3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. JOHN THOMSON presented a petition from fifty-five persons engaged in the fishing industry at Cape Hawke, praying the House to remit the duties on fishing nets and cork floats.
Mr. POYNTON, on behalf of Mr. Speaker, presented two petitions from residents of the electoral district of Wakefield, and, on behalf of the honorable member for Angas, two petitions from residents of the electoral district of Angas, praying the House to reduce the duties on general farm requisites.
Mr. HUTCHISON presented three similar . petitions from residents of Adelaide and suburbs.
– In view of the many wrecks which have occurred on the west coast of Tasmania, will the Government construct a telephone line to Port Davey, and see that the Government of Tasmania erects and maintains.shelter sheds, and keeps the telephone line in proper order ?
– Following up previous representations of the honorable member, we are making inquiries, and are in communication with the Government of Tasmania in connexion with the matter.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to a. cable message, dated London, Friday., which appeared in the Press last week. It is a report of a speech by Mr. Balfour, who is made to say -
He had always thought that the promotion of free-trade within theEmpire was the most important of all our commercial interests, but until the recent Colonial Conference he had entertained doubts whether that policy would be practicable when the co-operation of a large number of independent units was required. It would, however, be irrational to entertain such fears after what had occurred at the Conference.
In view of that statement, and of an opinion expressed at the Imperial Conference by the Prime Minister, I should like to know if the honorable gentleman is prepared to advocate and support a scheme of Imperial free-trade, and if he considers that, at the present time, the industrial interests of Australia will admit of the adoption of such a scheme?
– I am not prepared to advocate a scheme of Imperial free-trade, and cannot believe that such a policy would be advantageous to the industrial interests of Australia. I am a little at a loss to interpret the cable message,’ which gives only an abbreviated report of Mr. Balfour’s speech, because at the Imperial Conference it was plainly intimated, even by British Ministers, that, having regard to their revenue necessities, they were not in a position to consider such reciprocal arrangements as we proposed, even though based upon a policy of free-trade throughout the Empire.
– Is it intended that the date of departure from Adelaide of the outward bound mail steamers shall be altered ? If so, what day does the PostmasterGeneral propose to substitute for Thursdav? If the rumored change be carried out, will not the outward and inward mail steamers ordinarily” reach’ Fremantle on the same day, and has he considered the inconvenience which that would inflict upon the people of Western Australia, inasmuch as in default of an Inter: State mail steamer during the previous week, letters in answer to correspondence from the eastern States would be delayed for seven days?
– The time-table for the service to commence in’ February, 1910, has not yet been framed, but when it is being framed, due consideration will be given to the aspect of the matter referred to in. the honorable member’s questions.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) 1906 - Judgment of Mr. Justice Higgins, President of the Commonwealth Court o’f Conciliation and Arbitration in the matter of the application of H. V. McKay, for an order in terms of section 2 (b).
Mail Service to Europe - Statement showing amounts of the three lowest tenders.
Postage Stamps - Report of Board appointed to consider and report on the best methods to be adopted to secure a suitable issue of postage stamps.
– Is the statement in to-day’s press correct, that the Government have decided to suspend collection of the Excise duty on agricultural implements, and thus delay enforcement of the wages provided by the Arbitration Court award? If sp, will the Government also suspend the extra duties imposed last year, and under the new tariff, on agricultural implements, until finality has been reached, and the law is carried out? Will he have the discussion, of the Tariff adjourned until it has been proved that employes as well as manufacturers will get the benefit intended by the imposition of higher duties?
– There has been no such suspension as the honorable member’s question implies. What has been done is to give an intimation to every manufacturer that he must present at once all particulars in regard to the number of dutiable machines or other implements sent out between the ist January and the 8th November of this year. Pending ‘the receipt of those particulars, coupled with any such statement as may be thought necessary, security is to be taken for the payment of the full Excise, unless Parliament shall afterwards otherwise decide. The honorable member apparently overlooks our intimation that the wages fixed bv the President of the Arbitration Court must be paid from the date of that finding and hereafter, and that in every case in which such wages are not paid the excise will be levied.
– The Prime Minister states that the various manufacturers affected have been called upon to give particulars of their output, and to furnish security for the payment of the Excise upon it, unless Parliament shall decide to the contrary. Will Parliament have an opportunity to discuss the retrospective operation of the Act before action is taken to enforce it, other than what has been done in requiring security ?
– Unless the security is satisfactory, there will be no suspension. It is the intention of the Government to submit, as soon, after the Christmas adjournment as possible, a measure amending the Excise Act.
– Until that is submitted, the suspension will haVe force?
– Yes ; subject to security and payment of- wages.
– The Government is net going to carry out the Act ?
– We are going to carryit out.
– Are we to takeit from the statements of the Prime Minister that the Bill which he contemplates, introducing will deal with the retrospective aspect of the Excise legislation, and that the payment of Excise will be determined by the action of Parliament in respect to the Bill ?
– It is not certain, but it is probable that the Bill will make some provision in that regard. It certainly must make some provision in other regards, ir» order that the Act may be applied without discrimination. -
– In view of the fact that certain manufacturers may have to furnish security in lieu of paying the Excise duty right away, does the Prime Minister regard it as likely that they would lose their right of appeal as to the unconstitutionality of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act?
– The honorable member puts this question to me without notice, but, so far as I can judge at the moment, the action to which the honorable member refers could not have the slightest effect.
– If - the security is not forthcoming from the manufacturers of agricultural machinery, what guarantee has the House that the law will be carried out, as a period of twelve months will have elapsed since it came into force?
– I have already pointed out that the whole of the proposal is subject to the security being to the satisfaction of the Government; otherwise, the manufacturers must’ pay the duty at once.
– I do not think that I made myself quite clear to the Prime Minister. In the event of the security asked for riot being forthcoming, what steps do the Government propose to take to enforce the law?
– As I have already said, the manufacturers will be . required to pay the Excise duty if the security is not satisfactory.
– Paragraph g of the circular instruction to the Collectors of Customs says -
The amount of security in each case may be fixed at one-fifth of the cash value of the dutiable goods delivered from 01 manufactured in the factory from ist January to 7th November 1907, inclusive.
As. the amount of the claim is, in the case of harvesters at least, more than the duty!, does not the Prime Minister think that the proportion claimed is excessive?
– I have not the con.ditions at hand, and can only say that they were framed after very careful consideration on the part of the officers of the Department. I am sure that if the honorable member were as well aware of the circumstances as they are he would consider such a demand reasonable as provision for a contingency.
– I beg to ask the Prime Minister whether it is the intention of the Government to ask the House to alter its days or hours of sitting until Christmas, and,- if so, whether he will take into consideration the advisability of asking the House tq meet at half-past 10 o’clock in the morning instead of at halfpast 2 o’clock in the afternoon?
– It was intimated last week that we propose to ask honorable members, for the next week or two, to sit on extra days, and also to sit at the earlier hour mentioned by the honorable member.
– To do what?
– In order to finish as much as we can before the Christmas adjournment.
– That is very vague.
– I understand from the newspapers that the Postmaster-General has had an interview with Mr. David Mills, who is the contractor for the carriage of mails between New Zealand and Tasmania. I desire to know if the honorable gentleman first inquired whether Mr. Mills has not some contracts with the mineowners, and whether by the suspension of the mail and shipping services the honorable gentleman is not assisting the owners as against the strikers?
– I have not agreed to anything except that which I was convinced was absolutely necessary. It was represented to me that the carriage of the mails must cease unless I agreed to what was proposed. I did not even agree to what my honorable friend has indicated until I was sure that it was imperative.
– I learn from the newspapers that the Postmaster-General has agreed with Mr. David Mills to make a concession in regard to the running of the mail services to Tasmania. I desire to ask the honorable gentleman whether, in making an arrangement with the contractors to run the steamers from Melbourne to Launceston twice a week, he consulted any of the representatives of Tasmania in this House, or the Senate, in reference to their convenience to return home, or whether he made the arrangement without regard to those who are best qualified to judge in the matter?
– I can only give my honorable friend the same answer as I have just given - that representations were made that coal could not be obtained ; that the only arrangement which could be made for the carriage of any mails was on the lines I have indicated, and that, as it was imperative, I agreed to make a concession. The application had to be decided before I could discuss it with the representatives of Tasmania.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether he told Mr. Mills, when he asked for a reduction in the mail service, that -there was plenty of coal procurable’ in Tasmania at a low price, that there was no strike in the State, and that the ships could be supplied if they wanted fuel to maintain the regular service?
– The question of the coal was discussed, and it was pointed out - and the statement was substantiated by people who know - that its steaming qualities are of such a character that the company have to mix other fuel, with the supply already in hand in order to get across.
– Seeing that the High Court will go into long vacation about 15th or 18th December, and that if an amendment be made in the Disputed Elections and Qualifications Bill, it will have to go back to the Senate, I desire to ask the Attorney-General whether he will proceed with the Bill immediately in order that the petition of Mr. Joseph Vardon may be dealt with by the High Court before the Christmas vacation, and, in case it should order another election, the electors of South Australia may select a senator before the Senate meets after the Christmas adjournment?
– I am not quite sure that I heard the first part of the question, but I may tell the honorable member that the Bill has been received from the Senate. Its second reading will be moved ‘ here early this week, and its consideration proceeded with so that it may be finally dealt with before the Senate rises, and the petition can be dealt with at the earliest possible date by the High Court.
Regulation of Freights
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister if, in the new mail contract, any provision “is made for regulating the maximum freight which shall be charged for the carriage of frozen meat?
– No. Provision has been made in regard to butter and fruit only.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs in a position to give the House any particulars as to the result of the sale of the Japanese goods which were recently seized by the Customs authorities?
– As the honorable gentleman was good enough to give me private notice of this question, I am in a position to give the result of the sale by auction of the sixty-one cases of Japanese goods seized from R. Mizutani. The gross amount realized was ^1,671 is. 6d. ; the net amount realized was ^1,468 6s. id. ; and the amount paid by the Department for the goods was ,£640 4s. 10d., leaving a net profit of .£828 is. 3d. There will be valuators’ fees, cartage, cooperage charges, &c, to be paid, probably amounting to ,£35, which will cover all further deductions.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether, in calculating the profit made on the sale of the consignment of Japanese goods taken over by the Department, he has allowed for the duty which the importers would have had to pay upon it?
– No. I believe that the goods were invoiced at about j£6oo, so that the duty of 25 per cent, would represent a total payment of about ^150.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether, seeing that the decision arrived at by the Committee to admit “hay and ch’aff” into the Commonwealth free of duty was arrived at when a large number of members were absent, and, further, seeing that such decision is contrary to the protective policy of the Government, and, if adhered to, may act injuriously to the more distant States, whose agricultural industries require fostering and encouraging, he will take steps to recommit the item for further consideration.
– The duty on hay and chaff was not removed with the consent of the Government, although it has been said in certain quarters that we desired that the item should be struck out.
– I know better than that.
– I was not referring to the right honorable member, but a rumour to the effect stated by me has been circulated by certain interested persons. I do not desire to agree lightly to the recommittal of any item, but that relating to hay and chaff is certainly of great importance.
– The removal of it opens the door to speculators.
– Quite so. The matter is of considerable importance, since some of the States can supply all the fodder required in the drier parts of the Commonwealth, and it will, at an early date, receive the serious consideration of the Government.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The information sought by the honorable member cannot be supplied from my office, but a communication has been addressed to the Sydney office with the object of obtaining what in- formation is available. I shall furnish the honorable member with a reply as soon as I can do so.
Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Debate resumed from 14th November (vide page 6033), on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- In introducing this Bill, the Treasurer appealed to honorable members to as far as possible curtail the debate, and having regard to the importance of the matters to be considered by us before the close of the year, I am prepared to do my best to give effect to his desire. At the same time those who differ to some extent from the proposals of the Government must necessarily point out some of the reasons why they think that a better method of attaining our object than that provided in the Bill could be adopted. I presume that every honorable member is in favour of encouraging the local production of iron from the iron ore of Australia. On that point, I am sure, we are unanimous ; the only issue between us is as to the best methods by which our object can be accomplished. The Bill now before us provides for the payment of a bounty on iron produced in Australia from Australian ore, and, failing the adoption of this proposition, the Government prefer the imposition of a duty to an attempt on’ the part of the Commonwealth or any of the States to carry on the industry. That being so, we are entitled to examine the reasons that have led the Government to take up this attitude, and to inquire whether a better and safer method could not be pursued. I wish at the outset to make it clearlyunderstood that I am as anxious as is any one to see at the earliest possible moment iron produced from our native ores, and that I am quite prepared to pay the price. I feel, however, that the scheme favoured by my party is the best that could be sug gested to secure that end. In dealing with this question, I shall endeavour to avoid the great array of figures which has been submitted from time to time in connexion with our consideration of a similar proposition. I certainly prefer the payment of a bounty to the imposition of a duty for the encouragement of the industry, since the people as a whole have to contribute to the cost of the former system, and users of iron are not called upon to bear the whole of the increased cost. It will readily be recognised that a duty might penalize the users of iron without giving them any corresponding advantage; and, for that reason, I emphatically favour the bounty system. But I propose later on to submit an amendment to allow the Committee, when dealing with the Bill, to make this iron industry a national one. And for this reason : 1 think that the iron industry will for many years to come in Australia be confined to one or two manufacturers. I think that whether the work be taken in hand bv a State, or by the Commonwealth- preferably by the Commonwealth, so far as I am Concerned - or by individuals, the advantages will be confined to one or two States. The rest of the States will be more or less penalized. When dealing with the question of nationalization from a Commonwealth point of view, I expect that I shall te met with the objection from legal memters and others that it is beyond the powers of the Commonwealth Government to carryon any industry. At any rate, that contention has been made again and again.
– That is not the most serious objection.
– I am glad to hear that from the honorable member. I believe that he is in dread of a nationalization proposition of any kind rather than inclined to raise the constitutional difficulty.
– Hear, hear.
– I am not. Whether it be popular or not, it would be cowardly for the man who believes that nationalization is a proper principle not to’ express his views in this House. We have too long shrunk from maintaining propositions which we clearly believe in - far too long. ,
– Hear, hear.
– If the honorable member who cheers that statement is prepared to grant a bounty to some private company which would benefit at the expense of the rest of the people of Australia, while he is not prepared to allow the
Commonwealth to carry on the iron industry, I hold that that is an untenable position to take up. I hope to hear from him later on -a statement as to why he is afraid of State enterprise.
– The honorable member need not bother about me ; let him go on with his own argument. I am applauding him vigorously.
– I am quite prepared to listen to all the arguments that can be brought forward on the subject, though I should have preferred to follow the honorable member, so that we might know exactly what he believes upon this question, than the Treasurer, who simply laid down the proposals of the Government in a fairly lengthy statement, giving a number of figures that mav mean anything or nothing. We may reasonably ask - why has not the iron industry succeeded in Australia? ‘ We produce gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, and coal.
– And iron.
– Very little.
– A great deal.
– Very little iron - even iron ore-is produced, although we have abundance of it in Australia. The manufacture of iron that has been carried on has mostly been from scrap iron. I am glad to acknowledge that some iron has been manufactured in this country ; and I wish to say here, that I think that all credit is due to Mr. Sandford for the enterprise which he has shown in this particular matter. I wish he had been more successful.
– What he produces is splendid iron, too.
– Mr. Sandford has sent round a circular to honorable members which shows, if anything could show, that he despairs of being able to carry on the industry as he desires.
– In that circular he is referring to the works Generally, not to the blast furnaces.
– It is to the blast furnaces that he refers ; he makes money out of the works.
– It is a matter about which we need not quibble. While we have been producing every other metal, and while, we have abundance of coal, not only for our own use, but for export, this iron industry has been lagging behind. And it will continue to lag behind unless we are prepared to make a payment in the shape of a bounty, or to increase the price of imported iron considerably, in order to enable the manufacturers to make a profit. It will continue to lag behind unless we are prepared to pay for the production of iron in Australia. That is in brief the argument which I submit to the House under that heading. When I ask the question why iron has not been produced here, I may anticipate the replies that will be made to me, by saying that it is not because we have not plentiful supplies of ore near at hand, together with coal and other requisites, convenient for the manufacture of iron. Every State claims to have some of the best iron deposits in the -world in abundance.
– It is plentiful elsewhere also.
– It is plentiful everywhere, and yet it has not been utilized in Australia.
– I mean outside Australia.
– It is, of course, plentiful outside Australia.
– -Not so plentiful in other countries as it used to be.
Mr. FISHER. The difficulty seems to be in regard to the manufacture of the iron which we have in Australia. We have the iron ore, the coal, and every other accessory which is necessary for its manufacture. Yet we do not make it. That is the difference between other countries and ours. Therefore, if we intend to establish an iron industry in Australia, this Parliament has to decide the question - what method are we going to adopt to bring the iron industry into existence in the shortest time? My method - the method of the party to which I belong - is nationalization. The method of the Government is, of course, the payment of a bounty and the imposition of a duty.
– The honorable member refers to the method of his party with regard to all industries.
– I shall leave it for honorable members opposite to interpret what our platform means. They will, at all events, find no difficulty in inducing me to tell them exactly what I mean. I do not know that I could be plainer or more straightforward in stating our intentions.
– The honorable member’s party changes about a bit.
– If the right honorable member wishes to have the matter put in plainer language, or if he has any doubt about our meaning, I will endeavour to make it plainer for him. The objections to nationalization will undoubtedly be principally two. One is the constitutional objection. I shall not deal with that, because I do not feel capable of doing so. All that I wish to say regarding the con,stitutional objection is this - that the High Court, so far as I can read its judgments, has laid down the principle that until somebody is injured there is no constitutional difficulty at all.. If this Parliament comes to the conclusion that it would be a good thing for Australia to nationalize the iron industry, then this Parliament ought to proceed to do it ; and if the High Court should afterwards say that the action of this Parliament was unconstitutional, it will be for Parliament to consult the people, and to ask for greater powers from them to enable us, to the best of our knowledge and ability, to carry on this industry on national lines. The opposition to national enterprises of this kind, from the earliest times, has proceeded from people who have said that a country cannot carry on an industry as well as a private individual can.
– Nor can it.
– That may be the honorable member’s opinion. But I ask honorable members - as a matter of fact, what State enterprise has failed? What enterprise ta.ken up by a State has not succeeded in the view of honorable members opposite ?
– Every one of them.
– It has been one of the wonders of my public life that more failures have not occurred in regard to State enterprises. What are the facts? Very often the men charged with the administration of State enterprises have been antagonistic to- their success.
– One might think so, to see the enterprises in working, but it is not the case.
– The honorable member is referring to the working men?
– No; to the “ bosses.”
– I should be very glad to hear from honorable members of any failures of State enterprise. Tell me of any failure? Let us take the most recent illustration. When the Commonwealth Treasurer called for tenders for a trawler for fishing operations outside the three-mile limit, all the tenders received were unsatisfactory. To whom then did the State
Treasurer apply? To a State workshop, where those who had the administration were prepared to supply a trawler at from 20 per cent, to 30 per cent, lower price, than it could be supplied at by any workshop conducted as a private enterprise, and also with better machinery.
– At a price 30 per cent, higher.
– I understand that the price at the State workshop was not higher, though I am not in the secrets of the Government.
– It was the lowest.
– I knew nothing of this particular case, but we now hear from the Prime Minister that the price quoted in the case of the State workshop was the lowest.
– What about tb” Tasmanian tender.?
– The tenderer would not go on.
– Is it in order for the honorable member for Wide Bay to discuss the nationalization of this industry ?
– Undoubtedly, the honorable member for Wide Bay is in order in discussing the amendment he is now moving. I desire to say, further, that the honorable member for Wide Bay is manifestly labouring under serious difficulties owing, not so much merely to interjections - I have never striven to prevent interjections, altogether - but owing to the fact that honorable members are firing remarks at each other across the chamber, addressing, not the honorable member for Wide Bay. but other honorable members. These conversations across the chamber are most irregular, and must not be persisted in.
– When. a new proposal, such as I am submitting, is laid before Parliament, the question is raised as to what is the evidence on which it is based. I base my opinion in this matter on the evidence of fact. State enterprise throughout the whole of the Commonwealth has been most successful.
– The honorable member’s strongest case is that of the Newport workshops - that is the best instance.
– I had intended to refer to the Newport workshops later, but, perhaps, I had better deal with that .phase of the question now. We hear a great- deal of what is done in the United States. Germany, Great Britain, and elsewhere bv means of private enterprise; and the Victorian Government recently sent .their Chief Railway Commissioner on a tour round die world in order to obtain information. What did the Victorian Railways Commissioner say when he returned ? He expressed “the opinion that the best managed and best worked railways in the world were to be found in Victoria, and that the best railway coach was manufactured at the Newport workshops.
– Where there is a monopoly, and work is done regardless of cost.
– May ! remind the representatives of New South Wales, including the honorable member for Robertson, that Mr. Johnson, who was recently appointed Railway Commissioner in that State, his predecessor having allowed certain laxity in engine construction’ and other work, soon had the State workshops in full blast, because, in his opinion, the work can be cheaper and better done there than elsewhere.
– The fault lay with the Government and not with the late Commissioners.
– I am merely pointing out that an imported Commissioner, who may be regarded as impartial and free from anti-socialistic prejudice, arrived at the opinion that the work could be better and cheaper done at the Government establishment. In the case of Victoria was there ever a more desperate attempt made, than to belittle the work done at the Newport workshops? There was an investigation, but the men in charge of those workshops proved their case up to the hilt.
– I always maintained that the Newport workshops are a very striking instance of successful Government construction.
– The honorable member for Flinders admits that there is at least one instance of a successful Government workshop. Will the honorable” member also admit, with his conservative mind - I am speaking generally, and intending to cast no reflection - that wages and other conditions there are better, and that the work turned out is cheaper and superior than is the case under private enterprise. Vet the socialistic bogy is trotted forth, and the people aire told that it is going to ruin the country.
– The work could be got cheaper from abroad.
– That has not been shown.
– Show me the evidence that the work- could be got cheaper from abroad.
– I was on the Committee, of investigation.
– Whatever’ the honorable member may say regarding the evidence taken, the report of the Commission was entirely antagonistic to the view he has just expressed. I do not desire to go into this particular question at any length, but I may say that it was proved that engines and other railway material could be produced at the Newport workshops 20 per cent, cheaper than it could be purchased from- abroad.
– I admit this much - because I was responsible .for getting the work done at the Newport workshops instead of at the Phoenix Foundry - that the work was done probably nearly 20 per cent, cheaper, and quite as well as it could have been done abroad.
– That means that the work at Newport is done 20 per cent, cheaper than it can be done by the cheapest producing private enterprise, and that, moreover, better conditions prevail for all the workmen, from the apprentices up to the highest officers. In face of this fact, will honorable members maintain that private enterprise is better than Commonwealth or State enterprise? Will thev still maintain that Government workshops of the kind are a danger to the community ? Will they still maintain that it is undesirable to have Government workshops, where our children may obtain, employment at better wages and under better conditions than can be found under private enterprise? Will people continue to sa: that Government workshops are harmful merely because they are socialistic?
– Do we not run our State railways at the expense of higher rates ?
– No. Let the honorable member compare the rates on private railways with the rates- charged on Government railways, and he will find that he is altogether wrong. . There is not a. single private railway in Australia which charges lower rates than are charged by the States railways. Let us take as another example the Sydney trams, which are cheaper to the public than are the private enterprise trams of Melbourne. Whereas in the latter case high fares are charged for short journeys, in New South Wales the tramways give an excellent service, with long journeys for small fares. I am old enough to have been in Parliament at the time when it was contended that to allow the day labour system in railway construction would ruin the State, as the “Government stroke” would prevail. But a number of us pegged away - I suppose there were representatives of our side in nearly every State Parliament - in favour of the day labour system, although it was a most unpopular stand “to take at the time; and the day came when clay labour was allowed. Now in some of the States they will do nothing except by day labour, because the engineers say that they can get better and cheaper work done by that system than by any other, while the men have better conditions and better pay.
– The Sydney Railway. Station, for instance !
– Whatever defects there may be about its construction, that work is a monument to the man who conceived the idea. Any defects in the details of carrying it out are matters for New South Wales to consider. If some honorable members opposite have discovered some fault, I hope that other honorable members, who know the facts, will he able to deal with it. It is no part of my business. My proposal that the Commonwealth should carry on the iron industry is no encroachment on State rights, about which we have heard so much, and I presume that no State would take umbrage at the Commonwealth carrying it on, for the obvious reason that one well-equipped ironworks would probably produce for many. years to come all the iron that will be required in Australia. The Commonwealth could, therefore, better bear the burden, and better supervise the work and protect the interests of the people in the various parts of the continent.
– Will the honorable member, before he sits down, sketch for us a business proposition on the lines which he advocates ? Will he indicate to us how, broadly, he would go about it?
– I shall be very pleased to outline a method of accomplishing what I desire when the proper time comes. It is enough at present for me to convince honorable members that the scheme of nationalization is feasible. No one, when dealing with a matter of this kind, where there is an abounding prejudice, would think of going into details before the principle was settled. If the hon orable member for Parramatta and his friends were to promise me their votes on the principle, I might take them into my confidence regarding the details. I think that is a very fair compromise. I come now to the fears of the “ Government stroke.” Nothing is more scandalous than the way in which certain people refer and have referred to the toilers in the Government service. One can see again and again, in reputable journals, statements, published with the intention of defeating national and State enterprises, as to the large number of people in the public service, the insinuation being that those people are doing useless work. But men who are engaged in making, mending, or conducting the railways, or any of the other great national works, are doing just as good service for the country as is anybody engaged by private firms, and it is just as’ well to admit it. I need not cite my own State particularly. I have been running over the history of Queensland in my own mind to ascertain whether there had been any great national blunders committed there m State enterprises. I know of minor ones, but I know of nothing that will compare with the losses that have accrued to States through blundering contractors and loosely-drawn specifications.
– The specifications the honorable member speaks of were drawn by Government officials - that is where the loss has come in.
– While I do not charge Government officials with wilfully drawing specifications in a loose manner, I do know of instances where Government officials have helped the contractors, but that proves nothing more than that there is always a percentage of humanity open to be bought.
– That was in Queensland ; I have never heard of it anywhere else.
– Perhaps it is the climate in the north that causes the little delinquencies which we all regret, but ‘I should be slow to believe that there are no such individuals south of Capricornia. I do not want to mention the Victorian Butter Commission, or anything like it. I would not touch it ; but things have happened down here similar to things that I have known to happen in my own State.
– The honorable member for Fremantle is speaking of a place with a. very pure moral atmosphere.
– Another illustration to prove my main contention is to be found in the New Zealand State coal mines. When there was a ring of coal producers in New Zealand, the late Mr. Seddon, finding that the people and the Colony itself were suffering too much, promptly bought land and established State coal mines.
– We have a State coal mine in Victoria now.
– That is a matter belonging to another Parliament. I shall leave it for that Parliament to look after that particular industry. I am quoting an instance of State enterprise which has been going on now for three years. The same things can be said about those coal mines as I have said about the Newport workshops. The men have better and safer conditions - which is a great point in coal mining - and earn more wages. There is an arrangement between the’ Government and themselves to avoid industrial disputes, and, in addition, although the coal is sold at a lower price, thus keeping the price of coal down, the Government have carried on the industry at a handsome profit to the State.
– They make up their own balance-sheets, too.
– So do we. Does the honorable member insinuate that’ New Zealand Governments are corrupt?
– He might properly insinuate that some of the balance-sheets do not contain all the items.
– Does the honorable member mean to insinuate that the Parliament of New Zealand, which has a name for competency throughout the world, is incapable of discovering whether those balancesheets have been faked or not? I refuse to believe it. When honorable members opposite have to make such insinuations, it shows the poverty of their position.
– Members of the New Zealand Parliament say that the balance-sheets are not right.
– Similar things are said here. I have heard one or two ‘honorable members say here that our balance-sheets were faked. I have heard, with regret, some honorable members say that certain Ministers were not straight, but-no sensible, sane man believes it. As I wish to’ sweeten up the Opposition, if I can, I intend to make a little quotation from a speech by the Honorable G. B. Edwards, who was previously a member of this House - a man whom we all respected, and whose absence from our midst we regret.
– What has been the average price of coal from the New Zealand State mine for the last three vears?
– I could not say.
– What have the wages been ?
– I am afraid honorable members have overlooked the fact that just now I called attention to the absolute irregularity of these conversations across the chamber. For a few moments they were stayed, but they have now broken out again. I must insist that conversations across the chamber, which are so very disturbing to the honorable member who is addressing the Chair, shall cease.
– With your permission, sir, I shall endeavour as far as possible to answer all questions put to me by way of interjection.
– Lest there should be some misunderstanding on the matter, I wish to say that I am not objecting to questions which may be answered by the honorable member, but I am most seriously objecting to conversations being maintained between honorable members, without any regard for the honorable member who is addressing the Chair.
– My authority for the statements which I have made in reference to the New Zealand State coal mines is the late Mr. Seddon himself. In his last public utterance in Australia, he stated that he had established these coal mines, that he had reduced the price of coal, and at the same time had made a handsome profit. The profit made at that time was, I think, , £15,000, but I understand that at present it is £25,000. I wish now to make a quotation from a speech delivered in this House in 1902, by the Honorable G. B. Edwards, who then represented South Sydney. In speaking upon this question, he said -
I would rather do that - nationalize the industry - and have full control than risk money in private companies which may or may not be a success.
– What is the context?
– It in no way conflicts with the statement that I have made.
– Will the honorable member give me the reference?-
– Yes. The extract which I have quoted will be found in the Hansard of 1902, page 13520. I have one other reference to make, and it relates to the United States. As honorable mem- bers are aware, that country leads the world in the production of iron and steel. It is to the United States that we look to ascertain the great progress that has been made in this direction. Since my boyhood I have heard it referred to as a “ triumphant democracy.” We have been told that there is. nothing but a tri.umphant democracy in the United States, and that industries there are advancing by leaps and bounds.
– It is a triumphant plutocracy.
– The result to-day is a triumphant plutocracy, so much so that the Parliaments of the United States, both Federal and State, and the people themselves, are held firmly by the throat by financial kings and magnates. This state of things is due to hesitation on the part of the people to embark upon State enterprises, and thus prevent these powerful individuals from crushing them. The honorable member for Flinders may shake his head, but I say that if the State had had control of the public necessities of the United States, the power of the financial kings would have been as nothing compared with what it is to-day. We should not have seen its powerful President travelling from place to place telling the people that something must be done to insure that the laws of the country shall prevail over the will of a few men. Surely if anything should be a guide to us, it is the experience of that country. Those who have preceded us in the public life of Australia are deserving of all credit for having reserved to the State so many of these public necessities. They did good work in that connexion, and they deserve more credit than we do, because they undertook it at a time when it was practically new in the political history of the world. We, with all this experience to guide us, hesitate to do things which we plainly should do. We say that State enterprises have proved more successful than have private enterprises. We say that they have provided the individuals engaged in them with higher remuneration than have private enterprises, and yet we hesitate to embark upon them simply because we fear that some ill may result from what may be regarded as a socialistic proposal. I trust that this Parliament will face the difficulty, and will adopt the amendment which I have the honour to submit. In Committee we can so arrange the Bill that the Executive Government will have power to take .over the iron industry and proceed to produce in Australia that iron which we so urgently need and which we hope to see produced here at the earliest possible moment. I move -
That the following words be added, “ and the Committee on the Bill be instructed to incorporate in the Bill provision for the nationalization of the iron industry.”
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Wide Bay upon making his first important appearance as the leader of the Labour Party in championship of the principle which distinguishes the Labour Parties of Australia from all other parties. There may be some members of the Labour Party who have not accepted the principle of Socialism, but there is no doubt that, taken generally, the planks of the Labour Parties of Australia do affirm that principle, and the leader of the Labour Party in this House has, I think, with candour and clearness made his appeal to honorable members to rest upon that principle. The history of the Bills dealing with the encouragement of the iron industry which have been before this Chamber is worth looking at for a moment, particularly with a view to explain exactly the position which was occupied by members like myself upon previous occasions. When in 1902 a proposal was made to initiate a system of bounties in order to establish the manufacture of iron, the position of freetraders in this House was that they looked upon the fiscal policy of. the then Government as one which was not in accordance with the policy upon which that Government had gained the approval of a majority of the electors. When the then Prime Minister went before the electors his policy was one of revenue without destruction, which was clearly a revenue Tariff policy, with incidental merciful consideration to protected industries. But when the Tariff was submitted the policy of the Government went far beyond their election utterances, and consequently we free-traders in opposition felt that the Ministry had no proper warrant for this scheme, and accordingly adopted every legitimate method of stopping its progress. In 1903 the present Prime Minister went to the people on a policy of fiscal peace, and when the Manufactures Encouragement Bill was brought forward in the Parliament of 1903-6 we regarded its introduction as a breach of faith with the electors.
– When was that?
– I am referring to the manifesto of the Prime Minister at the end of 1903. He went to the country upon a policy which may briefly be described as one of fiscal peace and preferential trade. We complained strongly that the Government who had gone to the electors on a policy of fiscal peace should break that fiscal peace in order to introduce a very important proposition, as this undoubtedly is. We, on that occasion, did all we could (o stop the measure, believing that still there was no proper electoral warrant for it. In this Parliament of 1907, we are in a different position, and I have been the first to acknowledge it. There are some of my friends whose idea of policy is to conceal defeat when you sustain it, and to persist in misinterpreting what seems to be a pretty plain decision of the electors when it is opposed to your own convictions. I do not think that that is the proper attitude to take, and, therefore, when this Parliament assembled, I frankly acknowledged that in spite of my labours, which have extended over a pretty long political career, the people of Australia had returned a very large majority of declared protectionists, and that the Parliament then elected .was in a different position from previous Parliaments in this respect. I cannot now pretend that there is no electoral warrant for a proposition such as this. I cannot pretend that there is no electoral warrant for protective duties. I do say, however, that the length to which the Government have carried their protective duties’ is, so ‘far as we can express an opinion, absolutely beyond the wish of the electors.
– The right honorable gentleman cannot say that. .
– I have qualified the statement, because no one can prove it. The qualification which I make, and which I think is a proper one, is that, so far as one can form an opinion, I believe the Government have put the protective duties up to a pitch which would not meet with the approval of the majority of the people of Australia. But I think it would be wrong of me to say that, so far as the principle of protection is concerned, it has not been accepted and indorsed, greatly to my own regret, by a majority of the people of this country. This House, therefore, is in a different position in these matters. I feel no sense of personal grievance at all at the introduction of a Tariff proposing higher protective duties. I feel that Ministers have in no sense betrayed the trust or confidence of the electors, as I certainly did feel on the previous occasions to which
I have referred. It would, of course, be easy for me to display a’ vast amount of physical energy and rhetorical emphasis in denouncing protection as I have done during the whole course of my public life. When I declared for a policy of fiscal peace at the last election, I can’ assure my honorable friends it was not in order to do an injury to the cause of free-trade. On the contrary, to be perfectly candid, my belief is that if I had gone in for the other policy, I should not have occupied any other position than that which I occupy to-day. I feel that on the free-trade issue, I should have signally failed as I did fail on the issue of fiscal peace. I recognise the decision of the people, and the only appeal from that decision is not to the members of this House, who must be bound by their honorable pledges to .their electors, but to the electors of Australia. The only way in which the verdict of the electors can be reversed in any honorable sense is by another verdict of the same electors disposing of the last they gave. I do most earnestly hope that the issue as embodied in the Tariff may, in some generally accepted form, be put before the people’ in some definite way, free from the heat and inflammation which is engendered by a general election, and free from the distractions which the public mind must experience when the people are suddenly called upon to decide a large number of important issues. I’ do, therefore, hope that the Federal Parliament will adopt and give effect to the principle of referring the Tariff we are now considering to the people of Australia.
– Would not the right honorable gentleman like it?
– Well, I should think that those who are in favour of the Tariff ought to be anxious to get a title deed for it.
– We shall refer it to the electors at the next election.
– If, at a referendum, the people were shown to be in favour of the Tariff, the whole matter might well be considered settled for ten years at any rate. We should get fiscal peace on a stable basis - the basis of the declared will of the people upon that definite issue, without any disturbing issues being mixed up with it.’ So far as I am concerned, I should be very glad to see that done. The Treasurer must surely be afraid-
– At one moment the right honorable gentleman says that we were sent here to do a certain thing, and in the next he desires that we should be sent back to the electors to ask if we have done right.
– The Treasurer must have had his ears shopped during a portion of my observations. He must .have failed to hear the definite statement which I made, that I believed the Government have pushed the duties under the Tariff to such a pitch that it would not command the confidence of a majority of the people.
– I am quite certain that it would ; and some honorable members who have voted against certain duties will recognise that at the next election.
– There are these threats again. Honorable members, in the exercise of their independent duty as representatives of the people, have adopted a certain course.
– There have been one or two turncoats.
– These, are not threats. The honorable gentleman’s remarks are only bluster.
– It is a pity that the Minister in charge of the business of the House should so easily fall into the use of personal threats with reference to the future of honorable members when they appear before their constituents. No doubt the honorable gentleman has’ had a grateful escape from a period of deep anxiety.
– I did not feel .it all anxious.
– I do not think that any man in this world ever earned his election more honestly than did the honorable member for Hume.
– I thought the honorable gentleman was not going to be personal.
– I do not intend to go into details; but never did the most extended performance of the most brilliant champions of the turf equal the rapidity and thoroughness with which the honorable member negotiated all the courses of the Hume electorate.
– The honorable gentleman deserves a bonus, anyhow.
– I think the honorable gentleman has earned it. If the Government are confident that their handiwork will meet with the approval of the people, could they have a more glorious triumph for all time than its majestic indorsement by a large majority- of the electors of Australia? Would not that be as proud a monument as any statesman could hope to get?
– Assuming that a majority of the electors have chosen a House on a definite policy, and the House by a majority passes a certain Tariff, where is the. necessity to submit it to the electors?
– Order ! If the honorable gentleman will consult the noticepaper for to-day, he will find that the first notice of motion under general business deals with the reference of the Tariff, which the Committee of Ways and Means have recently been considering, to a referendum of the people. In view of that notice of motion, I cannot allow that aspect of the question to be debated on the present occasion.
– I think, sir, that a certain principle underlies the rule on which your remarks are based, and that principle is that the House would have an opportunity to discuss the motion of which notice is given. That is not the case in the present instance, because at this stage of the session Government business has been given precedence, even on private members’ day, and therefore the very salutary principle referred to is, in this instance, disturbed, since honorable members will have no opportunity to discuss the private notice of motion referred to. I do not wish to trouble you, sir, with any ruling upon the point, as I have’ practically said all I wish to say in this connexion. I might, however, be allowed to answer the question put by the honorable member for Wimmera. The statement of the honorable member involves two suppositions, neither of which is clear; the first being that, if a man is returned to pass a protective Tariff, it is within his rights to pass a prohibitory Tariff ; and the second, that the verdict of the people given at an election at which all sorts of inflammable questions - going so far even as the Emerald Isle - were raised and mixed together, is to be taken as the deliberate expression of their views upon a certain point, without regard to all the other distracting issues put before them. One of the disadvantages of election decisions is that they enable one party to say that the people have decided one thing, and another to say that they have decided some other thing. ‘ That could not be said of the result of a referendum, taken apart from an election. Such a result would crystallize the policy of the country. No man could do a greater service for the policy of protection than to place it upon a stable foundation, because protectionists will never get the full fruits of their policy, if those fruits be good, so long as there is any element of uncertainty as to the wisdom of investing large sums of money in protected enterprises.
– Would not the- same principle apply to every measure passed bv Parliament ?
– I cannot allow that phase of the question to be debated.
– The honorable member is tempting me to be disorderly. I wish to define the position as I see it at the present time. We are in a protectionist House, engaged in passing a protectionist Tariff..
– - And a very moderate one.
– That is a question which cannot be debated now.
– Quite so. I am merely mentioning the fact that we have before us a Tariff which professes to apply the protectionist policy to the whole range of Australian industry. That is the intention. We have been told that the Tariff is intended to be a thoroughly comprehensive measure, dealing with all Australian industries. The Government are bringing in this Bill before dealing with the items affecting metals and machinery, and I understand their attitude to be this : they wish to know whether the House is in favour of the bounty principle, or of ordinary protective duties, for the encouragement of the iron industry.
– Hear, hear.
– That is the principal issue which we have to consider. I wish to say at once, as I have often said before, that if I am shut up to a choice, as I am on this occasion, between protective duties and bounties on iron and machinery - because, although the machinery duties will, to some extent, be independent of the provisions of the Bill, they will be affected by them - I have no hesitation in preferring the system of bounties.
– But is the right honorable member quite clear that, if the Bill passes, the Minister will not propose a duty on bar iron?
– The alternative which the right honorable member refers to is not presented. The Bill, I understand, provides that, as a preliminary to Tariff protection, we are to have a system of bounties, the two policies being part of one scheme.
– The duties are to follow the bounty.
– That is the point.
– Do I understand that the Minister not .only proposes to give a bounty of 30s. per ton for the production of steel, but, in addition, to impose protective duties on iron and steel?
– Not at the same time. One is to follow the other.
– I quite understand that. But the bounties are limited to a period of five years. I hope that we shall be quite clear about this. Within the period of the bounties, duties will not be collected on bar iron and steel
– The duties proposed by the items affected by the provisions of the Bill will not be collected.
– Then for a period of five years-
– Or less.
– The bounty periods vary, but the period for which the bounty on bar iron would be payable is five years?
– That is the extreme period. When a sufficient quantity of bar iron is manufactured, the bounty will cease, and the duties will become operative.
– The duties may become operative within two years, or as soon as the industry is established.
– But the bounties and- the duties are not to exist at the same time.
– That is so. They are not to be alternative. There is not an alternative proposition before us.
– The proposition is alternative to this extent - that if we do not pass the Bill, the duties will be imposed at once.
– Yes; as soon as Parliament agrees to them.
– I understood the honorable member to say that what we are being called upon to discuss are the merits of two alternative policies, whereas both policies are part of the one scheme.
– I used too wide an expression. The position is really this: a bounty at once or a duty at once; but, in any case, a duty after the bounty, when the industry is supposed to be sufficiently established. So far as the imposition of duties is concerned, I, and those who think with me, are helpless in this House. Nothing that we can do will prevent their imposition. If -we were to adopt the. amendment of the leader of the Labour Party, that would not delay either this Bill, up to a certain stage, or the imposition of duties. If the effect of the amendment would be to introduce something into the Bill which the Government could not accept, or looked upon as nullifying its provisions, the duties would be imposed. I very much prefer the bounty to the duty system, and when the Bounties Bill was before the House I supported it, because I look upon bounties as giving a number of advantages which do not attach to the imposition of protective duties. As the leader of the Labour Party himself suggested a few moments ago, bounties come from the national pocket, and I think that a national policy- should be supported by contributions of that kind. The policy of establishing a possible iron industry upon a sound footing is a national one, and nothing could be more appropriate than that the burden of it should fall upon the community, as it will do if the money comes from the Treasury. When protective duties are imposed, the burden of them - if, as I think, there is a burden, though some say that there is not - falls, not directly upon the community, though it may do so ultimately, but upon those who encourage the protected industry by buying its products. They have to bear the burden of protecting it, by paying higher prices, or by taking goods which are not equal in quality to the imported goods.
– A duty of 10 per cent, on iron would not increase the price of machinery very much, because the cost of the raw material is very small in proportion to the cost of the finished article.
– There are so many factors in the problem of price that it is the most difficult thing in the world to work it out. Prices fluctuate from causes quite beyond our knowledge. They are incessantly fluctuating.
– That is true; but the difference in proportion between the cost of raw iron and the value of a finished machine is so great that the 10 per cent, duty on raw iron is not a very big burden.
– How could any one say that it is? It is one of the curiosities of this Tariff, although I admit that there is a business reason behind it, that whilst we are prepared to put a duty of 40 or 50 per cent, on slops - an industry which has an ugly history in all countries, and certainly not one of the leading industries of a country, as the iron industry would be - we have a policy of 10 per cent, duties in the case of the latter. I am sure that it is far more arduous to establish in Australia a national iron industry than to establish a clothing factory, as there is a greater number of difficulties to be encountered.
– Very likely that will, explain the difference. In the one case the articles could be made’ here, in the other case they could not; and therefore the duty would have to be paid by the people here.
– No doubt that would be so to some extent, but the reason for imposing a duty of 10 per cent, instead of 40 per cent, is obvious. Iron is one of the necessities of every manufacturing industry in Australia, and if the Government were to levy a duty of 40 per cent, on the article it’ would cripple all the industries which they desired to encourage.
– There is another reason, perhaps, in the fact that the people who are most desirous of seeing the duty imposed have said that 10 or 12 J per cent, is quite enough.
– I admire the opinion expressed by Mr. Sandford. I made use of it, and it seemed to be supported by solid facts, but history seems to teach us that matters are not so simple as that enterprising gentleman thought they were. A high protective duty on iron would cripple every industry in Australia which used that article. That is another reason for adopting a bounty system. Amongst, others, a bounty system has the advantages, that we know how long the bounty is to be paid, how much is to be paid, and how much an individual has to do in order to earn any part of it. All those things are, to my mind, advantages. In the case of protected duties, however, there is a pious hope that manufacturers will act properly ; that they will not take an undue advantage of the duties, but will sell at a reasonable price, and maintain quality. Amongst the difficulties of price is the elementary difficulty of quality. As the Tariff puts up the prices of articles of human consumption, the circumstances of the great masses of the people are such that they cannot buy articles which are priced highly, and the shopkeepers and the manufacturers have to come down to the level of the consumer by putting the quality of the article down to suit him. He is getting his clothes at, perhaps, precisely the same figure as he had paid before, but they may be worth 30 or 40 per cent, less in point of utility and durability. One of the great dangers of a protectionist policy is that by reducing the quality it may be made to appear that the cost of the production is no higher to the consumer than it was previously. I should like to say a word or two more, but I am getting into the difficulty into which the leader of the Labour Party got a short time ago. I do not know who is addressing the House at the present time, because so many are trying to do so. I must add “my appeal to honorable members - and it is in the interests of every honorable member, as well as of myself - that there is growing up here a state of things which is absolutely fatal to any attempt to deal, with a large question.
– The honorable gentleman does not look upon this as a deliberative assembly now, does he?
– No. It is a conversational assembly ; it is an assembly in which the business of the Departments is transacted very often. I think that the House is falling into a condition when it is absolutely idle to attempt to address oneself to a large question in any practical way.
– We might ascertain the figures of a division as well before as after a debate.
– Whilst we sit here . we should recognise that the first principle of a deliberative assembly is either for us to listen to the member who is addressing the Chair; or to transact other business somewhere else. It is infinitely better for one to address empty benches than to address a conversational Chamber. I should like to say a word or two with reference to the very large question opened up by the honorable member for Wide Bay, but I think it would be a m’ere waste of time, and, therefore, I do not propose to do so. ‘ I support this bounty system as a less objectionable form of taxation than a protective duty.
– Oh, but protection is not objectionable.
– It is not objectionable to the honorable member, I know.. Nor is a number of other things that follow from protection. It is a policy which has a multitude of advantages in his eyes. I am prepared to support this Bill, because I would rather support a bounty than a duty. When we come to the question of duties, we find that the duty on iron is very mode- rate. I have forced upon me duties of 30 and 40 per . cent, on hats and clothes, and here is a great industry in New South
– No; 100 per cent, on hats.
– One hundred and sixty per cent.
– No, about 60 per cent., the average being 44 per cent.
– The duties on cheap hats average 160 per cent.
– Order !
– We know what these averagesmean. When the rate of duty is so high that it will shook the public conscience, it is put at so much a dozen. Why should the duties on other articles be put at 30, 40, or 50 per cent, and the duty on hats at so much a dozen? Simply because the ad valorem duties-
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss the Tariff.
– Thank you, sir. I hope to have another opportunity, in connexion with Western Australia’s request for duties on hay and chaff. I hope we shall get a recommittal of the item of hats, as it affectsall the people of Australia.
– There will be no recommittal.
– I am against the imposition of a duty on corn and chaff.
– The position with reference to the iron industry - I must admit, sir, that the House has again broken away.
– It is owing to the honorable member’s colloquial manner, perhaps.
– I do not know whether it is owing to that cause or not; but, struggling still against the current, I should like to say that if there is an industry which is entitled to consideration in a protective scheme of duties, it is the iron industry. Surely it must go without saying that, if it is well to build up a thousand and one little industries, it must be equally well to build up one of the giant industries of the world?
– It is the giant industry.
– We are all agreed on that, I think, and it is now only a question of method.
– When I was Premier of New South Wales, years ago, I endeavoured to help Mr. Mitchell when he had iron leases in his hands by offering him a contract for the supply of 150,000 tons of steel rails, to be delivered over a certain number of years. We then went to the length of imposing a duty of 10 per cent.
– If this session lasts much longer, I think that we Shall all be found on the Government side of the House.
– If there were a chance of saving the country from the protectionist policy by talking and fighting for months, I should be one of the first to do that.
– I am not blaming the right honorable member.
– How can we fight - twentyone against fifty-two? We cannot dynamite our opponents, nor can we poison them or put them in a cellar. We have to be beaten every time, and are beaten every day.
– That is no reason why we should agree with the protectionists.
– Am I agreeing with them?
– I do not say so.
– I should hope not. Looking back over a number of years, during which I have made more sacrifices in the cause of free-trade than have those who have talked about it, I should think that it would not be necessary for me now to say, every time that the fiscal question is raised, that I am still a free-trader. I hope that I can set against such an idea a lifetime of fairly hard labour, and a fair amount of personal sacrifice in the cause of free-trade. But when I see 40 per cent, and 50 per cent, duties being scattered over every factory in every- street of the big cities, am I to fight against the imposition of a ro per cent, duty and a bounty to encourage the iron industry of Australia? Such a position would be monstrously absurd. I fortunately have given a sufficient number of hostages in connexion with the cause of free-trade ; and I trust that we shall all use every endeavour to bring down all the duties. We have been trying to do so, but, in a protectionist House, with a protectionist Tariff before us, I cannot resist a proposal to grant a bounty to assist the great iron industry of Australia. Why should I vote against a 10 per cent, duty on iron?
– In some cases the duty is 12 J per cent.
– Well, say 12J per cent. Why should manufacturers in Melbourne and Sydney secure the protection of 40 per cent, and 50 per cent, duties and still be able to obtain free iron? It is a nice sort of free-trade which ruins our. iron industry in order to give free-trade in iron to men who have the protection of 40 per cent, and 50 per cent, duties. That is a consistency, verging on madness and injustice. I shall support this Bill, and will not oppose the duty of 12 J per cent, on iron. I do not regard it as a protective duty.
– On some iron the duty is 10 per cent.
– The duty will not be imposed until the industry has been established. I wish that we could have a similar provision in connexion with duties relating to a number of other industries. We have in this case a duty of 10 per cent., which is not to be applied until it is certified that the industry has been fairly and satisfactorily established, so that the prices of articles relating to it will not be unduly raised. I propose now to refer briefly to the matter introduced by the leader of the’ Labour Party. To my view, he based his proposition upon the general principle of Socialism - the nationalization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. The ex-leader of the Labour Party - the honorable member for South Sydney - said, on one occasion, “ One step at a time.”
– The leader of the Labour Party said that his view was that the iron industry was sure to be a monopoly, and that therefore the community should control it.
– I think that the honorable member for South Sydney is trying to get’ away from the position which was put.
– The right honorable member will find iri Hansard the- statement which I have attributed to the leader of the Labour Party.
– The leader of the Labour Party did not adopt that limitation of monopolies. How can the honorable member speak of a monopoly in this connexion? We have deposits of iron ore in Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania.
– But the output is only sufficient to justify one or two works.
– That is a flimsy pretence; it is a weak foundation on which to base the proposition of the leader of the Labour Party. The honorable member for Wide Bay did not resort to any such device. He said that he was here to affirm the principle of nationalization. There can be no mistake about that.
– He did not speak of nationalization generally.
– I am unable to understand the principle of nationalization unless it applies to more industries than one. It it is no principle at all unless it applies to industries generally.
– Because the principle is not ineradicably associated with iron ore. Why not be frank? Why not be fair as was the leader of the Labour Party who said, “ I believe in nationalizing industries ‘ ‘ ? One step at a time !
– We know the phrase - the nationalization of all the means of production, distribution, and exchange.
– The leader of the Labour Party has not said anything of the sort.
– The honorable member has.
– Neither of us has done so.
– Knowing, as I do, that the honorable member for South Sydney is always anxious to observe the rules of debate, and to be fair to honorable members, I am sorry to have to refer specially to him; but I must ask him not to carry on a conversation across the gangway.
– I was tempted, and did fall.
– The honorable member for West Sydney has spoken of a milk diet, and a milk-and-water diet is being introduced in connexion with this matter. A man either believes that the principle of State-owned industries is a great one, of which labour should reap the benefit, or he does not. Could any one say to the workers of Australia, “ To the men in the iron industry the benefits of a State-owned concern shall be granted, but the workers in the other industries of Australia shall be exposed- to the horrible, evils of competition “ ? The fact is that the ex-leader of the Labour Party showed infinite wisdom by adding milk and water to the socialistic compound. “ Let us go step by step,” he said.
– I have heard of freetrade step by step.
– And I have heard of protection step by step.
– The present leader of the Labour Party has come out into the open and affirmed this principle of Socialism - the nationalization of industries. His argument applies equally to all industries. This is one of those cases in connexion with which the worst evil that is said to call for Socialism does not exist, because we are told that the iron industry is a monopoly.
– That it is likely to be a monopoly.
– Then there will be none of the evils of competition associated with it.
– Then monopolies are to be allowed to rob the people? So long as there is no competition there is no objection to their doing so?
– In my view all the abuses that exist in the Commonwealth can be removed. If they are abuses, and if the p2cple recognise them to be abuses, we have power enough within the limits of the Constitution to deal with those abuses and those evils. If we have not power enough, let us. try to get it; and if the people think we should have it they will give us that power by an amendment of the Constitution. One objection to the proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay is this - that he does not propose at all an immediate remedy for this trouble. The establishment of a national iron industry is not possible by the Commonwealth at present. We do not need to ask the opinion of the High Court upon that point. We know that it is not possible at the present moment - that there must be an amendment of the Constitution.
– But a State can establish an iron industry.
– Yes; but we are not a State.
– Quite so.
– A State will not take its direction from us in working out its legislative experiments. But the ideal of my honorable friend the leader of the Labour Party is one in which he believes. He believes that this Commonwealth would be infinitely happier if all the industries of Australia were worked and controlled by the Government.
– Who said so?
– I never heard him say so.
– It may be his ideal, but what has it to do with the question ? What we are dealing with is a Bounty Bill.
– That is a very narrowing way of dealing with the question. Surely if it appears to us that, as a general principle, private enterprise is the best form of industry, the honorable member does not expect us to adopt a socialistic proposal which negatives the experienceas we think - of the whole world. We have it said by the honorable member for Wide Bay “ Look at the management of our railways and workshops.” Well, look at them. Just look at the conditions under which our railway workshops are conducted. They are troubled with absolutely no question of profit or loss, which is the vital question in all other industries. These workshops will go on prosperously and well whether they pay or lose. They will not be affected by such considerations because they have the whole community behind them to foot the bill for every pound, shilling, or penny they may cost.
– Is the right honorable member aware that a Royal- Commission composed of non-labour members in the State of Victoria reported that the Newport workshops were turning out engines much cheaper than private enterprise could possibly have done?
– I have two or three remarks to make on that. In the first place I am delighted to hear it. It is a thing of which the people of Victoria can be proud - proud beyond measure. In the second place, if it is possible under good labour conditions to do that, I do not see the necessity for 40 per cent, protection on such a matter as making clothes or making hats. Surely the making of a hat or a suit of clothes is not one of the finest problems of human industry. The case mentioned by the honorable member for South Sydney shows, Mr. Speaker, if it can be taken as a general example, as generally applicable, what a horrible sham this clamour for protection is.
– Very ingenious; but how does it touch the point at issue? Suppose we get back to the original point?
– May I suggest to the honorable member that the problems of industry, with their wonderful varieties and complexities, are not to be settled by the report of a Royal Commission on railway workshops?- May I suggest that the wonderful complexities of human industry in town and country cannot be dealt with according to a report of a Royal Commission on workshops?
– We give one example ; the right honorable member can quote another one on the opposite side if he chooses.
– I will quote a very general example. I would point to Australia as Australia stood one hundred years ago, and then I will point to Australia as she stands to-day, full of the most wonderful marvels of private enterprise and successful personal industry. I do not deny for one moment that Governments and Parliaments have helped the people of Australia in a number of ways. But after making allowances for all the help which the State, which
Parliament, which Governments, could extend to the pioneers, pf Australia- extend to the industries of Australia in town and country right round, the Commonwealth contains to-day the most wonderful examples of 1 the triumph of private enterprise.
– A big broad generalization on a matter of this sort, is of more value than one particular example.
– Now, I should like to say that what suggests itself to my mind is this - that if you are in favour of building., a State railway, you are called a Socialist. If you are in favour of a Government Post Office or Government railways generally, you are called a Socialist. Why? These public utilities were all established long before Socialism was ever heard of in Australia. There is a broad ground upon which Socialist and anti-Socialist can act side by side, in which they can use the methods and the great powers of the State in the direction of helping forward the advancement of the people. But the line of distinction is this - the Socialist is looking forward to the time when the State shall be the sole employer in Australia, whenthe people of Australia shall be banded together in the service of the Government. That is the development to which he looks forward. The anti-Socialist, willing to work with him to use the power of the Government for the general welfare,, wishes to use the power of the Government not to disturb private enterprise, but in order to promote opportunities for private enterprise.” What is this Tariff - what are al! these hundreds of duties which our protectionist friends are proposing with so much satisfaction? Why are they so rejoiced in their success? It is because they believe that they are conducing to the establishment of industries which will flourish in the future under private enterprise. It is because they believe in assisting industries which are established, that they are strengthening the opportunities, widening the scope for the expansion of private enterprise. That is the line which divides the Socialist from the anti-Socialist. The Socialist cannot claim every wise exercise of the powers of the State in reference to railways and workshops as if they were the product of Socialism. They were established by anti- Socialists in order to promote the welfare of private enterprise over the length and breadth of the land. I do not deny that there is any number of evils that require to be remedied. I do not deny that- there may be wrongs that ought to be redressed. Given human nature as it is, I do not care what your system is, or what your methods of industry are, there will still be evils, there will still be abuses, and there will still be wrongs. The man who believes that he can by Act of Parliament or by public policy change human nature, remove all these defects, and produce the elements of a millennium, takes a very superficial view of the real . problem in the way of making, people wiser and happier than they were before. My ideal, to which I wish to see humanity approach, is an ideal of more and more liberty, not of more and more compulsion ; of more and more freedom, not less and less opportunity. Those who talk of “equality of opportunity,” talk of a grand principle. But what does equality of opportunity mean to the Socialist? It means brigading humanity in columns, with the badge of a regiment, makingthem members of an army of industrials under universal industrial government. When the State is the only employer, a man cannot choose his own, employment. He cannot work where he likes, but comes under the heel of authority in every respect, at any rate, of his industrial life. And if Arbitration Courts do not suit human nature, labour, when it has to deal with a State employer, will, perhaps, have a, still rougher time. It is supposed that when we get rid of employers, we shall get rid of men in authority. But we shall only exchange one form of authority for another ; we shall only exchange private employers, whom we may leave to-morrow, for State employers, from whom we cannot escape. My view is that the wrongs of humanity may be redressed without curtailing human freedom and equality of opportunity. Let us try to give every human being the best start in life we can. Let us bring all the elements of education, in its highest forms, to the humblest homes. I am pleased to say I had some part in this work in New South Wales. I was glad to have twelve months at the Education Department in order to open national technical schools and high schools for boys and girls, and, bv establishing a series of evening lectures, to bring the advantages of the University home to those who have to work by day. I look on ray work for twelve months in this direction as amongst the best a public man can perform. When you bring to the human intellect, amongst all classes of society, the fullest opportunity for mental improvement, and industrial improvement, too, you give an equality of opportunity which is more consistent with perfect independence in the way of working out that opportunity than if we suddenly endeavour to restrain human, energies and human opportunity by a method of State allotment or State authority. I do not desire to enter into this question at any length; But, while I hope I am as anxious as any man here to see the awful chasm between wealth ‘ and poverty made less and less, there is something which a man, rich or poor, possesses in Australia - which is something greater than wealth itself - and that is his personal independence in working out his own life and his own career.
– I wish to refer only to that portion of the right honorable member for East Sydney’s remarks in which he dealt with the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay. As to my own attitude, I have always, like the right honorable gentleman who preceded me, been rather favorable to bonuses or bounties, as opposed to Customs duties. But I was a member of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into this question of a bounty on iron ; and I was one of the minority which signed the report against the granting of such a bounty.
– There was no minority ; the Chairman had two votes.
– I. have never seen any reason to change my opinion. I did not think then, and I do not think now, that a bounty is the best means of encouraging this industry. The honorable member for Wide Bay has moved an amendment to the effect that this industry should be nationalized; and, in my opinion, the industry certainly ought to receive encouragement in some way. I do not agree with the right Honorable member for East Sydney that the verdict of the last election was in favour of protection. I shall never agree with the right honorable member on that point, but T shall say no more in regard to it, than to merely assert my conviction again. But it is certain that, from one cause or another, a large majority of this House is in favour of protection.
– Is the honorable member in favour of protection now ?
– Certainly not. I have listened very carefully to the remarks of the right honorable member for East Sydney ; and I find that the standard bearer, the most faithful, the most stalwart of all, has gone down until he is in favour of a duty of 12½ per cent, on iron.
– What can be done when the honorable member for West Sydney is voting protection so constantly ?
– One moment, please. The right honorable member for East Sydney, in addition to favouring the duty which I have mentioned, is in favour of a bounty. I am not in favour of- a bounty, but if anything is to be done in the direction of establishing the industry, I think the State should do it. I have not altered my opinion in this regard, at any rate, since the honorable member has known me. The right honorable member’s remarks would have been not less interesting, and more valuable if he had taken the trouble to understand what he was talking about. The right honorable member is always interesting - he has the supreme gift we all admire; because, after all, we have to listen to a great deal that is insufferably dull, and I have often thought that, in return, we get a very small recompense. But the right honorable gentleman does not understand the proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay. That honorable member proposes to nationalize this industry ; but the right honorable member for East Sydney does not attack that proposal. Instead, the right honorable member tells us that the honorable member for Wide Bay believes in nationalizing all industries, and that, if all industries are nationalized, there will be but one employer, that independence of spirit and private enterprise will be destroyed, and all mankind reduced ±0 one dull uniform drab level - that the happy, peaceful and delectable state of things we have known so long will be gone for ever. I am not going to follow the right honorable member into a morass ; I decline to be bogged. All that the honorable member for Wide Bay said was that he was in favour of nationalizing the particular industry referred to in the Bill ; and I decline to follow the right honorable member for East Sydney in a disquisition on Socialism. The right honorable member has got it into his head - and, apparently, nothing will remove the idea - that Socialism means, in some mysterious way, a levelling of all persons to one uniform height - that we are to wear a uniform dress, be for ever sunk in slavery, and unable to choose our own employment. In short, the right honorable member, pic tures a very dismal state of things. If I thought Socialism was anything like that, I certainly should not believe in it myself ; but I do not believe any such thing, and, as no useful purpose can be served by traversing the right honorable gentleman’s remarks, I propose to say nothing at all about the question, but to confine myself to a few remarks about the iron industry. One thing is very clear, though the Treasurer naturally did not lay very much stress upon it, but it is a fact that one good-sized furnace, working the twentyfour hours through, could produce more than enough iron for the whole of Australia. There is no question at all about there being two or three industries. There would be one industry only, and there is no room in this country for more than one. Therefore the iron industry would be a monopoly.
– Is not the remedy for that, to open wide the doors and bring in a vast population at the earliest possible opportunity ?
– The honorable member might have allowed me to finish what I was saying before he asked me that question. We propose to establish a monopoly with State money. A monopoly, from my point of view, is not an undesirable thing only because the industry has. arrived at the stage when it is most easily and advantageously “taken over by the State. But to deliberately hand over so many thousand >pounds a year for the purpose of creating a private monopoly would be very foolish, and even criminal. Individualists, if there be any such in this House, must regard a monopoly with a certain amount of horror. They believe in free competition, and it is obvious that monopoly and free competition cannot co-exist. Where monopoly is, there competition is not. The people who ought to be against monopoly tooth and nail are not the Socialists, but the individualists. Yet the individualist does everything he can to foster monopoly, and we are asked now to vote a very large sum of money for the purpose of creating a great monopoly. In these circumstances - because I believe that the iron industry is one of those primary industries upon which, as is admitted, other industries in a very large measure depend, and as we have in this country everything necessary for carrying it on - we should do well to start it at once upon a healthy and proper basis. There are two primary industries which are particularly fitted for State management - one is the coal and the other is the iron industry. If any man will say to-day that the nationalization of the coal mines in Australia is not within the sphere of practical politics, I am very much afraid that he does not realize the nature and extent of the present dispute in Newcastle. If we look forward a few weeks, we shall , see, if the dispute continues, that not a wheel will go round.* There will be no communication between one port and another, or between one part of the continent and another. Everybody will feel the consequences, and why ? Because private people own the coal mines, and seem to imagine that they have a perfect right to decide upon what terms the people of the country shall get coal, or whether they shall get it at all.
– Are they not guided in fixing the price by the world’s markets?
– Yes, but those industries which are at the base of all other industries are so important to the country that, not for the sake of the workmen or the employers, but for the sake of the whole body politic, it is necessary that the State should have control of them, for without them we cannot carry on any other industries. I will take the definition given by the right honorable member for East Sydney. He said that there is a common vantage ground upon which Socialists and anti-Socialists can stand - such an interference by the State in industrial mat’ters as will further and foster private enterprise. I take it that the nationalization of the coal industry would be such an interference. Such a disturbance as now exists certainly does upset and retard private enterprise. The same thing, although not, perhaps, to the same extent, applies to the iron industry. It is an industry that deals with one of the primary products - one of the assets of the country. Every pound of iron that is taken out of the ground leaves us a pound poorer. The metals have always been regarded as a prerogative of the Crown. Even when the land, which primarily and theoretically still belongs to us, was parted with, the precious metals were not alienated with it. It is very proper that we should have control of these things. The’ right honorable member for East Sydney admitted that the iron industry might be a monopoly, but said that we could deal with abuses as they arose. If there is one thing more than another that is becoming clearer every day, it is the fact that we cannot deal with abuses as they arise. Any attempt to deal with an abuse after it has reached a certain stage meets with opposition from the most unexpected quarters, and is regarded as an attack upon vested interests. Only the other day the attempt to enforce an Act of Parliament, not much more than twelve months old, was met with a torrent of protests and no small abuse. I refer to the efforts to enforce the Excise Tariff Act. When, in attempting to enforce any Act, we run up against important interests, we are told that we are disturbing industry, attacking wealth, and driving capital out of the country. The right honorable member for East Svdney said something about the ideal of the honorable member for Wide Bay, and asserted that the honorable member would nationalize everything. I have no idea of what the ideals of the honorable member for Wide Bay are; they are matters which mainly concern himself, but I do know that he has this afternoon moved an amendment to the effect that, in his opinion, the iron industry should be nationalized. If we are going to take every man’s ideal as permeating and affecting any amendment he moves, or any action he takes in this House, that practice ought to apply all round, and we should consider also the individual ideals of honorable members opposite. I have here a little book called Liberty and Liberalism, by. Mr. Bruce Smith, formerly a member of the New South Wales Parliament, and now member for Parkes in this House. The book was published some time ago, and “ all rights are reserved.”
– The honorable member is about to quote a book that he does not understand.
– I understand the book all right - at least, I can read it. Of course, there is a lot of it, and I do not propose to read it all. It embraces some 683 pages. Part of it was written by Mr. Bruce Smith, part of it by Mr. Hume, the historian, part of it by Lord Macaulay, part of it by Green, part of it by Erskine May, and part of it by a great number of other gentlemen. I propose to read one of the very small parts written by Mr. Bruce Smith - a part in which, abandoning those convenient and pleasing bladders upon which little boys swim out to glory, he ventured upon his own. In dealing with the Factories Act of, Victoria, he says -
The following is that summary : - No one under thirteen can be employed in a factory. No female can work more than forty-eight hours in a week. No maleunder sixteen can work more than forty- eight hours in a week. No one. under sixteen can be employed without an education certificate. No girl under sixteen can be employed between the hours of six in the evening and six in the morning. No boy under fourteen can be employed between the hours of six in the evening and six in the morning. No woman shall be allowed to clean such parts of the machinery in a factory as is mill-gearing, while the same is in motion for the purpose of propelling any part of the manufacturing machinery. No one under eighteen shall be allowed to work between the fixed and traversing parts of any self-acting machine, while the machine is in motion by the action of steam, water, or other power. No person employed in a factory shall be permitted to take his or her meals in any room therein, in which any manufacturing process or handicraft is then being carried on.
Upon these statements the honorable member for Parkes makes these very pertinent and sapient remarks -
A volume might be written upon the ignorance of the political science, the ignorance of human nature, the misconception of legislative effects, and the indifference to commercial interests, displayed in the measure of which this is but a short summary.
Here is an Act of Parliament which absolutely prevents little boys under thirteen years of age from working in factories, which deprives girls under sixteen years of their inherent right to work in factories more than forty-eight hours a week, and which decrees that, under no circumstances, must they work between the hours of six in the evening and six in the morning. Why, curfew, in the worst of its days, was not like this. This Act strikes a blow at the commercial interests of Victoria. The honorable member says -
A volume might be written upon the ignorance of the political science, the ignorance of human nature, the misconception of legislative effects, and the indifference to commercial interests.
These are his ideals. He adds -
Shortly restated and further summarized, they are as follow : - “ No parent, however poor or dependent, shall be allowed, even under the most favorable circumstances, to derive any monetary assistance from factory work performed by his or her children, unless they are over thirteen years of age.”
Here is an interference bv (he State. Here are poor, unfortunate persons, who are absolutely deprived of the right to put their children in factories and to live upon what thev earn - an everlasting burning shame and discredit to a civilized community. The writer proceeds -
Every citizen of the Colony of Victoria is -saddled with a proportion of an enormous expenditure for maintaining a large staff of inspectors to secure a close observance of the provisions of the Act.
I do not know how many inspectors are employed, but evidently there is a very large number. The writer further states -
Lastly, but paramount in importance, every woman, and every male and female under sixteen, is deprived of the liberty of determining for himself or herself the times and extent of work which he or she shall adopt in the pursuit of a livelihood.
– From what page is the honorable member quoting?
– From pages 359-360. The ideal of the honorable member for Parkes is that which obtained in Lancashire prior to the enactment of factory laws, when little children were permitted to work at the loom, not eight, ten, or twelve hours a day, but until they fell down from sheer physical exhaustion. Had it not been for the introduction into England of factory laws, Lancashire would have been depopulated. The honorable member’s ideal is a condition of things in which men and women are treated worse than cattle. No man is at liberty to take a horse with a sore shoulder and drive it through the streets. No man is at liberty to starve an animal. But, according to the honorable member’s ideal, he may do all these things so far as children and men and women are concerned. I do not know what is the ideal of the honorable member for Wide Bay, but I say that it would be a very poor one if it were not preferable to that of the honorable member for Parkes, as set forth in his book. If time permitted, I could take from this interesting little volume those other remarks which were written by the honorable member. I omitted to say previously that a portion of this remarkable work was written by Professor Huxley, and still another portion by Herbert Spencer, who, I learn from the preface, upon one occasion actually wrote a letter to the honorable member congratulating him upon being, with himself, one of the few who were standing by the great cause of individualism. Herbert Spencer is dead. The honorable member alone remains. His ideals have been steadily attacked, so that to-day there is in this House only one other man who will rise and defend the views which he entertains. Throughout the whole of Victoria not even two men can be returned to Parliament who favour the perfectly damnable doctrines advocated in the book from which I have quoted. The ideals of individualism ! They are ideals, indeed ! The ideal of the Labour Party in this connexion is simply that there should be a wise and business-like control and management of this great primary industry so that no individuals can raise the price, and so penalize other industries which, use iron as their raw material. That is a very sensible and business-like proposition. may say that I think Mr. Sandford should be given every encouragement, [f the amendment should be defeated, and the Bill should pass, I shall not vote for a duty on iron, but if the Bill should not pass. I shall vote for such a duty because I think that if the State is not to take this industry up, encouragement should be given to those who will do so. But by a bounty we deliberately invite a condition of things in which the only protection we have from monopoly is to attach the new protection proposals. The new protection proposals are not less opposed to individualism than is the course we have advocated here to-day. What is the new protection? It is the regulation of prices and of wages. The invasion of the sacred right of the individual to charge what he likes, pay what he likes, ‘ and do what he likes. Under the new protection he can do none of these things. He cannot pay what wages he chooses, work what hours he pleases, nor charge what he likes for his products. It involves a complete interference with the sacred rights of the individual, and the only difference between that and nationalization is that under the new protection principle the people who conduct these industries are permitted to be managers for the time being of the industrial functions of society until society takes over their management.
– That is about what it involves.
– I am not now saying whether that is right or wrong, but I say that the new protection proposes to establish such a surveillance over the employer that practically he will be unable to move this way or that. He must go along a beaten track. He must pay so much wages to his employes, sell his harvester, or whatever the article he produces may be, for so much; and in these circumstances what is he ? He .simply takes a return for the capital invested,, and that is all he is permitted to do.
– Has the honorable gentleman seen the Bill yet?
– It is Socialism without responsibility.
– I- am not objecting to that. I have known Parliaments to be run on lines that were not dissimilar. I say that since we have affirmed in the most positive manner our adherence to this principle, and since we have with us no less a person than the right honorable member for East Sydney, who approves of the new protection, it does not lie with him or any other supporter of that principle to say that the proposal now made is an invasion of the sacred right of the individual to do as he pleases. We say that we will establish this industry. Whether we shall be able to do so or not is a mere question of business. In establishing this industry one State may be successful, or may not, but that would apply to private individuals in just the same way. The right honorable gentleman has said that railways in this country are not run on business principles. I venture to say that they are not, if bybusiness principles he means taking the last drop of blood out of the unfortunate employes, or exploiting society. But I do say that, as a general thing, the very excellent men who occupy the position of Commissioners of Railways Tn Australia do run the railways under their control very much on business lines, and are, on the whole, making a very good thing for the country out of the business ; whilst the railway employes, as a general rule, are treated tolerably. If they have any complaints to make they can make them in a proper way to men who have complete control of the business, for it cannot be said that our railways are run on political lines. It can, however, be said that the country is very much better served under existing conditions than it would be if the railways were run by private individuals. How has the threatened great railway strike in England been averted? It has been by the providential intervention of the Government, and a. threat to enforce latent powers, thus compelling the railway companies to pay certain, wages and charge certain rates and fares for freights and passengers. Is there any mar* who will say that the nationalization of railways is not a live question in England? If the threatened strike had occurred, is it not patent that the nationalization of the railways would have been a very live question there? Here we have gone far beyond that point, and have found it a very good policy, and we are now considering the question of nationalizing the iron industry. I shall listen with pleasure toany one who tells me that this industry is not a good one for the people to start, that we should be wise to hesitate before embarking upon it, or that for business reasons it is expedient that we should not do so; but I say emphatically that the principle of nationalizing an industry which is not in existence, but which ought to be in existence, and which it is proposed to bring into existence by the voting of a large sum of State money, is one that ought to be looked at with every degree of favour by this House. The right honorable member for East Sydney said something about establishing the millennium by Act of Parliament. No doubt some honorable members have inside information as to what the millennium is. I have not. I know nothing at all about it. What I say is that it is not the Labour Party that proposes to establish the millennium by Act of Parliament, but many other parties. For instance, what do the prohibitionists say?
Mx. Joseph Cook. - The millennium is the brotherhood of man. That is new, and copyright.
– My honorable friend tells me that- the millennium is the brotherhood of man. I am glad to know it. Perhaps the honorable member will tell us where he got that by-and-by. No one will say, however, that the brotherhood of man is an ignoble ideal. I thought it had been taught for 2,000 years past, or nearly so, without, however, producing very much result upon mankind. That the party to which I have the honour to belong has taken some practical steps to make the brotherhood of man possible without at the same time committing physical and industrial suicide is something to its credit. There are several prohibitionists in this Parliament who say that if we pass an Act of Parliament to prevent the sale of liquor mankind will be transformed. Yet when the Labour Party propose to do anything by Act of Parliament they say 11 is absurd. What are we to say of our Factories Acts, our Health Acts, or our free education system, but that they are all endeavours to change the nature of mankind by Act of Parliament? This very assembly is a living proof of the fact that we do believe mankind can be altered by Act of Parliament. As a matter of fact, we know that mankind has been altered by Act of Parliament. Free education is abroad in the land, and nearly every man and woman in this country now takes an interest in politics. Things are not as they used to be, and the legislation of to-day, as a consequence, takes more intimate notice of “ the man down below.” Only the other day, for the first time in the history of mankind, it was definitely decided that a man has a right to receive more than enough merely to keep him from starving. Mr. Justice Higgins has said that he has a right to receive, not merely enough to keep him - a right that is accorded to every horse, sheep, and bullock in the country - but enough to keep himself and his family, and to sufficient even to enable him to put a little by for a rainy day. We have achieved that decision by Act of Parliament, and I will say that if we never do anything more we have at least proved that Acts of Parliament can do something to alter the lot, and so the nature, of mankind. To my mind it will be to the benefit of society at large for the State to establish and undertake this necessary industry. If it is not undertaken by the State, it will become a monopoly, and we shall, before very long, be confronted with the necessity of taking it over, under conditions less advantageous than those which now present themselves. We may, as time goes on, be called upon to still further spoon-feed the industry, if we leave it in private hands; but if we make it a State concern, and put the right man at the head of it, we shall make a business success of it. I believe that every industry in the country exists primarily, not for those in it, but for the whole body of the people. Therefore I support the amendment.
– I understand that at this stage we shall be in order in discussing both the provisions of the measure and the amendment of the leader of the Labour Party. I do not propose to occupy much time in discussing the proposal for the nationalization of the iron industry, because, while all the questions related to the proposals of the Labour Party for the nationalization of industries are extremely interesting, I regard the nationalization of this industry as entirely beyond the reach of practical politics, especially towards the close of a session such as this, when we have such a heavy weight of work to get through before we can conclude our labours. Therefore, I think it wiser to confine my remarks mainly to the subject-matter of the Bill. But I cannot entirely pass away from the amendment without referring to one or two points which have been raised by it. It has been said that the iron industry, if established here, will be a monopoly. There is a good deal- of truth in that; but if my friends in the Labour corner say that because it will be a monopoly it must be utterly condemned as a private enterprise, I join issue with them.
– Who said that?
– The fact that the iron industry, if established here, would be a monopoly was used as one of the arguments, and I think the main argument, in favour of nationalization.
– It has not been said that the industry must not be brought into existence if it is not to be. nationalized.
– I have not asserted that.
– Why does the honorable member think that the industry will probably be a monopoly ?
– I propose to give my reasons for that view. To a large extent I concur with what has been said by the leader of the Labour Party and other honorable members in support of his proposal.In discussions of this kind it is a mistake to endeavour to press one’s arguments or facts further than they can properly be made to go, and for that reason I have willingly admiited what has always seemed to me to be perhaps the strongest instance in support of the nationalization proposals of the Labour Party - the success of the Newport workshops. It is wise to tell the truth, even if it hits your own argument. W hen I was in office in Victoria it was . my duty to look into tnis matter very particularly, and it was not untilI haddone so that 1 was prepared to take work from the Phoenix Foundry, a private concern, to give it to the Newport workshops. I was satisfied that, making allows ance for interest, rent, arid everything else, the Newport tenders were substantially lower than those of private tenderers. I make my honorable friends a present of that case, because undoubtedly the facts furnish a valuable argument from their point of view.
– The honorable member cannot take it away from’ us.
– I have no desire to do so. The word “ monopoly “is always used as a term of condemnation by those opposed to private enterprise ; but it s one of those vague” terms which may be used in either a commendatory or con demnatory sense, according as it is defined. Every man who has by his own labour, energy, or skill acquired some peculiar means of creating wealth, or of rendering services to others, has created a monopoly. The successful lawyer has managed by very hard labour, indeed, to acquire a monopoly. So has the successful physician, and all others who, throughout the whole range of work, intelligence and production, have succeeded,. But, in the strict original sense, the word “ monopoly “ is the creation by the Crown, or by the State, of a right which did not exist before, and the vesting of it in private individuals, excluding all others from its benefits. Such a monopoly has always been held to be one which the authority which created it has the right to control and to regulate. My honorable friends who are so strongly supporting the nationalization of the iron and other industries should bear in mind that the only monopoly which they can condemn is the State created monopoly, which disregards the rights of all other persons. There is a question which I have often desired to ask of those who advocate the nationalization of monopolies’, and which I shall ask now. When they say that they are in favour of nationalizing monopolies, do they mean that they are in favour of nationalizing land?
– That will come later.
– The honorable member says that that will come later.
– The answer will come later.
– I expect that it will. The answers to this and other, questions will come little by little, as the community demands them.
– We are progressive.
– It would be out of order to reply to the honorable member now.
– The honorable member was a strong land taxer not verylong ago.
– I am in favour of controlling and regulating this monopoly, but not of nationalizing it. It is a very fair question to ask the party which supports the nationalization of monopolies - does it consider private ownership of land, whether on a large or small scale, a monopoly? If we are to nationalize monopolies, let us know what it is that we are to consider monopolies?
– The honorable member knows that’ there is . no such thing as private ownership of land.
– If the State gives a man and his heirs the right to possess for all time to the exclusion of all others, can there be a clearer case of monopoly ?
– There are conditions under which this right can be taken away.
– Does the honorable member say that, because in some Crown grants of fee-simple there are conditions under which the Crown may re. sume for public purposes, that that prevents land-holding from being a monopoly ?
– There is something deeper than that.
– It would seem that I am not to get an answer to my question. I shall have to ask the question again and again until I get a “reply. I use that merely as an illustration. The honorable member for Wide Bay started the discussion by saying, “ Let us be frank ; let us tell you - what our position is. We do not want to conceal it.” If he were here I would ask him, as leader of the Labour Party, to sav whether the general principle of nationalization of monopolies which he advocates does or does not carry with it the nationalization of every piece of privately-owned land in Australia. That is a question which can be answered with a “Yes “ or a “ No.”
– The honorable member can have my answer. I certainly sav “Yes.”
– I am glad to get a definite answer, but I would have preferred to know whether that is part of the openly avowed policy which the Labour Party advocates in this House.
– That is only an individual opinion.
– I. will pass on from that somewhat embarrassing subject and also from the amendment to deal as best I may with the extremely important series of questions which are involved in the Bill. I may mention that towards, the end of my remarks, which I will endeavour to make as concise as possible, I shall have to return to the question of monopolies in connexion with this particular proposal, and suggest what I consider the legitimate lines on which the State can and ought to control and regulate monopolies. As the subject had been debated here so often and so ably, I felt that it was due, not only to the older members of the House, but also to myself, that I should ascertain the arguments which had been used on various occasions, and I have read every important speech which has been delivered here, so that I do not propose to ask honorable members to listen to matters which have been practically threshed out. But there are one or two aspects which it seems to me, approaching the subject at that point at which it was left, have not yet been thoroughly and clearly determined. We are asked by this Bill to sanction the expenditure of £250,000 for the encouragement of manufactures. The long title of the -Bill is very vague and almost misleading ; but I take it that it is intended for the encouragement or establishment of what may be known as the iron industry. I am entirely in favour of establishing, on a thoroughly sound and permanent basis, a comprehensive iron industry. I agree with all that has been said - and the strongest thing that has been said by those who have preceded me in this and other debates - about the fact that in our isolated position the establishment of the iron industry is almost essential. Therefore, I shall not waste time by going into that matter. I propose to deal with the particular proposals which the Government have submitted. We ought to approach this as a simple business proposition. We ought to look at the proposal apart from any sentiment. We ought to look at it also unhampered by any narrow limits of expenditure so far as it is within our financial power to do so. We ought to regard this as a great national problem. Putting on one side party views or differences, we ought te regard ourselves as being charged with one of the most responsible and serious duties which have ever devolved upon any Parliament. The first question we ought to ask ourselves, I think, is “ What do we want ? What is it that we intend to establish?” It is all very well to speak of the establishment of “ the iron industry.” That may mean much or little; it may mean half a dozen things or any number of them. Do we mean by the term merely that we want to establish the industry of making pig iron from Australian ore ? I submit that it would be most futile to attempt to do that by itself.
– And also to establish the industry of making steel.
– I submit that it would be quite useless to spend any money on the mere production- of pig iron. The establishment of smelting furnaces for that purpose would be practically useless and hat principle is admitted, of course, in the Bill. Then we go beyond that. We have to say what we intend to include. We intend obviously, and the Bill clearly points it out, to include rolled iron and steel. But the goal which I submit we ought to keep before us is the establishment of an indus try which, commencing with the production of crude ore, should include all of what may be called the simiple processes of iron production. It should include not merely the smelting of the ore and production of pig iron, but also the rolling of iron and its conversion into steel, and especially should it include all the plant and appliances necessary for the manufacture of that which of such productions is perhaps in greatest demand in this country - steel rails. The proposal is to be considered not only from the point of view of having a comprehensive industry, but also from the point of view of my friends in the Labour corner. We shall give very little employment if we only establish an indusiry which will perform the first two or three processes of iron making. What we require to establish is an industry which will give us a considerable population, who will be trained to the historical manufacture of iron from the earliest, simple processes, to those highly complicated scientific . processes of the present day, involving not only a large expenditure of capital, but i.he employment of a large number of highly skilled operatives. We desire to supply Australia not merely with pig iron, rolled iron, bar iron, or sheet iron, but also with steel of the best quality for the manufacture of rails and girders. The first point which we ought to get clearly fixed in our minds is, What is the end we propose 10 gain by the expenditure of a large capital? I have been obliged, professionally and otherwise, to make myself more or less acquainted with the processes of iron making. My reading on the subject, and the information I have obtained from others who know much more about it than I do, teach me that we can only succeed with a very expensive and complex plant which can be worked under economical conditions, that if we attempt to perform some of these nrocesses separately, as a rule, we shall be doomed to failure. We must have the highest skill, the largest and most complex plant, and perform as many of the processes as we can.
– Together with a very large production.
– Yes. It is quite true that if our efforts, were confined to the production of pig iron we should practically have no demand for what we produced. We import between 30,000 and 40,000 tons of pig iron.
– Between 40,000 and 50,000 tons.
– Comparatively a small quantity of pig iron is imported.
– I think it is more than that.
– We need not quarrel about the exact figures, as that is practically of no consequence. The real question of consequence is that the manufactures of iron are imported to the value of nearly £2,000,000.
– The imports of iron are valued at nearly . £2,000,000, but the imports of manufactures and everything else are worth nearly £8,000,000.
– I am not speaking of the manufactured articles. That is exactly what we ought to keep out of our minds. We are not dealing with harvesters , or agricultural machinery and implements generally. They belong to a totally different class.
– This Bill relates to the steel employed in such manufactures.
– Certainly; but, as I have endeavoured to point out in dealing with the iron industry, we may leave out of account manufactures the cost of the raw material of which represents an infinitesimally small proportion of the value of the complete articles. The iron industry relates to the primary processes of iron production, and the imports of its primary products represent something like £2,000,000 per annum.
– I have gone rather fully intothis( point, because it leads directly up. to that which I am now about to put before the House. I wish for the moment to leave entirely out of account any existing iron works. Let us assume that there are no works at Lithgow or elsewhere in the Commonwealth, and, viewing the proposition from that stand-point, ask ourselves what would be a reasonable step to take. In the first place, we should contemplate obtaining a plant capable of a daily output of some hundreds of tons - such an output will be necessary ultimately to supply the wants of Australia - and of being worked on the most economical and up-to-date principles. What would be the cost of such a plant? The question has been dealt with in previous debates, and I therefore do not propose to’ go into details ; but I think I am right in saying that such a plant would cost at least ;£ 1, 000, 000.
– No, the Bethel ironworks of Pennsylvania did not cost j£i, 000,000.
– I think I am not far wrong.
– Hear, hear; the cost would be between £900,000 and j£ 1, 000, 000.
– I am glad to have the corroboration of the Treasurer. Such an expenditure would be a very large one. Assuming for the moment that we do not intend to nationalize the industry, then the only way to secure its establishment is to induce those possessing the necessary capital to invest it in these works. Does any one believe for one moment that a proposal to grant bounties amounting to £250,000 would be likely to induce capitalists, under existing conditions, to lay down a plant costing probably £1,000,000 ? I do not think that there is the slightest hope of its doing so. I sincerely and honestly hope that we may ‘ all deal with this question apart from party differences, and I invite the House to look the present position in the face. There is, as we know, an iron plant in existence at Lithgow, New South Wales. In a debate of this kind we should endeavour as far as possible to avoid the introduction of anything likely to affect the proprietor’s chances of making the best use of his plant ; but we have to consider, as a fact of some importance in connexion with this Bill, that there is at Lithgow an iron industry that has reached a certain point, and has already found it practically impossible to carry on without assistance. That admission has been publicly made, and we are therefore authorized and entitled to take it into account. If we pass this Bill what guarantee shall we have that ‘the whole of the bounty may not be spent in rendering for a time a somewhat ineffectual support to a staggering company, which will fall as soon as that support is removed?
– That is what will happen.
– Nothing of the kind. The honorable member has no right to make such an assertion.
– I have known such a thing to happen in the United States and in Canada.
– I recognise that those connected with the Lithgow ironworks have shown a degree of initiative and energy that we ought to be glad to reward . and assist, but in dealing even with people who have displayed so much pluck, we are not entitled to throw aside all considerations of prudence.
– They themselves say that they would be satisfied with a duty of 10 per cent, or 12 J per cent, on raw iron.
– We ought to remember thai the only ground upon which we can reasonably be asked to support the principle of a bounty is not that it enables people to go on working on what is perhaps a partial or insecure foundation, but that the promise of it would be sufficient to induce the public to invest in the undertaking sufficient capital to raise it to an up-to-date productive condition. It seems to me that in dealing with an undertaking of this kind that is the only justification we can have for granting assistance in the form of a bounty. If we gave those engaged in the industry money to tide them over a temporary difficulty, the whole of the bounty might be mopped up by the one concern, with the result that it might ultimately be in no better position than it is at present.
– The same result occurs when we grant a big duty to any staggering industry.
– No; the distinction between a duty and a bounty is that a duty is usually imposed for an indefinite time as a permanent protection.
– But the public have to pay.
– They have to pay until the industry attains such proportions that it can supply, to a considerable extent at all events, the local demand.
– The honorable member anticipates that the iron industry will never get on its feet. Look at the woollen industry, which has been protected by very high rates in Victoria for fortyone years.
– If the honorable member would listen to all that I have to say, he might not take a hostile view of my attitude.-
– I am not doing so ; but I like to see all treated alike.
– I should be prepared to take even considerable risks in helping a man who had shown sufficient enterprise to start ironworks in Australia under such conditions as have prevailed; but it is only right that if we are going to help this particular enterprise we should do so under conditions that will give us a reasonable prospect of establishing the industry on a sound, permanent, and economical basis.
– Has not the company at the present time a contract with the State Government of New South Wales which is practically . a bounty?
– The only trouble is that the capacity of the mills is not quite sufficient to meet the demands of the contract.
– I have put this point before honorable members, because it is practically admitted by those who are in charge of the Lithgow works that further capital is required. They do not ask the Government to supply them -with further capital.
– They are not asking the. Commonwealth Government.
– The State Government will put up a mill, and we will give them a bounty. Is not that what we are asked to do?
– My ‘contention is that the only justification which Mr. Sandford - notwithstanding his enterprise and daring - has in coming to this Parliament for assistance is that, according to him and his friends, if we promise a sufficient bounty, the public will be induced to. invest in the industry the further capital required for the necessary plant.
– Their position is this - that at the present time they have a Government contract, but they have not sufficient mills with which to fulfil that contract. They propose that the State Government - which, I believe, intends to help them - shall advance them a certain amount of money, to be afterwards cut out of the contract; and the bounty will help them to repay to the State Government, as they make the iron, the amount borrowed. The bountv will put them on a sounder footing.
– I am afraid that the honorable member has not put the matter in at all as favorable a light as that in which I was prepared to put it.
– I hope that the honorable member will not forget that this Bill does not apply to Mr. Sandford only.
– I quite agree with that, and I am going to argue that the amount ought to be made very much larger on certain general conditions ; but I am dealing with the conditions now proposed.
– in the meantime, Mr. Sandford has a quarter of a million pounds’ worth of plant in existence.
– I know thathe has a, considerable amount of plant, though it is small relatively to a complete plant for the primary processes of iron production. The honorable member for Nepean has now put it that Mr. Sandford’s position is this - that he has a contract with the New South Wales Government, which is prepared to advance him money as portion of the price that the Government is to pay to him for iron; and that we are to pay the bounty in order to help to repay the Government of New South Wales. Well, I do not consider that’ that is at all a business-like proposal. From my point of view the honorable member’s explanation does not make out as strong a case for Mr. Sandford as I thought he had. But I am quite prepared to do this - to say to Mr. Sandford, as well, as to every one else who chooses to undertake iron works : “ We are prepared to give you a substantial bounty on certain conditions, namely, that before the bounty is actually payable you shall satisfy us that you have put money into - or have the money to put into - ironworks, which will really and effectually create an up-to-date and satisfactory iron-producing plant. But we shall not pay any bounty until that is done.”
– Then the honorable member proposes to subsidize a successful industry - not to help an industry to start?
– Yes; we only intend to subsidize a successful industry.
– It seems to me that if they succeed they will not need the bounfv.
– The honorable member will recollect that what I said at first was that Mr. Sandford may, with our assistance, go on producing iron under very uneconomical conditions, being enabled to just keep his head above water by reason of the amount we pay him. But what is the good of that ? What is the’ object of it?
– Is not the question what we should do if Mr. Sandford were not in existence at all - what we should do as a matter of general policy?
– I desire to put the matter in both ways. If we are to deat with it as if Mr. Sandford were not in existence, we ought to give a very much iarger sum than is proposed - because this peddling little sum will not effectually achieve what we desire. If we did that - regarding the matter as if Mr. Sandford were not in existence - we should not give “bounties upon any iron which might be produced until we were satisfied that conditions had been complied with which assured the existence of a permanent large plant worked on economical and up-to-date principles.
– Ought not those conditions to apply to other industries to which we have agreed to give bounties?
– But we have not imposed those conditions with regard to the other industries in respect of. which we have legislated.
– It ought to apply to many of them. But a bounty for such products as we dealt with in the Bounties - Bill is a very different thing from this, not only in degree, but in character. What I mean is this - that it is tjf no use to us as a Parliament or as a people to establish partially an iron industry in Australia. It is not of the slightest use to us unless we have an assurance - a practical assurance - that the effect of the bounty will be, ultimately, to establish such an iron industry as will effectually comply with modern conditionsof production.
– Why pay a bounty out of the Treasury, when we are told by those in the industry that a small duty will be quite sufficient?
– They say that if we give them a duty they do not want a bounty.
– I do not want to refer any more to one particular case. I have paid no attention whatever to a great many things which have been said to me for and against Mr. Sandford’s position. He has a right to make the best use of his position. But ordinary prudence requires that we should see that money is. not frittered away in small payments to maintain a plant which will struggle along, just holding its head above water until we cease to pay, and then disappear.
– May I ask the honorable member this - does he recollect that recently we have voted £300,000 jvorth of bounties without any such stipulations as these?
– The honorable member will know that . I was absolutely opposed to them. Therefore he cannot: quote me against myself in that respect. Further than that, the honorable member must know that those bounties were, proposed to be paid mainly for agricultural productions, to which the same considerations will not practically apply as affect the iron industry.
– It is almost, certain that that money is going to be wasted.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. It is just like watering The desert. Go back to it tomorrow, and you find no sign of your watering left.
– I am sorry that the honorable member takes such a pessimistic view.
– I am afraid that I do with regard to the bounties to which reference has been made. But we must remember that we are now proposing to encourage the creation of an industry which will have to compete with the highest forms of organized capital and organized labour in other parts of the world.
– That is the case with every other industry.
– In dealing with the iron industry, we are dealing with an industry which will be utterly unsuccessful - predoomed to failure from its very initiation - unless it is able to attain to certain proportions, to cover a certain amount of ground in production, . and to reach a certain degree of efficiency. Those conditions exist, and they “cannot be ignored. If we are merely going to take a watering pot and go out scattering water over a few plants in sandy ground, without attempting first to insure a healthy growth, we shall very soon find that we. have spent our water in vain and that our plants have died. It is our duty now to endeavour to determine the conditions under which it will be possible to establish a real iron industry in Australia. Looking at the question as business men and as men of common sense, we have no desire to expend hundreds of thousands of pounds without some security that the result will be the successful establishment of the iron industry - a great undertaking involving vast expenditure, and, I may add, the importation of a very consider able amount of highly-skilled labour. My friends of the Labour Party will have. ultimately to admit that this latter is an essential condition of the establishment of the industry.
– Hear, hear; we do not object to that.
– I am quite sure that it is ‘ consistent with the position of the honorable member for South Sydney that he should not object, because such labour is not to be found here.
– It strikes me that the honorable member for Flinders is not quite aware of what is going on in Lithgow.
– I have not been to Lithgow, and cannot speak from personal knowledge of the industry there. But other honorable members have been there, and know the conditions ; and all I can do is to ask whether they are assured that the particular amount mentioned, given in the particular way proposed, will insure the establishment, on a permanent and satisfactory basis, of a complete iron industry plant. It is not for me to answer that question ; I simply put the problem to honorable members.
– Perhaps the honorable member’s views might be met by a condition as to the output.
– It is not the output which is the test of efficiency, but rather the amount of money which is put into new plant.
– There cannot be a good output without plant.
– OH, yes; there can be a very large output, if-
– There may be a very costly plant, and a very poor return.
– Quite so;’ but undoubtedly one of the conditions of success is an up-to-date plant, whether- it be costly or not. Production is not the real test by which we ought to be guided. The condition of . granting a bounty ought to be the erection of machinery and plant of the kind which, if efficiently and properly worked, will produce iron in its various forms, under modern conditions, with economy and efficiency. Therefore, I venture to submit that, first, we ought to impose on any bounty a stipulation - which, for myself, I shall not attempt to formulate, but merely indicate roughly - as to the extent of plant, the kind of plant, and the time within which it must be erected. Subject to that condition being complied with, I would go far beyond the proposal of the Minister. Notwithstanding the financial difficulty, as I shall show very shortly, I should be prepared to go considerably further than the granting of this paltry . £250,000.
– How much further?
– That is a question which, of course, is very easily put, but is very difficult, for one not in the position of the Treasurer, to answer. But, after looking into the matter as well as I can, in the limited light I have, I am inclined to think that, subject to certain conditions, we might at least double the amount. Perhaps I might point out, at this particular stage, how. this suggestion is consistent with the view I took in the speech I made not very long ago, showing that our financial position would become rather gloomy in a few years. I said then, and I say now, . that our revenue from Customs and Excise will this year be a very large one.
– Just about £1,000,000 oyer last year.
– That is above the estimate of the Treasurer?
– Yes, a little over.
– I thought the revenue would have been larger than the honorable gentleman mentioned - I am inclined to think it will, be more - but I defer to the Treasurer’s better information. If I understand the Treasurer, he suggests that the revenue will be practically about that he estimated in his Budget speech.
– It may be £100,000 or £200,000 over, but not more.
– As I say, I defer to the Treasurer’s better information, but I should have thought the revenue would be more, having regard to the receipts to date.
– Not so far as we can judge from the returns so far.
– However, I anticipate that this year and next year, and possibly the year after - but certainly this and next year - are likely to be years of large and flowing revenue from Customs and Excise. Where the deficiency and trouble are likely to occur is in the succeeding years, when we may experience a reduction. I understand from the Treasurer’s Budget statement that the honorable gentleman concurs in that view.
– Not to the same extent as does the honorable member.
– I thought that the Treasurer was subsequently challenged as to whether he agreed with me, that the revenue was likely to come down to £9,000,000, and that he had practically assented.
– I said there was no doubt, in my mind, that the revenue would be reduced, but I did not fix any amount, and I thought the honorable member went too far.
– I did not attempt to fix the amount - he would be a bold man who would do so.
– The honorable member mentioned £9,000,000.
– That was mere conjecture in any case. But, considering that during the next year or two, in all probability, there will be a large revenue, one very much in excess of our immediate wants, though not at all in excess when we come to deal with the frreat enterprises which have been mentioned-
– If the honorable member knewi the claims that are made, he would not talk of the revenue being very much in excess of our immediate wants.
– I know that the claims on the Treasurer are very great, but I venture to suggest that if we were prepared to agree to the conditions necessary for the establishment of a great ironproducing industry in Australia, and if we were satisfied that the conditions would insure the money being, devoted to the attainment of that object, there is nothing, so far as I know at present, in the financial position which ought to prevent the Treasurer, with the sanction of Parliament, from putting aside from the revenue of this year, next year, and the year following, a fund which might be devoted to this object without burdening the revenue of the succeeding years of possible financial weakness.
– I wish we could do that, but it cannot be done under the Constitution.
– I venture to doubt that.
– I wish to goodness the honorable member would give me a good opinion on which I’ could act ! We are compelled to pay over to the States each month the whole of the money we have.
– I take a contrary view, and say that that really does not apply.
– I am very glad to hear that ; if I had half a chance I would do as the honorable member suggests.
– I am sure the honorable gentleman would. It is a matter of opinion ; and I for one would be very sorry to attempt to give any sort of categorical or dictatorial reply.
– The opinion on which I have to act is that I cannot, under the Constitution, do as the honorable member suggests.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– Before you left the chair, sir, I was dealing with the suggestion that I had made to the effect that even a much larger sum than . that which the Treasurer intends to appropriate towards these bounties might be appropriated by drawing on the revenues of the present year and of the next year> which are likely to be considerably above the average. The Treasurer interjected that that course would be subject to a constitutional objection. The point, as I understand it, arises under the interpretation of section 94 of the Constitution.
– Not only under section 94, but under the previous section read in conjunction with it.
– Under sections 93 and 94. I am quite aware of that. I do not suppose that the House would appreciate a minute legal argument upon a technical point, nor do I intend to enter upon one; but I have given attention to the matter before this, and it has never presented to me the same difficulties as, I “understand, it has presented to others. The meaning of section 94, taken even in conjunction with section 93, when one looks at the other finance sections of the Constitution, appears to be reasonably clear. It says that after the five years from the imposition of uniform duties of Customs, the Parliament may provide, on such basis as it deems fair, for the monthly payment to the States of all surplus revenue of the Commonwealth. I have discussed this matter before now with the right honorable member for Swan, who, I think, is rather inclined to take the same view as I do - that “ surplus revenue “ means the revenue that we do not appropriate, and that, taking the whole of the finance provisions - into consideration, our powers of appropriation are absolutely unlimited.
– After the expiration of the Braddon section.
– Subject only to the Braddon section, under which, of course, we cannot appropriate three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue.
– Would not “ all surplus revenue “ mean all the one- fourth that we did not spend ?
– It does not refer only to the one-fourth, because the section takes effect after the five years’ period, and will apply after the Braddon section expires. Surplus revenue, as I understand the section, merely means the money which this Parliament does not in its wisdom appropriate.
– It has been held that it means the money which this Parliament does not spend. It is the spending and not the appropriation that is involved. Mr. W. H. IRVINE.- By whom has that been held?
– By lawyers.
– It has not yet been decided by the Courts. I understand, of course, that the Attorney-General has considered this point, and his opinion as a responsible officer of the Crown is entitled to all respect.
– The point has had the attention of previous Attorneys-General.
– I am afraid that until the High Court gives an authoritative pronouncement on the matter I must adhere to my own opinion, that section94 has to be read in connexion first of all with section 81, -which is the ruling section of the whole of the finance provisions of the Constitution. Section 81 says that -
All revenues or moneys raised or received by the Executive Government of the Commonwealth shall form one Consolidated Revenue Fund, to be appropriated for the purposes of the Commonwealth in the manner and subject to the charges and liabilities imposed by this Constitution.
The words used are “ to be appropriated.” There is no limit anywhere, so far as I can find,- upon the word “ appropriation.” We may appropriate for the services of this year, or of next year, or of any succeeding year if we’ choose, provided that we do not appropriate out of the Customs and Excise revenue of this year more than our fair share - our one-fourth. But the appropriation within the limit of the onefourth may be an appropriation for services for any year we choose.It might include the purchase of a piece of land, the benefit of which we might have for air time; or it might mean an appropriation for the loan of money to some service, the interest upon . which we might receive for all time. It may.be any kind of appropriation. It is not confined even to payment for any particular service, much less for the service of any particular year.
– The word ‘” balances “ is used in section 93.
– There is the difference between sections 93 and 94, that the word “ balances “ is used in the one and the words “all surplus revenue” in the other, and on that difference -the whole difficulty seems to have arisen.. Section 93 deals with the bookkeeping period. It provides that -
During the first five years after the imposition of uniform duties of Customs, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides : -
The duties of Customs chargeable oni goods imported into a State and afterwards passing into another State for consumption, and the duties of Excise paid on goods produced or manufactured in a State and afterwards passing into another State for consumption, shall be taken to have beerii collected, not in the former, but in the latter State;
Subject to the last sub-section, the Commonwealth shall credit revenue, debit expenditure, and pay balances to theseveral States as prescribed for tlieperiod preceding the imposition of uniform duties of Customs.
– That was limited to the five years.
– Yes. Here- is where the difficulty comes in, and to thisI invite the attention of the AttorneyGeneral.
– The point hasbeen taken over and over again.
– No doubt it has been, and the late Treasurer is quite familiar with it. I quite admit that if in an Act of Parliament two different words are used’ in contiguous sections it must be assumed that the draftsman and the Legislature meant two different things. It is thereforeargued that the word “balances,” used in section 93, probably means something different from the words “ all surplus revenue,” used in section 94. If does mean something different, but we need not go so far as to say that it in any way limits”our power of appropriation. Theword “balances” is used in section 93, because it refers to a debit and credit account-
– The same word isused right through from section “89, and’ then the word “ surplus “ is used in section 94.
– It is the. balance merely for the bookkeeping period. In that period we are. dealing with a statutory debit and credit account, and must pay balances on that account. When we have done with the bookkeeping period, section 94 says that we are to pay “ all surplus revenue to the States.” The important thing in ‘section 94 is that we have to pay it monthly.
– In the other sections the balances are payable monthly also.
– The main object of inserting section 94 was to provide that the Parliament should determine the manner in which any money which it had not appropriated should be returned to the States.
– That is the point. Does it include money not appropriated ?
– I take it so. My argument depends upon the point that surplus moneys mean moneys not appropriated.
– When section 94 was constructed, the Braddon section was perpetual, according to the Constitution as it then stood.
– I have listened with great interest to what the honorable mem-‘ ber has advanced since he reached this’ portion of his speech. If he could have dealt with the matter in a few sentences, he would have been quite within his rights, but as his remarks require some time to set before the House, if I were to allow him to deal with the matter fully, every other honorable member Who followed him would be entitled to debate the question also, and we should be discussing, not a Bounties Bill, or an amendment for the nationalization of the iron industry, bat a very difficult and far-reaching questién of Federal finance. I think the honorable member will see that I ought not to allow that at any stage of the session, and certainly should not allow it at this stage.
– I submit that it is absolutely essential that I should discuss this particular power in dealing with the proposal that is now under consideration. The Government propose that for a period of five years a certain amount shall be paid out of each year’s revenue - an amount which in the aggregate shall not exceed £250,000. The suggestion which I was making - and which I propose to embody in an amendment - is that the appropriation shall be made, not out of each year’s revenue, but out of this year’s revenue. The Treasurer at once raised the objection that the adoption of that course would be unconstitutional. I cannot. see how it is possible to deal with this particular measure without discussing the question of whether or not my suggestion is constitutional.
– The honorable member will see that what he has just said makes my path easier. The Bill does not contemplate appropriating out of revenue more than a certain amount in any one year. Therefore, the issue which he is now discussing. is in no way raised by the Bill itself, but is entirely dependent upon the amendment which” he intends to submit. The honorable member will be quite in order in dealing with the financial question which he has been discussing when his amendment is under consideration. But that amendment is not now before the House, and consequently the present is not the proper time to debate it.
-H. IRVINE. - I bow to your ruling, sir, and I shall deal with the financial question when, I submit the amendment which I have outlined. If we are really going by means of a system of bounties to stimulate the creation of an iron industry, the wisest course for us to adopt, in the present circumstances of our finance, would be to set apart out of the revenue of these swelling years a certain sum to be held in trust for those whom we invite to embark upon this great undertaking.
– That would practically be making a charge upon our existing revenue by virtue of a Statute, and appropriating it for a specific purpose.
– We ought to appropriate out of these fat years a sufficient amount to effectually carry out our object, and not leave it to the years when we shall be called upon to definitely determine our financial relations with the States. I do submit with all humility and earnestness that that is the only practical way in which we can hope to cope with this very great problem. I onlywish to add a few words upon another aspect of this case. In my introductory remarks - in reply to the arguments advanced by the ‘‘leader of the Labour Party-
– The honorable member dismissed the question of nationalization by. saying that it was impracticable, without assigning any reason.
– I do not intend to discuss the question, because, though it is an extremely- interesting one, it is not within the range of practical politics.
– Does the honorable member know that the Senate has affirmed the advisability of nationalizing the industry?
– I do. But notwithstanding that fact, I must decline to be drawn into what at this stage appears to me to be an academic discussion.
– Surely when a majority in the other Chamber have declared in favour of nationalizing the industry, the question is within the range of practical politics ?
– This is a matter of opinion. Personally I do not think that it is.
– That is a very light way of disposing of the matter.
– I quite admit the weight of a good many of the arguments advanced by the leader of the Labour Party, but I propose to confine my remarks practically to the position that is now before us. I have already admitted that if we succeed in inducing persons with capital to establish the iron producing industry in Australia it will be almost, if not quite, a monopoly, because if we support the industry with an effective duty I do not believe that for many years the Australian demands, though ample to justify the erection of one large effective plant, will be sufficient to justify the erection of more than one. One modern plant costing probably £1,000,000, with the necessary skilled labour, would be sufficient. Therefore, to some extent, we should be fostering a monopoly.
– An industry can only become a monopoly if competition is prevented.
– An effective duty upon pig iron, sheet iron, and wrought iron would cause it to partake of the character of a monopoly.
– But if the industry were successful why should it not become an exporting industry ?
– I hope that it will. In Europe and America, which possess the enormous advantage of having the iron industry long established, the sources from which they draw their best supplies of ore are rapidly diminishing, whereas our own are practically’ untouched. Conse quently .we may ultimately hope to compete with those countries in the markets of the world.
– In the markets of the East.
– I should think that we may ultimately hope to compete with them in South Africa and South America. These are possibilities of the future. I have always felt a good deal affected by that portion of the arguments of the Socialist party, which is directed against what we may call the undue influence of great trade monopolies - aggregations of capital exercising a control and influence not merely on the conduct of business but over the lives and fortunes of. thousands and millions of people. That condition of affairs obtains very largely in America. The panacea of the Labour Party for this is nationalization. I submit, however, that there is in all Governments a power of control and regulation very much short of nationalization, which, if wisely exercised, would prevent any of the evils we see in America from growing to any considerable magnitude, and would at the same time preserve for these industrial undertakings the initiative energy and alertness which alone springs from private enterprise. We have examples of the kind of regulation of which I speak in dozens oF Acts of Parliaments, such as those passed in connexion with gas companies in Great Britain - certainly the later companies - and in connexion with other practical monopolies. To some extent, I believe that the principle has even been carried into the regulation, of railway companies in Great . Britain.
– Wherever trading facilities are sought from Parliament.
– Yes, wherever Parliament grants concessions it may do so under provisions intended to prevent the use of the concessions as a means of unduly taxing the public.
– The test is reasonableness.
– That is so. I can give honorable members an example of what I mean by quoting section 134 of the Metropolitan Gas Company’s Act, passed by the Victorian State Parliament. Honorable members will note that the company in question is operating a Statecreated monopoly. A concession was made by the State to a private company to carry out a very important .industrial undertaking, namely, the supply of gas to the city and suburbs of Melbourne. In giving that concession Parliament thought fit to impose very wise restrictions upon the methods of carrying on the business and of distributing the profits to be derived from it. The section to which I refer reads as follows -
Except as hereinafter provided the profits to be divided amongst the members in any year shall not exceed ten per centum on the paid-up capital of the company for the time being, provided that whenever throughout any half-year the company shall charge for gas sold’ to the public a less price than the maximum hereinafter fixed the company may increase the rate of dividend for such half-year in the proportion of Five shillings of dividend for each reduction of Five farthings per thousand cubic feet in the price of gas.
– Does that prevent the watering of shares?
– It has nothing to do with shares. What that section means, and such a provision is essential to the regulation of monopolies, is this : Parliament said, “ We are creating a large industrial monopoly. We give you a concession which will in time become very valuable. We recognise that in order to induce you to put the necessary capital into the business, to establish the great works and lay down the mains for the distribution of gas in connexion with your undertaking, we should allow you to obtain a substantial trade profit, namely, 10 per cent, on the money thus invested.”
– And the State Parliament, by granting a company a monopoly, has secured for Melbourne the second worst tramway system in Australia to-day.
– I am referring to a gas company that is operating one of the best plants for the production of gas to be found in Australia to-day. The same thing does not apply to the Tramway Company, so that the honorable member’s interjection is without point.
– Has ‘(not the Tramway Company been given a monopoly also?
– This does - not apply to the Tramway Company, but to the Metropolitan Gas Company, which is one of the best managed concerns in Victoria at the present time. Parliament practically said to the Company, “ We give you this concession upon these terms - that you make a reasonable trade profit of 10 per cent. - without any interference at all, but should your undertaking be so successful as ultimately to return a greater profit than 10 per cent, on the capital invested, with respect to the profit over and above 10 per cent., there must be a division of that between the company and the persons intended ultimately to be benefited by tin.’ concessions we give you.”
– ls not that provision evaded by increasing the number of shares ?
– Not at all.
– That is done in connexion with the Broken Hill Tramway Company.
– I cannot now enter into a discussion of what may be done by other companies. The concession given under conditions to the Metropolitan Gas Company of Victoria is in accordance with the provisions of many Acts of Parliament which exist in England at the present time regulating the control of practical monopolies. The monopoly to which I have referred has been eminently successful. It has enjoyed the advantage of private energy and enterprise, and at the same time it has been controlled and regulated and prevented from growing into an overwhelming or oppressive monopoly on the people for whose benefit it was really created. They have over and over again received the benefit of the provisions to which I have referred in a reduction of the price of the product of the industry. That is a legitimate mode of control, but if we seek to apply this principle to a new undertaking for the establishment of ironworks in Australia, we are faced with the difficulty that the promoters of such an undertaking, the “people- asked to find the capital to establish the industry, would be entitled to say, “ You are giving us a possible opportunity to make a good profit upon the investment of money “ - and as the enterprise would be a speculative one, they would probably require more than 10 per cent. - “but you are asking us to embark a very large amount of capital in a very uncertain element, in a community where the conditions of labour are being continually changed and may be changed in such a way as to prevent our deriving any profit at all from the undertaking.” In other words, they might say, “ If we go into this business at all, it will be more or less of a speculation, and, therefore, you should not limit Our profits. We are entitled to the whole of the profits we can make if we take the risk.” If Parliament desired to attach reasonable conditions to such an undertaking as this we should undoubtedly have to couple with them some means whereby those who invested their money in .such a huge undertaking would be given a reasonable assurance that it would be free from the more dangerous features of trade disputes or fluctuations in labour conditions. That is where the crux and difficulty of the question arises. How are we to do that? We must be able to assure the people who put their money into this industry that, provided they paid liberal wages, worked their employes reasonable hours, and complied with the other labour conditions which might be fixed, they should be freed from the danger of strikes, which would be ruinous to the iron industry. We know that a strike causes more injury in great ironworks than in any other industry, because should it result in stopping the furnaces it would not only bring about a cessation of work for the time being, but would probably destroy many thousands of pounds worth of property and plant. Any one who is acquainted with the iron industry will know that to allow the furnaces to cool would, in many instances, be to destroy them. If we wish to regulate such an undertaking in such a way as to provide for a reduction of price, should the profits earned exceed a certain amount, we must also devise some means whereby we can give those who have invested “their money in the business substantial security against the consequences of strikes, provided they pay liberal fixed rates of wages. That seems to me to be the whole’ problem, and I recognise the great difficulty of it. To sum up what I have said, it amounts to this : Assuming that we do not nationalize this industry - and it will not be nationalized - then the only business-like, rational way in which we can hope -to successfully establish such an enormous undertaking on a permanent basis in Australia is by treating it as a kind of regulated monopoly, having the advantages and subject to the obligations of such a monopoly, by providing that it shall so conduct its affairs, that whilst it pays whatever wages we may think it advisable to fix, and complies with whatever conditions we may think fit to impose for the benefit of the workers engaged in the industry, lt shall be secured by some definite and effective legislative provision against the possibility of the plant being- practically destroyed by the absolute cessation of work as the result of strikes or otherwise. Whilst we should give it that benefit, we should at the same time impose restrictions similar to those imposed upon various gas companies, that if more than a fairly liberal trade profit is made, the balance should be divided between those who have invested their money in the industry and the _ public for whose benefit, after all, it is proposed that these ironworks shall be established.
– What form would that legislation take?
– That is asking me to go into details. I have certain ideas in my mind as to how it could be rendered effectual without imposing any hardship, but I do not propose at thisstage to go further into the matter. It is a peculiar commentary on the position of the honorable member, and of the party to which he belongs, that he should ask a question which shows that, in his opinion, it is practically impossible to exercise legislative control over the labour connected with any. undertaking. I thought that he and his party had all along contended that they were capable of creating legislative machinery which would impose liabilities on workmen as well as on employers. Does he, and do his party, now mean to say that Parliament can pass only such legislation as will be obligatory on employers, and cannot enforce obligations on those who are employed? The honorable member, after having taken part in the passing of legislation, most of which is practically unworkable, coolly asks me-
– To what legislation does the honorable and learned member ret cr ?
– To the arbitration legislation. .
– It is not unworkable.
– It is workable in its application to one side only.
– It has given the honorable member for Parkes a lift under the lug.
– It is the lawyers who have made it unworkable.
– My impression is that it is not so much the lawyers as the members of trade unions in various parts of Australia who have taken advantage of the right to appeal to the Courts, and when decisions have gone against them have refused to obey them, who have made the Act unworkable. But, notwithstanding the failures of the past, I am of opinion that, if prudent and carefully thought-out provisions are adopted, we may establish a tribunal whose decrees, if just, will be enforceable against either employers or employes.
– “If just,” that is the point.
– The honorable member says “ if just.” .The measure of justice in his case seems to be whether the decision is or is not with him.
– If it is just, it is bound to be with us.
– I apologise for having taken up so much time, because I must confess that I have been to some extent touching on matters which over and over again have been the subject of debates in this House, though I endeavoured, as much as possible, to avoid doing so, and to place clearly before the House what seem to me to be the only conditions upon which we can hope by legislative assistance to initiate and establish a permanent and prosperous iron industry in Australia.
– I have listened with attention to the greater part of the speech of the honorable member for Flinders, and in his remarks may be found many strong reasons why we should agree to the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay. I am in agreement with the honorable member for Flinders in desiring to see the iron industry established within Australia. He says that he is thoroughly satisfied that, if established, it is nearly sure to be a monopoly.
– For a time.
– The honorable member for Mernda explained and apologized for his statements throughout the speech ; but I do not think that he made that reservation. He -went further, the tenor of his argument being that to establish the iron industry in Australia, the assistance of this or of the State Parliaments was necessary; that legislative assistance must be secured be: fore private individuals will invest the immense amount of money required to obtain permanence! We have therefore three positions, that the industry will be a monopoly, that it is desirable to establish it, and that the bulk of the money to be expended in establishing it will be the money df the people, contributed in compliance with’ provisions of Acts of Parliament. It seems to me, however, that if the Government is to contribute most of the money necessary to start the industry, it should control it. The honorable member for Flinders instanced monopolies which have been created in Australia, and I was pleased to note that he does not, like the honorable member for East Sydney, adopt the attitude of being scared by the bogy of Socialism. Reference was made to the Metropolitan Gas Company of Melbourne, whose powers are restricted, so that they cannot levy what he considers undue charges upon consumers; but, inasmuch as the company is . permitted Jo make dividends’ of 10 per cent., it must be regarded as, in cricket parlance, “on a pretty good wicket”
– Its powers were defined many years ago.
– A dividend of 10 per cent, is not thought by honorable members opposite to be sufficient for the Denton Hat Mills of Victoria.
– We are not dealing with the Tariff now, though I may say, in regard to hats, that I am considerably in agreement with the honorable member.
– What profits have been divided by the Gas Company, in addition to the 10 per cent, dividends?
– No doubt the ingenuity of the directors of the Metropolitan Gas Company is sufficient to find a means of distributing profits in excess of the 10 per cent, dividend permitted by the Statute.
– Like the Silverton Tramway Company.
– A similar concern is the Melbourne Tramway Company, for whose sake a monopoly was created by a Victorian Act of Parliament. They may have stipulated for the safeguards to which the honorable member for Flinders alluded as having been imposed in connexion with the Metropolitan Gas Company.
– But they “did not. Mr. FRAZER.- Then the position is even worse. I have no hesitation in saying that the Melbourne tramway system is a disgrace to a city like this. The Adelaide horse-tram system, which belongs to another monopoly, is the only tramway system in Australia which is worse. It is unnecessary for me to inform Melbourne people - particularly when they have been unable to’ see the systems in use in other parts of Australia - how money is being niched from their pockets in the form of excessive fares us the result of the benevolent policy of the Government in handing over to a few individuals the control of one of their public utilities.
– Does not the honorable member see that his criticism is directed against the doings of a company which is not subject- to the conditions of which I approve, and which I quoted as being embodied in the Metropolitan Gas Company’s Act.
– I have such faith in
I he ingenuity of the directors of monopolies in Australia as to believe that they are quite capable of getting round any provisions which may be contained in Acts of Parliament. In my humble judgment, in all those cases where the State or the municipality has taken control of public services that must, undoubtedly, be monopolies, the people receive more consideration at their hands and more for their money than they would from a private company or from the monopoly that, as my honorable member admits, is likely to be created in this particular instance. I thoroughly concur in the idea that the iron industry will be a monopoly. I believe that once we get a solid firm established in Australia they will produce enough material to supply our wants.
– It can only be a monopoly if we exclude outside competition.
– That opens up another phase of the question. If my honorable friend intends to argue on that line we can argue that the non-exclusion of outside cam petition has landed us where we are to-day - without an iron industry worth speaking of.
– Not necessarily. If we put the two on a fair competitive basis by means of duties, we would not necessarily shut out everything else, nor would we create a local monopoly.
– My honorable friend has always urged that the fair competitive basis on which he desires to see the iron industry established is brought into existence bv our geographical position and the natural protection afforded against over-sea imports. Has not that been his argument on this question? Has he ever voted for the imposition of a duty in connexion with this proposal ?
– If my honorable friend admits that he has not voted for the imposition of a duty, and he wants to see the iron industry established in Australia, he can only resort to one other argument, and that is that the natural protection should be sufficient to enable us to bring the industry into existence.
– Before the honorable member can be certain that it is going to be a monopoly he must shut out entirely competition from outside.
– I have not said I am certain that there is going to be a monopoly ; but in view of the figures which have been submitted, and of the very considerable outlay that will be necessary in order to bring a satisfactory plant into existence, I hold that for many years to come there will be room for only one industry.
– Hear, hear ; but the other result does not necessarily follow.
– It may follow.’
– It can only be a monopoly if we make it one.
– I believe that the interests of the persons who will use the iron throughout Australia will be served most satisfactorily by having a Government monopoly. The honorable member for Flinders, in stating that the nationalization of this industry is not within the region of practical politics, has hardly put the case fairly. It must be admitted that in this Parliament all questions have to be decided by both branches. If we find that before the last election - and I think it is so now - an absolute majority of the members of one branch were prepared to vote in favour of creating a Government monopoly, that is a position which we, as reasonable men, ought to be prepared to face. I do not think it is a position which can be dismissed by the phrase that the nationalization of the industry is outside the region of party politics. Probably if my honorable friend had not thought that it was outside the region of practical politics he would have resorted to that other stronghold - that it is unconstitutional.
– No, I do not think it is.
– The honorable member does not think it is unconstitutional?
– No. I make the honorable member a present of that.
– I am very pleased that the honorable .member makes me a present of his belief that our proposal is not unconstitutional. If I remember rightly the leader of the Opposition said this afternoon that it is unconstitutional.
– I did not hear him say so.
– I am not absolutely sure that he did, but if he did not make use of that language this afternoon I am very much surprised.
– What I mean is that. so far as I know, it would not be unconstitutional for the Federal Government to acquire ironworks, but it would be unconstitutional to prevent the States from doing so.
– The honorable member’s view is that it would be constitutional for us to do it?
– We could not prevent the States from doing the same thing.
– Very likely. I think that the honorable member will admit that if we undertake the obligation of establishing the industry the States are not likely to rush to follow our example.
– Mr. Justice Higgins always contended that it is unconstitutional.
– I am not so sure on that point. I only wanted to suggest that probably the question of constitutionality will be another stronghold on which some honorable members will rely in the event of arguments defeating them on the merits of the question. I am not in a position to say whether or not our proposal is constitutional. With regard to Federal powers the High Court has so far put a most liberal interpretation upon the provisions of the Constitution. Seeing that we are responsible for the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth, probably the High Court would hold that under the Constitution we have the power to use the forces that would enable us to arm our defenders. My experience throughout Australia has taught me that where a monopoly is inevitable it is most desirable it should be a Government monopoly. I remember that on one occasion at Toowoomba the leader of the Opposition said, “If we are going to have these industries in Australia let them be State industries. If we are going to have these protective duties to bring industries into existence let the State conduct them. Under its control there will be no sweating, because nobody will have an interest in sweating. There will be no dividends to be paid because there will be no shareholders except the people.” He drew a very beautiful picture as he stated very eloquently why we should take up that attitude. So many industries are affected by the successful initiation of the iron industry that that point ought to receive earnest consideration at the hands of honorable members. The industry is so important to Australia that it may be entitled to a larger bounty than is provided for in the schedule. I have no hesitation in saying that in the event of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Wide Bay being defeated, I shall vote for the granting of a bounty in preference fo the imposition of a duty, -because I wish to see the industry firmly established before we penalize others by imposing duties on the raw material of allied industries, which must necessarily suffer if prices be raised. But to show my absolute bena fides, I may say that, in the event of both the Bill and the proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay being defeated, I shall vote for a duty in order that the industry may be established.
.- Like the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, I regard the problem before us as one of great national importance. I am confident that the House is agreed as to the necessity of establishing the iron industry in Australia. We recognise that one of the fundamental essentials of every nation is that it should have within its territory pig iron produced from its native ores. The necessity is all the greater in the case of Australia, since it is severed from other sources of supply by a stretch pf many thousand of miles of sea. The iron industry is of the greatest importance to every country, because iron is the basis of numberless manufactures, and also because in the absence of such an industry we might find ourselves helpless when called upon at any time to defend ourselves. These facts have been mentioned so often in the House that it is unnecessary for me to dwell upon them. We must, however, remember that the possibilities of the industry are not limited even to the great local demand which, as the Treasurer has reminded us, represents, as far as the first products of iron are concerned, an importation of more than ^2,000,000 per annum. We have also open to us the other markets, to which reference has been made by the honorable member for’ Flinders. In particular the great and growing market of the East is one to which Australia may well look as affording a legitimate outlet for the products of her iron industry. On one point I wish to join issue as soon as possible with the honorable member for Flinders; I refer to the cost of laying down a complete plant. The honorable member said that it would cost at least £1,000,000 to establish the necessary plant ; but I consider that that is an over-estimate. For about £500,000 a very good plant could be laid down.
– For £100,000 we could put down the necessary plant. I would be prepared to take on the contract.
– That estimate is as much below the mark as the other is above it. The Bill before us does not propose the payment of a bounty for the establishment of such a complete system as the honorable member for Flinders has outlined. It does not provide for the encouragement of the. manufacture of steel rails, which is one of the objects we have to aim at. The manufacture of pig iron and the” processes following immediately upon it - the manufacture of bar iron, ingot steel, iron sheets, galvanized iron and so forth - represent only about one-half of the processes to which we have to look. The establishment of a rolling plant, mills and furnaces for. turning out the steel rails necessary for Australia would involve the expenditure of a considerable portion of the £500,000 that is required for complete and effective iron works.
– In the southern States of America a plant capable of supplying 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 people was put down at a cost of £100,000.
– That may be true of the southern States of America, but it certainly does not correctly represent the position in Australia. It cost something over £120,000 to erect one blast furnace in New South Wales. If we are to turn out in any one factory the whole of the iron required in Australia-
– The Honorable member is talking about the old process.
– We should require about three blast furnaces, instead of one, in order to produce all the iron that is required in Australia, and. this would involve an outlay of £300,000, unless the work were to be done by the direct process now being tried in Victoria.
– One modern blast furnace would turn out more iron than is consumed in Australia.
– The blast furnace put down in New South Wales is a modern one. Everything, of course, depends upon the size of the furnace. That to which I have referred is capable of turning out 1,000 tons per week. At the present time its weekly output is about 793. tons, half of which, I may say in passing, is or will be absorbed by the Government contracts held by the firm, while the remaining half will be available to the general public. The highest quantity turned out in one week has been 793 tons.
– Does the State Government use half of that quantity?
– Yes, about one-half. The difficulty with regard to the Esk bank industry is not that they’ cannot turn: out sufficient pig, but that they require more steel and puddling furnaces to turn the pig into steel and rolled iron, in order that they may complete the contracts which they have with the State Government at present. That establishment now turns out about 1,000 tons of finished iron per month, but when the plant is completed, if they get the assistance they hope to receive from the State Government, they will turn out about 2,500 tons per month. They now have upon their pay-sheets 906 hands - nearly 1,000 men, with a small proportion of boys. Those figures, of course, do not embrace the persons who are indirectly dependent upon the industry. When the additional plant is put in they will employ another 300 hands. They now pay in wages somewhere about £2,500 per week, and with the additional hands the wages sheet will run lip to about £3,000 per week. There is no doubt whatever about the quality of the iron. It has already been conclusively proved that we are able to manufacture in Australia iron which is equal to anything that is produced in any part of the world. Lithgow rolled iron at £12 10s. perton is now being used in the State Government works in substitution for Yorkshire iron, for which they had to pay, landed in Australia, £28 per ton. The Government of New South Wales has subjected the steel to very severe tests: A high standard has been maintained in regard to every ounce supplied. The Government have erected their own laboratory and testing works at Lithgow, and I am informed by Government officials that the Eskbank steel not only reaches the required standard in every particular case, but goes considerably beyond it. The industry also pays to the New South Wales Government over £30,000 per annum on account of railway freights. I mention those facts to show that, at any rate, the mechanical difficulties have been got over, and the quality of the iron is beyond dispute. It remains for this House to say whether, having seen the industry established, and Mr. Sandford enter into it with an energy, spirit, and enterprise worthy of all commendation, we will help it by this bounty. I believe it is true that if the -proposals of the Government are carried the industry will be put upon a sound basis. In view of the facts which 1 have shortly enumerated, I think it is worthy of the encouragement that the Government propose to give to it. Something has been said about the advantage of giving a bounty in preference to a duty. Personally, I agree with much that was said by the last speaker. I had rather help the industry by means of a bounty than by a duty, although if the bounty proposals are not carried, I am -prepared to vote for a duty of 12 J percent.
– Another convert !
– No. When I interjected in regard to woollens that a duty of 40 per cent, amounted to prohibition, an honorable member opposite said, “ Oh, no ; that is only a free-trade duty.” If 40 per cent, is a free-trade duty on the authority of one of “the members of the Labour Party, I think that a duty of 12J per cent, would certainly be no more than a free-trade duty.
– If we put a duty on the raw material, should we not require to follow it up by a duty on the manufactured article
– If we impose a duty of 12J per cent, on the raw material, we must remember that on an average it does not amount at the outside to more than 2 per cent, on the manufactured article, taking the manufacture of iron right through. We must also remember that the result of putting these works upon a sound basis will be that the manufacturers who at present have to lay in large stocks of pig, rolled, and bar iron and steel, will no longer have to lay up those stocks, and will not be required to keep so much capital lying idle. It will be seen that so small a duty will make very little difference to the finished article when it is turned out in the shape of machinery or something of that kind. I trust that the House will agree to stimulate the in dustry by carrying the bounty proposal. I should like, before sitting down, to say that I do not believe that the iron industry will by any means become a monopoly. I believe that there will be in Australia, as there are in America, several blast furnaces and ironworks. At present there is a proposal to establish an iron industry in Victoria, which has a promise of assistance from the Government of this State. We know that only to-day there has been an exhibition in Melbourne of the manufacture of iron by the direct process ; and in Tasmania, Queensland, and South Australia, there are large deposits of iron ore. I am hopeful that not only in New South Wales, but in other States of the Commonwealth, we shall see this, industry established under the encouragement given by this Bill. In my opinion, there are infinite possibilities for the industry, and, therefore, I urge the desirability and necessity of passing this Bill into law.
.- This is the third time we have had a measure of the kind before us, and I must say that I am rather surprised that the Bill should have been introduced by the Government at the present time. The only result df the passing of this Bill must be the handing over of £250,000 to a certain iron manufacturing company ; and I do not be- ‘lieve that we in this Parliament should be prepared, when some person or persons are in a difficulty, to come forward with a considerable sum in order to bolster up an industry in which they may be engaged. I believe, with others, that it is necessary to have the iron industry established in Australia, not only for ordinary domestic purposes, but for the purposes of defence. I maintain, however, that there is only one way in which to establish the industry on safe and legitimate lines. The honorable member for Flinders told us this afternoon that he had come to the conclusion that a monopoly was necessary for the successful establishment of the iron industry, and any one with common sense must see that the proposal before us means a monopoly. Now, I shall never cast my vote to give any monopoly or companycontrol of a bonus of £250,000, and thus place it in a position to demand extortionate prices from dependent industries. The consumption of iron in» Australia is something under 500,000 tons per annum, and one modern blast furnace, I am told’, will turn out that quantity in a year, employing only about 240 men.
– There is a modern blast furnace at Lithgow which turns out only 50,000 tons per annum.
– But that furnace, comparatively speaking, is a toy.
– When I speak of a modern blast furnace, , I mean such furnaces as are to be found in America and other parts of the world, producing pig-iron on a large scale. As the honorable member for Laanecoorie says, the blast furnace at Lithgow is a mere toy in comparison; and it will be readily realized that, with a small furnace, the cost of manufacture is proportionately greater. It is idle to say that under this Bill there will be competition in the industry, seeing that there is already one blast furnace in operation at Lithgow.
– That need not stop competition from oversea.
– I understood the honorable member to suggest that the duty should be so adjusted as to leave only the smallest margin of profit, so that there may be an opportunity for competition oversea.
– I am suggesting nothing further than that this need not be. a monopoly unless we deliberately make it one.
– But it is contended that success can follow only if it be a monopoly. We must not forget, further, that, in accordance with our standard of living, certain wages will have to be paid, and, therefore, the cost of production will be greater here than in other parts of the world where similar restrictions are not in operation. Under the circumstances, our local producers are placed at a disadvantage, and to make the industry successf ul there must be monopoly, or a loss which will mean the failure of the enterprise. There is no guarantee that, after this £250,000 has been used up, further assistance will not be required. We may be asked then to impose a high protective duty, so as to give further control over the market, or to extend the period of the bonus.
– The honorable member is a consistent free-trader !
– I may, or may not be. I hold that whether a country be freetrade or protectionist, we find the same economic conditions involving the mass of the workers; and, after all, I do not pin so much faith, so far as the toilers are concerned, to either free-trade or protection.
– Without protection for the workers, of course?
– We, the workers, have not reaped much advantage from the new protection proposals in the past, and I do not hope for much from the legislation which is likely in the future.
– We cannot alter the great law of supply and demand.
– The man who still holds to the theory of supply and demand is so far out of date as not to be worth considering in this debate. As my honorable friend the honorable member for Darwin would say, the time will come when children will be taken to museums to see the mummy of a man who relied on the principle of supply and demand. As I say, I am surprised that the Government should introduce this measure at the present time. Only to-day a letter was received from the principal of the iron works established in New South Wales, asking, in a pleading manner, for either the passing of this Bill, or the imposition of a high protective duty, in order to enable the industry to be continued.
– I have stated for months that I was going to introduce this Bill.
– I am not blaming the Treasurer. The Government have been trying not only for months but for years to get the Bill through. Yet we cannot get over the fact - and this is the point that I object to - that we are practically being asked to give- £250,000 to Sandford and Co. No company that establishes a business in Australia have a right to ask the Government for £250,000 to carry them along. It looks as though the Government - I do not say that the Government themselves have acted in that way - have had some pressure brought to bear upon them to bring down this Bill at this particular time.
– I can assure the honorable member that I had no pressure brought to bear upon me.
– It is -most unfortunate that this Bill should have been brought down at the present time, more especially just after the failure of that particular company to raise fresh capital to put into the business in order to make it a success.
– We have only just reached the iron duties in the Tariff.
– There has been a consistent agitation for the last two or three years to get these bounties.
– Where did the pressure come from last Thursday for the 100 per cent, duty on hats?
– The honorable member probably knows more about that matter than I do. If we are going to maintain the high standard of living that we. have established for our workmen in Australia, and to insist that men engaged in this and other industries shall have fair conditions of labour, there are only two methods by which we can make this industry a success. We must either give the company a complete monopoly, so that they can control the internal market and extort what prices they choose, or the Commonwealth must have complete control of the industry. I favour the nationalization, or rather the control, of the industry by the Commonwealth. The time has come when an industry like this, of such great and far-reaching importance to the people of Australia, should be owned and controlled by the Commonwealth in the interests of the people, and no Minister should come to the House, as the Treasurer has done, .with a Bill to ask for £2,50,000 to bolster up a business in such a way that, if it is successful, certain persons will be enabled to put huge dividends into their pockets. In these circumstances I hope that the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay, to allow of the nationalization of the industry, will be carried. I shall vote for that amendment, and, if it is not carried, I shall vote against the Bill altogether.
.- Recognising the desire of the Treasurer to have a test vote . on . this question as early as possible, I shall refrain from entering the tempting field which has been explored somewhat by the leader of the Opposition and’ to a limited extent by the honorable member for Flinders. The honorable member for Flinders was very anxious to know the views of the Labour Party on the land question. But he answered his own question when’ he said that State-created monopolies should be State-controlled. Seeing that the State is so largely responsible for the land monopoly which prevails in Australia, the honorable member should be with us in our proposal for a progressive land tax, which is part of our platform. The honorable member is aware that our platform does not contain a word about land nationalization. We recognise, as practical politicians, that the Commonwealth does not control the land. The question of whether we favour land nationalization cannot be answered with a plain “ yes “ or “ no.” I should like honorable members to face the real issue in this case. I feel that the House is indebted to the honorable member for Flinders for showing the difficulties that surround private enterprise in handling the iron industry. He was forced to admit that it is one of those industries which in the circumstances must become a monopoly, and must therefore be controlled in some way. He indicated, ‘ by quoting a law relating to the Metropolitan Gas Company of Melbourne, one way in which an industry of that kind might be regulated. But I agree with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that, if the percentage of dividends is limited by law, there are easy ways for companies to get over the law. It is wonderful how, in those cases, the cost of management increases, and what a number of directors it takes to run the business. As soon as ever a company, in those circumstances, make a greater profit than the law allows, they will “ whack it up “ amongst the big shareholders. If they are not up to a game of that kind they do not know their business. When this measure was before the House in October, 1904, I spoke against the bounty being given at all, basing my opposition mainly upon the experience of Canada. I have seen nothing since to indicate that I should change my attitude towards the Bill. I wish those who may be a little afraid of the- bogy, of Socialism to take note of this point : The leader of the Opposition stated that the railways, postoffices, and other services that are called, socialistic by the Labour Party, were established before the Labour Party raised the question of Socialism at all. That being so, they were established, not by the Labour Party, but by those who, from their business knowledge, saw that that was the best way to do things. I ask honorable members to face this particular proposal in the same way, without any prejudice. The Labour Party declare in their platform that they are in favour of nationalizing monopolies. Three industries which are ripe now for nationalization, and which we have openly stated that we favour the nationalization of, are the tobacco, sugar, and shipping industries. I think we can reasonably ask that this case should be looked at on its own merits and from the point of view of its own- circumstances. What is the problem before us? We have here admittedly any amount of splendid iron ore. Everybody is unanimous in the desire that we should make our own iron in Australia. I regard it as a necessity for Australia - and I think most honorable members will agree with me in this - to have our own iron industry developed. That would very quickly be seen if Australia was involved in war. If we are to have our own arms and ammunition factories we should manufacture our own iron. The experimental stage, so far as the quai itv of the iron and the methods of developing the industry are concerned, has already been passed in Australia. One capable and able enthusiast in the industry has put all his money into developing it in New South Wales. He has carried it beyond the experimental stage to the stage where he has an excellent contract with the State Government. Yet, staring us in the face, but seemingly overlooked by numbers of honorable members, is the fact that private enterprise will not touch it. Private enterprise openly confesses itself a failure in handling the iron industry. Millions of pounds of capital are lying idle in the banks; we have plenty of men here with large means, but they will not touch the industry. In spite of the fact that the experimental stage has been passed, that the market is waiting, that there is every chance of carrying the industry on, the capitalists will not touch it. They ought to know, with the present Government in power, and in view of the tenacity of purpose of the Treasurer, who always sticks to. his promises, that it is unnecessary to ask us for an assurance that they ‘shall be given a bounty or a duty. They ought to know that they are certain to get one or the other from the present Government. Consequently, I do not think . there is much in that excuse. One or two proposals have recently been advanced for the production of pig iron by new and simpler processes, and capitalists are awaiting the results of these with great interest In Canada the Dominion Superintendent of Mines, Dr. Eugene Haanel, in a report which he has prepared, speaks enthusiastically of the electric process. By adopting this method of treatment he declares that a furnace capable of turning out 120 tons of iron daily could be erected for $750,000, of which $500,000 would’ be expended (in providing the necessary machinery of 10,000 horse-power. I mention this fact merely with a view to . show that there is a risk of changes taking place in the methods adopted for the production of iron. Probably this fact accounts for the reluctance of private enterprise to embark upon the industry. I- ask honorable members who have been fighting under the anti-socialistic banner to regard this question from the stand-point of the necessity which exists for having a sufficient supply of iron produced in Australia at as cheap a rate as possible. In view of the difficulty experienced in inducing private enterprise to enter upon the iron industry, Ithink that it is one. which should be nationalized.
– Does the honorable member think that the State of New South Wales can afford to nationalize it?
– I am speaking in favour of its nationalization by the Commonwealth, although, personally, I should not object to New South Wales undertaking the work. The people ought to own and control the industry. It is not reasonable to expect private capitalists to embark upon the enterprise in the light of the experience of other countries. The experience of Canada proves the inherent difficulty of developing the iron industry by means of the bounty system. In the Dominion bounties have been paid upon the production of iron since 1884, notwithstanding that each measure authorizing their payment has been limited to a specific period. But the term over which these Acts shall operate has been extended from time to time. The bounty payable under the last Act expired in 1906, but it Kas since been renewed till 19 10. Since the inception ofthe bounty system the Dominion has paid over $6,080,000 for the development of the iron industry. Four years ago there were nine private companies in existence there. These companies have, erected fifteen furnaces, but only nine of them are now working. It is interesting to note that last year about four of the larger companies practically appropriated the whole of the bounty paid. In that year the bounty exceeded $2,000,000, of which one company - the Dominion Iron and Steel Company - received $957,277. For the first . time in its history with the aid of bounty, its operations resulted in a profit during that year. I repeat that it received by way of bounty $957,277, and that its accounts showed a surplus of $652,594. It will thus be seen that but for the bounty its operations would have resulted in a deficit. The Lake Superior Company has a representative of the Government of Ontario upon its board of directors, because that Government have granted it a loan of $2,000,000 to develop the industry. The company has paid off a portion of that loan, arid renewed $1,000,000 of it. For eight months of last year it made a profit of about $520,000. But it will be seen that the State riad to come to its aid. The Canadian companies, in fact, would have been unable to carry on operations in the absence of State aid. The establishment of the iron industry is an absolute necessity to Australia. Canadian experience demonstrates the difficulty of building upthe industry, and points to its tendency to be controlled by a few individuals, because, although there were nine companies in existence in the Dominion a comparatively short period ago, there are only four companies in existence now.
– Why have they failed? They have had the benefit of a big bounty and a heavy duty.
– They have the advantage of a large bountv and of a very much larger market for the iron they produce than we should have in Australia. But this only proves the great difficulties to be surmounted in establishing the industry. I have referred to the tendency towards monopoly in the industry, and that is a tendency which we should have to face in Australia from the start, because our market would not justify the establishment of more than one company. It is all very well for honorable members to quote for us the total importations of articles made trom iron or steel, in addition to the actual quantities of iron and steel imported, but they should not forget that no company established in Australia could hope to secure the market for all that iron and steel right away. I do not know what the figures for last year were, but in 1903, in Canada, although the industry had been established for some time, and had been assisted with bounties to the extent of over $4,000,000, the local production reached only 78 per cent, of the home consumption. After all those years, and in spite of the assistance and protection afforded them, the local industry for the production of iron was unable to supply the home market. A great deal of iron is still imported into Canada, despite all the obstacles placed in its way. . I was saying that the market for iron in- Australia must be considered as very much less than that represented by the total importations of iron and articles made from iron. The people talking of investing in the industry recognise all these difficulties, and I feel that if it is to be established in Australia on a permanent basis the Commonwealth itself must tackle the job. I was very pleased to hear the honorable member for’ Flinders admit that the State workshops in Victoria were able to produce railway engines and material more cheaply and tetter than private enterprise, although private enterprise in this connexion was represented by an important firm that was originally voted a large sum to put in plant, and had considerable- experience in production. In spite of this, the Government railway workshops have been able to beat private enterprise out of the business. Apart altogether from any question of principle involved, this is just one of those industries which should be taken up by the whole people. One honorable member interjected that we should require more than one furnace to supply the market for iron in Australia, and yet, from the evidence given before the Royal Commission, I find that one furnace in Carnegie’s steel and iron works produces more iron than would be sufficient to meet the whole consumption! of the metal in Australia, including manufactures of iron imported. That is arc an’swer to those who say that anybody else might make a start in the industry. It amuses me to listen to such a statement. I recognise the force of the claim made by the honorable member for Parramatta that iron produced at Lithgow can compete abroad with iron manufactured elsewhere. But if people cannot be induced to invest money voluntarily in the industry under existing conditions, is it likely that any one would be foolish enough to doso after one firm had become fairly established, and had secured a grip of the market? I believe that the honorable member for Flinders was right in saying that the amount of bounty proposed at the outset is not sufficient. Certainly the Canadian experience amply supports that view.
– Half the Canadianworks are shut down.
– I have mentioned that there are nine companies having fifteen furnaces, and that six of these were idle. I have mentioned also that 1905 and1906: were years of exceptional prosperity in the industry, and the best years that it has experienced so far. They reckoned four years ago that the money proposed to be invested in the industry there would amount ‘to $50,000,000 in five years. T have some doubt on the point, as the tendency appears to be in the direction of a reduction of the bounty and of the number of companies. The tendency has been for the industry to get into the hands of one company. I have said that the Lake Superior company was the only company that was making a profit, whilst the next in importance was a long way behind it, and with a bounty of $1,000,000 showed a profit of only about $500,000. If we wish to establish this industry in Australia the whole, people must undertake the work. I do not think that the leader of the Opposition is alarmed about the socialistic character of the proposal, because, although the right honorable member is the leader of the anti-Socialists, he has on more than one occasion admitted that we have not yet reached the limit of the industrial activities which the State may profitably undertake, or in connexion with which the State may assist private enterprise. When this measure was previously before Parliament the right honorable gentleman was strongly opposed to the proposed bounty for, practically, the reasons which I have given to-night. However, he now seems to favour the bounty, and I should like to say that if he consulted the Canadian experience he would find that he would be committing himself to something the end of which we cannot see. The honorable member for Flinders was more nearly right in suggesting that the amount proposed as bounty should be doubled, and his opinion that we should require £500,000 to start the industry is borne out by the experience of Canada. Apart from the views which the members of the Labour Party hold, I say that this is a business which the State might properly undertake. An honorable member may oppose the proposals of the Labour Party in many respects, and still admit that a good case had been made out for the Commonwealth taking up this industry and developing it as necessary for the supply of iron and steel required for other industries. I shall vote for the amendment, and against the bounty, as I did before. I was sorry to receive the letter, which I suppose other honorable members also received, from trie gentleman who has done so much to develop the iron industry in Australia. I am sorry to learn that, so far, he has not succeeded. I hope he will eventually succeed. I should be glad to see him get a good return for the capital, he has put into the business, and for the years of worry and effort the attempt to establish the industry has cost him. I say that Australia is indebted, to that man for following the business up as he has done. I happen to know that personally he believes that the State should develop this industry, and should not leave it to private enterprise. To my mind a protective duty similar to those which we have been ‘engaged in considering of late would be of more assistance to the industry than a bounty. If we accept the situation with our eyes open, and say, “ If the bounty paid you now does not prove enough, come again next year for more,” which is what the Canadians have done, the position will be slightly different, so far as the industry is concerned. Indeed, if we adopt -the bounty system, we shall have to do that; those engaged in the industry will make out such a good case for further assistance. They will say, “ We have done our best. We cannot get more money, and we want your help again;” and Parliament, desiring that the industry shall grow and become prosperous, will be unable to refuse their appeal. But protective duties will probably be the better thing. Such duties would raise ai wall against importations, which would give the industry the local market, and improve the chance of obtaining the necessary capital. If we adopt the bounty system, we shall have to find some one who will provide the money necessary to start the enterprise, and will be prepared to take the risk of new methods being introduced which will make his plant obsolete. At the present time men are waiting to see whether new processes will prove successful before investing their money in industries of this sort. I am prepared to vote for protective duties, but I am not prepared to vote for bounties.
– The honorable member prefers a protective Tariff to the bounty system?
– I do not say that I prefer a protective Tariff; but the experience of Canada causes me to dislike the bounty system as applied to the iron industry, although I have voted for bounties for the encouragement of other industries. I have objections of principle to giving a monopoly to any individuals, however worthy, though, if any one is to be bene- fited, I would like it to be the gentleman who has so interested himself in the establishment of this industry. Still, as we have adopted the policy of protection, those connected with the iron industry have as much right to benefit by it as have those connected with other industries. And if a majority of honorable members do not vote for the proposal to make the manufacture of iron a Commonwealth concern, I must, when faced with the alternative of bounties or protective . duties, vote for the latter.
.- As in the past, I shall endeavour to condense my remarks on this subject as much as possible. When, in 1891, it was my privilege to visit Europe, I met on board ship Mr. J. Mitchell, then a member of the New South Wales Legislature, who was going Home to interview the big ironmasters in the north of England. He had interviewed them previously, and I understand that final arrangements were about to be completed when death called him from the scene. His statement to me was that the iron masters of England recognised that in New South Wales the natural resources were such as they had not in Great Britain - the deposits of coal and iron being so close together. He told me, furthermore, that the experts which they had sent out here had reported that, after allowing for rates of wages twice as high as those paid in England, iron could be manufactured much more cheaply in New South Wales than in the Old Land. The amendment of the leader of the Labour Party has my approval. I shall always vote for the nationalization of anything appertaining to the welfare of the community. I should prefer to see the coal industry nationalized, first, because I recognise that it is the foundation of the iron industry, as the latter is the foundation of all manufacturing industries. But, should we not be able to get a majority for our proposal to nationalize the iron industry, I shall vote for its establishment under other conditions. At the present lime, the 4,000,000 people here cannot do what a few -thousands were able to do in the Transvaal, namely, manufacture a large piece of ordnance. I doubt if we could make even a good rifle. We may be able to make bayonets, but they are becoming obsolete weapons. A statement made by the honorable member for Wide Bay was discounted by some honorable members, namely, that, according to the Vic torian Chief Commissioner of Railways, the Melbourne suburban railways are amongst the best managed in the world. The honorable member for Bourke will remember that Mr. Speight made a similar remark many years ago. I indorse this view. About Melbourne you travel first class more cheaply on a national railway, than you can third class in any part of England, including the London suburbs, though I except what is known as the “ Tube,” in which there is only one class. To make the comparison with a concrete instance, to travel in London a distance such as that from Melbourne to Brighton - 9J miles - would cost is. 6d. return fare, third or fourth class. The English Parliament has passed laws which require the British railway companies to reduce rates and freights when their dividends rise to a certain point. But, as has been pointed out by others who have preceded me, companies can easily get rid of superfluous earnings. Those who have visited the Old Land will remember the splendid railway, terminal stations there. A great deal of moneyhas been spent on them,, and large salaries are paid. The English Parliament has also provided for what are known as parliamentary trains, on which the fare is id. per mile. But so contemptible is the management of these .private railway companies, that if a passenger wished to travel the measured mile from Edgeware-road to Gower-street, or any similar distance, and asked for a first class ticket, he would be charged 3d. ; if he asked for a second class ticket, 2d. ; and if he asked for a third class ticket, 1½d. ; but if he asked for a parliamentary ticket, id. only. Thus they stoop to the deception of charging four rates for only three classes of conveyance. There . is another anomaly in the private railway management of England which does not exist here. A return from London to Gravesend, a distance of 24 miles, costs 2s. 6d. ; but if you get out half way, you must pay is. 6d. extra;’ which is contrary to Euclid’s axiom that the whole is greater than the part. These statements are borne out by a copy of the English Bradshaw ‘s Railway Guide, and a copy of the English A. B.C., which I have here.
– Things must be as bad in London as the Melbourne Tramway management.
– The Melbourne tramways, compared with the Sydney tramways, are a farce and a fraud. I must pay my meed of praise to Mr. G. D.
Carter, late member for Melbourne in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, who, although a Conservative, took such action that the Melbourne Tramway Company was prevented from obtaining control of our streets and roads for ever and ever. If it had not been for his action, conservative though he was - and all honour to him for what he did - the company would have had the right to control our streets for ever. Never has such a villainous franchise or concession as that been granted in the United States. In the course of years )Vhitaker s Almanac has become very much more respectable than it used to be. It has dropped out the harsh terms which it formerly employed. The reference to about £50,000.000 having been spent on bribery and corruption in connexion with the House pf Commons and the House of Lords has been left out of the later editions. But tinder the head of railway statistics there is one paragraph which may interest honorable members. It says -
The expenditure incurred in securing legislative authority to construct railways was enormous. The parliamentary cost of the Brighton Railway averaged £4,806 per mile; of the Manchester and Birmingham, ^’5,190 per mile; and of the Blackwall, ^’14,414 per mile ! The solicitors’ bill for the South-Eastern Railway contained 10,000 folios, and amounted to ,£240,000.
That, I suppose, is the biggest legal bill in existence. It is no wonder that in England railway companies cannot pay dividends or be run at a fair cost as in Australia. Leaving out the supply of London and its immediate suburbs, it has been stated that seven-eighths of the gas supply in England has been nationalized, or in other words belongs to the municipalities.
– How are the rates?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question will be’ found in a short quotation in Municipal Ownership in Great Britain, written by Hugo R. Meyer and- published in 1906. It is taken from an article which appeared in the Hereford J anr nal in June, 1887, and reads as follows :–
Happy Hereford ! We Herefordians must congratulate ourselves on our latest bereavement. The city rate (tax) has expired. It is dead, past, and gone, and will never come to life again. To be still more explicit, let us put it in this way - the citizens of Hereford will never have another city rate (tax) to pay. They have paid the very last copper that will be asked of them. Henceforth the waterworks, the gasworks, and the markets will provide all the necessary funds to meet the expenditure chargeable on the city rate - an expenditure which, be fore now, has had lo be met by a rate of 3s. 6d. in the pound.
That, I think, is a. fair answer to the honorable member.
– The honorable member has picked out a very good one, but I can name some cases where the rates total 14s. in the £.
– I can quote some cases where the rates come to even more than that. For instance, in one place where I was acting as locum tenens the rent of the house was £30 a year, while the rates amounted to £50. The net profits of these 280 municipalities run from £54,000 downwards, and the amount of money put into the gasworks ranees from £2,500,000 down to even £1,500. I maintain that in Australia the time has come when with our more liberal franchise and greater privileges to citizens we should, if need be, make a precedent. What is it to us if no country in the world has nationalized the iron industry except one country - Japan - the good qualities of which I admire equally with the honorable member for Parkes? On the subject of nationalization of industries in Japan, let me quote a passage from a recent publication -
The industries already nationalized in Japan are - tobacco, salt, camphor. These are absolutely under the control of the Government, and are run in the public interest. The world’s estimate of the value of the tobacco monopoly is made plain by the success of the late loan.
It will be remembered that that loan was floated in the midst of a terrible war, and, according to my reading, the success of the flotation has been unequalled by any other country fighting tinder similar conditions. The minds of honorable members will immediately revert to the history of the civil war in the United States. They will remember at how low a price loans were then floated in comparison with the price at which the late loan of Japan was floated -
The tobacco profits are offered as security. The financiers seem to regard them as fairly satisfactory. Sugar-growing and refining in Formosa, destined to become a very great industry, is solely in the hands of the State. There are also national iron. .and paper works. The beginning of the inevitable and desirable end in each case. ‘
I am very pleased that the Government have seen their way to bring down this Bill, and, if I cannot obtain what I wish, then, on the principle that if I cannot get a loaf of bread, and a bun is passing by, T shall take the bun. Clauses 8 and 9 pro- vide an opening by which the nationalization of the iron industry can be secured. In other words, they provide that the State in which the ironworks are constructed can, within one year from the last payment of the bounty - that is 1914-
– The Bill does not add to the powers of the State.
– Leaving aside the question of State rights, as I do not wish the privilege to cease within one year from the last payment of the bounty, namely, in 1914, it is my intention to propose in Committee the addition of the following words to clause 9 -
Provided that, in the event of the subsequent nationalization of any industry which under this Act receives a bonus, the compensation paid to its owner upon its acquisition by the Commonwealth shall not exceed 100 per cent, on its capital cost.
The compensation is seemingly rather high, but it will not appear so high to honorable members if they will reflect for a moment. Suppose my amendment, either in words or in substance, were adopted, and,, say, £250,000 were spent in establishing the industry. If the Commonwealth should take over the industry, its proprietors could not obtain more compensation than £500,000. Let me give another concrete exampleSuppose that the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company had been floated with 500,000 shares of jos; each, to be paid up at once. That would have provided a capital of £250,000. If there were a similar provision in the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company’s Act, the State of Victoria could purchase their tramways, knowing that it would not have .to spend more than £500,000, though the dividends, based on the market value of the shares, might seemingly make the property worth £1, 500,000, or even more than that. I shall vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay, in- order to secure the nationalization of the industry, and, failing the carrying of the amendment, I shall vote for the bounty or for duties, because I desire to see the iron industry established in Australia.
– One of the unfortunate features of this debate is that, instead of this Bill being regarded as a general provision for encouraging the iron industry in any part of the Commonwealth, it has been regarded by quite a majority of the speakers as a Bill specially designed to give assistance to a particular enterprise in New South Wales. The disadvantage of that misconception is that the Bill has been, I think improperly, associated with that particular enterprise, and that fact, coupled with the somewhat Jeremiad-like circular which its proprietor has addressed to honorable members, has given to this debate the appearance of being a sort of charitable appeal by a particular enterprise to the House to come to its assistance. I take it that the object of the Bill is to express in a practical way the desire of the House to offer substantial encouragement to the iron in- dustry of Australia. Every one who is acquainted with the iron trade is aware that not only in Lithgow, but in other parts of New South Wales, as well as in Tasmania, large and apparently profitable deposits of iron ore are to be found.
– And also in South Australia and Queensland.
– Quite so. The only fair way, therefore, in which the House can regard this Bill is by putting aside altogether - as the honorable member for Flinders in his mental calculations proposed to do - the existence of the Lithgow industry, and to question the reasonableness of this proposal from the point of view of all Australia, not as it. stands to-day, but as it may be in the next few years. I venture to say that if this Bill is so regarded it will give a very different aspect to the question. If, as a free-trader, I were to give expression to my academic opinions, apart from the inevitable trend of events in this House, and particularly in this State, I should certainly be a keen opponent of everything in the form of a duty or a bounty that was capable of being shown to be an artificial aid to any industry. I have always contended that artificial aid to industries, whether in the form of a bounty or a duty, must, of necessity, be unjust unless it is universal, because if one man’s occupation is entitled to artificial assistance out of the funds of the people, then every industry is entitled to be assisted. By the time that we had thus helped every one, we should be very much in the position of the old women who lived on an island and under-, took to take in one another’s washing. By the time that we had protected every one, and were paying one another an artificial price for our several commodities, we should have merely lowered the value of the sovereign. We should be very much in the position of several persons sitting round a table playing cards for money with counters, and saying, “ Henceforth these counters which we have regarded as representing 2s. 6d. each shall be considered to be worth a reduced sum.” Upon that ground, therefore, I should be opposed to bounties and duties; but I recognise, as many other free-traders have to do, that one’s convictions are not always practicable. When a man lives in a community of free-traders he can very readily marshal all his arguments in favour of freedom of commerce. But if he happens to be in a community in which a large proportion of the people have a leaning to protection, then the only course open to him is to put his convictions on one side for the time being, and do his best to approximate to his fiscal ideal as closely as circumstances will admit. In that way a man need not give up his convictions, but take a practical course which will bring him as near as possible to his fiscal ideals. I wish now to refer to the speech delivered this evening by the honorable member for Flinders. It was extremely interesting to me, and interesting because enigmatical. I confess that, coming from an honorable member who professes to be an effective protectionist, I could hardly understand it. If 1 were asked to summarise it, I should say that it was the advocacy of a very careful dissection by this House of the whole circumstances of the iron industry at Lithgow. The honorable member, anxious, and worthily anxious, as he always is, for the finances of the Commonwealth, was at some pains to point out not only the importance of, but the necessity for, looking with the eye of a skilful actuary into the practical possibilities not of the iron industries generally, but of the iron industry at Lithgow. He said in effect, “We ought not to think of voting a . large sum of money by way of a bounty to this industry, unless we are practically convinced that with that aid it is likely to be a success:” On abstract principles I am entirely with the honorable member. But I am a free-trader, and would take up the same position with regard to every industry to which we were asked to give the protection of a heavy duty. If we are to give a duty amounting, in some cases to 150 per cent., to the Denton Hat Mills, to- protect or assist that industry, when it is already paying dividends of 15 per cent., we should look very closely and microscopically into the working of the company to see where the profits beyond that 15 per cent, are going.
– I quite agree with the honorable member.
– We should look carefully into the workings of the company to see whether the profits beyond the 15 per cent, are going to the public or to the shareholders. I use that as an illustration. I demonstrated some days ago in this House, from one of the most reputable financial journals in this State, that the Denton Hat Mills had not only paid 10 per cent, dividends for five years, but within the last two years had put away, without any concealment, into the different funds - one called the Dividend Equalization Fund - no less than 5 per cent. One would think that if this close scrutiny which the honorable member for. Flinders has been advocating with regard to the iron industry in New South Wales were to be applied to all industries, he would have been here when the duties on hats and caps were under consideration to ask us to be very careful-
– So I was.
– The honorable member will allow me. One would think that he would have been here to ask us to be very careful that we did not throw on the shoulders of the people the burden of an increased price in respect of their hats and caps, and to urge that after all the industry to which we were giving this aid was already making a profit of 15 per cent.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. I did oppose the proposal in question.
– Then I can only say that the honorable member was consistent in the action that he took; but I want to show that it is absolutely out of keeping with protectionist doctrines.
– The honorable member did not howl about it.’
– He never howls about anything, and that is why he is so effective. He delivers himself in this House of some very important truths with the coolness and deliberation of a Judge on the Bench; and I have no doubt that that is a far more effective method than the practice of screaming oneself hoarse and thumping the table. That, however, does not touch the argument. What I desire to point out is that the honorable member for Flinders argued that before voting this bounty we should assure ourselves that the industry was going to do well.
– With the assistance of the bounty.
– Quite so.
– In order that the money should not be thrown away.
– I am glad to have that addition. But let us compare this attitude on the part of the honorable member with that which is taken up, not only by the House generally, but by the honorable member for Flinders himself with regard to the -imposition of heavy duties. We know that representatives of many industries went before the Commission, and without any pressure openly admitted that their ventures were in a strangled, suffocated condition.
– Will the honorable member connect the subject-matter of his speech with the Bill?
– I shall do so, sir. Had the honorable member for Flinders applied to the industries that have received the protection of heavy duties, the same microscopic actuarial scrutiny which he wishes to apply to the Sandford iron venture, he. would have asked the Minister, in many cases, “ What assurance can you give the House that this industry is going to succeed with the help of this duty?” The question has never once been asked during the last two months in which we have, been discussing Customs duties. We have been voting duties of 30, 40, and 50 per cent. - once last week, we voted a duty of 150per cent. - upon some of the manufactures of Victoria; but we have never heard the Victorian members once ask the question, “What prospect is thereof this industry being ‘a success with the aid we are now proposing to give it? “
– The honorable, member surely does not suggest that I, or any other member favours Victorian industries against the industries of any other State ?
– I do not say that ; but it is an interesting incident -that, for the first time in our Tariff debates, it should be to a New South Wales industry that this entirely novel method of criticism is applied. Because the same arguments might be applied to all the other industries affected bv the Tariff.
– I think they ought to be.
– The honorable member, as an economist, ‘ is well aware that it has been estimated that when a duty is imposed on any particular article, the public pay directly or indirectly about seven times the amount of money which actually goes into the hands of the manufacturer.
– The honorable member will see that he is opening up the whole question of the . Tariff, and of the fiscal issue, which is even broader than the Tariff details. That question is now before the Committee of Ways and Means, and it is therefore precluded from being discussed at this time. The only question now before the House is whether it will authorize certain bounties to be paid for the benefit of the iron industry, or, in the alternative, will determine to nationalize the industry to which reference has been made.
– I am merely endeavouring to show what seems to me to be the inconsistency of the honorable member for Flinders, who spoke at considerable length this afternoon, in applying a method of criticism to the industry to which it is proposed that a bounty shall be paid, as compared with protectionist criticism of kindred industries for the support of which heavy duties have been imposed.
– I cannot allow the honorable member to refer to the Tariff debate.
– I do not propose to go further into the subject of the Tariff, except for that purpose of comparison. What I point out to the House is this : In talking of a duty - and I believe general ly - we ask ourselves, “How can we assist an industry to get on its feet?” Every protectionist will admit that this is one of the primary questions which he asks himself. “ How can we foster this industry - how can we establish it?” But the sort of criticism which the honorable member for Flinders applied to the iron industry was not, “ How can we put it upon its feet?” but, “We must be certain that it can be put upon its feet before we assist it.”
– Oh, no.
– That is ihe effect which the honorable member’s argument produced upon my mind : that we must be satisfied that it is really an enterprise which can be put upon its feet by the assistance of these bounties.
– I say th.it I am prepared to apply the same test to every industry for which a duty is proposed.
– Has any protectionist in this House ever asked such a question with regard to a single industry in this or arty other State, so far as duties are concerned? That is, in a nutshell, my criticism of the honorable member’s speech, which was a speech that might as well have come from any free-trader - “ Exercise the most careful control over the people’s funds before you enable by legislation anybody to throw extra burdens upon the people.” The honorable member for Wide Bay, in dealing with this subject, went largely into the question of nationalization. I am not going to follow him into that, because it is a question upon which one might speak for many hours without much difficulty. It opens up. the whole field of history and political economy. But the honorable member used in support of his advocacy of nationalization a number of illustrations, and I should not like it to go forth to the country, or even to the honorable member’s own constituents, that he advanced these arguments to the House as illustrations of the soundness of his doctrines, without the other side of the question being put before honorable members. The honorable member for Wide Bay referred to the railways of this country. Well, all that I can say about our railways is that they offer no illustration whatever of the possibility or practicability of the general policy of nationalization’. We all know that the railways of Australia are, in the first place, statutory monopolies.
– The honorable member would urge that private enterprise should take them over?
– I hope that the honorable member will not make inopportune interjections. If he says something that is relevant I shall be happy to reply to him. The railways of Australia - whether State-owned railways are desirable o’r not - are, de facto, statutory monopolies. No one is allowed to run a line side by side to compete with any one of them. The Commissioners of Railways fix their own rates - sometimes, we .know, very inequitably - without consulting anybody. We are well aware that in some parts of New South Wales - and in some parts of Victoria also, I believe - railway freights are greater for a shorter distance than they are for a longer. Another consideration is that no one can possibly compete with them. The Commissioners fix their own freights and conditions, and they thus take care to earn enough to pay the interest on the capital borrowed on account of them. My view of State railways is this : that under the peculiar circumstances in which “ the State originally owned the whole of the real estate of the Colonies, it was a perfectly justifiable thing for the State to desire to realize as large a price for that rea.1 estate in the interests of the people as was possible ; and it was therefore justified in running lines of railway through its own property in order to make it accessible. But I have always held this opinion also : that, so soon as these States had disposed of their land, or of the greater part of the lands held by them, it would be much more profitable to the people to place their railways in private hands upon the principle adopted in Great Britain. The honorable member for Flinders pointed out very properly that in Great Britain, having regard to the fact that all the railway companies have required statutory authority to enable them to run through private property, and so construct their lines, the Parliament has imposed upon them the obligation to charge reasonable rates. Many honorable members are aware that in England there is a Board of Commissioners, whose sole duty is to investigate charges made by the railways with regard to passenger fares and rates for goods ; and if it can be shown to the satisfaction of these Commissioners that either the passenger fares or the goods rates charged by any particular railway are more than is reasonable, the Commissioners can order those rates and fares ‘to be lowered. That is one of the conditions of the railway monopoly in England.
– Is it not a fact that American goods are conveyed from Liverpool at lower rates than are charged to convey English goods to Liverpool ?
– The honorable member might as well ask me what were the passenger fares on the London and Northwestern Railway in the month of April. I do not profess to be an encyclopaedia. I am simply pointing out how the monopoly » is carried on : that the State has required all the charges to be reasonable, and that what “reasonableness” is depends upon the opinion of a Board of Commissioners. In England any individual passenger who thinks that an unfair rate is charged may appeal to the Commission. 0 ; . Mr. Maloney. - May I ask the honorable member:-
– The honorable member’s ideas of coherence and sequence possibly differ from mine, and if I replied to him the result might be that the honorable member might lead me out of the order of criticism which I desire to follow. Railways, therefore, whether in England or Australia, throw no light whatever on the practicability of nationalization. The honorable member for Wide Bay used another illustration from the State I represent, when he spoke of certain work being done more cheaply at the Government workshop, Fitzroy Dock, than it could be done bv private individuals. It is only fair to tell the House that this particular workshop, which was established by Mr. O’sullivan, whose name is everlastingly associated with day labour and the minimum wage, has undertaken at different times a number of important works, tendering against private enterprise. That practice was carried so far that a Royal Commission was appointed to investigate its accounts, in order to ascertain how it was that this Government establishment’ could tender at lower prices than those of private business establishments. The report of the Royal Commission went to show that a great variety of legitimate and indispensable charges in a proper business concern had been wholly omitted from its calculations in making tenders. For instance, no charge was made for interest on capital, depreciation of tools, rent of premises or insurance ; and yet, in many cases, although these important elements had not been taken into calculation, the works undertaken at Fitzroy Dock were completed at a loss. If the honorable member for Wide Bay chooses to place this before us as an illustration of the success of Government work as against private enterprise, I make him a present of his illustration, so long as those who rely on it will take the trouble to look into the matter for themselves. The honorable member for Wide Bay referred in almost grandiloquent language to the Government coal mines of New Zealand, and mentioned some enormous profits which they had produced. I watch the progress of New Zealand experimental legislation as closely as most people, and I have a very clear recollection of its being publicly stated in the newspapers that Mr. Seddon had told the miners, when they complained of want of constant employment, that if he had much more trouble with the mines he would “ shut the blessed thing up “ - his own words, as they appeared in the telegram. I venture to say that if those mines made a profit, it would be well to ascertain whether the management acted in the same haphazard way as was adopted by those in charge of the Fitzroy Dock. Perhaps the two most instructive experiments in regard to nationalization were, those in which bodies, of citizens agreed to establish Socialist communities on their own account. I shall not go into details, but merely refer to the experiment in Paraguay and in Queensland after the shearers’ strike.
– Old gags !
– Old truths mav sometimes be profitably repeated. i thought that this would stir up some of the gentlemen in the Labour corner.
– How often has private enterprise gone to the wall?
– Very often, I admit. I have mentioned two opportunities for experiment with regard to the idealistic theories of the party who sit in the Government corner; and, as the honorable member for North Sydney reminds me, they represent not merely the collapse of an industry, but the collapse of a whole community. The most interesting part of the history of the Paraguay settlement was the news that came through the Sydney newspapers telling us that the community was flourishing because the members had divided the property and employed black labour, with the result that the population had doubled. I have too much consideration for the House to go at any further length into the nationalization question, although I had made one or two further notes on the subject. The honorable member for Wide Bay spoke here this afternoon as if he were announcing a new religion. One would have thought that the principle he enunciated was a great novelty which he or his party had just discovered, and he spoke with bated breath in fear that w.e should think he was advocating nationalization in general. I noticed that, when sub« sequent speakers were contending that the honorable member actually had revived the old cry of nationalization in general, a great many members of the Labour Partybecame very agitated and excited. We do not forget how, a few years ago, the phrase “ the nationalization of all the means of production, distribution and exchange ‘ ‘ was dangled before the public. We know also, however, that by 1905 a modification, very sensible in many ways, was made in that doctrine.
– Only an apparent modification.
– I am speaking now of the paper platform of the party, and the honorable member for Wide Bay, now the leader of the Labour Party, has gone dangerously near to reviving the old and exploded programme. The honorable member talked to-night as if the party who follow him were prepared to resuscitate that old cry for universal nationalization.
– He cannot alter it.
– It is one of the unfortunate trammels of the Labour Party that no one man can alter his views without consulting other people. If all the party are tied together by a rope in the same way as are mountaineers in Switzerland, it may be that they will some day all go the same way, rope and all. These utterances from the new leader, almost in his maiden speech as a leader, will no doubt cause the public outside to imagine that we are to have the old doctrine revived. Whether that be so or not is immaterial ; at all events, we cannot help remembering that that was the doctrine professed. We hear a great deal of complaint about monopolies ; and I should like to point out that there are many more precautions taken with regard to parliamentary monopolies than some honorable members imagine. A reference has -been made to the Melbourne tramways ; but I do not know whether honorable members are aware that one of the conditions of the monopoly of the streets of Melbourne and suburbs for tramway purposes is that in thirty years the whole of the works, rolling stock and permanent way, become the property of the municipal councils.
– When they, will be mostly scrap-iron !
– I do not think so. If the honorable member applies his practical common-sense and practical business knowledge, he will see that in order to enjoy thirty years’ monopoly the tramway company must keep their rolling stock in good order, so as to carry the public in safety. Otherwise they would lose their earnings and be liable for accidents to their passengers.
– And the roads will not be scrap iron.
– They will not be scrap iron, because the company has to maintain them until they are handed over. In that case, therefore, honorable members have the satisfaction of knowing that the Melbourne Tramways Company has not acquired , the monopoly of the streets of Melbourne - because it is a monopoly so far as tramways are concerned - without having to give a substantial quid pro quo. They will find from the balancesheets of the company that its rolling stock and permanent way are worth many, hundreds of thousands of pounds, and must be handed over . to the ‘Municipal Councils comprising the Melbourne Tramways Trust as the consideration for the monopoly which the company enjoys. I will give another form of safeguard, which has been adopted with regard to monopolies. The Hydraulic Power Company, of Sydney, acquired parliamentary, powers for the purpose of taking up the streets of Sydney in order to supply hydraulic power to stores, shops, and other buildings. They supply motive-power to over 600 lifts in Sydney, but their Act provides that whenever they make profits of over 10 per cent., half of the excess over 10 per cent, is to go to the Sydney City. Council.
– Has any excess been handed over to the Council yet?
– Not up to the present, but proceedings are spoken of in which the Council may contend that there have been surplus profits. Surely the honorable member for Gwydir would not grudge to a speculative undertaking of that sort a profit of 10 per cent, upon its money, seeing that it is liable to the condition which I have mentioned if it makes over 10 per cent, and to the further condition that the City Council can at the end of every twenty-year period elect to take over the whole of the works on their valuation by impartial people. I wish those honorable members who are not aware of the conditions attached to these well-abused monopolies to recognise that Parliament has been very careful in every part of Australia to surround them with restrictions to prevent themfrom being what they are generally supposed by the man in the street to be. He imagines that they are worked by gangs of robbers who are trying to steal advantages from the general public. They have been caref ully surrounded by those conditions so as to deprive them of the objectionable character that is sometimes attributed to them. I wish to speak with regard to the bounty proposals. As a free-trader, I should prefer, under general circumstances, if we were establishing a community which had not already been affected by duties, to see neither duty nor bounty given. But if I have to make a choice - and to a free-trader it is a choice of economic evils - I should prefer a bounty. It is a recognised fact that, when a duty is imposed, the amount of money which the people pay, either in the form of duties or in the form of higher prices, is about seven times the amount which goes into the manufacturer’s hands. Of course, whether money is paid directly from the Treasury by means of a bounty, or whether an Act of Parliament is passed which compels the public to contribute a sum of money in the shape of penalties upon the importation of goods, the effect is the same. But I prefer a bounty system, because we know at once what the public are going to pay. We know that if a bounty is given for iron there willbe no duty while the bounty is in force, and that therefore the local industry will have the benefit of the object-lesson which is constantly before them in the quality of the imported article, and the price at which it can be made in other countries in the world. Of the two, therefore, I prefer the bounty.
– All the witnesses, including Mr. Sandford, said that the bounty was no good to them without a duty.
– That statement by Mr. Sandford must be taken with qualifications, because it depends very much upon the extent of the bounty, and the extent of the duty. If the bounty is large enough, I take it that Mr. Sandford or anybody else would just as soon have it as the duty. In any case, I am not considering this question merely from the point of view of Mr. Sandford or the Lithgow Iron Works. I wish to consider the possibility of the bounty being sufficient to induce other enterprising people to attempt this industry in Tasmania, South Australia, or even Queensland.
– They say that they want the duty, and not the bounty.
– We cannot always listen to what the proposed recipient says. If, in the case of import duties, we listened to all that the manufacturers said, we should stop importations from every country in the world. We have to use our own judgment, on the evidence before us, as to what is fair. The scheme which has been proposed by the Treasurer is that there shall be a bounty for five years, that at the end of that term it shall cease, and that a duty of the same amount shall then be imposed. ‘ I should like to ask a question, because the consideration of this bounty proposal throws a number of sidelights upon the bigger question of protection. What is the five years based upon? I understood the Treasurer to say that it was the period considered to be sufficient to enable the iron industry to get upon its feet. I do not see much difference between the iron industry and other industries, because–
– It is on its feet now.
– It is on its feet now, as the honorable member says, in one respect, but not with regard to rolling pig iron into iron bars. Perhaps the honorable member does not know, and I think he ought to know, that this industry has been in existence now, to my knowledge, for twenty years, and has been doing a very large business by taking the whole of the scrap iron from the New South Wales railways and re-rolling it for use as bar iron.
– I could show the honorable member a similar institution in Victoria, which has never had a bounty or duty or any other assistance.
– The honorable member cannot well talk about Victoria never having had assistance. One particular industry, which I mentioned last week, has had forty-one years of protection, and wants more to-day than it wanted forty years ago. Why five years is fixed upon with regard to iron, while forty years is not considered enough for the woollen industry, I cannot understand. I do not know how the Minister arrives at the five years. When considering how best to conserve the funds of the Treasury, the Minister takes a much more severe view of the chance of putting an industry upon its feet in the case of iron, than he has ever done inthe case of any other industry whether in Victoria or any other part of Australia. If we must do one thing or the other, I prefer to adopt the course proposed by the Treasurer - authorize the payment of a bounty for five years, and then impose a duty upon iron for the purpose of protecting the industry. Whether or not the iron manufacturers of New South Wales desire that course to be adopted, I do not know. Nor should we be concerned with what they may wish ; because it is very probable that they will act upon the principle of asking for a great deal more than they expect to get. I would point out that if we limit the term during which the bounty shall operate, we ought to seriously consider whether a sliding scale should not be adopted which will provide for the gradual reduction of the bounty, until it reaches vanishing point.
– Wean it?
– Being a family man, the honorable member says, “ Wean it.” That means that we should take away the nourishment from it bit by bit, until at last there is none left for it. I commend the illustration of the honorable member to the Treasurer. I shall support the Rill, because I think that one or other of these two things is inevitable ; and I regard a bounty system as preferable in many ways to the immediate imposition of a duty.
.- At this hour of the evening, and in view of the fact that many honorable members are wearied as the result of travelling in the train, “I suggest that the Treasurer should consent to the adjournment of the debate.
.-I had hoped to secure a division upon the second reading of the Bill this evening, ‘but that does not seem likely. Under the circumstances) I ask honorable members to come prepared to assist the Government to conclude this debate by the dinner adjournment to-morrow. I am aware that a number desire to speak, but their speeches need not be long. Christmas is approaching, and, with the exception of Sunday, we shall be sitting daily rill next Monday.
– For what purpose?
– To deal with this Bill and to ratify the new mail contract. I also hope to make a very material advance with the consideration of the Tariff.
– Is the Treasurer serious in his statement as to sitting on Saturday ?
– The question before the Chair is not whether the House shall now adjourn, and, therefore, I cannot allow the matter of our sittings, either this week or next week, to be discussed at the present stage.
– I was merely replying to a question. I ask honorable members to help the Government to dispose of the second reading of this Bill by dinnertime to-morrow, so that we may proceed with the consideration of the new mail contract.
– At this stage, shall I be in order in asking the Treasurer a question relating to the order of public business ?
– No. The honorable member will be at liberty to deal with the matter mentioned by him upon the motion . for the adjournment of the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Webster) adjourned.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed - .
That the House do now adjourn.
– The Treasurer has just informed us that he contemplates sitting on Saturday, and also, I presume, on Monday next?.
– It has also been suggested that we should meet in the mornings. I have no objection to assisting the Government in any reasonable way to dispose of the Tariff. But before the Treasurer asks us to sit six days a week, and almost all the hours of the clock in addition, he ought to take the House into his confidence in regard to the programme which he has to put before us. Let us know what we have to face. That is a very fair request. I know that there is the Disputed Elections and Qualifications Bill to consider, and I should like to know when the Government contemplate dealing with it. I think that it is the most urgent measure awaiting our consideration, and I should like to see it disposed of almost immediately, so that we may be certain that it shall not miscarry. With regard to other business, only to-day we have had notice given of the intention of the Government to introduce a new Bill. Is it intended to deal with that measure before the Christmas adjournment; and do the Government contemplate bringing down further proposals for new legislation? I take it that the Treasurer is anxious to dispose of the Tariff as soon as possible, and that that is the reason why he is asking us to adopt this unusual course. I do urge that he should place, before us his programme, so that we may know what is expected of us before we rise for the Christmas holidays. If he does that, we may assist him to dispose of the business in hand in every way that is open to us.
– I noPe that the Treasurer will not insist upon honorable members sitting every day in the week. I am very much in favour of meeting in the mornings and adjourning at the usual hour on Friday, so that honorable members may attend to their private affairs. We cannot remain in Melbourne all the time’.
– We must until Christmas.
– There is no reason why the Tariff should not be got out of the way expeditiously- If the Treasurer will only give a reasonable explanation of his proposals, and arrive at an understanding with the Opposition-
– The Tariff represents our proposals.
– The Treasurer has publicly stated that he is not serious in rega’rd to the Tariff proposals. He has declared that he is willing to make amendments in them. The honorable gentleman has made some statements which he is not very anxious to adhere to. All the fuss made about the necessity of getting the Tariff through before Christmas is quite unnecessary. The duties provided for in the Tariff are being collected at the present time, and in view of the slight alteration made in connexion with the large lines which are of most consequence to the taxpayers it is a matter of very little moment to them whether we finally deal with the Tariff before Christmas or not. If the Government are determined upon putting the Tariff through before the Christmas adjournment they can do so by making terms with the Opposition.
– I do not wish to make terms.
– No, the honorable gentleman apparently wishes to delay matters as much as possible, and is proposing to keep members in continual attendance in this House from Monday morning until Saturday night. When he objects to make terms with the Opposition, let me remind him that when dealing with the first Tariff, though the Ministry had a majority behind them, they surrendered about £1,500,000 in duties.
-The honorable member should not discuss those points.
– I am speaking now of the Tariff passed some years ago and not of that at present under consideration. On the authority of Mr., now Mr. Justice O’Connor, I make the statement that the Ministry in dealing with the first Tariff surrendered about £1,500,000 in duties. If in this instance the Government throw down the gauntlet and defy the Opposition the Treasurer will never get his Tariff through.
– What are the honorable member’s terms?
– I am not leader of the party in Opposition.
– The honorable member ought to be.
– Of course that will come. The Treasurer is not prepared “to make terms with the Opposition, and whilst I am willing that we should sit from Monday morning till Friday night, I am opposed to sitting on Saturday. Honorable members must be given some time in which to attend to their private business.
– There is one point which honorable members seem to forget, and that is that during the whole of a session honorable members from three of the States are obliged to remain in Melbourne. That is a reason why some effort should be made to put the Tariff through before Christmas in order that we may look forward to perhaps a three months’ recess while the Tariff is being considered by the Senate. For the convenience not of Ministers only but of honorable members who are obliged to remain in Melbourne practically during the whole of each session, honorable members coming from New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria might very well be asked to remain in Melbourne over the week end for a couple of weeks to enable us to secure a longer adjournment at Christmas.
.- It appears that honorable members who can return to their homes in Melbourne, Sydney, or Adelaide at the end of every week think nothing of the convenience of those who have to remain in Melbourne away from their homes for two or three months at a time. As the honorable member for FrankJin has pointed out, honorable members from three of .the States are unable to return to their homes at the week end. - If honorable members who can do so . would agree to stop here Over the week ends for a couple of weeks we might all expect to get to our homes in good humour for Christmas. If, however,- we are to have long speeches made on small items, there will be still further delay,’ and we shall be unable to get the Tariff through before Christmas or to obtain the adjournment suggested by the honorable member for Franklin.
– So far as I can state the order of business, the Bill which has been before the House to-day must be dealt with, and also the motion for the ratification of the mail contract. I understand, further, that the Prime Minister is anxious that we shall deal with the Disputed Elections and Qualifications Bill. At the present moment, I know of no other measures which will interfere with our consideration of the Tariff. When those to which I have referred are dealt with, the Tariff will be proceeded with. I am sorry that its consideration has been interrupted, but honorable members are aware that when we began the consideration of the Tariff I made the statement that the Manufactures Encouragement Bill would be introduced and submitted to the House before Division VI. of the Tariff was dealt with, because it has an important bearing on that Division and on many of the items contained therein. In this matter I am only carrying out what I promisedto do and whathonorable members seemed to think was desirable. The mail contract has arisen since then, and I do not think it will take very long to deal with. I hope it will not. I should like to have been able to ask honorable members to meet at half-past 10 o’clock to-morrow, but I find that that would inconvenience many honorable members who might be willing to meet at the earlier hour if the announcement could have been made earlier.
– What about penny postage?
– The PostmasterGeneral will deal with that subject. I cannot very well ask honorable members to meet early to-morrow, but I hope that they will agree to meet on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and on the following Monday at 10.30 a.m. The Government wish to know that they are making progress with the Tariff, and when we get through theduties on metals and machinery, I think we shall be able to make fair progress. With respect to the statement made by the honorable member for Robertson, I do not wish to enter into anything in the natureof a bargain with the Opposition, though I should be very glad indeed of the assistance of honorable members op posite if we could come to some arrangement under which items in connexion with which there is no very strong feeling might be put through without debate.
– Dummy items.
– No, they are important, but there is not much division of opinion on them. The honorable member for Robertson may be quite sure that the Tariff is not set up to be knocked down again. I intend to get the Tariff through as nearly in its present, form as I possibly can. I have made no other statement, and I do not wish it to be suggested that I have.
– The honorable gentleman should have no more anxiety now that he has got the duty on hats through all right. What more has he to trouble him ?
– The right honorable gentleman is going away, and I should like to say that he has been very good. If I might say so, he has to-night made a speech in connexion with the Tariff which displayed practical common-sense. The right honorable gentleman has said that he knew that he could not carry a free-trade Tariff, and, further, that he recognised that this is a protectionist House. I do not wish to give any actual promise in the matter, but I have referred to the three measures which must be dealt with before the Tariff is again proceeded with. The Prime Minister may wish honorable members to deal with some other matters before the Christmas adjournment, but I am not prepared to mention them.
– Is the New Protection Bill ready?
– The honorable member refers to “ the promissory note.”
– The New Protection Bill is quite as far advanced as the honorable member for Parkes would wish it to be - and a little further.
– Can the Minister let us have a copy of it?
– No, I am afraid the honorable member would endeavour to endanger its passage if I were to give him a copy of it. He need not be at all afraid about the New Protection Bill. It will be submitted, and will be carried too, or else the Tariff will not be carried. To-morrow we shall meet at 2.30 p.m., and on Thursday, I hope, at10.30 a.m.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 November 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071119_reps_3_41/>.