view of the matter definitely and clearly expressed. What is our view ? Are we to take the Tariff schedule as expressing it ? Are we to judge the statements of our Prime Minister and Treasurer both at Home and here in the light of. their actions ? If so, we must take the Tariff schedule as embodying their idea of preference as between various parts of the Empire. Accepting the schedule as such - and it is the only concrete expression that we have of the intentions of the Government - we are forced to admit that their idea of preference is simply to give to the Mother Country the crumbs which fall from the table of effective protection. That is really what the schedule amounts to : effective protection for Australian industries as against their most powerful and dangerous competitor, Great Britain. Then if there be anything left, Great Britain may take the crumbs of comfort that we distribute to her in our generosity.
– There is not much preference about that.
Mr.JOSEPH COOK. - There is not very much preference about that. In view of the high duties levied under this Tariff and having regard to the proportion and scale of these duties, the preference schedule is neither more nor less than a mere make believe. That is the view of the people of the old country, notwithstanding the glowing statements which were read last night by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. I should like to ask the Treasurer what the second column of this schedule means? Perhaps the Postmaster-General - who takes a deep interest in fiscal matters - in the absence of the Treasurer, will say;? Is the second column of this schedule, or is the first, to be taken as the standard of effective protection? It is all important that we should know the stand-point of the Government in dealing with the question of preference to the old country.
– For which column will the honorable member vote?
– I have already voted upon one column, and the other remains to be voted upon. I should like to know which column the honorable member regards as representing the standard of effective protection?
– I do not think that my standard has yet been reached.
– Evidently the Postmaster-General occupies the same position as that occupied by the Prime Minister when he sent a cable to England stating that this preference schedule represented only “ a beginning.” Does he intend to proceed further in the same direction ? Are the duties to be increased against Great Britain further as well as against the foreigner? Which of these columns, from the stand-point of the Government, represents effective protection?
– Effective protection is a variable expedient.
– It is important that we should know for several reasons.
– The Postmaster-General desires to get as much as he can.
– I know what he desires, but I should like to know what the Prime Minister meant when he despatched the cablegram to which I have referred. We could not obtain from him last night a statement as to what he meant by “a beginning “ in this matter. We could not ascertain whether he meant to further increase duties against Great Britain as well as against therest of the world, or whether Great Britain was to be left alone and the duties against the foreigner were to be increased. At any rate, we are told that the present schedule represents only a beginning. What sort of a beginning - a beginning in what direction? Is it in the direction of giving further privileges to the Mother Country or of raising further barriers against her? In dealing with this matter we have to take into consideration the point of view of the Mother Country, as well as our own. We shall never solve the difficulty which confronts us and which has to be solved by the statesmanship and resources of the Empire, unless we view the question from the stand-point of the Mother Country as well as from our own. I do not think that we can gather her viewpoint in any better waythan by taking some figures which were given to the Imperial Conference by our Prime Minister himself. He clearly showed what were the difficulties of the Mother Country in facing the question of imposing duties in order to give a preference to the various States and Dependencies which recognise her headship. He said that it was part of his duty to tell the Conference how we stood related to the Mother Country on this question of supplying her needs. He showed that out of £213,000,000 worth of produce which we could supply to Great Britain in part or in whole, we were at present supplying her with only £10,000,000 worth, and that £42,000,000 worth was being obtained from other British Possessions, leaving a balance of £[160,000,000 worth which Great Britain must continue to get from foreign fields. Foreigners are to-day supplying Great Britain with 80 per cent, of the whole of her requirements, whereas Australia is supplying her with only 3 per cent. In butter her requirements are 207,000 tons, of which Australia supplies only 24,000 tons. The other British Dependencies supply 28,000 tons. If we had one quarter of the balance of 155,000 tons it would mean £2,000,000 to us and 41,000 men. But can we supply the butter that the old country needs in such tremendous quantity as I have indicated? That is the question which we have to keep asking ourselves. It is a question that we have a right to answer before we ask Great Britain to impose a duty upon the whole scale and range of her importations in order to a slight extent -to benefit us. It is a difficulty which persists in spite of all that we can do to explain it away. Then Great Britain needs £[41,250,000 worth of wheat and flour annually, of. which we supply only £4,300,000 worth. In meat and live stock the requirements of Great Britain are valued at £[48,500,000 annually, of which we -supply, only £1,750,000 worth, or 4 per cent. Similarly, the Mother Counltry requires £29,000,000 worth’ of barley, oats, and maize, of which we supply only £9,000 worth. Therefore, the problem which faces Great Britain in endeavouring to meet her Colonies in any reciprocal arrangement is “ How will her relations stand with the foreign nations of the world upon whom she is dependent for her daily bread, if she begins to tax them out of her markets, to admit the small amount of produce contributed by her Colonies?” If Ave had 10,000,000 men endeavouring to supply the food and other requirements t of Great Britain we could not supply them. We cannot raise many of the raw products which are of vital moment to her manufac- turing prosperity and to her manufacturing conditions. Therefore, it is idle for us to expect that Great Britain will on the spur of the moment, and without the fullest and gravest consideration, tax all foreign articles which are necessary to her daily existence in order to admit upon more favorable terms the small quantum which we can send her. If she were to completely shut off the supplies of the outside world to-morrow by the process of levying duties, we could not take the place of those foreign countries. The Empire is not self-contained at present, except in regard to its potential conditions. It may be that as our population multiplies and our vacant and virgin lands come more and more under tillage, and the fruits of the earth begin to multiply beneath the hand ana! culture of man, that -we shall be able, easily and readily, to supply all the requirements of Great Britain. But that time is not yet, and cannot come for some generations.
– Why cannot it come soon ? ‘ 0
– It would be a bad thing for the world if it ever came.
– It cannot come soon, because, for one reason, the honorable member for Gwydir and his partywould not consent to the requisite population coming to Australia.
– I would more readily consent to that than the honorable member would consent to release the land of the country to the people.
– The land question is to the honorable member like King Charles’ head was to Mr. Dick; it comes up on every occasion. Mr. Asquith, to show the difficulties of the Mother Country in facing the question of preference, pointed out that her best customer was India, which buys £[44,500,000 worth of her goods, her next best customer being Germany, which buys £[29,500,000 worth, and her third best customer Australia and New Zealand. Considering our youth, the smallness of our population, and our distance from Great Britain, it is in every way satisfactory that we occupy the third place. Still, it must be remembered that it is the third, place. India, that great problem of the Empire, must be taken into account in dealing with the preferential relations of Great Britain and its Dependencies. Hitherto India has been spoken ‘ of ‘as of little account, as easily and readily provided for ; but when we grapple seriously with the re-adjusting of the relations of the Empire, its position will be seen to be of the supremest importance, and will require the most delicate treatment. It cannot be disposed of in the easy and ready way in which the popular propagandist of preference treats it to-day. When Great Britain considers her relations with her Dependencies, she must remember that her best customers are India, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand, in the order named. While this fact may not have much concern for us, it is of supreme moment to the Mother Country. One might imagine, after listening to the eloquent periods and marvellous language of the Prime Minister, that Mr. Lloyd George is almost a convinced preferentialist, whereas he is. perhaps, the most determined opponent of preference in the Empire. No one has done more in the way of popular crusading against preference. Therefore it was idle for the Prime Minister to try to get the Committee to believe that there is any hope of a serious modification of Mr. Lloyd George’s views on the preference question within the early future.
Mr.Deakin. - It is because he is so extreme that I quoted a passage which seemed to me to indicate clearly that, under certain circumstances, he would be prepared to reconsider the position.
– The Prime Minister stopped when he should have gone on. He should have read the next passage in the speech of Mr. Lloyd George, from which he quoted -
You are asking us to do what no protectionist country in the world would think of doing. You are asking us to tax the necessaries of either life or livelihood, which we cannot produce ourselves, and of which you cannot, for many a long year, supply us with a sufficiency. That is why we cannot see our way to agree to this particular method of drawing the Empire closer together in bonds of preference.
That statement shows Mr. Lloyd George to be a determined opponent of British preference, and, so far as one can judge, he will be so in the future; at any rate, until we can supply Great Britain with all the raw products which she requires, and which she has now to get largely from other countries. It was idle for the Prime Minister, amid the plaudits of his party, to tell the Committee that Mr. Lloyd George would, in a, little while, be with them. There is no ground for such a. supposition, either in the statement which I have read, or in any other speech of that able man, so far as I have been able to follow his utterances in the old country. Our position, and that of the Mother Country, may be summed up in this way : we wish her to put her duties up, while she wishes us to put our duties down. She wishes us to lower our duties for the benefit of her manufacturers, whilewewish her to impose duties to the disadvantage of the foreigner, to benefit our producers. Mr. Chamberlain started out to persuade us to agree to free-trade within the Empire, and he having failed in his crusade, the Prime Minister,when in London, tried to persuade the Mother Country that protection would better future Empire relations. As I have already pointed out, Ave could not, for many years to come, supply the deficiencies in grain, butter, timber, cotton, silk and flax, goods which are so vital to her existence, if,by taxation, she prohibited their importation from foreign countries. Therefore, she is dependent on foreign countries in respect to the supply of such commodities. We ought not to forget in this connexion that, just as the traditional policy of most of the States of Australia may be said to be protection, that of the United Kingdom is free-trade, and to interfere with old-standing matured traditions and convictions is to enter uponvery thorny ground, onwhich one must treadwarily, or he will do more harm than good. In spite of what our protectionist friends may say, the traditional fiscal policy of New South Wales is freetrade, and it is that which is to-day causing so much friction in the mother State, though the cause may not always be recognised by some people. That policy has been interferedwith, and, hence, the disturbance.
– Why did not the honorable member stand by free-trade?
– The members of the Labour Party have obtained more advantage from whatwas done in New South Wales in regard to the fiscal question than any one else. The party would not occupy its present position had not free-trade votes been cast for its candidates, in the belief that its members would not pledge themselves to stand by a schedule such as we are now discussing. The traditional policy of the Mother Country is to have free imports. That has been her policy for generations. Under it she has become one of the greatestwealthproducing countries in theworld, and it has contributed in no slight degree to her proud position. When one begins to disturb the traditional policies of nations, particularly their fiscal policies, a pandemonium is stirred up. Nothing bristles with so many elements of discord as does the fiscal question. That is seen by looking at the position of Australia and of Great Britain to-da.y. Once you interfere in fiscal matters, you seem to provoke all. the warring elements in a community, and create discomfort and discord. No subject is so’ thorny. That was seen in the Conference itself. The one thing which disturbed it was the fiscal question. On all other questions the members threshed out their differences - some of them verymarked - in the best of good temper and good spirit. But when they began to deal with the fiscal question, friction occurred, which extended beyond the Conference meetings to the public platforms of Great Britain. We are ‘asking the United Kingdom to protect us from competition in her markets, but when, in return, she asks us what we are prepared to do for her, we offer this schedule, providing for the raising, instead of the lowering, of duties, and checking, blocking, and. barring, instead of increasing and facilitating, trade and intercourse with her. We ask the United Kingdom to do for us what- we are not prepared to do for tier. We are not ready to -do as we desire to be done by. It is that which is causing the trouble. The people of the old country are not under any delusion. Last night the Treasurer and Prime Minister read many newspaper statements, which showed that they acknowledge, and are grateful for, the small amount of preference for which the schedule provides. But the newspapers quoted from were, first, the Birmingham Post, the great organ of - Mr. Chamberlain, and, next, the Daily Graphic, the Westminster Gasette, and the Daily Telegraph, three Tory London papers. Those newspapers have practically no influence outside London.
– The Daily Telegraph has.
-The Daily Telegraph has .very little influence outside London. If we desire to find the influential organs of the old country at the present time, we must not go to the metropolis. Newspapers like the. Manchester Guardian ;ind the Leeds Mercury exercise more influence on the great mass of the people of Great Britain than any of the journals which were quoted last night, and which show nothing of the real attitude of Great Britain on the subject of preference.
– In speaking of London, the honorable member speaks of 7,000,000 ‘ people.
– But I do not speak of 45,000,000 people; and I say again that the London Tory newspapers do not represent the opinion of Great Britain to-day.
– I quite agree with the honorable member.
– The truth of what I say is clearly seen in the light of the recent elections in Great Britain. The Tories triumphed in London, but were swept out of existence in the provinces. London does not stand relatively to Great Britain’ as do the Australian capitals to the Commonwealth. Here the newspapers in the” capitals, are the dominating force, whereas in Great Britain the greatest force is to be found in the provinces; and, perhaps,, the most influential newspaper there to-day is the British Weekly.
– The most influential editor in Great Britain to-day is, perhaps,’ Dr. Robertson Nicoll,- of’ the British Weekly, who wields more power than half-a-dozen editors put together..
– He was a supporter of Mr. Chamberlain a little time ago.
- Dr. Robertson Nicoll is a great. Imperialist to-day, but a determined opponent of the’ Chamberlain policy.
– On the education question only.
– I should like honorable members to hear what Dr. Robertson Nicoll said on the question of preference only the other day ; and he incidentally quoted two other influential journals of the old country. In an article on Australian preference, he said -
In a very clear and able article the Economist -I may say that the Economist, in my judgment, is one of the best-conducted and most influential journals in Great Britain to-day - sums up the effect of the new Australian ta-rifF, the first-fruits of the Australian policy of Preference. In a number of cases the British manufacturer gets a preference over the non- British producer, paying 40 per cent, instead of 45 per cent., 25 per cent, instead of 30 per cent., 15 per cent, instead of 20 per cent., but in the majority of important cases- this benefit is accompanied by a considerable enlargement of the duties formerly levied on his goods, and the price he pays for’ his advantage over the foreigner is an increase in his disability as against the native Australian. Thus, the new duty on English mining machinery is double the old duty. Woollen apparel has increased 15 per cent., silk 20 per cent. Woollen goods from the United Kingdom are charged an additional 10 per cent. The result will be that the competition from Australia will develop more and’ more rapidly. Those opponents who are not seriously to be feared are put at a- disadvantage, while our formidable competitors are made much stronger. The Commonwealth Ministry has attempted to be Protectionist and Preferentialist at the same moment. Protection is the defence of the home market against all competitors, and the essence of Preference is greater freedom of trade within the Empire. The Colony tries to combine these two irreconcilable policies, and is forced to take away with one hand what it gives with the other. Tariff Reformers in this country are at war’ with one another on .this point. ‘
Dr. Robertson Nicoll then goes on to quote the Morning Post, which, it may be remembered, was also quoted by the Prime Minister last night -
The Morning Post, the stoutest advocate of Tariff Reform, says : “ If Tariff Reform is to be iv means of solving the revenue difficulty, it will not be possible to refrain from making colonial produce dutiable - although at a lower rate than the foreign produce which competes with it.”
If honorable members are under the impression that we shall get into the foreign markets on easy terms when preference becomes an accomplished fact, they may be reminded that the great advocates of preference in the old country say that there must be duties against us if we continue to impose duties against Great Britain. “I shall not read further from the British Weekly’, but I have here another quotation which shows the opinions of people at Home, in opposition to the statements read by Ministers last night. The Shipping World, dealing with preference, as it finds embodiment in the schedule before us, says -
But when we come to the tariff established in the new schedules we have some facts to go upon. When Mr. Deakin, the Australian Premier, and Sir William Lyne, the present Treasurer of the Commonwealth, were amongst us, they not infrequently sought to enlighten and admonish us, and they sometimes found it necessary to lecture the people of these islands, who are, at all events, ‘deeply interested in the subject, because they were not prepared to join hands and hearts with the legislators of the Commonwealth and make “sacrifices” for the sake of the Empire. But now that the proposed Australian “sacrifices” have been unfolded to the world our mental vision continues to be opaque, and we entirely fail to appreciate the bountiful and beneficent intentions of om fellow citizens, in charge of Australian affairs.
We have been at some trouble to compare the new tariff with the old, and, while we have not gone through all the published items, we are in a position to say that in only a few instances have we discovered that articles manufactured by. us and formerly imported into Australia have been put upon the free list; in not a single other case has a British product had the duty imposed upon it reduced ; and so far as our inquiry has gone this duty has been increased along the entire schedule of British goods entering Australian ports.
The article goes on to give a list of the items, with which I shall not weary the Committee -
To be sure, the Reuter dispatch informs us that there is a preference of between 5 and 10 per cent, accorded to British manufactures ; whether any conditions are laid down under’ which this preference is to be enjoyed we do not at present know. We are thankful for small mercies, and for big ones in proportion but, unfortunately, while we are in doubt about a great many things in connection with the fiscal policy of our fellow citizens, which seems to us at this distance a somewhat bewildering policy, there is no room left for doubt concerning ‘our position under the new tariff. We are a great deal worse off since last Friday than we were before.
The innocent representative of Reuter informs us, no doubt on the authority’ of the author of the Budget, that the preference given to British” products entering Australia will amount to something like £1,500,000 a year. Wonderful ! The Tariff wall has been elevated from 10 to 30 per cent., arid from 5 to 10 per cent, is to be taken off it ; and we are to be beneficiaries to the extent of £1,500,000 a year ! It .is a small comfort to the athlete who enters for the handicap hurdle race to be told that he has been favoured, and that the hurdles against all his competitors are higher than his, when, unfortunately, his hurdle is so high that he cannot clear it. The Lyne schedules have been prepared, and will in future be prepared, while the protectionists and sophists remain in power, after the fashion of those of the United States, with a view to killing oversea competition, and making things easy for combinations that will send prices and profits up. While we may have opinions regarding the fiscal policy of any country or any Colony, we certainly have no right or disposition to complain or protest against the duties imposed against imports, British or foreign, by the Australian Commonwealth. The Mother Country and the Colonies are selfgoverning, and may adopt any fiscal policy they may fancy. But we’ could do with a little less cant in respect of the alleged Australian “ sacrifices.”
In a subsequent issue the same journal refers to the outcry in Birmingham, of all other places, against the Australian duties on bicycles and other articles manufactured there -
Such is Birmingham’s experience under the new Australian tariff, and the losses, misfortunes, and ‘possible disasters will not be “ made good “ by Mr. Deakin’s proclamation issued through The Times correspondent at Sydney to “ British merchants and supporters of
Preference.” We are glad to know through The Times that “ physically he is much better.” Mentally he is still moving in what Coleridge described as “ the juggle of sophistry “ ; but, apparently, with less of audacity and grace than when he dated his notes from the Strand. Perhaps the correspondent is to blame : sophistry requires a large ring in which to perform. But here ‘is the proclamation sent from Sydney to soothe and comfort the British exporter.
Then follows the statement to which reference was made last night -
There is something childlike and bland in this assurance that on “close examination” the tariff will be found “ much more favorable than it appears at first sight “ ! But the manufacturers of bicycles and other wares in Birmingham do not understand how a tariff can be made “ much more favourable “ for British wares by being raised in practically all cases, and in some to such an extent as to exceed the first cost of the article. This, we are told, is only “ a first step” towards “effective” preference for our goods. We are acquainted with these first steps; they lead upwards and onwards. But, thanks to our untrammelled trade policy, we are in a better position to meet the situation in each country than any other country.
We explained in our last issue that we found the Tariff scheme of the Australian Commonwealth somewhat bewildering. Further details have since been cabled ; and they remind us in a confused sort of way of the old economic adage concerning people who were getting on very nicely “ by taking in each other’s washing.” We have already published some of the particulars of the new Tariff, which provides a much higher wall against imports from Britain and other countries than the old Tariff ; pref erentialists saving their face by taking off much less than they put on - for the “ Motherland.”
These are statements which to me clearly indicate the trend of opinion in the old country. If they are not sufficient, one may learn more of the popular opinion of the country from the humorous journals; and I should like to read a quotation from one which was sent to me yesterday. This publication is John Bull, of the 21st September, and the quotation is as follows -
The Brummagem Man
The Australian windbag buttonholed the Brummagem man. “Look what I’ve done for you. You’ll only pay five pounds on every cycle you send us, whilst the wicked foreigner will have to pay five guineas.” “ But that will stop me sending cycles to Australia.” “ Oh, but the wicked foreigner will send even less than you,” explained the windbag. “ Are these the bonds of Empire ? “ exclaimed the man from Brummagem. “ Well, if you’ll pay a little more for your bread, meat, butter, eggs, wool, leather, and wine, we might make the duty £4 19s. 6d. as it’s you, and we’re fellow citizens of a great and glorious Empire.”
And the Brummagem man blasphemously exclaimed, “ This is even worse ‘ than Austen
Chamberlain’s speeches.” Which was a bitter, bitter thing to say.
Then, . again, we have a cartoon by Sir Francis Gould, in a journal which was quoted last night by the Prime Minister, namely, the W estminster Gazette. I think that the Prime Minister might as well have given us this cartoon as indicating the attitude of that journal. The cartoon represents the British lion sitting before two doors, one of which, the preference door, is slightly ajar, while the other door, for foreigners, is shut. The following is the dialogue letterpress which accompanies the cartoon -
British Lion : Why do you call my door the Preference door?
Australian Kangaroo : Because it’s open five inches, and the other is closed altogether.
Lion : But I can’t get through it !
Kangaroo : You’re not meant to !
That is from a journal which the Prime Minister quoted as in favour of preference.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45. p.m.
– When we adjourned for dinner, I was quoting some statements made recently in the old country with the view of showing the attitude of some influential newspapers there regarding the proposed preferences which the Ministry have offered to the Mother Country. There are two more quotations which I should like to add. I propose to quote from the Economist a paragraph which I think shows the attitude of the people at Home on the question of reciprocal pref erence between the Mother Country and Australia -
Colonial statesmen do not yet know with what profound disbelief the majority of Englishmen regard the policy with which Mr. Chamberlain’s name has been associated for the last few years.
Then, again, the Spectator writes -
The admission, “ If you want to win an election you must not talk about Tariff reform,” is the most damaging thing ever said in regard to the policy of protection. Yet this is a working principle which is being adopted throughout the Unionist Party. A winning cause has not to be concealed in order to be tolerated.
In other words, we are to infer from these quotations that the cause of preference in the old country at present is exceedingly unpopular ; that its unpopularity has been increased by the new schedule submitted by the Commonwealth Government ; that there is no desire to reciprocate preferences such as those now before us are supposed to be ; and that the cause of free intercoursefreedom of trade - ‘ is perhaps more strongly entrenched to-day in the old country than it was at any other period in its history. There is one statement in the Prime Minister’s speech at the Conference to which I should like to direct attention. It is that part of his definition of preference which aims at levering down the high duties of foreign nations. He said -
On a more general view, and subject to this, “its object - that is the object of preference - is to obtain fair terms abroad where fair terms are granted by us.
I should like the Treasurer to say whether that statement means ihat the Government is open to negotiate reciprocal preferences with foreign countries who now have high duties against imports from Australia. Canada just now is busily engaged with Germany in negotiating a treaty for reciprocally lower duties. Has this Government anything of the sort in contemplation? Supposing, for instance, Germany, who is a great customer of ours, and will be affected more or less by the Tariff, should say to-morrow, “ We will give you better treatment than we have hitherto, on condition that you lower your duties against us to the level of those imposed on imports from Great Britain,” what would be the attitude of the Government? That is not an impossible supposition, seeing that Germany, just now, is negotiating a reciprocal preference with Canada. The Commonwealth Government has made no provision, such as Canada has done, for an intermediate preferential schedule, and, therefore, any proposal on the part of Germany with that object in view would involve, if the Government seriously considered it, a re-arrangement of the whole Tariff. . I take it that, if such a proposal were made by Germany, the Government could not refuse to treat it seriously. If that be so, how stand the Government with regard to their effective protection ? If they are prepared to level down the small preference which now exists as between the foreigner and the Mother Country, then what is to become of the preference to Great Britain ? And, if in making this arrangement with Germany they reduced the present duties as against Great Britain in order to grant her a preference, what would become of their effective protection ? This matter ought to be made far clearer than it is at present; the position is now very vague. If the Go vernment are proposing a series of preferences which will aim not only at closer trade relations between the various parts of the Empire, but at reducing, in favour of Australia, the high duties of other countries, we ought to hear something from them on the subject before we depart from the discussion of this question. At all events, the Prime Minister, when at the Conference, unquestionably addressed himself to that aspect of affairs. I can conceive of no other inference to be drawn from the expression which I have just read.
– Everything depends upon what he meant by the word “ abroad.”
– There can be no shadow of doubt that he was clearly referring to foreign nations - to nations outside the Empire. If that be .part of the Prime Minister’s preferential trade proposals, then it ought to be made clear in connexion with the discussion of this schedule, and before we finally shape our attitude, as we are now proposing to do, towards the rest of the world. Supposing Germany should satisfactorily complete her negotiations with Canada, and then proceed to address herself to the same question, as it relates to Australia, what would be the attitude of this Government? Would they not be compelled to re-cast their schedule, in order to secure effective protection as against Germany and Great Britain, and at the same time arrange a schedule of preferential duties? There is no need to pause to discuss how far considerations of this kind trench upon the province of self-government. Happily, that point is not in question in connexion with a schedule such as this, and that is one reason why I am readily able to agree to the broad methods which the Government have adopted, or, shall I say, to the free preferences, as opposed to reciprocal preferences, which are contained in the schedule. My only complaint is as to the quantum and method of these preferences. I heartily believe in the principle of a free and unconditional preference, and I take it that the majority of the Committee would be strongly in favour of the broad principle. We differ, only as to the way in which effect should be given to it - as to whether our duties should be raised or lowered against Great Britain; or remain at the old rates- In regard to these matters, we shall shape our different attitudes as we proceed with the schedule. There is no need to discuss the other aspects of preferential trade as they affect the outlying portions of the world. Unquestionably, however, the preferential champions of Great Britain have in contemplation a bringing down of the high duties imposed against her by the rest of the world, and they believe they can most effectually lever down those duties bv the. imposition of retaliatory imposts. It is interesting to glance at the history of the attempts in that direction which have already taken place. Failure is written over every one of. them. The pages of history record no successful instance of retaliation of this kind. We are unable to point to a single case where retaliation has secured the object which it set out ‘to accomplish. It has been tried in Great Britain; it is being tried tentatively in various parts of the world. Only the other day, I read an American letter bearing upon this very subject. I have not it by me; but it showed that, a little while ago Germany and America - and Germany to-day is the most alert nation in respect of reciprocal preferences with foreign countries - negotiated a preferential arrangement in regard to certain duties. Germany agreed to treat America under most favoured nation conditions, and to apply her minimum Tariff to her on condition that America in .turn would give her a preference. America selected wine as an article on which the preference should be granted. But as soon as the’ treaty had been concluded, there began an agitation amongst the wine producers throughout the length and breadth of America, who pointed out that they were being singled out as victims in connexion with this reciprocal arrangement. A further difficulty arose with France, ‘ which is a wine-producing country. Instead of refraining from interfering with her. Tariff, and allowing the preferential arrangement between Germany and America to .pass unnoticed, France immediately revised her duties on certain goods which she was importing from America, and taxed them out more completely than ever before. And so America to-day in connexion with Germany and France - to go no further - is finding out, to use the words of the writer, that the application of these reciprocal preferences is merely the application of the old Mosaic law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The writer suggests- that the fault is with America - that she ought to be more reasonable in the imposition of her duties, and should adopt a more reasonable attitude towards both France and Germany. Preferences have also been tried in connexion with our own Empire. This is not the first occasion on which the Empire has set out to lever down the duties imposed against her by means of high Tariffs. Great Britain attempted to follow the very method which is sketched out for her now by the preferential champions at Home., and she failed miserably in the attempt, I shall quote a short passage bearing upon this point from Bastable’s Commerce of Nations. When England was discussing her fiscal relations generally in the years immediately preceding the corn law agitation, Mr. Gladstone attempted to negotiate treaties for freer trade with a number of European nations which had Tariff walls. built high against Great Britain. When a member of the Peel Administration, he made strenuous efforts to negotiate those treaties with America, and with France and various other ‘ nations in Europe. But in every case he failed ; it could not be done. Here is his comment -
In every case we failed. I am sorry to add my opinion that we did more than fail. The whole operation seemed to place us in a false position. Its tendency was to lead countries to regard with jealousy and suspicion, as boons to foreigners,, alterations in their laws which though doubtless of advantage to foreigners, would have been of far greater advantage to their , own inhabitants.
In other words, when a nation begins to make reciprocal concessions to foreign nations, human nature - that ugly thing which makes for us to-day all our problems, both political and social - creeps in. Human nature, with perversity of mind, sought in every case to attribute a wrong motive to an innocent action, which had in contemplation the equal goodwill of the various communities concerned. And so Gladstone says that these efforts, not only failed, but estranged the. very people’ whom they sought to bring into closer trading relations. It was only after that failure to reduce high Tariff walls, backed up by a high Tariff .of their own. that both Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Peel threw up the fiscal sponge and declared themselves to be free-traders, as the only method known to them by which they could best compete with the Tariffs of the various countries of the world. Thus it will be seen that what we are setting but to do to-day has been tried more than once in the history of the Empire, and, as a policy, has miserably failed. I do not say that because it failed then it must necessarily fail to-day, but I do say that we have a right to consider all these experiences of the Empire, and that they should at least correct our hot-headedness in any enterprise that we may undertake with the same object in view. I thinkit will be readily conceded that Mr. Gladstone was at. least the equal of any statesman in England who is advocating preference to-day. I do not think it will be argued that it was owing to want of ability, or tact, or reasonableness of attitude, that these treaties failed then. And if they failed then, are they likely to succeed now ? What is possible under our present circumstances ? We cannot hope to induce the Mother Country to enter into reciprocal arrangements with us at the present time. Any man who made such a proposal in Great Britain would very soon be sent politically to the right-about. Mr. Asquith, Mr. Lloyd George, and ‘ Mr. Winston Churchill are quite frank about the matter. They all agree that any negotiations for reciprocal preference between the various portions of the Empire would to-day be negatived by a vote of the House of Commons of at least three to one. Therefore, we cannot look in that direction for reciprocal treatment at the present moment. But we need not altogether fail in the object which we have in view - andI profess to have that object in view just as earnestly ‘ as have the Government. There is still left open to us the method which is being adopted iff this schedule, but adopted in a wrong and clumsy way, which, in my judgment, will cause it to fail in its object. Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, I read an article, in the nature of a criticism of our present proposals, which showed that in Great Britain the feeling is being engendered that if we do this kind of thing that country must begin to retaliate. That is a consideration which mustbe kept in mind when we are piling duties upon the goods of the Mother Country, and, at the same time; asking her to impose higher duties upon her food stuffs for our benefit.
– Surely the Mother Country would not be so spiteful as to retaliate ?
– Where is there any spite in taking the action that I have indicated ?
– I should think that there would be an element of spite in it.
– Surely the spite, if there be any, is upon our part in seeking to erect barriers against the commerce of Great Britain. The people of that country are already beginning to say that if we are going to close the door tighter against them they had better think about closing it against us. That is a spirit, the creation of which we ought carefully to avoid, because it canlead only to further trouble. If we follow the course which is broadly laid down in this schedule, it seems to me that we shall avoid that trouble. Let us cease lecturing the Mother Country upon the question of protection. Let us permit her to follow her own course. She does not lecture us upon our fiscal policy, but concedes to us the fullest freedom to impose duties as high or as low as we may choose against her products. Let us concede the same liberty to her. Let us grant her a free and unconditional - a real and substantial - preference in. the duties that we levy under this Tariff. To my mind, a great deal might be done to improve the relations of the Empire, to facilitate its commerce, and to make it stronger commercially, socially,’ and in every other respect, by looking to the means of communication, a subject which occupied so large a share of attention at the recent Imperial Conference. I believe with Mr. Winston Churchill that by building roads and by opening up communication throughout the Empire, we can accomplish a great deal to facilitate its commerce. In these ways, and in many others, we can still pursue our paths, each of us settling our own relationship to this supreme question of how best to bind the Empire together. The more I see of this matter in its relations to the future, the more I recognise that we can only secure an Empire united in its commerce, in its defence, . and in all those things which make for a great and prosperous nation, so long as we pursue an ideal which will tend to bring the units nearer to each other and which will more and more extend the freedom at present existing. In other words, I am for a free-trade Empire, and when we have attained that, I confess that I am not very much concerned as to what we do in respect of the foreigner. My idea is that of free commerce withinthe Empire - a common trade and a common defence. If we can secure these two things,
– Would the honorable member include India?
– I admit that India requires special treatment. Had the honorable member been present before the adjournment for dinner, he would have heard me allude to India. When the final relations of the self-governing portions of the Empire come to be settled by any such proposals as these, India will prove the one difficult problem of statesmanship. She will require separate treatment, at once humane, delicate, and substantial, so as to make her position secure as agreat part of the British Empire. I confess, too, that the proposal of Mr. Hofmeyr, to which the Prime Minister alluded last night, has some attraction for me.
-If for defence?
– Yes. I am inclined to think that that proposal was the conception of the late Mr. Cecil Rhodes.
– Mr. Hofmeyr brought it forward in 1887.
– If my recollection is not faulty, it was Mr. Rhodes who first bruited the idea of a police tax on the whole commerce of the Empire, amounting to about 2 per cent. of its value. He suggested that all this money should be devoted to a fund for the purpose of providing a common defence. In that idea, I see the possibility of entering into an arrangement under which every outlying dependency of the Empire would contribute in proportion to its means, to a common defence fund of which we should allbe the beneficiaries.
– The objection urged to it was that the dependencies would not contribute in proportion to their means, but in proportion to their foreign imports.
– The honorable member may be quite right in regard to that, but if he will investigate the subject fully, he will find that the foreign trade of the Empire approaches per head very nearly to an equation. There is not such a large difference as one would imagine. It is true that there are different fiscal policies operating within the Empire, each of which is at war with the other. But in respect of the duties imposed, and of the fiscal barriers erected, we must recollect that we have to do business outside our borders. We may raise our duties against Great
Britain as high as possible, but we shall still have to import from the Mother Country. The moment that we cease to do soour exports will be penalized, and we shall become a sufferer in consequence. Protection, it mustbe remembered, does not stop foreign trade. If merely makes it more difficult. All trade is barter, as everybody knows, who has studied the rudiments of the matter. A proposal such as I have indicated would help to meet the common defence of the Empire, and would mark a step towards the ideal to which I have alluded. But there is something more that we can do in the way of a definite movement downwards so far as the duties imposed upon the products of Great Britain are concerned. I have in my mind the very innocent proposal which I made in the last Parliament, when we were discussing a proposal ‘for preference. As honorable members are aware, we base our duties upon the f.o.b. value of goods at the other end of the world plus 10 per cent, and I proposed that, in estimating the duties to be levied upon the goods of Great Britain, we should take off that 10 per cent. If we did so it would amount to an all-round preference of about 2 per cent. I ask any protectionist in this Chamber whether he is averse to making a concession of that kind - a sacrifice of 2 per cent. - so far as imports of the Mother Country are concerned? Such an action would constitute a real sacrifice - although a small one - so far as the Empire trade relations are concerned. But whatever means we may adopt we must always keep in mind that our object is to grow closer and closer together, endeavouring in every way to facilitate each other’s operations so asto attain a common object. That object is the building up of the Empire in all that will make for its peace and prosperity, thus showing to the people of the outside world the example of an Empire as far as possible unified, trading within itself without let or hindrance, each part standing by the other in its common troubles, and defending each other part to the last - an Empire governed by righteous laws and penetrated above all things by that spirit of freedom for which it has always been noted, an Empire pursuing its way in peace, and so promoting its intercourse and prosperity.
.- As I intend to vote against the Government proposals, I wish to shortly state my views in regard to them, rather for the infor- mation of my constituents than in the hope of affecting votes, because I understand that the voting is not likely to affect the issue.
– Yes, it will.
– I should be very glad for it to do so, though, if I thought the Government were going to regard the question as a vital one, I should have to vote with them, choosing the lesser of two evils. I have always strongly supported preference. At the 1903 election, when preference was brought within the sphere of our practical politics by the Prime Minister in consequence of the action of Mr. Chamberlain in England, I was ready to support preferential trade, because I understood that it was to be accompanied by the granting by Great Britain to us of advantages corresponding with those which we might give to her. The Prime Minister, speaking in this Chamber on the subject on the 1 2th October, 1904, having moved the adoption of certain proposals, quoting from a speech made by him at Ballarat, said -
When Mr. Chamberlain made his proposals the Australian Government would be prepared to treat them generously, item by item, considering all the circumstances and the importance of the industries to the Commonwealth. If we are offered such a boon as his tentative scheme promises, we can afford to look with a liberal eye at the concessions which are asked from us.
In my opinion, it is impossible to give real preference without requiring corresponding concessions. I think that to offer preference to Great Britain without asking for similar concessions or discriminations would postpone preferential trading throughout the Empire. The readier we are to make an unconditional offer, the less chance there is that Great Britain will give us what we have a right to expect - better treatment than that given to other countries. I told the farmers in my constituency, and others present at the various meetings which I addressed, that they would get a great advantage if a reciprocal preference were given to the United Kingdom, and I, therefore, asked them to support the protectionist policy in this matter.
– I suppose the honorable member expected to get better prices for wheat?
– I expected that better prices would be obtained for wheat, and that we should, therefore, have a larger area under cultivation if we offered advantages to Great Britain similar to those then proposed by Mr. Chamberlain.
– What would the honorable member give to GreatBritain?
– A far better preference than the Tariff schedule gives ; a generous and substantial preference, and one worth having.
– Will the honorable member tell us what preference the Tariff schedule gives? I do not know.
– The honorable member is able to interpret the Tariff himself. I regard it as offering, not a substantial preference, but rather a series of irritating concessions which do no good to either one country or the other. I am aware that the Opposition does not support the conditional preference which I would give, and that the Government is not proposing such preference. Therefore, I am speaking from a position of splendid isolation. But whether I am praised or condemned for my attitude,. I feel that the position which I am taking up is, from the protectionist stand-point, a proper one, and that eventually, instead of the unconditional preference that is now proposed, we shall have conditional mutual perference. To show that the Prime Minister had, on the occasion to which I have referred, a similar opinion as to what was meant and implied by preference, let me read a passage in the Age which he quoted upon the same occasion with approval. I read this passage, not because it appeared in the Age, but because the Prime Minister, on the 1 2 th October, 1904, regarded it as a proper interpretation of the speech which he had made at Ballarat only a few months previously. It is as follows -
Along with the peace policy and as complementary to it, the electors have to decide whether they are prepared to accept preferential trade or not. Mr. Deakin invites Australians to embrace the preferential policy should England find herself in a position to offer it……
But on this point there is no need for Australia to leap before she comes to the fence. Details at this stage are premature. Mr. Chamberlain may not succeed in his mission. That is a matter which rests in the future. Should he carry the mind of England with him, it cannot be done for the next twelve months. Therefore any overtures from Australia will be completely out of place. . . . Mr. Deakin’s preferential policy is crystallized in a sentence, “ Great Britain must make the first move.” This is the sound” position to assume.
Then in an article published on the 2nd’ November, a writer in the Age said - I again cite a quotation read by the PrimeMinister himself -
Mr. Deakin’s position is lucidity itself. He says that, should Mr. Chamberlain find himself in a position to make that overture to the Colonies, he would respond heartily to Imperial reciprocity against the world, and be prepared at once to negotiate the details. There is a candour, clearness, and definiteness in that. One knows exactly what it means.
Those statements having been quoted and approved by the Prime Minister, I ask why something quite different has been placer! before us? When the honorable gentleman, during the term of office of the Reid Administration, was .given a special opportunity to bring forward preferential proposals,’ he asked us to agree to the following as part of his resolution -
That shows what the Prime Minister then took preferential trade to mean.
– Is hot that what he meant by it when’ in England at the beginning of the year?
– Yes. I have marked many passages in the report of the Imperial Conference, in which the Prime Minister, as our envoy, stated clearly and distinctly, “ We will not give preference un: less we get concessions in return. We are not in favour of an unconditional preference.” Sir Wilfrid Laurier, representing Canada, insisted on re-affirming the resolutions of 1902, providing for a preference which should be substantial and possibly unconditional ; but, although the Prime Minister finally approved of that being dene, he told us last night that he took it, not because it was what he wanted, or what his Government proposed, but to get unanimity. The Treasurer, while in England, made a number- of very inconvenient admissions, and frequently gave himself away to the enemy ; but his action in quoting with approval a passage from a work by Mr. John Parnard Byles, entitled Sophisms of Free-trade and Popular Political Economy Examined, showed what he thought should be the position of the protectionist party in this matter. The passage which he quoted was this -
The. true policy would differ from Lord Chatham’s, for’ it would treat the colonists as if they inhabited an English country, giving them full liberty to grow and manufacture what -they pleased. It would differ from the system of the free-traders, for in . place of disadvantages it would give them in common with all their fellow-subjects an advantage in the Im perial markets, and take in .return a reciprocal advantage in the Colonial markets ; the first markets in the world, instead of being opened as now to all without distinction, would give a preference to British subjects. It requires little foresight to perceive how powerfully self-interest would bind the Colonies to the Mother ‘Country, and the. Mother Country to the Colonies.
The citation of that passage shows that the Treasurer was not prepared to give preference without reciprocity. Yet the Government have brought forward a Tariff in which there is no mention of reciprocity. If I thought that what was proposed was a grant of favour which would eventually lead to the obtaining of a corresponding concession, I should be very foolish to vote against the proposals of the Government, but . what’ do we find to have been the result of a similar grant by Canada? Nearly eleven years ago Canada granted-“ Great Britain a preference of 33.1/3 per cent., but instead -. of that causing the “ mother country to give corresponding advantages to the Dominion, we find that the Canadian Government now deems it necessary, for the protection of its markets, to negotiate a reciprocal treaty with France, and is on the verge of concluding similar treaties with Germany and Italy. Canada for eleven years held out her hand to the “United Kingdom. But John Bull never gives something for nothing.
– Is that a fair thing, to say in view of the facts of history?
– He gave us this country for nothing.
– John Bull says in effect, “ While I can get things without altering my fiscal policy in the slightest degree, I will never change my free- trade position.” If we passed a general Tariff, adding to’ it a clause like that in the American Dingley Tariff, providing for the arrangement, as an Executive act, of treaties with other countries, giving preference in return for- concessions, I would agree to it. If the preferentialists of the » United Kingdom knew that in the Tariffs of Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia there were provisions of that kind, they would be ready to offer concessions to obtain the preference offered to them. Such a provision would be a strong weapon in the hands of those who wish -to bring about preference. But if we make this offer a matter of grace or ‘favour, how will it help the preferentialists of Great Britain? » If we can offer a substantial concession, . under the conditions I. have indicated, we shall strengthen the hands of the English preferential traders much more than by offering unconditional preference. Those who do not agree with that position are really opposed to what have been the views of the fair-trade party in the United Kingdom for years past. There are very few protectionists in England; and those who advocate preferential trade do so with the object of creating a retaliatory weapon to be used against foreign powers. What they ask for is power to make treaties so as to obtain a fair position in foreign markets; they do not desire the protection of industries, but they do desire a Tariff behind which they can make bargains. Consequently there has arisen in England not so much a protectionist school, but a fair-trade school, or what has been more recently called . a school of preference. We protectionists ought to be willing to give a preference of, not 5 per cent., but of 15 per cent., as soon asGreat Britain makes it worth our while to do so.
– On what products would the honorable member ask for preference ?
– I would ask for all that Mr. Chamberlain offered when he made his proposals just after the close of the South African war. I think Mr. Chamberlain offered a certain duty per cental on wheat.
– Would that not increase the price of the loaf to the working man in England?
– I am here to legislate for Australia, and not for England.
– Does the honorable member not think that we owe Great Britain a good turn?
– I do, and I think that the best turn we could do England would be to see that her manufacturers and workers are protected in the home market by some sort of preferential trade, by means of which she could make bargains with foreign countries. If it be possible, by means of preference, to help forward such a policy, we shall be doing a good turn to Great Britain.
– Mr. Chamberlain’s idea was that we should establish no new industries ; does the honorable member agree with that view?
– I am not aware that Mr. Chamberlain said that we were not to establish any new industries.
– That was his demand.
– I have read Mr. Chamberlain’s speeches as closely as any one, and also the reports of the Imperial Conferences, and throughout the whole I have observed not the slightest hint to that effect. But supposing Mr. Chamberlain did make such a suggestion, the honorable member for Robertson, as a free-trader, no doubt holds the view that the adoption of that policy is the best way to establish new industries.
– Such industries would be healthy, would they not?
– The honorable member must take one view or the other - either free-trade or protection must be the best policy for promoting the establishment of industries.
– Has the honorable member heard of the industries which were established in New South Wales without protection?
– I know of many industries which were demolished in New South Wales by free-trade. However, I do not wish to discuss the fiscal matters of New South Wales and Victoria, because at the present moment, my subject is the commercial relations of Australia and England. If under free-trade, or any other policy, industries have been established in New South Wales, I am glad; because everything that strengthens New South Wales strengthens the whole of Australia. I cannot supplement the magnificent speech made by the Prime Minister last night, and I am not attempting to do so. I am simply contending that the best way to give preference on a solid basis is to withdraw the second column of. the Tariff and declare thatwe are ready to give a preference of 10 per cent., or even 20 per cent, on condition of receiving some corresponding advantage.
– Does the honorable member not think that Great Britain has done a great deal in protecting our trade and commerce?
– No doubt; but whether Great Britain’s aim is to protect our trade, or her own enormous commerce ‘in these parts, I am not going to say. I suggest that we confine ourselves to the subject before us. When we are discussing defence, let us discuss defence; and if we are not contributing a proper amount to the oldcountry in this connexion, let us decide to contribute more. At present the question is preferential trade, and to that
I desire to direct the attention of honorable members. It is not a fair argument against preferential trade to say that Great Britain affords us protection; but in passing, I may say that when defence matters came before us, I shall be found ready to do what is fair to the old country. Those honorable members who agree with the retention of the second column are really, by their action,, delaying the proper settlement of this question. I should like to refer to the missing letter of which the honorable member for Parramatta spoke, when he said that the retaliation attempted against Germany by the United States was not successful. The history of that incident shows the injury we may do ourselves by giving preferential trade to possible competitors. In the United States the Executive were given power to apply a retaliatory Tariff, in order to further their own trade, and obtain concessions from rivals. The result is shown in the following quotation from the London Times Weekly, of 7th June, 1907-
Our Washington Correspondent telegraphs : - The State Department has taken advantage of the President’s proclamation announcing the conclusion of the new commercial agreement with Germany to publish a statement in which it is proved that the United States has had the best of the bargain. Germany, it says, has conceded the minimum rate on various kinds of grain, on tinned meats, boots, shoes, and other commodities largely exported from this country. On other articles, moreover, including leather goods and machinery, reductions have been obtained below the minimum tariff to the extent of 25 to 50 per cent. Over 96 per cent, of American products will continue to. enjoy most-favoured-nation treatment. American exporters to Germany will in fact’ be benefited by the reduction of the duties to the amount per annum of over ^1,300,000, while the corresponding loss in the United States Customs receipts owing to trie reductions in favour of the German importers will, it is calculated, barely exceed ^40,000.
That was a weapon which Congress gave to the Executive, and it was used- with the result set forth in that extract.
– I showed that the United States, while gaining ground with Germany, lost ground with France.
– The extract continues -
The authorities here express willingness to negotiate with Great Britain with reference to granting special rates on articles enumerated in the third section of the Dingley Law. It is admitted, however, that there is a ‘ serious obstacle, which practically precludes any advance in that’ direction. By the Dingley Law the President is empowered to grant a reduction of rates only in return for similar concessions. In view of the fact that practically all imports from the United States enter Great Britain duty free, it is difficult to see on what negotiations between the two countries can be based.
– Immediately the United States reduced the duties to Germany, France raised her duties against the United States.
– There is another side to the preferential trade policy, which I think represents a great disadvantage to us. I refer to the duties of 5 per cent, and 10 per cent, levied in the case of foreign countries, on sixty or seventy articles, which are admitted free from Great Britain. The great majority of these imports should come in free. They cannot be manufactured here, and by imposing duties of 5 per cent, and 10 per cent., we are really handicapping our own manufacturers, who have to use imported machinery. No one will have the temerity to say that an impost of 5 per cent, is a protective duty. Such imposts will do great harm to the cause of preference, and result only in irritation. The Government is playing into the hands of the free-trade party by proposing to impose them. They will be constantly referred to as protective duties, although thev are not protective, and will . do much harm to the policy of protection.
– Is the honorable member referring to the difference between the general Tariff and that against the United Kingdom, or to the duties themselves ?
– I am referring to duties which in many cases have been imposed in order that a preference .may be given to Great Britain.
– Does the honorable member think that they will produce revenue ?
– They may yield some, but not much. The whole of the imports to which these duties apply represent a value of less than £200,000 per annum. Their imposition will .do much damage to the policy of reciprocal preference, which I desire to see established.
– Can the honorable member detect any system in the preferential proposals of the Government?
– There is no system.
– Would the honorable member, in the cases to which he refers, increase the duties under the general Tariff?
– No. As a protectionist, I am prepared to allow anything which cannot be made in Australia to come in free. The duties to which I refer are no part of my policy. I repudiate any responsibility for them, and hope to have an opportunity to vote against them. One other phase of this preference question I must refer to. We have had, from several of the sister Colonies and Dominions, offers of preference by reciprocity. South Africa has made us such an offer, and so has New Zealand, whilst Canada is constantly holding out a similar offer to us. Apparently they desire to expand their trade with us, and are prepared to grant substantial preferences. Yet they have been absolutely excluded from the preference proposals of the Government, and their overtures summarily rejected. The sister Colonies which, in the true spirit of Empire, are offering us something, should be offered something in return. Their representatives at the Imperial Conference must have been surprised to find, upon the introduction of the Tariff, that the Government had taken up this attitude. I largely account for it bv the absence of the Prime Minister from Australia, when the schedule was being prepared. I cannot commend these bogus and damaging preferences.
– It will be interesting to know which column in the Tariff . schedule the Government regard as establishing the standard of effective protection - the general Tariff column or that against the United Kingdom
– That is not the issue I am discussing, nor do I think it is the issue raised by the amendment. I am prepared to grant to Great Britain a substantial preference. Instead of providing for it, as the Government have done; bv the addition of a second column to the schedule, I should insert in the covering Bill a clause providing that preferences of jo per cent., 15 per cent., or 20 per cent., should be given to every part of the British Empire that was prepared to grant corresponding concessions to Australia.. I recognise that such’ a provision could not be applied to every article or commodity, but the matter could be arranged by treaty. There is One phase of the Imperial Conference to which special reference has not yet been made. I refer to the fact that it has enormously raised the status of Australia. We have to thank the Prime Minister for what has been done in that respect. He was responsible for the creation of a body which will make it no longer possible for the re- .lations of Australia and the other selfgoverning Colonies with the United Kingdom to be at the sweet mercy qf the Colonial Office. We shall have in future conferences of Governments with Governments. « Although we must always have as a sort of legal fiction - or at all events I hope the day will dome when it will be no more than a legal fiction - the Imperial Parliament exercising a paramount power over us., we shall have in the Imperial Council a body that will make it no longer possible for the Colonial Office to determine what is to be done in regard to our trading and other relations with Great Britain. The Prime Minister; by his action in making the Council paramount and converting it into a meeting of Governments with Governments, has achieved a great work, because its agreements have the authority of treaties, and the force of external treaties is superior to the power of internal legislation. The arrangements made at the Conference ‘will be no longer within the purview of the Imperial Parliament and subject to possible disorganization bv it. In the Imperial Council we shall have a higher power than the Imperial Parliament.
– The honorable member must not pursue that line of argument.
– I refer to it only in connexion with the question of trade treaties. We are creating a power by means of treaty or agreement which the Imperial Parliament will have to recognise, and as the result of the last Imperial Conference the status of Australia in respect to trade treaties and other arrangements was raised higher- than ever it was before. As to these preferential proposals the Ministry can, if they desire to do so, make me vote ‘ for them, since I was returned as one of their supporters. If they make this question a Government question I shall vote with them. But I am glad to have had . an opportunity to protest against the preference, proposals embodied in the schedule, and, if I am given a free hand, shall vote for the amendment. I hope that honorable members will recognise that I am taking up a fair position, and that I shall not be accused of adopting a “ Yes-no “ attitude. I do not believe in the form of preference proposed by theGovernment.
– Does the honorable member think that the Government could be induced to resign by anything short of an explosion?
– I do. A Government led by the present Prime Minister resigned on a question of principle. If the Prime Minister says distinctly that he thinks that he is in honour bound to stand by these proposals since they are designed to fulfil the undertaking into which he entered, I shall vote for them, because I shall know that he honestly believes that he is taking up a proper attitude. But if I am free to vote as I please I shall support the amendment, believing that it will lead ultimately to the reciprocal preferences that I desire to bring about, and at the same time, unlike the Government proposals, do no harm to the cause of protection.
– I should not like to believe that the views expressed by the honorable member for Corio represent in any way the feeling of Australia towards the Mother Country. An honorable member who can say, as he said, that John Bull always expects something for something - that he never gives somethingfor nothing- forgets the whole history of the relations of Great Britain with her dependencies, and, above all, forgets the relationship of the Mother Country with Australia. Great Britain has made us wonderful gifts. That for which other people have had to fight for centuries she has handed over to us as a free gift. She has gladly yielded to the people of Australia, in common with all the selfgoverning Colonies, notmerely the landthey live in, but all the rights they possess, including the right - which the honorable member for Corio is always ready to exercise - to tax her own goods out of the local market.
– What was the attitude of Great Britain towards America ?
– Great Britain having received one lesson in the early days of her colonial policy has never repeated the mistake.
– She has had a lesson, and profited by it.
– The country that can profit by its experience is worthy of our admiration. Great Britain having made one mistake in her colonial policy has never repeated it. She has acted most generously to her Colonies, and in return has not always received the gratitude to which she is entitled. The remarks of the honorable member for Corio illustrate that fact. The leader of the Opposition and the deputy leader have dealt so fully and ably with the Empire aspect of this question, and have so clearly expressed the views which 1 favour generally with respect to it, that it is unnecessary for me to deal with that phase of the subject. I intend to refer to some figures put before us by, the Treasurer, but before doing so wish to allude to some other remarks made by the honorable member for Corio. He gave credit to the Prime Minister for having, as a representative of the Commonwealth at the Imperial Conference, placed Australia on a. higher level than it had previously “occupied. He seemed to suggest that that waspartly due to the eloquent and able addresses which the Prime Minister delivered, not merely at the Conference-
– I did not say where he made the speeches. As a matter of fact, they were made in the Imperial Conference.
– I understood the honorable member to mean the speeches made either inside or outside of the Conference. Regarding the speeches which were delivered by our representatives outside the Conference, I merely wish to saythat, if similar conduct is repeated in connexion with future gatherings, I have not the least doubt that these Conferences will cease to be convened. They are intended to be Conferences of Government with Government, and if those who are called to them do not limit themselves to conferring with the Government which, for the time being, represents the people of Great Britain, but endeavour rather to undermine that Government by outside speeches supporting the policy of the Opposition, they will wreck these gatherings, which the honorable member for Corio claims are likely to place Australia in a higher position than she occupies to-day. Whilst I hope that much good will result from these Conferences,I say that so far their effect has not been to place Australia in a higher rank than she previously occupied. Canada, which was reluctant to be represented at these gatherings, occupied as high a position before they were inaugurated as she does to-day. Even now she is doubtful as to the wisdom of holding such Conferences. The honorable member for Corio may safely vote with the Government upon this item. He has declared that he does not believe in giving something for nothing, and, as the Government propose to give nothing for something, their action will harmonize withhis views, so that he may vote with them without any qualms of conscience. Last night the Prime Minster made a very eloquent speech upon this question, and I was exceedingly glad to know that he has so far recovered from his indisposition as to be able to make such an impassioned appeal. I hope that his recovery will be sustained, and that he will soon be completely restored to health. In his speech, he expressed a desire for a new definition of the term “ preference,” or a new word which would better express his meaning of that term. AllI can say is that if what is proposed inthe Tariff schedule constitutes a preference, a new word to express its meaning is certainly necessary. The Government proposals are merely a pretence at granting a preference to the Mother Country. I quite agree with the honorable member for Corio that they are a sham. There is no doubt that while in a few instances they do give a preference to the goods of the United Kingdom, the net result of the change in our treatment of British goods under the new Tariff as against the old one is to impose a disability upon them. I have no hesitation in saying that the figures which have been placed before us are not honest figures. If there is one thing we ought to be careful about, it is that the statistics which we place before the world in connexion with a matter of this sort, are absolutely honest and unimpeachable. In my judgment, these figures do not represent anything like the actual state of affairs.
– Then the honorable member must blame the departmental officers ?
– I blame whoever is responsible for them. I must blame he Minister.
– I have told the honorable member where I obtained the figures. They are true, and he knows that they are true.
– Has the Treasurer finished his observations?
– When the honorable member accuses me of putting improper figures before the Committee it is time that I said something.
– If the Treasurer has concluded his comments I repeat the accusation. I say that those figures, if’ intended to show the effect of the alteration produced by the new
Tariff in the case of goods from Great. Britain, do not show that effect. Further, I do not believe that the officers of the Department have supplied these figures except in answer to a request by the Treasurer. At any rate, the Treasurer has a right to examine the figures placed before him with a view to seeing whether he is justified in using them.
– If I were turned into an angel, I do not think that the honorable member would believe in anything that I did.
– I do not think there is any danger of that metamorphosis. The Treasurer seems to think that I am too critical-
– The honorable member has accused me of putting improper figures before the Committee.
– I do not accuse the Treasurer of doing so knowingly. I merely say that the figures are not applicable to the position, and that they convey false inferences. I shall endeavour to prove my statement to the Committee. In the first place, an attempt has been made to show that Great Britain - owing to the change which has been made in our Tariff - will benefit to the extent of£1,500,000 in the amount of the duties which will be levied upon her goods. That amount is alleged . to represent the differenece between what foreign goods will be required to pay as against British goods. But if we are to institute a proper comparison we ought to set against that alleged saving the higher duties which are levied upon British goods under the new Tariff. I will give an illustration of whatI mean, under Division IV., with which we are now dealing. Under the original proposal of the Government a preference of½d. per lb. was extended to candles of British origin. That½d. per lb. has been set down as a gain by Great Britain under this Tariff, notwithstanding that the’ duty upon candles has been increased by1½d. per lb. The same remark is applicable ‘to confectionery. The Government propose to’ extend a preference of ¼d. per lb. upon confectionery from the United Kingdom. That is put forward as an advantage which is gained by Great Britain, whilst the fact that the duty upon confectionery has been increased by1¾d. per lb. is ignored. I ask the Treasurer if that is not a very curious use to make of figures ? Similarly, a preference of¼d. per lb. is proposed in respect of cocoa and chocolate imported from Great Britain.” But the duty upon those articles has been increased by 2¾d. per lb. If we allow that £1, 300,000 - the Treasurer states that it may grow to £1,500,000 - represents the difference between the duty which will be payable upon British imports as compared with the amount which the foreigners will have to pay upon imports of the same value, we must set against that amount the increased duties which reduce that advantage, and which in my opinion remove every rag of preference that is granted under the Tariff. The other figures to which I shall allude are of a more questionable character even than those to which I have referred. They were given by the Treasurer last night, and certainly they contradicted the figures which he had previously supplied to the Committee.
– Not at all.
– I will prove what I am saying.
– I have made further inquiries in regard to them, and I find that they are absolutely correct.
– They are correct as regards arithmetic, but that does not prove what the Treasurer attempted to prove. I admit that to some extent they are on a different basis from previous figures inasmuch as they deal with only 187 items of the Canadian Tariff and of the Commonwealth Tariff. The result of the comparison made is one which I am sure surprised the Treasurer as much as it did the Committee. He said: -
The Canadian preference averages 34½ 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., but this is inflated by the inclusion of seventy-six items, each 100 per cent. The goods enumerated in these seventy-six items are free if of United Kingdom origin, but low ad valorem rates have been imposed against the imports other than those from the United Kingdom. Excluding these seventy-six items the Commonwealth average is19½ per cent. However, a reasonable allowance should be made for these items, and making them dutiable at 33 per cent. results in a general average of 23½ per cent., which from the figures I have given seems to fairly represent the case.
According to the first given figures, showing an advantage to Britain of £1,300,000, it is evident that if absolutely prohibitive dutiesto the extent of 100 per cent. had been imposed upon foreign goods and to the extent of 50 per cent. upon British goods, the saving to Great
Britain would have been greater, though, as a matter of fact, she would have been practically excluded from our markets. In other words, she would have saved 50 per cent. upon the whole value of her importation, or nearly, £5,000,000, instead of upon £1,300,000. That is the way in which we are treated in respect of figures which are sent broadcast all over the world. As regards the second set of figures quoted by the Treasurer last night, comparing Canadian and Australian duties, I do not think that they could have been prepared for the usesto which they have been put. As used, they are absolutely false. The average should be arrived at by taking out each rate of duty, and multiplying it by the imports at that rate. If £100 worth of imports were charged at the rate of 5 per cent., and £1,000 worth at the rate of 60 per cent., the average rate would be 55 per cent. ; but what has been done in this case has been to add 5 and 60, and divide the result by 2, putting down the average at 32½ per cent. That that is absolutely wrong can be seen by reversing the figures which I have given. If £1,000 worth of imports were charged at the rate of 5 per cent, and £100 worth at the rate of 60 per cent., the average would be only 10 per cent. ; but, according to the mode of reckoning which I am criticising, it would still be 32½ per cent. Therefore, I say that I do not think that the figures which have been given could have been intended as an indication of the average of the duties in. the Australian and Canadian Tariffs, on the 187 items referred to.
– If so, they are absolutely misleading.
– I would rather take the calculations of my own officers than those of the honorable member.
– The Minister has pen and ink in front of him. and can, if he chooses, verify my statements. In working out the average, has the value of the goods imported at each rate been taken into consideration?
– My officer has just furnished me with a statement in reference to what the honorable member is saying but he does not refer tothat.
-If that has not been done, the figures are misleading. The average rate of a Tariff depends on the value of the imports at each rate of duty. When the value of the imports is left out of consideration, we get only a false average by merely adding together the rates, and dividing them by the number of classifications. Yet this false result is probably now being published throughout the world, to show the moderation of our Tariff proposals compared with the Canadian Tariff.
– It is quite right that it should be published, seeing that it is not false.
– The Minister will have to show that it is not false. I do not say that the figures are arithmetically wrong. If you multiply 2 by 2, and get 4 as the result, that is arithmetically true. But if you try to make that show something that it does not show, you are making a false use of the figures. I admit that it would be a difficult task to make an average comparison, because it would necessitate the getting-out of the value of Canadian and Australian importations at the different rates, and the necessary details may not be obtainable. But if the correct figures cannot be ascertained, a comparison which is not correct should not be made public. In conclusion, I have only to say that I am absolutely against a bargaining preference. I can see difficulties and dangers in front of the British Empire, if it trusts for its union to the business bargaining of its various portions. I agree with Mr. Winston Churchill that the Empire is a family, not a syndicate, and that the ties which bind it are those which bind the family, not ties of £ s. d., or of immediate personal interest, but of affection, of blood, of race; ties light as air, but in every well-regulated family, strong as iron. If you attempt to substitute for these ties the ties of mere bargaining, you will create opportunity for dissension and separation. Every bargain that is arranged must be dealt with by two Parliaments, and Parliaments are touchy as to their rights. At the present time, Canada is offering an intermediate Tariff to certain countries, and Great Britain raises no objection to that. But had there been a bargain preference between the two, the intermediate Tariff offered to Italy and to Germany would reduce the British preference, in return for which Great Britain had given concessions, and the British Government and Parliament would raise strong objection to it, while the Canadian Parliament would probably resent interference. This would cause trouble. While I am willing to do all that I can to aid the trade of Great Britain, I do not think that a preference will do much in that direction so long as we attach to it the condition that our first object must be to completely protect our own industries. We have seen the effect of preference on British trade in Canada. Although Great Britain’s trade with Canada has increased, so has the trade of foreign countries with the Dominion, and the proportion of trade done by Great Britain is no better now than it was before British goods were given preference. Therefore, I do not anticipate from the adoption of preference as much as some do. Still, I am prepared to give Great Britain whatever advantages there may be in preference, as a return for the exceptional benefits which she has poured upon us. But in honesty to Great Britain and. to ourselves, if we profess to give her a preference, we should see that that preference is a real one, and not a mere pretence as, to a large extent, the concessions in the Tariff schedule are. I can only add that I am in sympathy with what the Prime Minister last night stated to be his aim, the drawing of the various parts of the Empire closer together, so that time, instead of tending to separate them, may bind them more firmly. But I do not think it possible to obtain that result by the policy which he outlined when in London. In my opinion, the adoption of that policy would increase the risk of disruption. If we give preference, we should give it as Canada has given it, and as Sir Wilfrid Laurier is willing to continue it, without expecting Great Britain to change her fiscal policy by taxing her foodstuffs for our benefit. We should give her preference, believing that she has done enough for us to justify us in doing so, and as a trifling return for the ample gifts which she has bestowed upon us.
– I did not speak when moving my amendment, because I had already expressed my opinions on the subject of preference ingeneral ; but I wish to offer a few words now, as the Committee apparently desires to come to a decision on this subject to-night, in further elucidation of the position which I have assumed. The discussion has been fairly’ ample, and worthy of the importance of the subject. Although I differ materially from the majority of the Committee,I am sure that I am inspired with the same motive - the desire to promote the true moral and political integrity of the Empire, and the continuous union of its members as a collection of selfgoverning communities under one Crown. Personally, notwithstanding the very able speeches0 made from different points- of view, particularly by the leader of the Government and the leader, of the Opposition last night, I am still of opinion that we are making a very serious mistake in this implied solicitation of reciprocal preference. In view of what has been said by the Prime Minister on various occasions, and on an occasion to which the honorable member for Corio’ referred to-night, and right through the whole of his speeches in the Imperial Conference, the object of the Government, which presumed for the time to express the feeling of Australia, was to introduce the principle of Mr. Chamberlain, which was one of reciprocal preference. I was not aware until the Prime Minister hinted it last night that he had ever mentioned that he was likely to introduce any concessions in favour of Great Britain, which- were altogether divorced from the expectation of any return. I am sure that time after time he did press with undue importunity, so far as ‘ he represented ‘Australia, for greater concessions in favour of Australia in return for the promise of some from us to Great Britain. That importunity was condemned by organs like the Edinburgh Review in terms which implied opprobrium. But now we are told that it was an offer divorced from all expectation, though, I cannot accept it as such, of reciprocal preference. In my opinion, such preference would have the same effect as had the Canadian preference. The first result of that preference was to embarrass Great Britain in some of its treaty relations. Great Britain immediately afterwards was reluctantly obliged to denounce a treaty with Germany, which was a source of profit to Great Britain. Canada shortly afterwards was the subject of reprisals by Germany and other countries,, but chiefly Germany, and had to cry to the Mother Country for help against consequences induced by .her own act. And I am certain that in the case of Australia similar results will follow - that the inducements we are holding out may lead to a condition of’ affairs that will be embarrassing to the mother country. Further, I believe that the Conservative Party will accept these preference proposals as an invitation to renew the programme according to the platform established by Mr. Cham- berlain in 1903. As I said before, this is the first time I have heard from the lips of the Prime Minister - and I never . in my reading saw the statement - that it was part of his declared policy to grant concessions without expectation of any return.
– The Prime Minister said so at Home.
– I do not deny that the Prime Minister said so. All I wish the Committee to infer is that he did not give the declaration such prominence that men like myself, who endeavour to follow the course of Imperial politics, should not miss it. Some of the English periodicals dealt with the Prime Minister’s attitude in the Convention as if he did” not make any offer except concessions as part .of reciprocal treatment. That is the burden of some of the articles written; and I have mentioned one which appeared in the Edinburgh Review. The Prime Minister, apparently in desperation, at the end of the Conference made an offer’, which was not accepted in the spirit in .which it was made, for an arrangement for the imposition of 1 per cent, on foreign imports, in order to make some provision for, I think, the defence of the Empire. That proposal was not supported even by some men who gave an almost whole-souled allegiance to his preference proposals. So far as I remember, when Mr. Hofmeyr, in 1887, tabled a motion for the imposition of 2 per cent, on imports into the Empire from foreign countries, his idea was that a fund would thus be created for the naval defence - of the- Empire. But it was pointed out at once by’ public writers and by the Imperial Government, that it would mean that, while Australia and New Zealand would contribute- £500,000, the Imperial Government, in addition to their already large expenditure on the Navy, would contribute £4,500,000. Similarly, when Mr. Deakin made the suggestion of 1 per cent, on foreign imports, Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the idea was ridiculous ; and he gave figures to show that the incidence would be altogether disproportionate on the taxpayers of Great Britain.’ The suggestion was not only very properly rejected by the British Government, but it did not even receive consideration, because it was immediately opposed by men like Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and, I think, the Prime Minister of the Cape. The Prime Minister last night quoted English newspapers not often read in Australia, indicating that his prefer- ence scheme had been received with a certain amount of applause in Great Britain ; but the attitude of the London Times is somewhat significant. This is the greatest organ of English opinion, taken as a whole, and it is the representative of British national relations. At the beginning the Times not only took up the cudgels on behalf of Mr. Chamberlain, shifting its position in order to do so, but actually hired political economists to write up his case in a series of articles. This is he newspaper which, before the Prime Minister went Home, published a special series of articles in furtherance of the policy he was going to support; and it is rather significant, I say, that the *Times in the very first article, on his preferential trade proposals condemned them wholesale. I have the w ee k 1 v edition of the Times here, in which there is a leading article following upon a rather tepid account by its Australian correspondent of what was foreshadowed by the Commonwealth Ministry. And this is what this out-and-out preference paper said -
We have selected as far as possible the portions of the Turill which deal with commodities in which British commerce is most largely interested, and from which the effect upon* this country of the chances which it has introduced can be most readily estimated, ft will be found that the tendency of the whole Tariff is in the direction of .largely increased protection; and, although, in a considerable number of cases, the duties levied on British goods will be somewhat less than those upon goods tff the same description arriving from other countries, the general effect of the whole is in a direction which must be detrimental to our trade.
The article concluded -
We’ fear it must be admitted even by those who are most earnest in promoting commercial intercourse with the Commonwealth, that the course taken by Australian statesmen is scarcely calculated to achieve that result.
The article then proceeds to call the preference proposals derisory. Then the Economist, which is entitled to considerable respect tin this “connexion, published an article on the operation of preference in Canada, showing how futile’ it is. The article points out -
The Trade Department here has been doing il.i best lo get the Australian Government to establish preferential- trade relations with Canada, but thus far without a gleam of success.
That is a statement by the Ottawa correspondent of the Economist, in a letter dated 27 th August -
In the first place, they have flatly refused to suspend the operation of llew duties in the case of Canadian goods ‘» transit.
– How could they do anything else ?
– I do not say they should do anything else. I am not referring to that point, but to a different one. To be perfectly honest, I completed the quotation which may perhaps not quite fit in with the views I ami expressing. Dealing with the Australian Tariff, the article continues -
Canadian trade with Australia does not amount to much, and is likely to diminsh under the adverse influence of the new Australian Tariff.
The article goes on to point out that this is really nothing more than protection under a new guise, and protection marked with a selfishness which right through has characterized the system in Canada. The article proceeds -
The wholesale distribution of bounties is doing more, perhaps, to arouse public opinion against the existing system than the high’ price of manufactures. “We may be humbugged into fancying that the high duties on foreign goods are in some mysterious way beneficial to us all, but no one can persuade us that the iron men, steel men, petroleum men, lead men, and what-not, are further entitled to draw immense sums from the public Treasury whilst the rest of us gel nothing.
These are the observations immediately following an examination of the new preference system proposed in Australia. There are one or two figures to which I should like very shortly to refer in support of the position I assume that preference of this class, which cannot be regarded as anything but an invitation to establish mutual preference, will injure the Empire. We know that the proposal is not asked for, and I have endeavoured to show from the quotations that it is not welcome, and I hope to be able to show that it is not required. If strong proof be wanted that this preference is not asked for, I refer honorable members to the vote given by the great Labour Party in England in September, 1905, against not only any tampering with the Imperial fiscal system in the direction of protection, but against any form of retaliation or preference.. By a card vote of 1,259,000 to 26.000 this party rejected any proposals of the sort, and they are entitled to be regarded as expositors of the democratic “ opinion of Great Britain. It is said that this preference is intended only as a sort of manifestation of our attachment to the Empire. Surely, if we desire to manifest in a substantial and national way, from an Australian point of view, onn attachment - which has never been questioned or impugned, and which has been attested in the South African war and on many other occasions - a better way would be to increase our contribution to the Navy that defends, not only the trade in which weare interested with Great Britain, but the trade of British Possessions, amounting to something like £300,000,000, which never touches the United Kingdom at all. It is senseless to talk like children of offering this petty preference to manifest a feeling which, as I say, has never been impugned, when a much cleaner and more rational way is presented, either by increasing our subsidy to the Imperial Navy or our local outlay on naval and military defence, which would, of course, in proportion strengthen the integrity of the Empire. Anything in the shape of preference must eventually, in varying degrees, affect the most important relationships of the United Kingdom. Let us take, for example, what would be the effect of the return asked from Mr. Chamberlain - a tax on wheat in favour of Australia. I find that such a preference to Australia would penalize, not only foreign countries, but the rest of the Empire. On looking up the figures during the course of this debate, I discovered that India supplies 70 per cent. of the wheat and flour which the United Kingdom imports from. India, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Such a preference given to us in return for what we now offer, would therefore strike at one of the very best exporters of wheat to England. But what would be the whole scope of the preference, as against the rest of the world, including the remaining units of the British Empire? Australia’s export of wheat to the United Kingdom in 1905 was only 2,400,000 quarters, as against an export of 5,000,000 quarters by Russia, 5,490,000 quarters by the Argentine, 4,000,000 quarters by the United States, and 5,900,000 quarters by India. I recognise that, in testing the exports of wheat, one can only take averages ; but, whilst I am giving the exports of a particular year, they are not very far from being typical of the proportions of food products sent from the various parts of the world to the British Empire. If I were to give the figures regarding food products other than wheat, the position would be far more marked. The imports of foodstuffs into the United Kingdom in 1904 or 1905 were of the value of £1 66,000,000 ; and from the Commonwealth only £6,918,000 worth were sent. These figures alone show the futility of any attempt to induce the
Mother Country, by this implied solicitation, to revert to a system akin to the corn laws, which proved so disastrous to the British people. Is there any scope for preference in respect of the raw materials used in British manufactures ? Two-thirds of forty of the chief raw materials imported into England come from foreign countries, and excluding raw materials, 71 per cent. of fifteen other imports come from foreign countries. Surely it cannot be urged that preference is a very great stimulus to trade, when we find that the interchange between Australia and the United Kingdom is better without preference than is the trade between Canada and the United Kingdom with preference. Canada’s exports to Great Britain, in one year were of the value of £25,600,000, and her imports from Great Britain of the value of £17,800,000. Australia at the same time, without any preference, sent to Great Britain £26,500,000 worth of exports, whilst she took from foreign countries only £11,417,000 worth of imports. I have not at the moment the actual imports of Australia from the United Kingdom, but I knowthat the Canadian figures are not as good as our own. The policy of preference has been tried-, not only “ in Great Britain, where it was abandoned some forty or fifty years ago as having led to disputes between some of the dependencies, but in France. France tried the very system that we are now introducing. She imposed a big tax on imports from foreign countries
– She does so now.
– She has done so ever since 1892. Under her Tariff, I believe that there are substantially higher duties on imports from foreign countries than there are against colonial imports. Trade between France and its colonies is encouraged by a preference; but the result is that, whilst the external trade of the British Possessions since the abandonment of that policy has increased to about £500,000,000, the external trade of the French colonies and possessions is only about £61,000,000. If we take the relative importance of the trade of the United Kingdom with Australia and New Zealand and all other countries, we find that the annual average of the export of British produce to Australia and New Zealand from 1904 to1906 was £24,896,000, whilst to the other Colonies and Posses- sions which are left out of these prefer- ential proposals that we now offer, it was ^90,650,000. The United Kingdom’s exports of local products to foreign countries, which we directly hit at by this offer, ‘ were of the value of ^219,853,582, and the exports to all countries, except Australia and New Zealand, ^3^,504,189. A policy that strikes at that greater trade is a bad one, and must lead to complications which we shall, perhaps, eventually deplore. It was’ said last night by the Prime Minister - and the statement has been repeated to-night - that this is really a step in the direction of the closer consolidation of the Empire. Does that mean closer political relations with the Empire? Does it mean that we are to have what Mr. Chamberlain has suggested from time to time : some form, of Imperial Council beginning with an Executive function, and developing ultimately into a legislative body? If it does, then we shall take a backward step as regards the principle of autonomy under which the Empire, up to the present, has flourished so well. The Times proclaimed it to be the objective, in a series of articles which preceded the Conference held this year in England. In referring to a speech made by the Prime Minister at the Australasian banquet, the Times, of 19th April, wrote -
Mr. Deakin says that the trade question cannot be separated from the defence question. . . . The case for an equal voice in the councils of the Empre as well as the possibility of more equal division of the defensive burden will be immeasurably strengthened if we adopt the policy directly augmenting the main power of the Empire and bringing the self-governing Colonies on to approximately the same level in this respect as the mother country.
The main idea of the Times was that the first step towards the political consolidation of the Empire was the adoption of a method which would lead to something like proportionate contributions to defence, and in that connexion it quoted a statement by the Prime Minister which it welcomed as being emphatically in support of the position which it assumed. . I do not wish to prolong this debate, but, feeling .that, although our aspirations as regards Imperial unity are identical, I should be in a small minority in the position I take up, I thought that I would reply to some, of the arguments that have been advanced, in order to prevent any possible misapprehension in regard to my case.
.- It must be manifest to the Government that although there is a disposition on the part of the House to support a preference to the Mother Country, there is no great enthusiasm for their proposals. The general feeling of the Committee seems to be that the Government would have acted wisely in refraining from attaching to this Tariff preferential proposals, which will serve only to complicate the issue and very much delay the settlement of the general question. I think most honorable members will agree that if preference is desirable, it should be dealt with in a separate Bill, after we have finally .disposed of the Tariff against the rest of the world. I am certainly not enthusiastic in regard to the preferential provisions now before us. I believe that we’ are really giving to the Mother Country that for which she has not asked, and that which will cost us nothing. The Commonwealth Treasury will really benefit by the preferences proposed by the Government. The duties against the Mother Country have been largely raised,- and we shall therefore ‘receive in respect of all goods that must necessarily come from Great Britain a largely-increased revenue. Many years must elapse before Great Britain will be able to drive the foreigner out of our markets, and in the meantime the people of Australia will be paying the increased duty. The only result, of these preference proposals will be that we shall reap a considerably-increased revenue, but it will be paid by our own people. I do not agree with those who are opposed to a bargain being made with the Mother Country. I have always held, and have said so on several occasions, that the only way in which we can make a preferential agreement with the Mother Country is by bargaining with her - by saying in effect to her, “ We desire to assist you and you desire to assist us. What can you give us, and what can we give you in return under a mutually beneficial arrangement?” By that means we should be able to do good for Australia, whilst the Mother Country would do good to herself. That was the fundamental principle underlying the question of preferential trade when it was first proposed. I have been associated with this movement for many years - especially since the Imperial Conference of 1902! - and I have never heard it suggested as a permanent arrangement that we were to give a preference to the Mother Country and to receive no preference by way of return. My idea is- that preferential trade involves mutual concessions. At the same time these concessions ‘ ought not to be made in a huckstering spirit. I disagree with those who urge that there is anything unsatisfactory in entering into a business bargain with the United Kingdom. What are the treaties which are made every day between countries and States but bargains? What were the agreements into which we entered with New Zealand and South Africa but bargains? What is the arrangement into which we proposed.to enter with Canada but a bargain? I can see nothing unreasonable or improper in entering into an agreement with other countries in precisely the same way as individuals enter into agreements for their mutual advantage. But if we desire to give to the Mother Country a trade advantage I should prefer that we gave her something which is valuable to ourselves, in return for something else which is valuable to her, and which will be valuable to us. For instance, the naval defence of the Empire is of the utmost importance to us, and if we are really anxious to help the Mother Country, we have an “opportunity of doing something in the direction suggested by Mr. Hofmeyr in 1887. in regard to assisting the Mother’ Country in protecting all parts of the Empire, including Australia. I do not think that we deserve much credit for conceding to Great Britain something which costs us nothing. I do not say that the preferences proposed in this schedule will be of advantage to nobody. Those who send goods here from the Mother Country will be very glad of them. But they will not cost us anything, seeing that we have largely increased the duties upon British -goods - in many cases having doubled them. If the preferences proposed had not been inserted in this schedule, probably the duties levied upon British- goods would have been those proposed upon goods from all parts, of the world. Consequently the proposed preferential duties have assisted the Government to secure the imposition of higher rates upon goods from foreign countries, and which the people of Australia will be called upon to pay for many -“years. Therefore, while it appears to be intended as a preference to the United Kingdom, it really is an increased protection to our local manufacturers. There is one thing that I did not gather from the Prime Min- ister’s speech last night nor from that of the Treasurer. Neither of them told us in plain words what was expected by them, ir a preference had been granted to Australia by the Mother Country. The general idea of the producers in Australia is that under preferential trade, they will secure a higher price for their products in the British market than is obtained by other people. The Prime Minister did not tell us whether that is his view of the matter. If the fact is as I have stated - and if we are to reciprocate - the price of British goods in our markets ought ‘also -to be higher than it is. But nobody desires that. We wish to get every advantage in price for ourselves and to give nothing by way of return. . During this debate we have been told that we must obtain all the advantage that we can- from those who send us goods, and who are not of our own race. We desire that the Mother Country shall secure the whole of that trade and that foreign goods should not be allowed to enter Australia. But we are most anxious to send our products to other countries. As a matter of fact we are very glad to send our commodities to all parts of the world no matter what may be the colour of the people there. It appears to me that there is a good deal of misapprehension as to the countries with which we do our business. Some persons seem to think that we send practically . everything to Great Britain. But I would point out that in 1906 we sent a larger quantity of wool to Belgium, France, Ger.many, and the United States than we did to Great Britain.
– They would not .buy it from us if they did not get value for their money.
– I do not think that is. a very generous or fair statement. We exported in 1.906 to the United Kingdom wool to the value of .£10,706.181, whereas our export of this commodity to the four above-mentioned countries was valued at ,£11,566,077. Similarly we export spelter concentrates to the value of only. ^48,241 to the Mother Country, as against exports to Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, which are valued at £753,033. To other countries we sent only £101 worth. In other words, only one-seventeenth of* our export of spelter found its way into the United Kingdom. Then, again, we exported in 1906, £705,000 worth of timber, of which only £167,000 worth went to the Mother Country, and £538,000 worth to India, China, Germany, and Uruguay. We also exported £186,000 worth of stock to India in 1906, and we further sent £111,000 worth of tanning bark to Germany and only £17,000 worth to the United Kingdom. We exported coal to countries other than Great Britain in 1906 to the value of £894,000, and butter to the value of £335,557. We sent to Belgium, France, Germany, and the United States during 1906 practically as much inthe form of hides and skins as we did to the United Kingdom, the values being to the United Kingdom, £1,336,000, . as against £1, 334,000 to the four above-named countries. We sent only £347,000 worth of lead to Great Britain, in 1906, as against £483,000 worth to other countries. It will be seen, therefore, that the United Kingdom is not the best customer of Australia in regard to the exports I have referred to.
Mr.McWilliams. - But she is our best friend.
-I quite agree with the honorable member. Of course it may be said that these foreign countries must buy from us, the inference being that we have no need to consider them.
– Does the honorable member think that they consider us?
– My idea is that in the case of countries, as of individuals, the transaction of lucrative business tends . to engender a good feeling. The great trade which is done’ between the Mother Country and the United States increases the good feeling between those nations. There is, therefore, no reason for using the argument that they buy from us because they have to do so. If you do an injury to any one he will probably tryto resent it, and if you show a desire not to recognise chose who have been doing business with you, you run the risk of causing resentment. Cannot honorable members see that if we place disabilities on countries with whose people we have been on friendly terms, and transacting a large amount of business, we shall engender bad feeling, and they may say, “ We resent this treatment, because you are not treating us well?”’ Perhaps they are not in a position to injure us, but, in the long run, such a selfish policy will be likely to do us more harm than good. I do not desire that these remarks shall be construed to mean that I have no wish to help the Mother Country. All my life I have desired to do what I could to keep the Imperial spirit alive in this country and to make those with whom I come into contact, especially the young, feel that! they have inherited a great privilege in being British born, and that they enjoy great advantages from their British parentage, in return for which they should do all in their power to foster and encourage loyalty and devotion to the mother land. Anything I can do, now or hereafter, will be done to. assist in lightening the almost crushing burden placed upon the Mother Country in connexion with the defence of our world-wide Empire, which she at present bears almost alone. I do not look upon the proposed preference as a real or genuine one, nor do I approve of the mode in which it is proposed to be given. I regard the Government proposals as ill-thought out, and unlikely to effect much good ; but I am not going to do anything which might cause it to be thought that I am unwilling to assist the Empire, even to the slightest extent. Therefore, I shall vote with the Government. But I hope that no one will think that, because I do so, 1 approve of the method in which the preference proposals have been placed before us.
– The right honorable gentleman believes in preference?
– Yes; but I believe in reciprocal preference in regard to trade. Had the Chancellor of the Exchequer been able to say to the Prime Minister when in London, “ Although we see difficulties in the way of what you propose, let us know exactly what your proposals are,” the Prime Minister would, I think, have hesitated before placing before him the Tariff and preference proposals which he has now submitted for the approval of honorable members.
.- My remarks will have, at any rate, the merit of brevity. I, like the honorable member for Corio, wish to place before my constituents my main reasons for the vote which I intend to give. I am distinctly in favour of granting a substantial preference to the Mother Country. It is a great pity that the preferential and protective proposals of the Government have been mixed together, because they are entirely different in their incidence. Import duties are used in commercial warfare as a shield for the pro- tection of manufacturers ; but preference is given to obtain mutual benefits and commercial relations. The whole subject has been dealt with so clearly by the leader and deputy leader of the Opposition that I have very little to add. They have pointed out that’ it would be a good thing if the various portions of the Empire, as the States of the Commonwealth have done, would remove their Customs barriers, ‘ to permit of Empire free-trade. It that were established, no doubt the other nations of the world would be compelled to follow suit, and the millennium would have arrived.
– Let it come soon.
– I am afraid that we shall not be here when it comes. As the honorable member for Darwin would say, we shall probably be smouldering. I listened with considerable pleasure to the speech of the Prime Minister. I was glad that it evidenced the fact that mentally he is as strong as ever he was. If his physical is equal to his mental health, there is very little the matter with him. I hope that the effort will not retard his full recovery. ‘ But, while I admired his speech for its brilliancy, I regarded it as specious, and have come to the conclusion that the honorable member possesses the faculty of making use of words to conceal his thoughts.
– It was a very straightforward speech.
– I do not think that it was.
– What spectacles was the honorable member wearing last night?
– I tried to see as clearly as I could ; but I think that the Prime Minister was throwing dust in the eyes of the Committee. He is defending a bad cause. He went to England with, proposals which he knew could not be accepted. How could he expect the old country, which has had free-trade for sixty years, to accept the dictation of -the small population of Australia, and reverse its fiscal policy by raising Tariff walls against the foreigner?
– He has set them thinking very hard.
– Yes ; and. so far mav have done good. But he has also set other people thinking. In my opinion, the offer he made to the old country can hardly be regarded as sincere.
– I think that it was sincere as far as he is concerned.
– He proposes to thrust on this country a policy of high protection. We are asked, at the dictation of 330,000 factory workers, who are only half the number of the workers in our primary industries, to place a tax on all the commodities that we require to import.
– Will not those in the primary industries benefit by having a larger market for their productions?
– I think that it would be better to give more encouragement to primary production than to use artificial methods for creating consumption. In view of this protective policy, the preference of the Government is a snare, a delusion, and a sham. According to the Prime Minister, the average preference is somethink like 23 per cent. : but I do not know how he arrived at that result, seeing that in column after column the difference between : the duty against the foreigner and the duty against the importer from the United Kingdom is only 5 per cent. This is what the London Daily Telegraph says “on the Tariff-
So. far as circumstances permit of the forma-tion of any definite opinion on the subject, it would seem to “be generally unfavorable, ‘ the 5 per cent, preference on British goods being more than nullified by the increased duties.
The merchants of Birmingham, on being asked to express their opinion, said that the Tariff is the cause of anxiety and dissatisfaction to them.
– So it is to us.
– I agree with the honorable member, and I hope that he will raise his powerful voice against it. According to the newspaper from which I have quoted, the general opinion of manufacturers and merchants trading with the Australian colonies is that, while the preferential trade proposed will benefit British trade as against the competition of rival countries, the advantage will be more than counterbal.anced by the general increase of duties in favour of the colonial producer. In Bradford, the opinion is expressed that the 5 per cent, preference- it is recognised that it amounts to no more - will, be entirely nullified by the high duties. In Leicester, the. 5 per cent, preference is regarded as more than nullified by the raising of the duties all round, and the opinion is expressed that the only way in which British manufacturers could have benefited was by a preference of 10 to 15 per cent, which would have insured them the German trade. In the clothing trade, it is said that the raising of the Tariff will set back the improvement which was beginning to take place. In Northampton, the preferential proposals are characterized as bluff, and a similar opinion is expressed in Sheffield. We ought to feel that we owe more than we can repay to Great Britain, which has given us the land in which we live. We hear a good deal about the ties which bind us to the Mother Land - about the “ crimson bonds,” and all that sort of thing - but we have to regard not only the interests of Australia, or of the Mother Land, but of the Empire as a whole. It stands to reason that if we could have reciprocal trade, with preference between parts of the Empire, it would be to our advantage; and for that reason, altogether apart from feelings of kinship, and because I feel it is the only way to maintain the solidarity of the Empire, I am prepared, although professedly a freetrader, to sacrifice to a certain extent my principles in order to encourage such a trade.
Mr.TUDOR (Yarra) [10.33].- I am very anxious that we should get on with the consideration of the Tariff, but I desire to explain my attitude in regard to this question. I shall vote for preference if it will give greater protection to the workers of Australia, but if it will mean less protection to those workers, I shall vote against the proposal. With me the fiscal question is a labour question.
– It is a class question with the honorable member.
– It is a question with me of the workers obtaining the best conditions.
– Did the workers get much in the case of the harvester duties?
– The workers will get as much from me as from the honorable member, and I shall see, as far as I can, that this, or any other, Government administer properly and fairly the law to which the honorable member refers. I shall not vote to give a preference to British goods which are manufactured under sweated conditions ; and we know there are industries in Great Britain in which such conditions prevail. That shall be my guide in voting on the preference proposals. If the Government make preference a vital question, I cannot help it, because, as I say, if preference . means less protection for the workers here, I shall vote against it.
.- The Government do not appear at all anxious about our progress with the Tariff.
– Let the honorable member speak for himself.
– The truth of my statement has been evidenced from the very start. I have listened with considerable attention to the arguments in favour of preference ; and it appears to me that the offer made is rather like an Irishman’s rise in wages. If the English people are satisfied with the preference offered they are satisfied with very little. It is quite apparent, and only consistent with the protective idea, that the Australian manufacturers desire to capture the whole of the trade in Australia. We have evidence of that in the fact that on the great volume of imports from the United Kingdom, the duties have, in almost every case, been doubled. Nothing will convince me that this offer of preference is not a pretence and a sham ; and the effect, in regard to goods the bulk of which do not come from Great Britain, is to penalize those who are engaged in the primary industries of Australia. If the Government were honest, they would at once admit that the preferential duties were for revenue purposes, because all their talk about strengthening the Empire, and encouraging Empire trade, is just a piece of great presumption. There is not a manufacturer in the whole of Australia who is prepared to take one brick off the Tariff wall in order to allow British goods to come in. The ambition and aim of every manufacturer is to raise the Tariff wall so high that no British goods shall be imported, and yet we have the Government and honorable members here prating about Empire-building by means of the proposed preference. I repeat that this offer is the greatest sham and humbug ever presented to an honest people. For some reason or other - perhaps because the Government cracked the whip at the first sigh of a discussion on the question - a number of honorable members have climbed down. I am astonished at the attitude of the Opposition in voting for preference.
– The Opposition do not say they will vote for the proposed preference, but that they will try to make the preference real and substantial.
– There is not the slightest hope of honest preference under the circumstances. The honorable member knows perfectly well that every one of the duties of 5 and 10 per cent, are for revenue purposes, and that they will bear very hardly on the great primary industries, which support the whole of the manufacturers, and the whole of the residents in cities. Not satisfied with making the producers pay heavily by means of protective duties, the Government further penalize them by way of revenue duties under the name of preference. I may be wrong, but I think it will be proved that the preferential duties will prove to be merely revenue producing in their operation, and of no substantial benefit to the old country.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
.- I move -
That after the figure 2d. the words “ and on and after 24th October, 1907 (United Kingdom), per lb., #d.,” ‘be inserted.
The question of preference is very alluring to any one inclined to be discursive, but so much has been said that, although I have notes sufficient for a speech of, perhaps, two hours’ duration, I propose to show honorable members that there are times when I can practice the rare virtue of self-denial. . However, I will say that I think it is a great pity that the question of preference has been mixed up with this schedule. It would have been a far better plan to first deal with the Tariff, and then with the preference proposals. From, the free-trade point of view we might easily have raised the question by selecting a certain number of articles of British manufacture, upon which we could ask the Committee to make a substantial reduction of duty in the case of British goods, while protectionists, if not agreeable to that course,’ might have proposed to increase the duties against the foreigner in conformity with their present policy. But, however the question might be raised, it would have been better, as I say, not to have confused preference with this schedule, in which, in my opinion, this important principle is dealt with in a haphazard .and unsatisfactory way. As the Committee has decided that the duty under the general Tariff shall be 2d., I should have been prepared to agree to the British preferential duty on candles being fixed at id. per lb., as it stood under the old Tariff, but for the fact that the British manufacturers themselves have already pointed out that that duty was. prohibitive. It seems ridiculous to propose in such circumstances to increase that duty by 50 per cent. When the honorable member for Grey described as a sham the whole, system of preference which the Government propose, he was well within the mark ; he might have used a much stronger expression to fitly describe it. The duty of 2d. per lb.’ as against foreign countries to which we ha,ye already agreed will give an absolute monopoly to the local Combine, lt may be that a trust is not actually in existence in Australia, but we know that the local manufacturers have an arrangement which in its operation has the same effect as have the operations of a combine or a trust.
– Surely we have had all this before?
– Does the honorable member challenge my right to make this statement? No interruptions will force me to refrain from expressing my views on. this question.
– Then we must take some other means.
– I challenge the Minister to put his threat into execution. If honorable members think that I am going to curtail my remarks because of interjections and threats, whether they come from Ministers or any one else, they are verymuch mistaken. Under the old duty of id. per lb. British imports of candles were shut out. The total imports under the heading of “Candles, tapers, and night lights” amounted in 1906 to 1,800,000 lbs., of which only 133.000 lbs. came from Great Britain. As a matter of fact, I am informed no candles were imported from Great Britain. If we are not going to give as we did ‘ under the old duty a monopoly to the local trusts the least we can do is to afford the Mother Country an opportunity to secure’ a little bit of the trade. She could not obtain any share of it under the duty of id. per lb., and therefore the Committee ought to be prepared to reduce that duty to fd. per lb. The honorable member for Grey said there was no possibility of the Committee agreeing to an honest preference to Great Britain. In moving this motion I give the Committee an opportunity to show whether or not that statement is correct. I believe that it is, but I want to test the sincerity of those protectionists who talk so glibly about their desire to give preference to the United Kingdom, yet oppose every .genuine attempt to give it.
– I did not think that the Committee’ would be asked at this stage of the debate to agree to a further amendment except such as I understood that the honorable member for Lang would move, namely, a. reversion to the old duty of id. per lb. We have already decided that the general Tariff in respect of paraffine candles shall be 2d. per lb., and I wish to point out what would be the effect of . the reduction proposed bv the honorable member for Lang. Under the old Tariff, paraffine wax and stearine, which constitutes 50 per cent, of the raw material of our candle makers, was dutiable at £d. per lb., but under item 42 of the present Tariff it is dutiable at id. per lb. That being so, if that duty be carried - and we have a right to assume that it will be - and this . amendment be adopted, the manufacturers of candles will be in a worse position under this Tariff than they occupied before. That is a point which the Committee ought to consider. I take it that no honorable member, whether he be a free-trader or a protectionist, has entered this House with the idea of injuring an industry. If we- pass the amendment now moved by the honorable member for Lang, however, we shall seriously prejudice the candle manufacturers of Australia. The Government apparently believe that the manufacture of stearine is an industry that is worthy of consideration, ‘ otherwise they would not have placed a higher duty upon it, and in this connexion we have a right to regard it as a raw material of the product now under discussion. It is certainly no part of our duty to interfere with an industry which is already carrying on operations in Australia. If we take any action in regard to it, it should be in the direction of assisting, rather than retarding, it ; and, that being so, I am sure that the Committee will hesitate to agree tq this amendment. We have reached a time when we are practically providing ourselves with all the candles we require. The line now under discussion is of vital interest to the sister State of Tasmania. There the manufacture of paraffine candles is carried on to a greater extent than in any other part of the Commonwealth. That’, perhaps, is due to the fact that the milder climate of Tasmania enables paraffine candles to be used more advantageously there than they could be used, say, -in New South Wales. If this proposal be adopted, the manufacturers of paraffine candles in Tasmania will not be able to carry on operations. I trust that the industry will receive the consideration it deserves. We are offering a fair amount of preference to the Mother Country.
– Under the old duty of id. per lb. candles from Great Britain were shut out.
– The honorable member for Lang said that one of his reasons for moving this amendment was that he desired to give a substantial preference to the Mother Country. I quite agree with him that only a small proportion of our imports of candles comes from the United Kingdom, but that is because candles from Belgium are very much better than are those coming .from Great Britain. The policy of the Government, and,” I hope, of this Parliament, is that Australian industries shall be built’ up. The Prime Minister clearly showed last night, by quotations from speeches made by representatives of the British Government at the Imperial Conference, that they recognised that our first duty was to Australia. That being so, I think it is worth while considering whether we ought, as proposed bv the honorable member for Lang, to so reduce a duty as to cause it to be destructive, rather’ than constructive, in its application to one of our industries.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 October 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071023_reps_3_40/>.