3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON presented two petitions, fromthe fishermen of Sydney Harbor and of Manly, praying the House to remit the duties on fishing nets and cork floats.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs if he will postpone until next year the consideration of a proposed alteration of the legal size of wheat bags? The rumoured intention , to make this alteration is causing a considerable stir in the country. Reference- to country ‘ news-‘ papers will show that they are full of accounts of meetings on ‘the subject,
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss the matter.
– The proposed alteration will be brought about gradually, and, in any case, will not come into force until after the first quarter of next year. I propose that . it shall begin on the last day of March next ; but every consideration will be shown to those who have bags on the water, or who have ordered bags in Australia. In my opinion, it has became absolutely necessary to adopt the 200-lb. bag as the standard ; but the change must be brought about in a businesslike and careful way.
– The Minister, in: the statement which be has . just made, has confirmed what he said in reply to a deputation which. waited upon him last -week; but I ‘ wish to know whether the intended alteration is to apply only to grain bags, or whether sugar bags will also be included ?
– It is to apply to grain bags generally. There are some difficulties in the way of applying it to sugar bags. The only action that the Commonwealth Government can take is to prevent the importation or exportation- . of bags of more than a certain size. All the circumstances of the case must be taken into consideration in making the proposed change, because all sort of bags are now in use. The change has been resolved on because many of the grain bags in use are too large, and it is considered inhuman to ask men to move heavier bags than will contain 200 lbs. of grain. We. shall, however, endeavour to so bring it about as not’ to Inflict hardship.
– The change will inflict hardship on the persons interested in chaff, because the bags used for wheat are also used for chaff.
– It is not intended to inflict hardship on any one; but it is considered necessary to prohibit the use of grain bags which will hold a greater weight of grain than men can reasonably be expected to handle.
– Is there any reason why the Minister should not now prohibit the placing of. more than 200 lbs. of grain in any bag, however large it may be?
– Action in the direction suggested is within the province of the Governments of the States. We have put ourselves in communication with them on the subject, and have been informed by the Victorian Government that it is proposed shortly to introduce legislation to prevent more than 200 lbs. . of grain from being put into a bag.
New South Wales and Victoria
– On the 30th October last, the honorable member for Cook asked me the following questions : ‘ -
I am now in a position to furnish the following replies: -
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if the number of hours fixed in the proposed mail contract for the journey between Brindisi and Adelaide, and the extension allowed during the monsoon months, are the same :is in the new contract between’ the -British Government and the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company?
– I am so informed.
– Is not the honorable gentleman absolutely sure?
– I have not satisfied myself on the subject; but I am so informed by the officers.
– Will the honorable gentleman take steps to satisfy himself on the subject, so that he can make a definite statement in regard to it when the contract is under discussion?
– I should like to know whether the Postmaster-General, before moving for the ratification of the proposed mail contract, will inform the House what are the earnings of his Department in connexion with the sending of mails to Europe? It is rather important that the House should know the actual revenue from this service before voting the subsidy proposed to be spent upon it.
– -I shall endeavour to give that information later in the day.
– In. connexion with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill now before the House, I wish to know from the Treasurer whether he has obtained from the Government of New South Wales a _ report upon the quality of the . material, manufactured from local ore, supplied to them by Messrs. Sandford and Company, nf Lithgow? If so, will he make it available to honorable members?
– I have not received any official report.
– The New South Wales Secretary for Works told me the other day that the material is the best that the Department has had.
– I know personally that the tests have been most satisfactory, and I think that it might be well for the Prime Minister to communicate with the New South Wales Government on the subject.
– He might also communicate with the Government of South Australia, which, too, is using this material.
– No doubt the Departments concerned will be glad to give the information asked for.
– There should b<some authoritative statement on the point.
– I do not wish to add to the perplexities of the Minister of Trade and Customs; but I should like to know, in connexion with the requiring of a bond from manufacturers of harvesters, guaranteeing payment of Excise, whether he will extend the same treatment to the importers of goods, allowing them to give bonds for the payment of the duties which Parliament mav ultimately decide upon?
– I do not know whether the honorable member is serious. He must know that the duties which importers will have to pay will be those fixed by Parliament.
– Have not the Excise duties been fixed bv Parliament?
– Is .it the intention of the Government, in view of the fact that a number of makers of agricultural machinery, during the period between the 1st January last and the date on; which the decision of Mr. Justice Higgins in respect to the harvester Excise was given, have been paying the rates decided upon bv various Wages Boards, to collect Excise from these unfortunate people, or to take a bond guaranteeing its payment?
– There are no Wages Boards, so far as the harvester industry is concerned.
– That an employer has ‘ paid rates fixed by Wages Boards would be an argument in his favour; but the President of the Arbitration Court distinguished in his recent judgment between the principles on which a wage was fixed by a Wages Board and the rates indicated bv the terms of the Excise Tariff Agricultural Machinery Act. I understand from what the honorable gentleman has said to mc personally that he wishes to submit to the Department a case in which it is contended that hardship will be suffered if the new rates are insisted upon. If he will give me an opportunity to scrutinize this application, I shall be glad to answer his question in more detail later on.
– As different authorities have fixed different standards of wages in different States,, can the Prime Minister devise a way of removing the anomalies, so that where an industrial authority has ordered a decent rate to be paid, similar rates will be insisted on in other States?
– The anomaly referred to makes it necessary for the Government to introduce legislative nroposals in this regard as soon as possible after our reassembling after the Christmas adjournment.
– Do the rates of wages fixed by Mr. Justice Higgins and by the Minister of Trade and Customs apply to all parts of the Commonwealth?
– Those fixed bv the Minister of Trade and Customs do ; but Mr. Justice Higgins intimated that the applicability to all parts of the Commonwealth of the rates he fixed would require further consideration. He dealt only with the facts before him., and the facts submitted by manufacturers in other parts of Australia might be different.
– Then where do these rates apply ?
– Mr. Justice Higgins in his judgmentmade the distinction I spoke of, and safeguarded himself against the supposition that he must necessarily be taken to have fixed rates applying to all Australia.
– What guide have the manufacturers of Western Australia as to the rates of wages they should pay to escape the Excise?
– They have none.
– It seems to me that they may be fined for not paying rates which no one has yet been able to fix. I hope the Prime Minister will soon give us some definite information on this point, so that the manufacturers of Western Australia and other States may know exactly how they stand.
– It is highly desirable that there should be no uncertainty in this matter. The present situation has arisen because of definite applications made to the President of the Arbitration Court. So far as I am aware, no such application has come from Western Australia, and until one is made, it cannot be declared with certainty what rates should be paid there.
– Mr. Justice Higgins indicated that the standard would be in accordance with his latest award, making such exceptions as the local circumstances might justify.
– The award which has been given indicates that local circumstances will be taken info account in each instance, and that, subject to that consideration, the schedule of wages which the President of the Court outlined appeared to him to represent an average statement. The rates of wages payable will not be absolutely determined until an application has been made from Western Australia.
– Are not the manufacturers called upon to supply information as to the rates of wages they are paving ?
– What guide have they?
– They have the guide of the present rates applicable to their own conditions. But the measure to which I have more than once alluded) in this House will have for its object the removal of these anomalies as far as possible, ‘or at all events the removal of the doubts which may exist in the minds of. manufacturers in Western Australia or Northern Queensland as to the applicability of the present standard to them. That is a real difficulty which can be met only by an application to the Court, but the principle of which this Parliament ought to establish for itself.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the judgment given by Mr. Justice Higgins was not that wherever the rates of wages scheduled by him are paid, the certificate of exemption will be given without further question, but that if they are not paid the application for exemption may be supported by some evidence as to local conditions justifying a variation from those rates?
– Speaking from memory, I believe that the statement of the honorable and learned member is correct.
-I wish to ask the Prime , Minister whether, in considering the Tariff and the duties fixed from day to day, the House is to regard the system of new protection as. a part of the understanding upon which those duties are fixed ? In other words, do the Government propose to stand by the duties irrespective of whether or not we adopt any system of new protection? Will it make any dif-. ference to the rates of duty whether the system is applied or not, because circumstances may arise which may prevent its application ?
– The Ministry put forward the matters referred to by the honorable member as a united proposal - the duties upon one. side, and the new protection upon the other. Of course, if it is considered possible that the House may reject the new protection proposals-
– It may be ruled that those proposals are unconstitutional.
– If I could conceive that it could be ruled that this House is not competent to make any provision in regard to rates of wages, then, of course, it would be within our power to make such amendments . in the Tariff schedule as we may think.fit.
– Is it the intention of the Government, under such circumstances, to ask the House to reconsider the schedule?
– We should require to reconsider the schedule of duties which this House has approved in relation to the fact that the new protection had not been accepted, because the duties that are being adopted - as the honorable member for Flinders will recollect - are in many instances considerably lower thanthose which the Government proposed.
Mr. EWING laid upon the table the following paper -
Defence Acts - Military Forces - Financial and Allowance Regulations - Amendment of Regulation No. 152 (Provisional) - Statutory . Rules 1907, No. 117.
– I have received an intimation from the honorable member for Lang that he desires to move the adjournment of the House, to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance “ in connexion with the Postal Department.”
– That is very vague.
– Of course I cannot help that. I did not frame the motion.
Five honorable members having risen in their -places,
.- I am loth to interrupt the business which has been engaging the attention of the House, and I do not intend to occupy a moment longer than is absolutely necessary to enable me to state the ground of the complaint which I wish to bring before honorable members. As the matter is one of considerable urgency, I have been obliged to adopt this course to obtain some redress for those who are affected. What I particularly refer to is the maladministration of the Postal Department, and the terrible amount of sweating which is being practised therein. So important does this matter appear to the proprietors of one of the principal dai.lv newspapers in Sydney - the Sydney Morning Herald - that they deputed a special representative to inquire into the working of. the General Post Office there, and, as a result, published an article in yesterday’s issue, in which the most serious accusations are made against the administration of the Department. In that article it is pointed out that time after time the conditions under which the officers have worked - especially in * the Telegraph . Department - have been so irksome that the telegraphists have been upon the point of refusing duty, and that it was only because their loyalty, to the Department prevailed over their sense of injustice, that the Department has been able to carry on operations. One of the chief grounds of complaint urged is that the officers cannot get their grievances redressed because the heads of the administration, who are really located in Melbourne, are inaccessible to them. It is thus almost impossible for these telegraphists to bring their grievances under the notice of those who have the power to redress them.
– I have no desire to prevent the. honorable member, doing anything which, under our standing orders, he has a right to do. But from his opening remarks I gather that he proposes to discuss the salaries paid to certain officers of the Postal Department, who he declares are being sweated. If so, he is distinctly anticipating debate upon the Estimates for the Postal Department. In that case I cannot permit him to proceed. If he assures me that the matter with which he wishes to deal will not be covered by the debate upon the Estimates concerning the salaries of these officers, I shall, of course, accept his assurance. But unless he can do so I ought not to permit him to proceed.
– I am afraid that the honorable member is not. He himself has clearly shown that if the PostmasterGeneral replies to him he will, of necessity, have to give the very information which he will be called upon to give when the Estimates are under review. I am afraid that the honorable member’s own remarks preclude him from proceeding.
– As I can scarcely avoid trenching upon matter which is open to discussion when the question of Supply is under review, I shall defer my remarks until then.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
Debate resumed from 19th November (vide page 6186), on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That this Bill be now read a’ second time.
Upon which Mr. Fisher had moved by way of amendment - .
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.”
Colonel Foxton. - I rise to a point of order. I submit that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Wide .Bay is not in order at the present stage. I was not in the Chamber when he proposed that amendment, and although I listened to a portion of the debate subsequently I . did not become aware of the nature of his proposal until immediately prior to the adjournment of the House last . evening, otherwise I should have raised this question before. In support of my contention I rely upon standing orders 218, 249, 251; and also upon certain authorities which 1 shall quote if you, sir, so desire. I do not raise this point of order for the purpose of stifling discussion. I hope that the honorable member for Wide (Bay and the members of his party will understand that. The amendment of the honorable member, I submit, can be moved only upon notice on the motion to go into Committee on the Bill or upon the reading of the Order of the Day for going into Committee on the Bill.
– Suppose that it is so. What will the honorable member gain by raising this point?
Colonel Foxton. - That is a very pertinent question, and one which really implies that my action is prompted by a spirit of opposition to the amendment. As a matter of fact, I do not intend to vote for the amendment, but even if I did, I should raise precisely the same point. What we shall gain, I hope, by my action is compliance with our standing orders. If we have standing orders it is very desirable that we should strict] v comply with them. If we get into the habit of ignoring them on various occasions there is no telling when they will be set aside for the purpose of establishing a precedent which will be very undesirable. In fact; what is the use of standing orders if we are not bound by them?
– We shall reach the discussion, at a later stage; and I do not see how the honorable member can gain much’ by this point of order.
Colonel Foxton. - That is scarcely fair, because it implies that I wish to burke discussion.
– The question is not whether we shall or shall not observe our standing orders, because that goes without argument ; the question is purely, if I understand the honorable member for Brisbane, whether the Standing Orders have or have not been complied with, and I shall be glad if the honorable member will confine himself to that point.
Colonel Foxton. - Quite so, Mr. Speaker ; but I do object to the implication that I am trying to stifle discussion. There is no doubt that the discussion may be brought on at the proper time; and that proper time, in my opinion, is after we have affirmed the principle of the Bill by reading it a second time. Until then it is only logical to take the view that it is neither desirable nor in order to give any direction to a Committee which may never sit on the Bill. Standing order 218 is as follows : -
Whenever an Order of the Day is read for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole, the Speaker leaves the Chair without putting any Question, and the House thereupon resolves itself into a Committee, unless upon notice given an instruction . thereto is proposed from the Chair.
That implies that the proper time is after the Bill has been read a second time, and before the House goes into Committee. Standing order 249 is to the following effect -
No instruction can be given to a Committee to do that which it is already empowered to do,
That has no application in this case, but the standing order proceeds - or to deal with a question beyond the scope of a Bill as read the second time.
That again implies that it is necessarv the Bill should be read the second time before the House is competent to give any direction or instruction to the Committee. Standing order 251 is as follows : -
An instruction to a Committee of the Whole requires notice, and can only be moved before first going into Committee on any question.
These three standing orders, taken ‘ by themselves, show prettv clearly what is the proper course to pursue on this occasion. May, 10th Edition, Dage 451, says: -
When the order of the day is read in the Commons, for the House to resolve itself inlo a committee on the bill,
That is, of course, where it has become an Order of the Day appointed by the House previously, the Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order No. 51, unless a member rises to move an instruction which stands upon the notice-paper, leaves the chair forthwith. When the order of the day for committee on a bill is read, the member in charge thereof can move that the order be discharged, and the bill referred to a select committee…… Before the House resolves itself, for the first time, into a committee of the whole House upon a bill, an instruction may be given to the committee, empowering them to make provision for matters which would exceed a fair interpretation of the rule concerning relevant amendments. To explain the principles that govern the proposal of instructions to committees of the whole House, it must Be borne in mind that under the parliamentary usage in force in former times, an amendment might be wholly irrelevant to the motion or bill to which it was proposed (see page 278) and that consequently to a bill in its progress through the House, clauses might be added relating to any matters however various and unconnected, whether with each other or with the bill as originally drawn. A reaction from such laxity of procedure led to the establishment of rules and practice which imposed on the House of Commons an inconvenient rigidity in dealing with a bill. No amendment could be moved which was not strictly within the scope of the prefatory paragraph, known as the title, which is prefixed to every bill, and describes its object and scope. To obviate the difficulty thus created, the House, in 1854, by StandingOrder No. 34, gave a general instruction to all committees of the whole House to whom bills were committed, which empowered them to make such amendments therein as they should think fit, provided that the amendments were relevant to the subject-matter of the bill; and, if such amendments we’re not within the title of the bill, the title was to be amended, and reported specially to the House. This general and standing instruction to committees on bills meets all ordinary occasions. Amendments to bills may, however, be offered which exceed the operation of Standing Order No. 34, and which, without a special instruction from the House, could not be considered by the Committee. In entertaining an instruction, the Houseis subject to this primary condition, namely, that the amendments to be sanctioned by an instruction must come within a fair interpretation of the rule laid down by Standing Order No. 34, namely, that those amendments should be relevant to the subject-matter of the bill. Thus as the subject-matter of a bill, as disclosed by the contents thereof, when read a second time, has since 1854 formed the order of reference which governs the proceedings of the committee thereon, it follows that the objects sought by an instruction should be pertinent to the terms of that order ; and that the amendments, which an instruction proposes to sanction, must be such as would further the general purpose and intention of the House in the appointment’ of the committee.
That indicates that the Committee on a Bill is not at liberty to introduce amendments which are ‘ not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, unless there are special instructions. Those instructions may be given by the House at the proper time, which, is, I contend, after the. second reading of the Bill has been passed, and the principle has been accepted by the House. Again, at page 456 of May, I find these words -
An instruction to a committee of the whole House can only be moved when the order of the day for the first sitting of the Committee has been read. Instructions to committees of the whole House upon bills are also moved, when founded on the report of a committee of the whole House.
On these authorities I contend that it is necessary, first of all, that the Bill should be read a second time, and that an amendment in the terms of the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay can be moved only on notice, and on the motion to go into Committee, or on the reading of the Order .pf the Day which’ has teen previously made by the House to go into Committee on the Bill.
– The honorable member has called my. attention to certain of the Standing Orders, to which he desires me to refer in giving a ruling. In the first place, I point out that the first standing order referred to only prescribed that -
In all cases not provided for hereinafter, or by Sessional or other Orders, resort shall be had to the rules, forms, and practice of the Commons House of the Imperial Parliament
In cases, therefore, where we have provision made,, there is no such reference to the rules or orders of the House of Commons. No doubt, if the amendment now before the Chair were intended to be an instruction, and nothing more, nor less, it would be out of place that it should be moved until the Committee itself had actually been ordered to sit ; that is to say, until the second reading had been passed. Thereafter a motion, as an instruction, might properly be moved within certain times. It seems to me, however, that although the word “ instruction “ does appear in the amendment - and I suppose that is what has misled the honorable member for Brisbane - the amendment does not come before us as in any sense an instruction. If the honorable member will turn to standing orders 161 and 162 he will find that the former reads as follows -
Amendments may be moved to such question - that is the question of the second reading - by leaving out “now” and adding “this day six months,” which, if carried, shall finally dispose of the Bill; or the previous question may bemoved.
Standing order 162 is -
No other amendment may be moved tosuch question except in the form of a Resolution strictly relevant to the Bill.
This amendment appears to me to be 1 resolution strictly relevant to the Bill. The amendment is intended to deal with encouragement to the iron industry, and as an alternative to the Government proposal,, which is to encourage that industry bymeans of a bounty, whereas the honorablemember’s proposed method is not a bounty, but the taking over of the industry by the Government. The amendment is, therefore, distinctly within standing order 162,. being a motion strictly relevant to the Bill before us. With reference to standing order 218 I have simply to say that that has nothing to do with the stage which we have now reached. The standing order read’s -
Whenever an Order of the Day is read for the House to resolve itself into Committee of the Whole, the Speaker leaves the Chair without putting any question, and the House thereupon resolves itself into a, Commitee, unless upon Notice given an Instruction thereto is proposed from the Chair.
We are not at that stage, but very far removed from it. Standing order 249. states -
No instruction can be given to a Committee to do that which it is already empowered to. do, or to deal with a question beyond the scope of a Bill as read the second time.
This amendment, as I have said, is not ai> instruction ; and, if it were, it does not propose to give the Committee power which it already has, but to give it some other power which, without such a motion, it could not have. Standing order 25,1 states -
An instruction to a Committee of the- Whole requires Notice -
As this amendment is not an instruction, notice is pot required. The standing order goes on to say - and can only be moved before first going intoCommittee on any question.
That is before first going into Committee on the Bill. The -second part of the standing order has no reference to the stage at which we have arrived in this debate, and I hold that the amendment is in order.
– Have you, sir, noticed the full effect of the words - or to deal with a question beyond the scope of a Bill as read the second time. ‘
– The standing order 249 has the heading - ‘
What instruction may be moved.
I have already said that this amendment is not an instruction. If it were an instruction it ought to be moved after the House has resolved on the second reading of the Bill, and when the House is about to go into Committee. I rule that the amendment is properly before the House.
Colonel Foxton. - Do I understand you, sir, to rule that the words of the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay “ and the Committee on the Bill be instructed “ and so forth is not an instruction to the Commitee?
– I have ruled, that while the word “ instruction “ appears in the amendment, and, perhaps, sufficiently justifies the honorable member in thinking that it is an instruction, it is by no means such. The amendment is introduced [properly under standing order 162, which I have quoted, and which declares that no Other amendment besides a proposal to leave out “now” and insert “this day six months,” or the previous question, shall be moved except in terms of a resolution strictly relevant to the Bill, which I say this amendment is.
-I rise to another point of order. Under your decision’, Mr. Speaker, I submit that the words “ The Committee on the Bill be instructed “ are out of order. You have said that, as regards the subject-matter of this amendment, you do not regard it as an instruction.
– I should say that it is more than an instruction.
– The motion specifically provides that the Committee on the Bill “be instructed “ and so forth.
– Is the honorable member debating Mr. Speaker’s ruling?
– No. I am simply urging that the word “instructed” should be deleted. As it stands, the amendment specifically provides that an instruction shall be given to the Committee to incorporate certain provisions in the Bill. I hope that we shall not commit ourselves to such a contradictory position as would be created by the acceptance of _ the motion, whilst, at the same time, it is held by Mr. Speaker that no such instruction as that for which it provides can be given at this stage. I do not think that there would be any difficulty in substituting other words for those to which objection is taken, and which I suggest, Mr. Speaker, are, according to your ruling, out of order.
– In reply to the point of order raised by the honorable member for North Sydney, I may say that shortly after the honorable member for Wide Bay had resumed his seat yesterday afternoon, after moving the amendment in question, I informed him that I thought it might, perhaps, be desirable to vary one or two of the. words which have given rise to the very point that has been taken to-day. I ultimately decided that the amendment as it stood was well within the provisions of standing order 162. I certainly think that the amendment would be improved by the deletion of the word “ instruction.” Some other word might be substituted for it. At the same time standing order 162 is so wide in its application that I cannot rule that the amendment, even as it stands, is contrary to it. I am quite prepared to confer with the honorable member for Wide Bay, and think that the word “ instruction ‘ ‘ might be omitted, and a variation made that would meet the views of honorable members generally. When we revise the Standing Orders, I think that we ought to amend standing order 162. I should like to see it so amended that the only amendment that could be moved on a motion for the second reading of a Bill would be one in substitution of it. That, I think, would be preferable to the present position.
– It would not do to restrict honorable members to too great an extent.
– That is a point that need not be settled at the present stage. Having regard to the standing order, I cannot rule otherwise than I have done. I have to interpret the standing order as it stands, and not as containing words that I should like to see in it.
.- I rise to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Wide Bay in favour of the nationalization of the iron industry, on the ground that its production, in its very nature, must speedily, if not from the very outset, become a monopoly. It would certainly be wrong to devote public money to the creation of a monopoly and then to endeavour, after vested interests had been created, to have it nationalized in accordance with the view to which our party subscribes. The honorable member for Flinders, who is violently opposed to nationalization, by a process of close reasoning came to the conclusion that this industry would become a monopoly, and others who are opposed to its nationalization take the same view. In these circumstances, we are therefore entitled to deal with the question from that stand-point. To my mind the honorable member for Flinders helped our cause considerably, and gave awav his own case when he said that he did not think that we should be prepared to grant . £250,000 to those engaged in this industry unless a complete plant were put down, and we were satisfied that it would be a success. That is exactly the position the Labour Party takes up. We hold that if public funds are to be devoted to the subsidizing of this industry we should take care that an up-to-date plant is put down and be satisfied that the people will receive value for their money. But if this bountv be handed over to a private firm we shall have no such assurance.
– The bounty will be paid only on the iron produced.
– The bounty might represent the margin of profit on the working of the industry, and the works might shut down as soon as it ceased, or an agitation may spring up for the granting of further assistance. No honorable member would think of putting £250,000 of his own capital into an industry in which he had no interest, and over which he had no direct control. If this huge sum is to be handed over to private enterprise it would be only in consonance with reason for the Government to take up a certain number of shares in the company, and to be represented on the board of directors. The people ought, in such circumstances, to have a voice in the direct management cf the enterprise, and a share in its profits. I may say at once that I prefer the imposition of a duty to the granting of a bounty, since under the new protection we intend to provide for the payment of reasonable wages to the workers engaged in the industry, and to guard against the undue inflation of prices. The Bill contains no reference to the new protection scheme. We are told that, under it, regulations would be drafted providing for the payment of reasonable wages, but I would remind honorable members that there is nothing in the Bill to regulate the prices at which iron shall.be sold. Under a protective duty we should have a better control over the industry, and should be in a tetter position to apply to it the principles of the new protection, than we should be if we passed the Bill as it stands. The party to which I belong is pledged to the nationalization of monopolies. Individual members of it may have varying views upon the question of Socialism, and the extent to which the State should control industries; but, even if twenty-five out of twenty-six might be prepared to go beyond the nationalization of monopolies, the remaining member would not be bound by that view, since under the party platform we are not pledged to more than that. No majority view can compel a minority of the party to go beyond the platform. I am in favour of the nationalization of public utilities.
– The iron industry in Canada is not a monopoly.
– I am dealing with the position of the iron industry in Australia, where the consumption of iron is not sufficient to warrant the laying down of several distinct plants. One up-to-date plant would be sufficient to produce all the iron that is necessary for the requirements of Australia.
– There are five plants in operation in Canada.
– And they have been bleeding the Government.
– The honorable member for Darling showed last night that about £4,500,000 had been paid by way of bounties to the iron companies in Canada, which have also enjoyed the protection of a duty of 25 per cent.. For the last fifteen years or more, as soon as one bounty has expired, a demand for a further bounty has been made and acceded to. When interrupted, I was pointing out that, although a number of members of the Labour Party might be prepared to go beyond the nationalization of monopolies, that fact did not affect me. I would nationalize public utilities as well as monopolies, and I regard iron as a public utility.
– So is sugar, but the honorable member did not fight for the nationalization of the sugar industry.
– When the sugar duty was under consideration, I said that I was in favour of the nationalization of the industry. All the members of the Labour Party share that view. Iron is a public utility, and it would be a mistake for the Commonwealth to subsidize a private firm to produce that which is the basis of a great many of our industries ; it would be wrong to leave the Commonwealth at the mercy of private enterprise, whose industry might be absolutely paralyzed by a trade dispute similar to that which has recently taken place in connexion with the coal-mining industry. The honorable member for East Sydney is constantly sneering at the nationalisation proposals of the Labour Party. He has argued that if we are in favour of nationalizing one industry, we must be in favour of nationalizing all. . I do not know what views the party, or myself, may hold on this subject in the future. At present we are pledged to the nationalization of monopolies. If we secure this object, and our policy works successfully, the people may support us in a still further excursion into the domain of State control ; but we have not now to consider how much further, it would be wise to go in fifty or 100 years time. We have quite enough to do at present in giving effect to the principles of State Socialism embodied in the nationalization of monopolies. But the contention of the honorable member for East Sydney amounts to this - that if a man who had a wart on his finger were suffering from leprosy, no attempt should be made to cure him of his dire disease until the wart had been removed.
– I think that there should be a quorum to !hear this discussion upon warts. [Quorum formed.’]
– I am glad that the honorable member for Parramatta recognises sufficient merit in my remarks to warrant him in inviting a larger attendance of his colleagues to listen to me. At the present time it is quite sufficient for the Labour Party to deal with the nationalization of monopolies and public utilities.
– The members of the Opposition are the wart curers.
– When the Labour Party has cured some of the great diseases which now afflict the body politic, it will be soon enough to give attention to minor questions. The honorable member for East Sydney should cease from misrepresenting the objects of our party, and should not bind us to his own interpretation on the planks of our platform. The honorable member for Swan the other day referred to our proposals for nationalization, as proposals for the adoption of the shareandsharealike system, although he knew that in making that statement he was deliberately misrepresenting us.
– He may not have known better.
– My complaint is that he does know better.
– Why find fault with those who misrepresent us? They do us more good than harm.
– A number of misguided persons will believe anything said by those who occupy eminent positions,and therefore it is necessary to contradict these ‘ statements. Unfortunately, many public men’ do not recognise their responsibility to make fair representations to the public.
– I could prove out of the mouths of members of the Labour Party every word that I have said. They are changing their front now.
– The honorable member has not stated in this Chamber that we wish to adopt the share-and-share-alike principle. He goes outside to make the statement, where we cannot reply to him. If he made it here, we could deal with it. In the nationalization of the iron industry is involved a principle which has been supported by a very large number of members, even amongst those who call themselves anti-Socialists. They have from time to time urged the nationalization of one enterprise and another, and therefore cannot consistently object on principle to the nationalization . of the iron industry ; they must deal with the proposal on its merits. I wish to make a few quotations from the speeches of antiSocialists - not lengthy extracts - which show that they have on occasion given their adherence to Socialism in some form. For instance, on the 5th July last, the honorable member for Fremantle, speaking on the Address-in-Reply, is reported in Hansard to have said -
Referring to a system of State insurance-
– I have always advocated that, though not State fire insurance.
– State insurance means nationalization, and therefore Socialism. The honorable member “having supported Socialism in one form, Is not justified in opposing’ the nationalization of the iron industry on the ground that it is socialistic.
– Who says that I am opposed to the establishment of the iron industry ?
– I understand that the honorable member was returned on the ticket of the honorable member for Swan.
– I have, from the start, advocated an Iron Bounties Bill.
– The honorable member, although elected as an antiSocialist, is a Socialist at heart. On the occasion referred to, he said-
– I gather that the honorable member ‘is about to quote the report of a debate of this session on a subject other than that now before the Chair. If that is his intention, he must not proceed. Reports of . debates of this or any other session on the subject . under discussion, and reports ot debates of other sessions on. any question, may be quoted ; but reports of debates of this session on questions other than that before the House may not be quoted.
– The speech which I wish to read was delivered on 5th July last.
– This session began on 3rd July. .
– I understand that I shall be in order in summarizing the honorable member’s remarks without reading them?
– The honorable member may do that.
– The honorable member for Fremantle has admitted that he advocates Socialism-
-In a form,- though what I have supported is not more socialistic than the sending of a telegram is.
– On the 5th July the honorable member in this chamber advocated State Socialism as opposed to private enterprise. He suggested that the Government should appoint officers to call on private firms, to collect premiums from them in connexion with a system of State insurance.
– The honorable member is misrepresenting me.
– I am sorry that the Standing Orders do not allow me to quote the honorable member’s exact words; but I shall take another opportunity to cite chapter and verse for my statement that a number of those who were returned as anti-Socialists have, when it has served their purposes, acted as Socialists. Therefore, they cannot oppose nationalization of the iron industry purely as a matter of principle; they must deal with the proposal on its merits. The honorable member for Bendigo has contended that the Government should assist the producers of the country by obtaining for them cheaper butter freights, and when asked whether that would not be Socialism, he said, “ Perhaps it is. I do hot care what you call it. I call it common-sense.”
– Hear, hear.
– We say the same thing about this proposal. Honorable members may call the proposed nationalization of the iron industry Socialism. We reply, “Call it that if you like; . but we call it common-sense.” I am glad that the honorable member and others have been so far influenced by the common-sense talked by members of the Labour Party that, although termed anti-Socialists, they feel bound on occasions to support State control in one form or other. I have here a list of nine honorable members who occupy seats on the opposite side of the chamber, and who were returned to this House upon the- anti-socialistic ticket.
– Does the honorable member call me an anti-Socialist?
– When on the public platform these honorable members assured their hearers that any excursion into the domain of Socialism would mean ‘ the nationalization of kitchens and the control of their children by the State. But in this House they honestly confess that they are in favour of the principle of nationalization as applied to . particular industries. If they do not object to the principle of nationalization, I maintain that they ought to be prepared to debate the amendment upon its merits. * These honorable members object to Socialism-
– It has a splendid record up to date.
– It has. About £195,000,000, out of a little more than £270,000,000 of the public debt of the Commonwealth has been invested in socialistic undertakings, and quite recently the Premier of New South Wales, in arguing against the transfer of the State debts to the Commonwealth, declared that the capital invested in State Socialism in New South Wales was returning such a handsome profit that the Legislature did not want to part with its debts. Surely these facts are sufficient to warrant us in nationalizing the iron industry. I wish now to refer briefly to the constitutional aspect of the matter. Upon the showing of some honorable members of this House whose opinions are worth considering, I submit that we should not abandon the project for the nationalization of this industry upon the ground that any such action would be unconstitutional. Sufficient doubt exists as to whether the Commonwealth has power to nationalize an industry, to warrant us. in dismissing that objection and in assuming that we do possess the necessary power. When the Prime Minister was Attorney-General in the Barton Government he expressed an opinion as to the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth in regard to undertaking the control of this industry. In this connexion he said -
The manufacture of iron may be incidental to the execution of many such powers, e.g defence and construction of railways. The Commonwealth may clearly undertake the manufacture of any goods for its own use, and probably if it did so and it were incidentally advantageous to the interest of the manufacture, that it should also manufacture for other consumers, such manufacture would also come within its implied powers.
Therefore, the Prime Minister has laid it down that the Commonwealth has power under the Constitution to manufacture iron if a great portion of that iron be consumed for Commonwealth purposes - that is, for the purposes of defence and of railway construction. If this question were investigated, I venture to. say it would be found that for some time to come the bulk of the iron produced in Australia will be utilized for governmental purposes. This must be obvious when we consider any scheme for our defence, which involves the manufacture of our own arms and ammunition. It has already been pointed out by the honorable member for .Nepean that half the iron now being produced in Lithgow is being used in connexion with contracts with the New South Wales Government. I would also urge upon the attention of honorable members that there is a likelihood of the Commonwealth embarking upon_ railway construction, and that it is not a remote possibility that the Commonwealth will take oyer the railways of the States as soon as the States debts become federalized. Whilst the present Prime Minister holds the views which I have quoted, the honorable member for Flinders declared last evening that he had no doubt whatever as to the constitutional power of the ‘Commonwealth to undertake the manufacture of iron. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie, in referring to the honorable member, said -
Probably if my honorable friend had not thought 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 unconstitutional?
– Not in the present Bill.
– 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 sofar as I know, it would not be unconstitutional for the Federal Government to acquire it, but it would be unconstitutional to prevent the Statesfrom doing so.
We do not propose to prevent the States from, embarking in the industry, but we do say that it is competent for the Commonwealth to undertake it. In view of the opinions which have been expressed by such eminent constitutionalists as the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Flinders, we may surely accept the amendment of the leader of the Labour Party asone which is quite within the range of practical politics. In lieu of clause 9 in the Bounty Bill, which provides that a Statemay take over the iron industry and control it, I think, that we ought to insert a provision for the Commonwealth assuming; control of the production of iron in Australia. Apart altgether from the amendment, I think it would be wise to substitute a wider provision than that to which I have referred. Section 8 provides -
All’ bounties in respect of pig iron, puddled bar iron, or steel shall be granted on the condition that the manufacturer shall, if required, transfer as provided in this Act, the lands, buildings, plant, machinery, appliances, and material used in the manufacture of the goods.
Section 9 provides for a State, and not the Federal authority, assuming control under certain circumstances. In my judgment we ought to look ahead and provide that the Commonwealth shall control1 this industry. It would be foolish to limit ourselves to the clause I’ have quoted, seeing that in a few years the Commonwealth may consume the greater portion of the iron produced in Australia. In referring to the question of railways, may I be permitted to reply to the remarks made last evening by the honorable member for Parkes? He declared! himself in favour of handing over the railways of the States to private enterprise, and asserted that the railway companies of England treated the public much better than they were treated in Australia. I wish to quote a few facts which are beyond dispute, and which will absolutely demolish ‘ his statement. I hold in my hand a comparison which I instituted sometime ago in a paper of which I hari control, and for the benefit of the honorable member I would like to give the information which I then collated. I will take the headings - “ The business trains in the suburban area of London running to time,”’ “Injuries to passengers,” “The speed of trains,” “Carriage of products, meat, and fruit,” “Fares,” and “Working expenses and wages/’ The time-tables, freight books and reports show that for a period of, say, six months, the number of passengers’ landed at Liverpool-street station, London, during morning business hours is 12,648.
– Does the honorable member think that this has anything to do with the Bill?
– Last night the honorable member for Parkes, when discussing the Bill, incidentally referred to State-owned railways, and urged that it would be better for the public if these were han,led over to private control. The honorable member, as an argument against the nationalization of the iron industry, urged that the privately-owned railways in England were conducted more to the public advantage than are the State-owned railways in Australia, and my object is to dispose of the basis of the honorable member’s position.
– I gathered, last evening that the honorable member for Parkes was endeavouring to strengthen his case against the nationalization of the iron industry by a comparison of privately-owned and publicly-owned railways. In that, the honorable member for Parkes was quite in order; and if the honorable member for Cook can disprove the point made by the honorable member for Parkes, he also will be in order. But what I fail to see is the connexion between a reference to the 12,000 odd passengers which arrive at Liverpool-street station, and the question before the Chair. The number of passengers cannot affect the question of privately-owned as against publicly-owned railways.
– I beg to call attention I to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.’]
– I had intended to quote only very few figures on the point.
– Of course, I had no knowledge of how much the honorable member intended to ‘quote,
– The honorable member for Parkes contended that the privately-owned railways in England were conducted more for the benefit of the people than are the publicly-owned ral- ways of Australia; and, in reply, I desire to show that, as compared with London railways, the business trains of- Sydney run more to time, that the injuries to passengers per thousand or per million are much less, that the speed of the trains is greater, that freight and fares are much less, that working expenses are much less, and that the wages are about 50 per cent, higher.
– The honorable member may make such a comparison.
– In order to make the comparison, I desire to quote from the New South Wales Railway and Tramway Review, which I recently edited, the following -
Our railways compare more than favorably with the railways of the world. Statistics prove that for a period of, say, six months the number of passengers arriving at Liverpool Station, London, during the morning business hours was 12,648, 93-95 per cent, of whom arrived to time. For a similar period in New South Wales, we had 10,050 passengers arrive, and had over 96.90 per cent, to time, or nearly 3 per cent, better. In England they kill one passenger for every ten million carried ; New South Wales, one in every twelve million ; America, one in every two million. In England they injure one in every half million; New South Wales, one in every one and three-quarter million ; and in America, one in every tenth of a million. Our suburban service is 30 per cent, faster than in England. For instance, take the Midland Company, in the very heart of London, from the suburbs to the Morgate-street central station. Take East Ham to Morgate-street 14 miles, leaving East Ham at 7.40 a.m., arriving at the central station at 8.38 a.m. - time, 58 minutes. Take our trains from Parramatta to Sydney, same distance, 14 miles, leaving Parramatta at 8 a.m., arriving Sydney 8.37 a.m. - time 37 minutes; or leaving Parramatta at 8.20 a.m., arriving Sydney 8.53 - time 33 minutes. These are the business trains’ - the best in London with our best. The same applies to the evening business trains. When we compare the time in carrying business people, the passengers carried, and the percentages who were landed to time the State railways have nothing to fear from the comparison.
– What bearing has that on the question before us?
– I am quoting this in reply to the honorable member for Parkes, who, after referring to the benefits of privately-owned railways, contended that better results would be obtained if the iron industry were not conducted by the Government. There has been much criticism as to the freight in Australia on meat and fruit; and on this point I should like to read the following from the same publication -
The most favorable English instance is the Great Eastern, who lowered freights for the express purpose of encouraging meat production, and to develop meat traffic. Rate for two tons and over, for 100 miles is £1 5s.10d. In New South Wales, same distance, same quantity, is11s. 8d. Single ton lots compare quite as favorably. . . . Then take fruit and vegetables. From Sittingbourne to London, a distance of 42 miles, the rate is 18s.11d. per ton, with a discount of 10 per cent, for large quantities. New South Wales rate from Camden to Sydney, 42 miles, is 5s.10d. per ton. From Waterbury to London, a distance of 38 miles, the rate is 12s. 2d. ; whilst from Richmond to Sydney, 38 miles, our rate is 4s.1d. Our fares are, on the whole, lower, although we have not the teeming millions of people to travel. Then when we take the other side of the ledger we find our working expenses for the year ending June, 1905, were 59 per cent.; to the end of June, 1906, they were only slightly over 50 per cent. While in England, the Great Northern is most favorable at 63 per cent., Great Eastern 64 per cent., and other companies much larger. The American average is about 67 per cent. Our wages are also fully 50 per cent, higher than in England.
I offer these facts as a complete reply to the generalizations of the honorable member for Parkes, who assumed that the railways of England are better conducted, from the point of view of the people, than are the railways of Australia, and, on that, contended that the iron industry ought to remain in private hands. My desire is to make my own position clear in regard to the question of nationalization, in view of the fact that the right honorable member for East Sydney made some statements which, in my opinion, were not warranted, and endeavoured to fasten on every individual member of the Labour Party views from which I, at least, dissent. I support the amendment, because iron is in its very nature a public utility, equally with, if not more so, than coal ; and all public utilities ought to be in the hands of the people. We have not yet travelled very far on the road of private enterprise in connexion with the iron industry ; and now is the most opportune time for the Commonwealth to exercise its power, and control this industry, to the immeasurable benefit of Australia, not only to-day, but in the future.
– Does the honorable member include food and clothing amongst public utilities?
– I said a few moments ago the extent to which I am prepared to go in the direction of nationalization, and I do not desire, at the conclusion of my speech, to be led into another long statement. I am in favour of the nationalization of the iron industry because, in its very nature, it must immediately become a monopoly ; and all monopolies ought to be under the control of the State or the Commonwealth. I am in favour of the nationalization of this industry because the public as a concrete body are the greatest users of iron in Australia in connexion with the public services. We ought not to pay an immense sum like £250,000 to any private person or persons without the Commonwealth, on behalf of the people, having some direct interest, and some representation on the board of control. The Commonwealth ought to be in a position to safeguard the interests of the public, and have some voice in framing the policy of the industry. In view of the immense importance of the iron trade to the people as a whole, it should not be left now, or at any time, to exploitation by private persons who manufacture a pubjic utility for their own exclusive benefit.
.- This measure is of such great interest and importance to the whole of the people of Australia -
– I think that we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– I was about to say that this Bill involves such far-reaching interests, and is of such great importance that I feel justified in offering a few observations in respect of it, although I do not intend to take up so much - of the time of the House as has the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. The proposition that the Commonwealth should assist in the development of the iron industry has been before this Chamber in various forms during a succession of sessions. I hope that the time has now arrived when practical action will be taken ; that the fate of the iron industry in Australia will no longer remain in suspense, but that this Parliament will show that it realizes its significance and the absolute necessity of taking some action to place it upon a sound and practical footing. If evidence were wanting as to the immediately urgency of the Bill it would be found in the circular letter which Mr. William Sandford addressed to honorable members a few days ago, and in which he makes what certainly looks like a final appeal to the Federal Parliament to assist in preventing a collapse of his ironworks at
Eskbank, New South Wales. He states in that letter that the financial position of the works is now such that without Federal assistance they will have to be closed down. No honorable member - no patriotic Australian - could regard as other than a national calamity such an event as the collapse and failure of those ironworks. I certainly hope that honorable members will take action to prevent their closing down. I have had many, and perhaps special, opportunities to consider this question in the light of evidence taken in all the States of the Commonwealth, and can say that apart from the Tariff itself, there is before this Parliament no proposition of greater moment, importance, and urgency than is the Bill now under consideration. I hope that the time has arrived when the longcontinued efforts of the Treasurer will be crowned with success, and that the Bill will be passed substantially in the form in which it has been presented. If the bounty be paid in the manner proposed I believe’ that it will be money well spent, and that coming ages will pronounce the verdict that the Bill was well considered and thought out, and contributed towards the material prosperity of Australia and the development of some of its fundamental and organic industries. The honorable member for Wide Bay, in moving his amendment, drew attention to the unique fact that, up to the present time iron production in Australia has not been established on a sound basis, although other great industrial enterprises have been fairly successful.. What is the reason for this? A number of circumstances have contributed to the state of affairs to which the honorable member for Wide Bay- has properly drawn attention. One live factor is that it is only within the last few years that scientific investigation and exploration has demonstrated the certainty of the existence of vast iron deposits in Australia.
– The iron deposits of Tasmania were worked fifty years ago.
– It was not demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt until recently that these deposits were worthy of the attention of capitalists who were prepared to launch upon such an enterprise. It is only of late years - since the establishment of the Federal Parliament and the bringing of the question of the working of our deposits of iron ore prominently under its attention and that of the people of the world- that capitalists have really begun to show an inclination to put money into the industry. Amongst those who have largely helped in that direction none perhaps have done more than has Mr. William Sandford. He deserves the greatest praise and credit for his heroic action in standing by the industry through ill and good report. He has brought it under the attention of members of this Parliament as well as of capitalists in Australia and elsewhere, and has battled against adverse forces, difficulties, and influences that would have discouragedmany men. It has been said that the spectacle of a brave man struggling against adversity commands the admiration of the gods, and I am sure that every patriotic Australian must regard with pride the efforts of . Mr. Sandford, who has done his. level best to establish this industry. He has spent his own money - invested his private fortune - and induced his friends also to invest capital in this big enterprise, without resorting to State assistance. But he has practically gone the length of his tether ; having exhausted his own resources and induced his friends to almost exhaust theirs, he declares that unless he receives national assistance the industry must collapse.
– Does the honorable member think that it would ?
– We ought to accept Mr. Sandford’s solemn assurance, in the circular which he has addressed to honorable members, that the works will be closed unless he receives at the present juncture substantial and practical assistance. Some of the causes of the failures of the past have been want of capital and want of confidence, and in addition the fact that foreign mines and manufacturers have been supplying the requirements of Australia. I propose to confine my observations at the present stage to the question of the production of pig iron, bar, rod, angle, tee and sheet iron. Hitherto most of our supplies of those classes of iron have been drawn from countries where iron production has been established, after years of experiments and after a long and continuous effort and investment ofcapital by companies and firms that have practically secured a monopoly of the iron trade of the . world. Need we be surprised that Mr. Sandford, in the Southern Hemisphere, having to compete against those world forces and factors, has experienced difficulty in placing his industry . on a sure and solid foundation? It is a common argument that the natural protection ought to be sufficient to enable the industry to be founded without State assistance. Honorable members are aware that hitherto pig iron and bar iron have been recognised as the raw materials of the engineering and other manufacturing industries in all the States, and have been properly kept on the free list. No doubt the normal freights charged upon pig, bar, rod, and sheet iron from New York or London to Australia would amount to 16s. or 17s. per ton.
– From 17s. 6d. to £1 per ton.
– I have given the normal freights, but evidence was given before the Tariff Commission that at certain periods of the year vast quantities of pig iron and bar iron are carried from the Northern Hemisphere to Australia as ballast, practically free, or at a nominal charge of 5s. per ton. That was proved by the incontestable evidence of Mr. Sandford and his colleagues, and he refers to it as one of the contributing causes of his failure. Having to compete with the iron pro.ductions of old-world ‘establishments - where the cost of production has been reduced to the lowest level - and which, are brought out here very often as ship’s ballast, he has had practically no natural protection ; he has had to compete on equal terms with the products of other countries, and has found it impossible to do so. There are also special considerations connected with the iron industry which seem to single it out from nearly every other industry as requiring particular specialization and organization to make it pay. Above all, it is an industry which cannot possibly be carried on at a profit unless it has an almost world-wide or Continental output. That has been the secret of the success of the great iron-works of the United States of America, England, and the Continent. A vast and continuous output enables the establishments to keep their furnaces going all the year round, thereby reducing the cost of production, and permitting the steady employment of a highly-trained staff of artisans. It is impossible to carry on this industry without continuity and vast’ness of output. Mere spasmodic production is economically unsound, and must result in failure. It is this that justifies, the Governments of the Commonwealth and of New South Wales in giving the iron industry special attention and substantial support. But the granting of bounties such as those proposed in the Bill, or the giving of such support as is provided for in the agreement between the Government of New South Wales and Mr. Sandford, does not properly come within the definition ot Socialism, notwithstanding the assertion of the honorable member for Cook to the contrary. I have always maintained that it is the right arid duty of the State to give practical assistance to approved industries. But there .is a fundamental difference between State-aided or State-regulated industries and State-owned monopolies.
– I suppose the honorable member would not object to State ownership under some conditions?.
– There are enterprises of a national character which the State is almost bound to undertake. Among these is the administration of the Post Office and the construction and management of railways. But such enterprises are, in themselves, peculiar and special, and diner fundamentally from the working of a coal mine, or the conduct of ironworks. Railways are constructed to further the trade and commerce of the whole community, and their construction and management involves the exercise of semi-territorial sovereignty and control of the land over which they pass: But the ownership of the mine does not involve territorial sovereignty, the operations entailed being merely the digging of certain minerals from the bowels of the earth and their appropriation to the uses and purposes of man. There is no analogy between State-owned railways or State-owned railway workshops, such ‘ as those at Newport, and State-owned coal mines or iron mines. The Newport workshops are incidental and accessory to the railway system of Victoria. As the State is justified in making railways for the development of its territory, it is justified in building workshops for the production of materials, appliances, plant, and rolling-stock to be used in connexion with and upon them.
– But it is not justified in making the steel rails that it requires?
– There’ is nothing to prevent a State, if it likes, from going to the expense of making the steel rails that it requires ; but the Governments of Victoria and of New South Wales will probably find it cheaper to place contracts with Mr. Sandford than to make their own rails. If a State Government could make its rails more cheaply than it could buy them, it would be justified in making them.
– Why could not the Phoenix Foundry make locomotives more cheaply than they are made at the Newport workshops ?
– Under certain conditions, locomotives could be made as cheaply and economically by private firms as bv a State Railway Department. The Phoenix Foundry failed because it was situated at Ballarat, 100 miles inland, and had to transport its coal and raw materials a long distance by rail, and also because, instead of its being kept regularly going, work was doled out to it piecemeal, in small orders, now and again, so that there could not be that continuity of production which is essential to profitable engineering or iron-working.
– Furthermore, the Phoenix Foundry had to make a profit on its turnover.
– That is necessary for the success of any private enterprise. Had the Phoenix Foundry received enough work to keep it constantly going, it would not have come out on the wrong side, as it finally did, in the examination conducted by the Victorian Government. The Newport workshops are not analogous to a State ironworks. Any ironworks must supply, not merely State requirements, but also hundreds of thousands of private customers, and must be so managed that they will pay. Mr. Sandford, because of his knowledge and experience, is more likely to make ironworks pay than is any State management.
– He would make an excellent general manager under the “State.
– He would have to be very highly paid for his services in such a capacity. A man who has travelled many times round the world, examining ironworks and investigating methods of iron production, is probably as expert on the subject as Mr. Carnegie, and should command a salary of not less than £10,000 a year.
– Where do the big mining companies get their managers ?
– The honorable member is referring to private enterprises.
– Could not the State act similarly ?
– I do not think that iron, coal, or gold mines could be as” economically or as efficiently managed by the State as by private enterprise.
– What are they doing in New Zealand to-day?
– No doubt the State might work a mine to supply coal to its railways.
– Or to any one else who wished to buy coal.
– No facts have been adduced to show that ironworks could he managed more cheaply by an Australian Government than by private enterprise. No one in this country is more capable of managing ironworks than Mr. Sandford, and his able colleagues and co-directors If we nationalize the industry, the danger is that, instead of making it a success, we shall cause failure and disaster, so that Hie last stage will , be worse than the first.
– We have failure now.
– That is because those interested in the Lithgow ironworks have had to struggle against adverse conditions, which we can largely remove. It is because the establishment of .the iron industry would benefit every other manufacturing industry in Australia that the Commonwealth is justified in making a special grant to assist it. The honorable member for Maranoa and others voted for the granting of bounties to encourage the growing of cotton and rice and other minor industries. Why, then, should they refuse to grant bounties for the establishment of an industry which in magnitude, importance, and influence overshadows every other?
– The question of monopoly arises in this case.
- Mr. Sandford will not necessarily have a monopoly. There are iron deposits in Queensland, whose prospects, I am. told, are as good as those of New South Wales, and there are iron deposits in Tasmania. These do not lielong to Mr. Sandford. If the iron industry is established in New South Wales by the payment of a modest bounty- of £250,000, other ironworks may spring up in other States.
– Ironworks cannot be started as easily as ‘boot factories.
– I know that it requires a capital of from £500,000 to £1,000,000 to establish ironworks; but I have been informed by a well-known engineer that, > if the bounty is granted, and Mr. Sandford obtains all the plant that he can buy, he will not be able to turn out sufficient iron to meet the requirements of the Australian market. Therefore there will be an abundant opportunity for others either to share in the proposed bounty or to apply for similar assistance in establishing works in Queensland or in Tasmania. I deny that these works will necessarily be a monopoly.
– They could not complete the orders given to them by the New South Wales Government alone.
– So I am informed. Although Mr. Sandford has contracted to supply the State Government with 500 tons of pig iron per month, he is not able to meet its requirements. So that there is plenty of scope for the establishment of other ironworks in Australia besides those at Eskbank. Last night, the honorable member for Flinders spoke in rather a doubtful tone. Before he is prepared to vote this money, he desires some guarantee that these ironworks will be carried on in a successful manner. In other words, he requires a guarantee against failure before he has contributed anything towards the success of the industry. If any guarantee of that kind is required, I think that we can appeal to the action of the New South Wales Government, which has exhibited a firm belief in the bona fides of this enterprise. That Government has entered into a contract with Mr. Sandford’ to supply it with all the iron required for State purposes. In other words, they have practically granted him a subsidy, thereby showing that they have absolute confidence in the enterprise. The iron deposits are associated with deposits of coal, and Mr. Sandford has already exhibited his faith in this, great work by spending a large amount of his own money, and by inducing the investment of private capital in the industry. The surroundings of the industry, its previous history, and the association with it of so many good and true men ought to be sufficient to satisfy even the honorable member for Flinders that it is a substantial and dona fide one, and one which ought to receive favorable treatment at our hands. I believe that it can be best assisted by means of a bounty, and that the proposal for its nationalization is a mere idle dream, which will never be realized, because it is utterly impracticable. In order to nationalize the industry, the Commonwealth would have to buy out Mr. Sandford and his mines, as well as practically all the iron deposits in Australia - a course of action which would involve the expenditure of many millions sterling. Even after the Government had secured these resources, it is very doubtful whether they would be able to carry on the industry as well as those men who have staked their all in it, and who have every, reason to induce them to work these resources in an economical and successful manner. A mere stage manager or superintendent who is paid a salary would not have the same strong incentive to work them successfully as would those individuals who have launched their capital in the industry, and who, as directors, are personally interested in it.
– Because men are more alert where their own interests are concerned than they are when they are acting for others. That is only human nature. As a rule, they are more select and more competent than would be a board of directors which might be appointed as the result of political patronage.
– Does the honorable member for Kooyong work the Broken Hill Proprietary Mine, or does Mr. Delprat?
- Mr. Delprat is under the control of the board of directors. The latter have invested their money in the mine, and if their manager did not perform his duty faithfully they could soon displace him. We have frequent instances of that sort of thing at Bendigo. I repeat that there is a greater probability of the works being carried on successfully by persons who are directly interested in them, than there is if they were- controlled by State managers. Under the guidance of private enterprise, with the aid of a fair measure of assistance from the public, the iron industry will be a success. I believe that Mr. Sandford’s present necessities arise from the fact that, although he has erected a blast furnace for the production of pig iron at a cost of ^120,000, he is at present without the necessary plant for converting that pig iron into bar iron, wrought iron, sheet iron, and plate’ iron. In order to procure this plant it is imperative that he should secure other capital amounting to, approximately, ,£250,000. Without the sanction and support of the Parliament and people of Australia, he will be unable to obtain this. Consequently a crisis has now arisen in the history of the industry, and the question which we have to determine is whether this Parliament will allow Mr. Sandford and his works to go down, and thereby delay the development of the industry for an indefinite period? I very much regretted to hear some members of the Labour Party declare that if they could not secure the nationalization of the industry they would vpte, not for the payment of a bounty upon the production of iron, but for the imposition of duties.
– Why ?
– Because I am satisfied that those honorable members can hardly have considered the serious consequences that will result to the whole of the engineering and iron industries of Australia if duties be imposed upon pig, wrought, sheet, and plate iron.
– We should need countervailing duties then?
– Even countervailing duties would not be sufficient, because Mr. Sandford would not be able to undertake the production of the whole of these raw materials.
– Does the Bill provide for the payment of a bounty to Mr. Sandford, or is it designed to encourage the establishment of the iron industry?
– It authorizes the payment of a bounty to the great company of which Mr. Sandford is the leading spirit. I am not ashamed to mention his name in connexion with the industry. Even with the aid of duties . his company would not be able to turn out one-quarter pr one-half of the bar, rod, angle, and plate iron which would be required, and every foundry would be thus called upon to pay practically a revenue duty upon these raw materials for many years to come. Those honorable members who advocate the imposition of duties in lieu of the payment of a bounty are advocating something which would operate oppressively upon every ironfounder and engineer in Australia.
– What will the ironfoundries do when the period during which the bounty is to operate expires?
– By that time it is hoped that the industry will have been placed upon a sound footing, so that Mr. Sandford will . be able to compete with the imports from oversea by the aid of duties.
– The duties will then be necessary to prevent outside manufacturers from dumping. It seems to me that some honorable members have not realized the disastrous effects that would flow from the . imposition of duties upon these raw materials. If such duties are imposed they will also operate most injuriously to those foundries and iron works which are at present making specialized machines for export. It is well known that some foundries in New South Wales and Victoria are turning out machinery of a specialized character, known as dredging machinery, which has been invented and developed locally, and which has been so improved that it has led to an export trade. At the present time upwards of £40,000 or £56,000 worth of these : pecialized engines and machines are annually exported from . Australia to the Malay Peninsula and to Eastern countries. If duties be imposed upon the. raw materials I have mentioned, they will undoubtedly add to the cost of producing these specially-patented Australian machines, the price of which will thereby be increased to the consumer, so that in course of time the foreign manufacturer will probably be able to compete successfully with our own foundries. I. would now like to quote a passage from a letter which, I understand, was forwarded by the manager of the Austral Otis Engineering Company Limited to the Minister of Trade and Customs, and which I saw reprinted in one of the Melbourne newspapers. It reads -
There is another phase of the subject which requires some attention, and I trust with the expansion of manufactures fostered by the more adequate protection will assume greater magnitude, viz., exports of manufactured iron-work and machinery. Division VIA. will increase the cost of raw material by 12½ per cent, ad val., and consequently increase the cost of production of finished machinery by an equal amount. My company is now exporting machinery to foreign countries, principally Eastern Asia and adjoining islands, which this year will total probably £50,000. The additional cost may cause the loss of this export trade ; in any case, it will be a serious handicap in getting further business against foreign competition, and be a permanent factor in reducing opportunities for expansion outside our own borders until our local ironmasters can compete ‘ with’ the world’s prices, which must take a long time. While we are quite prepared to forego this trade for the benefits of securing the business of our own markets, it might be politic to consider in the interests of the employment of labour some form of rebate of the added cost for exports of machinery manufactured in the Commonwealth to foreign countries or otherwise’ give a bonus for iron manufacture instead of the fixed duty, as it is manifestly impossible for any two or three ironworks to make all of the qualitits and sections required.
The substance of that letter is that, in the opinion of this iron-master, the best way to promote the iron industry in Australia is by a bounty, and not by a duty, which would increase the cost of production, and that it would be impossible for any one establishment such as that of Sandford Limited, to tura out all the sections and varieties required in the engineering industry.’ Under the circumstances, a duty, by adding to the cost of production, would impede the development of the iron and engineering trades in Australia. I hope that the result of this debate will be to secure, not only in this Bill, but outside, sympathetic consideration for the iron industry. I hope that the people of Australia will consider and examine the possibilities of the future development of these works in New South Wales, which, I hope, will receive support, not merely in the shape of a bounty from this Parliament, but-
– Not only in New South Wales.
– I hope that ironworks in New South Wales and other States will be regarded as a national asset, of which we, as Australians, may well feel proud, and upon which, in years to come, we shall have to draw in order to build our fleets and other great engineering works. Mr. Franki, in his evidence before the Tariff Commission, said that it would be impossible to establish ship-building in Australia until there was iron production adjacent to the works, and he, therefore, supported a bounty as the best method of developing the industry. Mr. Sandford, in his evidence, said, and truly, that the iron- works of a country are the basis of national defence. We can never hope to develop our national defences - we can never hope to build iron-clads, cruisers, and battle-ships in the same way as the Japanese are now doing - unless we have iron-works established on a sure and lasting national foundation.
.- The last few words of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo sum up the main argument in favour of nationalizing the iron industry. The honorable and learned member said that, without the iron industry in Australia, we cannot build great iron-clads, or manufacture the munitions of war, necessary for our defence. I maintain that out of the three proposals before us - a bounty, a duty, and nationalization - nationalization stands first and- foremost, because of the necessity for the manufacture of munitions of war, and because the Commonwealth and. the various States Governments will eventually become the greatest users of iron and steel in the country. The question resolves itself into this - are we to make our own iron, or are we to let somebody else make it for us? The question resolves itself into this - are we to see that our iron-clads, guns, cannons, and the materials used in their composition, are of such a character as to be beyond doubt efficient?
Are we to take these risks, which very often have resulted in serious accident in time of war? In the late Russo-Japanese war we had some examples of contract supplies, especially in the case of munitions. It seems to me that ship-building will come within the province of the Commonwealth before many years - at least, I hope so - and this will necessitate the consumption of an enormous quantity, of iron. Not many weeks ago there was a debate in this House on that national calamity, the rabbit pest. If the Government nationalized the iron industry, what would there be to prevent their manufacturing wire-netting and in coming to the relief of suffering settlers in time of severe drought? Furthermore, if we are to have closer settlement and a larger population, there will have to be a great scheme of irrigation undertaken, and this, again, would mean an enormous consumption of iron pipes. ‘ Then we have our great municipalities requiring supplies of the same kind, and I do not see why the Government should not manufacture iron and supply it, of the best qualitv, for the public requirements. If ever, there was an industry which provided an argument for nationalization, it is the iron industry. Personally, I regret that the nationalization of any industry should be proposed before we have a national banking system. Ways and means must be considered in every enterprise, but evidently we have in power to-day a Government who are prepared to undertake a large national expenditure in order to help this industry. Bearing in view the importance of the industry, which must become self-supporting very rapidly, I do not see why the Government should not go a little further and undertake an expenditure sufficient to bring about nationalization. No matter how much the honorable member for East Sydney and others mav talk about “ Socialism,” I insist on the use of the phrase “public co-operation”; and I was . much interested to hear the leader of the Opposition discanting on theglories of private enterprise. The honorable member put me very much in mind of a man who would “enthuse” over the glorious work which could be done with a sickle, quite ignoring the infinitely more efficient and economical work which could be done with a harvester. I am willing to give private enterprise all credit for much it may have done in the way of helpinghumanity.butthe horrors of the system far outweigh anygood it may have accomplished. Private enterprise is responsible for theft and murder; it is responsible for the recent bulling and bearing in the United States - all the abominations of the present crisis there may be attributed to private enterprise. It is remarkable that when private enterprise gets into a difficulty, or when it causes almost a national crisis, it flies to the ‘Government for assistance. Even in America to-day, those who are responsible for the present financial troubles there have appealed to the Government to issue bonds to a very large amount in order to enable the commercial community to tide over the difficulty. We remember when the Government had to be appealed to for support for the Bank of England; and if we come nearer home, we know how in New South Wales the private enterprise banks had to be assisted by the Government by means of a Banks Issue Act. We further know how the New Zealand Government had to guarantee private banks to the extent of £2,000,000 in order to avert bankruptcy and ruin throughout the Dominion. I do not object to the tirades on Socialism - so-called ; I do not object to honorable members opposing public co-operation. We know that if we establish co-operative methods - and I consider nationalization to be the quickest .method of co-operation - we shall cut off the sources of supply from all kinds of men, who, for their own profit, juggle with the food supply and other requirements of the people. A nation requires supplies of all kinds, and one of the curses of the present day is that men so juggle with finance as to rob the people right and left.
– In whose interests were the banks supported in New South Wales?
– The banks asked for socialistic assistance on the plea that that assistance was for the good of the State. In that plea, they were quite right, and I am proud that the socialistic method was used for preventing a financial crisis, which to most of us would have meant ruin. That fact alone - or that fact, coupled with the other that those concerned in the iron industry are now appealing for Government help - only shows that it would be better, a thousand times over, for the Government to undertake the enterprise themselves. We have a splendid world ; I have nothing to growl about on this great planet. We have every means for living joyous, happy lives ; and it is only the chicanery and the private financing for profit that cause some persons to suffer as they do to-day. Here we are struggling against exorbitant prices. Why? Solely because of private enterprise. I do not believe in wholesale nationalization, and if a motion were to be submitted tomorrow to nationalize, for instance, the farming industry, I should take the view that there was no necessity for such a step. There are thousands of farmers engaged in production, and, therefore, there is no possibility of any monopoly, seeing that each has to produce the best article in order to obtain a reasonable price. Furthermore, I should not approve of the Commonwealth having anything to do with speculative mining, such as that for gold, for other precious metals, or for precious stones. It seems to me that all honorable members are Socialists and co-operators, and that we differ only in regard to the extent to which we are- prepared to go. Honorable members of the Opposition have said that ‘ the Labour Party is going back upon its socialistic ideals; but, so far as I am concerned, I am prepared to vote for the nationalization of any industry when I think that such a course would be in the best interests of the public. I am not altogether enamoured of the contention that we should nationalize this industry simply because’ it will be a monopoly; it is sufficient for me to urge that it should be nationalized on the ground that the best interests of the Commonwealth would thus be served. I listened with interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Flinders, who expressed an anxiety to ascertain whether the Labour Party, since it believed in the nationalization of the iron industry, also favoured the nationalization of land. It is unfair for our opponents to resort to such extremes. The platform of the Labour Party provides for the nationalization of monopolies, and also includes a proposal for the imposition of a land tax. We think it sufficient that our programme should cover all that is practicable within the life of a Parliament, and the honorable member for Flinders was really playing with this question when he sought to draw us in the way I have indicated. But he was not so unfair as was the leader of the Opposition, who endeavoured to show “that because we favoured the nationalization of the iron industry, we desired to nationalize everything. In passing, I would say to those who have urged that the iron industry would not be a monopoly, that we must not forget that we are legislating for the future as well ‘as for the present. The name of the Steel Trust of the United States of America is one with which to conjure, and in laying the foundations of a young nation, we have to remember that we might have such a’ Trust in Australia. A steel Trust in the Commonwealth certainly would not possess such power as does the Steel Trust of America, since the railways are owned by the States; but the Labour Party feels justified in opposing a proposal to hand over to private enterprise an ‘industry which could well be made a Government undertaking. I have condensed my remarks in order that a vote mav be taken as speedily as possible, and also because many of the views that I had intended to express have already been voiced by other honorable members. I was somewhat surprised by the warmth shown by the honorable member for Bendigo when dilating upon the possibility of- State enterprise - of which in this connexion he knows nothing - failing. The honorable member worked himself into a state of excitement in discussing the possibility of the failure of co-operation, forgetting altogether that it is the very failure of private enterprise that has induced the Government to bring this proposal before us. He also urged that those who favoured the imposition of a duty in preference to the granting of a bounty were prepared to penalize many industries . in the Commonwealth, overlooking the fact that it is not proposed to impose the iron duties until a certificate is issued that the industry has been established. The heading to division VI. a, which covers the duties on iron and steel, sets forth that they are - .
To come into operation on dates to be fixed by Proclamation, and exempt from duty in the meantime. Proclamation to issue so soon as it is certified to Parliament by the Minister that the manufacture to which the Proclamation refers has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth.
– The industry is already sufficiently established.
– Not at all. As a matter of fact, only one section of the industry has been established. I shall vote for the imposition of a duty of 12 £ per cent., because I think that the industry ought to be protected. I have previously voted for bounties on the understanding that they were designed to assist industries that have not been established; but I think that the production of iron in Australia has gone beyond the stage at which a bounty should be granted for its encouragement. I fail to see how. it can be said that we should penalize manufactures of which iron is the raw material by the imposition of a. duty, subject to the condition that it shall not come into operation until the iron industry is properly established. Listening to the honorable member for Bendigo, one would have thought that the intention of the Government was that the bounty payable under this Bill should be granted solely for the benefit of Mr. Sandford. A glance at the measure is sufficient to show that the intention is that any one who sets up an establishment for the manufacture of pig iron and the other material mentioned in the schedule shall participate in the bounty. When we visited the works at Lithgow, I was told by a responsible representative of the company that they did not care whether thev obtained a bounty or a duty ; they would be satisfied so long as the industry was assisted.
– Did they not say that they would prefer a duty of 12^ per cent. ?
– I cannot say, but I certainly would prefer such a duty to the granting of a bounty. A bounty, as distinguished from a duty, is necessary only where the establishment of an industry in the Commonwealth is doubtful. Those which we have hitherto granted may be secured by persons in a small way of business, but the establishment of the iron .industry is necessarily an enterprise for large capital.
– Do I understand that in the event of the Bill being defeated the honorable member would vote for the immediate imposition of a duty on iron?
– Not at all. The proposal of the Government is that the duty shall not come into operation until the local industry is satisfactorily established. -One more reference to the speech of the honorable member for Bendigo, and I shall have done. The honorable member sought to raise a scare against the nationalization of this industry on the ground that if it were nationalized the Government would have to buy out all the iron mines and ironworks in Australia. To make such a suggestion is to disregard all the conditions pertaining to mining. If the industry were nationalized the Government would have a monopoly of it, and private enterprise in the Commonwealth would find it unprofitable. It would be absolutely unnecessary for the Government to buy up all the iron mining ventures in Australia1; but in the event of the amendment being agreed to I should certainly like the Government to take over Mr. Sandford’s plant, because it is a new and effective one. I wish Mr. Sandford every success, and if the amend- ment be rejected I shall vote for a duty of 12^ per cent., on the terms provided for in the Tariff, in order that private manufacturers may be assisted.
– On previous occasions I have supported measures providing for the payment of a bounty to encourage the iron industry, and on the general question see no reason to depart from the position that I have hitherto taken up. It is well that the House should realize that the failure of the iron industry to receive from the Commonwealth the assistance that its importance demands has been clue to the obstructive tactics of the Labour Party. Doubtless they have had in mind the promulgation of State nationalization, but no one can deny that the failure of the Commonwealth to assist the industry has been due t” the tactics of that party. I have before crated in this House that the business with which I am associated has enabled me to ascertain in some measure what are the practical possibilities of our ore deposits. We have enormous deposits of oxidized bodies throughout Australia, and it is a matter for regret that they have not long- since been utilized. But there are some misconceptions as to the possibilities of the iron industry. I may perhaps be permitted to explain that in order to nroduce the better qualities of steel, ore which has phosphorus as one of its basic contents is undesirable. Nevertheless, we have large oxidized bodies which can unquestionably be worked most profitably, and I think the House is unanimous as tq the desirableness of ironworks being established in Australia. The only point upon which there is a difference of opinion is as to the method by which the industry shall’ be assisted. The method now proposed is the granting of bounties. That method’ has been adopted in other countries, notably in Canada, where over £1,500,000 has been distributed by the Government. But, notwithstanding that large expenditure, there are only two or three establishments in Canada producing iron which can be used for the manufacture of the best kinds of steel, and I am assured that over 50 per cent, of the necessary material has to be imported. Canada, however, is in a better position than Australia for the production of iron, and its ore deposits contain chemical constituents with less deleterious contents. In South Australia .there is a deposit of millions of tons of iron ore at a place called Iron Knob, and the oxidised material there obtainable has been very fully exploited by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, with which I am associated. “ The company has not yet seen any inducement for undertaking the manufacture of iron ; but this ore, in its crude condition, is being exported to Great Britain and the Continent, where it is used for certain purposes for which it is serviceable. There are also magnificent deposits in Tasmania. It is estimated that over 40,000,600 tons of ore are exposed on the Blythe River.
– Are not the South Australian deposits too far from a coalfield?
– There is a railway from the mine to the shipping port, to which a regular supply of coal is brought by chartered steamers, so that if there were any inducements we could overcome that difficulty. But it is well for the House to know our limitations in this matter. I understand that during the period of the bounties, there is to be no issue of a. Proclamation bringing into force the duties in division VI. a of the Tariff, which would seriously interfere with Australian industries. The honorable member for Flinders last night dealt with this matter in a sound and businesslike way. He said - and I shave his opinion - that a bounty of £250,000 will not place the iron industry on a satisfactory footing. The honorable member for Parkes - I think under a misapprehension - suggested that the honorable member for Flinders was influenced bv the consideration that the . enterprise which we are asked to assist is located in New South Wales. Discussions which I had with the honorable member for Flinders prior to his speech, and remarks which I have heard him make since, convince me that that is not so.
– Hear,, hear !
– But there is no doubt as to where the industry will be established.
– Almost all works of this kind will probably be established on the New South Wales sea-board.
– Perhaps, though I do not think that any of us are influenced bv that consideration. Moreover, the Moore-Heskett process, of which the promoters have such sanguine expectations, is a Victorian enterprise. I should like their wildest dreams to be consummated, because if they are, an industry will be established here which will make Australia world-famed, and will bring immense profit to the Commonwealth and to all concerned. I am yet unable to ac.cept these sanguine expectations.
– There was a very successful demonstration yesterday.
– I am delighted to hear it ; because I’ should like the process to prove a success. If it does, Victoria, too, will share in these bounties. In any case, there is no foundation for the belief that any honorable member is influenced in regard to this proposal by the consideration that the enterprise which it will benefit is a New South Wales enterprise. The speech of the honorable member for Flinders was such as might have been made to a number of business men assembled to discuss the best way of dealing with the money proposed to be expended. He showed how the proposals of the Government should be safeguarded.
– But he contended the other day that the Government will not have the money; that we are getting to the end of our financial tether.
– The honorable member for Flinders showed last night that probably during the next two years the Treasurer will have large surpluses.
– No, I shall not.
– The present revenue returns belie the Minister’s expectation.I think that every honorable member thinks very highly of the enterprise of “Mr. Sandford.
– He has shown that private enterprise must fail.
– Had he come here with a specific request for assistance and support, he would have received consideration. He possesses enterprise and ability, having, as the honorable member for Bendigo has pointed out, gone round the world several times to gain a knowledge of the most approved methods of iron working. He has returned a well-informed man for the purpose of maintaining this great enterprise.
– And he has proved that its management is beyond private enterprise.
– To manage the industry is not beyond the capacity of private enterprise. The whole point is that there is not a sufficient market available within the Commonwealth. I wish now to place upon record a statement compiled for me, and which represents a condensation of the published statistics relating to the importation into Australia of various classes of iron. The information is in the form of a table, which I am sure will prove useful to honorable members in considering this question. It reads : -
– I would point out that the honorable member is scarcely able to proceed. He is giving information which bears well upon the subject under discussion, and it is very discourteous to him, as well as being contrary to the rules of the House, that conversation should be maintained in the chamber to the extent of seriously disturbing the thought of the honorable member.
– The United States. Great Britain, Sweden and Germany have to import such large quantities of raw material that at the best we can only hope to secure a very small share of the ‘production to which I have alluded.
– Do each of those countries import pig iron?
– Yes. Great Britain largely imports the raw material from Spain and Sweden.
– - And America imports it from Canada.
– America has to import material which is necessary to make the best class of steel; Canada, notwithstanding her great natural advantages, has never been able to make a great success of the industry, although it has been assisted by the State to the extent of over £1,500,000. I hold that a sum of £250,000 is absolutely inadequate to place the iron industry upon a sound commercial basis. I do not suggest for a moment that even if the whole of that amount found its way into the hands of the company- which has established works at Lithgow, .in New South Wales, it would be expended .in an undeserved direction. On the contrary, I think that Mr. Sandford’s works merit all the consideration that we can extend to them. But if there had been any prospect of the industry proving successful, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company and other companies, which possess excellent deposits of oxidized iron, would have long ago embarked upon it. But the delay in assistance to the industry is due to the obstructive policy of my honorable friends in, the Labour corner. Had they in the first instance been willing to authorize the payment of a bounty to the industry, I know that £1: .000,600 would have been sunk in establishing works at the Blythe River. The Blythe River Company took the precaution to secure from Great Britain, one of the most competent men to advise them in regard to the enterprise. He came to Australia, and as the result of his investigations informed the company that their only hope of success was to be found in investing the sum of £1,000,000 in the industry, and that any less amount would be practically thrown away. If the honorable member for Flinders will propose the appropriation of a larger sum than that provided for in this Bill for the purpose of assisting the industry, I shall be only too glad to support him, provided that the necessary safeguards which he indicated are forthcoming.
– A private member cannot move in that direction.
– I quite admit that.
– Where is the money to come from ?
– Five hundred thousand pounds is not too large a sum to expend in placing the industry upon a sound commercial footing. From published returns, I gather that the production of pig iron at Lithgow at present amounts to 700 tons per week. It is also stated that this output could, with the present appliances, easily be increased to 1,000 tons per week. We may therefore assume that the output for some time to come will not exceed 50,000 tons per annum. Now, the imports of pig iron into the Commonwealth during 1906, including scrap, amounted to 61,000 tons. Assuming the) present consumption were maintained, and that the duty imposed was sufficiently high to entirely exclude imports of pig iron, there would thus be a deficiency of 11,000 tons if the furnaces erected here were to supply the necessities of the local market. But the imports of bar, rod, angle, plate, sheet, galvanized, scrap, and pig iron and hoops amounted last year to approximately 201,702 tons. So that the enterprise we are now assisting can only supply .but a small proportion of the present importations. My desire, df course, is to adhere to the position I have taken up on previous occasions, and support the principle of granting a bounty. I believe that the manufacturers would prefer a straightout duty, if the financial necessities .of their enterprise at the present time could be overcome, as I hope they may be. However, I have seen no reason to change my opinion that, with proper safeguards, they would be better assisted by the payment of a bounty ; and, consequently, it is my intention to vote for the second reading of the Bill, reserving to myself the full right to vote against clauses which, in my opinion, should have rendered the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Wide Bay absolutely unnecessary. According to clause 9 and other clauses, the Government assume the power, if the industry is not a financial success, to take possession ; and such provisions, I think, go a long way on the road which my friends in the Labour corner desire to travel. I shall undoubtedly use my best efforts to see that these clauses are eliminated.
– That is a good indication that the Broken Hill Proprietary intend to qualify for the bounty.
– I can assure honorable members that there is not any such intention on the part of the Broken Hill Proprietary.
– It would be very desirable that the Broken Hill Proprietary should endeavour to earn the bounty.
– It would be a good thing, but the Broken Hill Proprietary Company is conducted on business lines.; and I do not at present see any .prospect of success in the iron industry until the population, and the consumption, are enormously increased.
– If the Commonwealth vote the money, does not the honorable member think that there ought to be the right at some time to take over the industry? ‘
– If so, the same argument would apply to every industry on behalf of which a high duty has been imposed^ because I regard duties as more or less an assistance to the industries. I must say that I cannot quite understand the schedule to the Bill. The first primary production is, of course, pig iron ; and it is sometimes put into blocks, and also, in its molten state, into furnaces, from which steel is produced. I desire to point out that the admixture of materials used in the secondary process very largely enhances the value; and I should like to point out an inconsistency which, I think, is worth the consideration of the Treasurer. The bounty on pig iron made from Australian ore is to be 1 2s. ; on puddled bar iron made from Australian pig iron, 12s. ; and on steel made from Australian pig iron.. 12s. We must assume, therefore, that it is the intention of the Government to give a cumulative bounty of 12s. a ton on the various processes.
– I do not think the honorable member ought to take that for granted.
– I am informed that the third 12s. is doubtful, but the first and second are undoubtedly cumulative, and, consequently, the bounty is 24s. a ton.
– The honorable member is not correct; I took advice on the point this morning.
– I understand the Minister now to say that the manufacturer has to declare whether he will claim the bounty on steel production or on pig iron - that he will not receive twice 12s. as a cumulative bounty.
– The intention is not what the honorable member thinks it is.
– At any rate, the schedule is capable of the construction which I place upon it. However, I understand from the interjection of the Treasurer that the manufacturer must say whether he intends to claim the bounty on steel or pig iron - that only 12s. will be paid to him.
– I know perfectly well that that interpretation might be placed on the schedule, but that is not the intention.
– It is an important matter, when we are supporting a Bill of the kind. We do not intend that so large a sum as 24s. per ton shall be paid; and I entirely concur in the view that we are entering on an experiment, which I regard with considerable fear. It is quite possible that the bounty may not be effective. The more we inquire into this matter, and the more we consider the opinions of those who are competent to judge, the more we are convinced that £250,000 is altogether an inadequate amount. It will provide financial assistance to an industry which is at present in existence, and which, under proper safeguards and control, ought to have devoted to it a far larger amount than that proposed. But I repeat that this great industry is one which ought to have received attention in the early days of the Commonwealth, when large capital was available ; and for any delay there may have been the Labour Party must accept the responsibility.
.- I listened with some degree of satisfaction to the speech delivered by the honorable member for Kooyong. The honorable member made two distinct statements : first, that for whatever delay there may have been in the establishment of the iron industry the Labour Party are responsible; and, secondly, that £250,000 is not sufficient for the purpose intended - that £500,000 is necessary to place the industry on a sound footing.
– I do not think that even that amount would be sufficient.
– Neither do I, if we may judge by the experience of Canada. It is most remarkable how the honorable member for Kooyong and the honorable member for Flinders agree as to the inadequacy of the bounty proposed. The unanimity would have been inexplicable had not the honorable member for Kooyong indicated, to a certain extent, the influence which is at work in the urging of a larger bounty than that proposed. The honorable member first found fault with the material that has up to the present been tried for the making of iron in Australia, and said that the ore hitherto discovered and tested does not contain those chemicals essential to the production of the better classes of iron. After having laid down that very doubtful proposition, the honorable member then indicated that he knew one place, and one place only, in Australia where iron of the proper character exists, namely, at the Iron Knob, which is now owned by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company.
– The honorable member for Kooyong did hot say that.
– The honorable member for Kooyong may not have definitely stated it, but he indicated that the iron ore which combined the essentials was to be obtained at the Iron Knob, in which the Broken Hill Proprietary Company are interested.
– That is not what the honorable member for Gwydir said before ; what the honorable member said was that the honorable member for Kooyong indicated that there was only one place where the iron ore should come from.
– The honorable member for Kooyong indicated no other place, and it is somewhat strange that he should single out one spot if he knew of others ; it is practically an indication on his part that, so far as his knowledge goes, there is only one place where the proper conditions prevail.
– If the honorable member had listened he would have heard the honorable member for Kooyong refer to the Blythe River.
– The honorable member for Kooyong did not say, or infer, that the ore at Blythe River contained the only essentials, but . merely that there might be competition from Blythe River. In the competition which is likely to arise on the passing of this measure lies the danger to the iron industry. We learn that from the history of the industry in Canada. Im- . mediately upon the granting of a bounty by the Dominion Parliament, not one, but a number of companies, set out to secure it. Something like nine different smelting works for the -production of iron and steel were established. The multiplicity of competitors has practically destroyed all chance of success, and has involved the Dominion in the expenditure of millions of dollars by way of , bounties to encourage the industry. Having regard to the methods adopted, success was practically impossible. I am not surprised to find that al number of honorable members of the Opposition are prepared to support an expenditure of £500,000 by way of bounties to this industry, although quite recently they spoke against any increase of Federal expenditure. Only a few weeks ago the honorable member for Flinders warned the House of the danger of entering upon new expenditure without full regaird to the financial possibilities of the future. In his characteristically able style he sounded a note of warning, and I am at a loss to understand how he can now consistently support a proposal to devote, not £250,000, but £500,000,. of the people’s money to an undertaking, the success of which, having regard to the system to be adopted, is problematical. In this connexion, he is altogether unmindful of our financial responsibilities, and it is a mystery to me that he can lay claim to any consistency.
– I expect that a good many other things are a mystery to the honorable member.
– No doubt the honorable member will live up to his expectations, and realize them. He indicated last night that he thought the Treasurer should be able to set apart out of the revenue for the next two years - which it is thought will be fat ones - sufficient funds to provide for this expenditure. Such a proposition does no credit to his legal knowledge. Section 94 of the Constitution provides that the Commonwealth Parlialment shall provide for the monthly payment to the several! States of all its surplus revenue. The honorable member seems now to be reckless sofar as the financial future of the Commonwealth is concerned. He would expend on the iron industry £500,000 of the publicfunds, which would not go into the pockets of the people, but would simply be a baitto a large number of corporations and companies to dip annually into the Treasury/ funds. It would not necessarily mean the employment of a large number of people.
– Would the honorable member be so reckless in connexion with an -old-age pension scheme?
– I do not’ think so. His argument in this respect is all the more remarkable since he contended that ;£25°j00° would not be sufficient to establish, the iron and steel industry on a permanent basis. If that be so - if, as the honorable member has suggested, a total -expenditure of ,£500,000 will be necessary to lay down. a plant capable of producing the various classes of iron and steel enumerated in the schedule to the Bill - how can he honestly support a proposal which will not effect the object that he has in view ? The honorable member says that an expenditure of £250,000 by way of bounty would be’ insufficient.
– Then those engaged in the industry would ask for more.
– The history of the industry in Canada shows that there is practically no end to the demand for a bounty for its encouragement. That, in itself, should be sufficient to show us the right course to pursue. The honorable member for Kooyong endeavoured to prove that it would be impossible for Mr. Sandford £0 produce the quantity of pig iron necessary to meet the Australian demand. He indicated that, according to the latest computation, Mr. Sandford’s works were not capable of producing more than 50,000 tons of pig iron per annum, and said that 61,000 tons of pig iron were annually imported into the ‘Commonwealth, the total quantity of pig iron and iron in other degrees of manufacture required to supply the demand in Australia being over 200,000 tons. The honorable member did not tell us what proportion of the iron locally produced is turned out’ by rolling mills and furnaces which, for a number of years, have been using scrap iron. He stated only one side of the case, and, whilst eulogizing Mr. Sandford’s energy, enterprise, and determination, indicated that the object which he and his party have in view is not to enable Mr. Sandford to have a fair and square deal, but to secure the payment of a bounty that will attract a number of competitors. Such competition would lead to the failure of the industry. It would cripple the man who, without any assistance from the State, has shown us the possibilities of iron production in Australia. I am one of those who do not believe in preach ing what I do not practice. Whilst I have always approved of the nationalization of the industry, I am in favour of doing justice all round. Mr. Sandford has demonstrated the possibilities of the iron industry in Australia to a greater extent than has any other citizen. He has gone to ‘the length of his tether, and having sunk his capital in the industry, has appealed for assistance from different sources. I do not hesitate to prophesy that if this Bill be carried it will put an end to Sandford and Company, more especially if the suggestion made by the honorable member for Kooyong in regard to the schedule be adopted. If the suggestion of the honorable member is assented to, the larger proportion of the bounty will be paid, not on the production df pig iron, but on an output of steel of the quality and quantity necessary for the requirements of Australia.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– If it is not anticipated by the honorable member for Kooyong - and I have dealt with the wonderful agreement between him and the honorable member for Flinders - that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company will be an applicant for bounties under the Bill, there will be no need for him to endeavour in Committee to eliminate from the Bill the provision enabling the Government to resume private ironworks, should it be thought a wise thing in the interests of the community to do so. Although both honorable members profess to regard the proposed bounties as inadequate for the establishment of the iron and steel industry on a permanent basis, they seem to fear that it may be possible to ‘so establish it, or otherwise they would not think it necessary to take away the power of resumption to which I have already referred. I trust that honorable members will see that that power is not taken out of the Bill, so that if the industry becomes established under private enterprise, it may, if necessary, be resumed in the interests of the Commonwealth. The resumption of enterprises of this kind may come about sooner than we realize, and, whatever may happen, I trust that the Government will insist upon the retention of the power to resume, so that the people may remain masters of the situation. The honorable member for Parkes is continually reminding us, lest we should forget, that he is a free-trader of freetraders, and does not believe in spoonfeeding industries in any way whatever.
He is a stickler for theoretical free-trade. Yet last night we heard him say that he considers it impossible to give effect to the principles which he has supported all through his life;. that he realizes that he can no longer effectually fight for freetrade, and that, therefore, he is prepared to take what is the next best thing to the policy which he has so long espoused. In my opinion, his declaration showed a backing down on his principles. One must admire the man who, holding certain views, is determined to stand by them until the end, under any set of circumstances; but one cannot admire a professed freetrader, who, at the dictates of political expediency, is prepared to overthrow the principles of a lifetime, and, in order to defeat the aspirations of the people’s party whose members sit on the Labour benches, combine with others to attempt to obtain a large sum of the people’s money for the establishment of the iron industry.
– This comes- well from a man who, less than two years ago, stayed’ here nearly all night attempting to get a bounty.
– I did not do anything of the .kind. I said then what I say to-day - that I wish the Government to do something for the struggling industry, which has been so heroically upheld by Mr. Sandford in New South Wales. I say. that, irrespective of any pronouncement for a bounty or for a duty.
– The honorable member tried to get a bounty for iron included with other bounty provisions.
– I was attempting to force upon the Government the comprehension of their responsibility in this matter.
– There were then no Tariff proposals before Parliament.
– That is so, and therefore no alternative.
– There was a Bill for the granting of bounties.
– The honorable member for Parramatta does not mind being irrelevant if it will suit his purpose.
– The honorable member cannot wriggle out of it in that way.
– There is no wriggling about me. That is done by members on the other side, one of the latest instances being the action of the honorable member for Parkes, to which I have just referred. The honorable member for Flinders may also be accused of having wriggled during the last two or three years. It is well known that he was a free-trader until political expediency or necessity compelled him to moderate his views, or to try to fit them in with the aspirations of the party of which he is now a member.
– Of the people.
– When an honorable member is prepared to vote £500,000 - to take that amount of money out of the pockets of the people - to establish an industry which, on its own showing, will not in its most perfect and effective form involve a greater expenditure than £1,000,000, he cannot be said to be consulting the interests of the people. The honorable member for Parkes has given us one of his ‘usual descriptive addresses upon Socialism. He has read a great deal on political economics, and in his usual academic manner he last night discussed the effectiveness or otherwise of socialistic undertakings in Australia as they appear to him. He gave as an instance of a socialistic experiment the Paraguay settlement, of which we have heard ad nauseam, but’ of which no reasonable or intelligent man should speak as socialistic. Any one who speaks of that unfortunate venture as an instance of Socialism shows that he does not understand the first principles of Socialism. The members of the Paraguayexpedition were not brought together because they had worked with each other and entered into each other’s ambitions, nor we’re they chosen, because of their particular capacities; they were a promiscuous eoi-, lection of men, gathered from all parts of’ Australia, the one condition to their joining the enterprise being the possession of a certain amount of money. They were persons who were dissatisfied with the results of the capitalistic system in Australia, and thought that a miracle could be performed in. Paraguay, although sensible persons had no hesitation in proclaiming from the -first that the experiment could not succeed, because is was based upon wrong principles. Even admitting that every man who followed Mr. Lane was sincere, the principle of sharing alike, so that every member of the expedition put all that he possessed -into its funds, to receive only an equal share of the results of the operations of the settlement in Paraguay, showed the experiment to be communistic, purely and simply.
– Will the honorable member connect his remarks with the subjectmatter of the Bill?
– The honorable member for Parkes said) that the proposed nationalization of the iron industry would not succeed, as it was based upon principles similar to those upon which the expedition to which I have referred was founded, and I am showing that the Paraguayan experiment was an experiment in pure Communism, which it would be wrong, and almost wicked, for an intelligent man to refer to as a socialistic failure. The honorable member is continually misrepresenting the aims and objects of State Socialists. In speaking of the success of the Melbourne Tramway Company, the Adelaide Tramway ‘ Company, - and other private enterprises, as an indication of what might attend the private management of the iron industry, he paid no regard to surrounding circum- stances. The Government of Victoria has constructed lines all through the State for the benefit of the people; but those who are ti y ing to force upon the country the granting of a bounty of £250,000 for the establishment of the iron industry represent that force in the community which induced the Victorian Parliament to permit of the establishment of private tramways in competition with the railways. Here we see tramways constructed by. private companies running alongside lines which have been built by the State, thereby seriously encroaching upon the revenue which would otherwise have found its way into the coffers of the Railway Department.
– Yet the honorable member would trust the Government with the control of all the commercial concerns of the Commonwealth.
– I would not trust the Government which was in power at the time these private companies were empowered to construct their lines of tramway. Unfortunately, there were then too many men in Parliament of the stamp of those honorable members who are now urging that the amount provided in this Bill for the encouragement of the iron industry should be increased to £500,000 irrespective of the injury which will result to the entire community. If the right honorable member for Swan’ were present, I would remind him that there was a time in his history when, as a practical man, he decided that the Western Australian Government could more efficiently carry out a. gigantic undertaking than could private enterprise. He has admitted time and again that he would not have been justified in handing over to private enterprise the great work of provid ing Coolgardie and .Kalgoorlie with an adequate supply of water. But whilst in that instance he adopted the right course, in another he permitted a private company to construct a tramway line alongside the State railway connecting Kalgoorlie with Boulder City. _ This is an illustration of the power of the boodlers in the Parliament of the country. The honorable member for Flinders said that he would be prepared to sanction the payment of ^£500,000 to encourage the iron industry if he could be assured that blast furnaces of sufficient magnitude and machinery of modern type would be erected in Australia to insure its establishment upon a permanent basis. He also stated that he desired to see inserted in the Bill a provision which would insure to the workers employed in the industry a reasonable return for their labour. The honorable member made still another reservation. He said that he would need to be assured, not only that the industry would be established, and that the men would receive fair wages, but that the latter would not go upon strike during the period that the industry was receiving support from the State. But, strange to say, he did not attempt, except in a very indifferent way, to illustrate how he proposed to make these conditions effective. He did, however, make one statement which did not do credit, either to his knowledge or to the conclusions at which he has arrived regarding the result of State interference in industrial matters. He proclaimed that arbitration had proved a failure. Naturally men who aspire to the highest office in the Commonwealth are not prone to extend to those who were responsible for legislation before their own advent into politics very much consideration, and I fear that the honorable member belongs to this class. I say that the Arbitration law in New South Wales and the other States has become a dead letter, not because arbitration , is not recognised as the most effective and humane method of settling industrial disputes, out because the principle underlying arbitration was mutilated and- rendered ineffective by men belonging to the same profession as the honorable member. It is solely because of the presence of lawyers in the Arbitration Court of New South Wales that that tribunal has proved in a measure ineffective.
– It is because awards were given against the men, who refused to obey them.
– That statement is on a par with that of the honorable member for Parkes, when he cited the experiment at Paraguay as an illustration of the failure of Socialism. The awards of the New South Wales Arbitration Court have not been disobeyed by any industrial organization.
– The first instance of the kind occurred at Newcastle.
– The very fact that the Premier of New South Wales, as the result of an agreement entered into with both employers and employes, has just called into existence a special Court to deal with a special industry is sufficient proof that it was not because the miners differed from the award given by the Arbitration Court that the present dispute arose, but because they could not get their case put before that tribunal in such a way as to give them a reasonable chance of securing an award in their favour.
– -And the wheelers were not organized.
– That is merely an incidental matter. The miners, realizing how much it had cost small unions to fight simple disputes, determined that it would be suicidal to attempt to bring their case before the Arbitration Court, and to employ a strong Bar.
– Surely the honorable member does not deny that the men refused to obey the award of the Court ?
– I absolutely deny that the Miners’ Federation in New South Wales have ever refused to obey an award of the Arbitration Court. But a certain section of employes in the coal-mining industry, -who were not organized, and for whom the Miners’ Federation is not responsible, have from time to time exercised a right which they possess, and which they have not surrendered to any Act of Parliament, viz., the right to strike. They acted as. individuals for the purpose of attaining what they believed to be their rights, and incidentally their action interfered to some extent with, the working of the mine. The honorable member takes for gospel whatever he reads in the newspapers, but the newspapers which come under his notice do not attempt to place facts before the public, and he is entitled to some sympathy on that account.
– Whoever says that the Miners’ Federation ever refused to obey the award of the Court is saying that which is not correct. I know the employers have? done so.
– If anything were needed to illustrate the effectiveness of thearbitration. principle, it is what has taken place in New South Wales within the last forty-eight hours. It was found essential” to the welfare of the people of the wholeof Australia that the dispute should cometo an end ; and the Premier of New SouthWales, knowing as he does that the Court as constituted was not a fair tribunal to* which the miners could submit their case-
– Order ! Is the honorable member debating the question beforethe Chair ?
– Yes, I think I am.
– I must say that I. have followed the honorable member somewhat carefully, and I am unable to see the connexion between his remarks and thequestion before the Chair.
– The honorable member for Flinders, when addressing the House, proclaimed that he could not see any means of attaining the desired end in. connexion with the bounty to the iron industry, and further that arbitration was. and had teen pronounced a failure - that men had refused to obey the award of the Court, and had thus proved disobedient to* the law which the Labour Party had been instrumental in passing. If the honorable member for Flinders is entitled to discuss, the question from that point of view, surely I may show the logic or otherwise of his. contention.
– I am afraid the honorable member has not yet seen the point.. The honorable member for Flinders did, itis true, in the course of his speech, refer incidentally to what he called the failure of the arbitration method ; but if the honorable member for Flinders had said that something was as clear as the noonday sun., that would not justify a general disquisition on the movements of the heavenly bodies. The honorable member for Gwydir is not entitled to discuss arbitration, especially in regard to the conditions now prevailing in. a neighbouring State.
– I obey your ruling, Mr. Speaker, though, probably, at another stage of the Bill I shall be in order. We have three alternatives - nationalization, a-, bounty, and a duty - and I have no hesitation in expressing the opinion that we shall’ best perform our duty to the country by accepting the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay. It is admitted on all hands that the industry will become a monopoly if only one firm qualify for the bonus.
– Would the industry not be a monopoly under nationalization?
– Yes; but such a monopoly would be beneficial to the people of the Commonwealth. If there be more than one establishment set up the bounty will be a bungle and a failure, because none of the competing works will be able to establish themselves on a permanent and lasting basis. We have had an illustration of this in Canada, where, for twenty-two years, efforts have been made* to establish the industry under a bounty. In the early days the Canadian Legislature was led to’ believe that if it granted a certain amount of money it would be sufficient to place the industry on a sound foundation ; out the fact was that there was a rush by capitalists, out of which there emerged nine different firms, none of which are successful to-day. In Canada, instead of voting £200,000, as was intended, there has been voted £1,500,000, and the industry is still demanding further Government aid. That is exactly the position which the action of honorable members opposite is likely to bring about. On the one hand, we have the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, which, we may’ infer from the statements of the honorable member for Kooyong and the honorable member for Flinders, will be a competitor.
– The honorable member for Kooyong distinctly said that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company would not be a competitor.
– The honorable member indicated that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company had carefully weighed the matter, and that, as they were the only people who had iron ore of the necessary quality, they necessarily stand on velvet with regard to the winning of the bounty.
– The honorable member for Kooyong told us that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company had decided not to endeavour to earn the bounty.
– Then we have the Blythe River Company waiting for the bounty, so that there is reasonable prospect of competition. On the other hand, we have within the last day or two been” told of a! process which amounts to a miracle, the ore being placed in at one. end of the machine, and brought out steel at the other within a few hours. I refer to the Moore-Heskett process which was described in the newspapers of yesterday.
– If that process is a success there will be no need for blast furnaces.
– That is what I was going to say. We are told that with this process iron and steel of the best quality can be produced in three-and-a-half hours as compared with from twenty-seven to forty hours under present processes.
– Those who use that process would be eligible for the bounty.
– Yes; but if we allow four or five other people to share in the bounty, we shall practically cut the throat of the man who has done more than any other to establish the industry in’ Australia. If the Moore-Heskett process can produce iron and steel in the time stated, and at 25 per cent, less cost than is Involved in present methods, there will be no need for any bounty. I have my doubts as to the success of that process; I do not like the idea of miracles after what has been attempted in the iron industry during the last forty years. But if the claims made on behalf of the MooreHeskett system have any foundation, the proprietors of it would have no trouble in disposing of it to the iron or steel kings of America or England for a magnificent sum. Further, it has been declared that before a decade is over there will be an electrical system of producing iron at a far less cost than has hitherto been known. I warn the House that we shall not show a proper regard for the future of Australia by agreeing to a proposal to expend £250,000 upon an experiment which, judging by the experience of Canada, is not likely to be successful. There are several reasons why we should not grant a bounty to the industry. In the first place, there is a probability of new inventions revolutionizing the present processes of manufacturing iron and steel ; secondly, we have no guarantee that the granting of a bounty would’ lead- to the establishment of the industry ; thirdly, the bounty would cause sydicators and capitalists, who are prepared to avail themselves of every opportunity to participate in the benevolence of the State, to rush into this project ; and, lastly, the granting of a bounty on the manufacture of iron and steel is unnecessary at this stage. We already have’ in Australia ironworks .which, although on a small scale, are capable of expansion. Mr. Sandford has made heroic efforts to show that we can produce in Australia iron and steel equal to that which can be produced elsewhere. He has proved that we have here all the essentials to the successful manufacture of iron, and now some honorable members, who profess to appreciate his efforts, are prepared to agree to a proposal, which would lead to his work being overshadowed, if not eliminated.
– It is all very well for the honorable member to disagree with my contention, but the fact remains that, whilst Mr. Sandford would seek fresh capital, the Blythe River Company and other corporations that have been mentioned . have the capital necessary to enable them at once to embark upon the industry. The proposition made by the honorable member for Kooyong that the greater proportion of the bounty should be payable only in respect of the production of steel of a quality to be prescribed, shows what certain honorable members desire to do with Mr. Sandford’s industry. It is contended that Mr. Sandford’s works are not capable of being so expanded as to be able to produce all the iron required by the Commonwealth. Can any one suggest that the possibilities of the Lithgow district have been exhausted? There is nothing to Drevent Mr. Sandford, without the granting of a bounty of £250,000, erecting furnaces capable of turning out all the iiron and steel required in the Commonwealth. If we desire to deal fairly with Mr. Sandford, we should impose a duty of 12½ per cent, on iron. That would be a more honorable way of showing our appreciation of his efforts than would be the granting of a bounty for which a number of new capitalists would scramble. I have endeavoured to illustrate the ineffectiveness of the bountv system so far as this industry is concerned, and the effectiveness of a duty. The proposal submitted by the honorable member for Wide Bay is superior in effectiveness and equity to both of therm. There can be no doubt that the States Governments are the largest users of iron and steel in Australia. Our railways use enormous quantities, and I agree with the honorable member for Flinders that if this Bill be carried it should provide for the production of steel rails. The patronage of the iron-using departments of the States would form the nucleus of the trade necessarv to keep the industry going, and that is a strong argument in favour of its nationalization. An other point which appeals with even greater force to me is that in the immediate future we propose to enter upon the work of providing for the effective defence of Australia. In this respect we have a responsibility that we cannot afford to ignore. An effective defence system must embrace the control of the manufacture of iron- and steel, and the processes necessary to turn those materials into munitions of war and arms for defence. Unlike, the countries from which we come, we have affirmed the principle of State ownership, and have at our command a patronage which would be sufficient to . sustain the iron industry in Australia. I have no fear regarding the bogy which some honorable members are continually putting forward as to the inability of Government institutions to compete with private enterprise. The honorable member for Flinders recently gave us some interesting facts regarding the successful working of a Victorian State Department. He told us that the Newport Railway Workshops were able to compete successfully with private firms, and had constructed engines at 20 per cent, below the price at which private enterprises had tendered to build them. I could, if necessary, give many illustrations of the successful working of State undertakings. I feel confident that if this industry were nationalized, we should obtain from the men engaged in it services quite as good as those rendered bv men in existing departments of the public service. The industry could be carried on by the Commonwealth, just as well as by private enterprise, and with results far more equitable to the workers engaged in it. If the proposal to nationalize the industry be defeated, I shall support the alternative of granting assistance to the industry by means of a duty. This Bill will probably be passed, in some form or other, to-night, and I wish to impress upon the Treasurer the fact that if would be unfair for the House to deal with the machinery duties in the Tariff before the decision of the Senate in regard to this Bill has been obtained.
– What nonsense ! Does the honorable member wish us to stop here for the next three years?
– I desire a faithful performance of the duties entrusted to us. I do not wish to see any finessing.
– I have never finessed.
– Unless the course which I suggest be adopted, we may impose certain duties on machinery, and ultimately find that the Senate does not indorse the action of this House with regard to the Bill now before us. In my opinion, we should do nothing with the machinery duties until the decision of the Senate in regard to this measure has been obtained.
– Well, it will be done in the way the Government propose, or else not at all.
– The Treasurer suggests a course of action which is not commendable. I repeat that we should not commit ourselves to the imposition of duties on machinery until the Senate has expressed an opinion with regard to this measure. It is inequitable and unjust to expect the House to do it, and I hope that the Minister will postpone the machinery sections of the Tariff at any rate until we get the decision of the Senate on this important question.
– By this Bill - which is described as a measure for the encouragement of manufactures - the Government proposes to grant £250,000, and perhaps more, for the manufacture from Australian ore of certain classes of iron. We have been giving protection to almost every industry in Australia, and it was therefore refreshing to find an honorable member who represents the largest constituency in Victoria prepared to grant similar treatment to the iron industry which is established in New South Wales. If there is one man in Australia who, more than another, has shown his bona fides, it is Mr. Sandford, who, having amassed a fortune upon which he might have retired, sank it all in a venture in which at least £250,000 is required to make what is considered a fair show. His action has been that of a patriot. Therefore he deserves at least justice at the hands of Parliament. But Mr. Sandford would not expect me to vote for a high protective duty, because he knows that from the first I have consistently held the view that the industry does not require the protection which has been asked for it. I, like other honorable “ members, have received a copy of a circular letter in which Mr. Sandford states that, unless he obtains a bounty, and protection for his industry, he will be in a queer way. That is not the letter of a man who believes his credit to be in jeopardy. Such a man would try to keep the fact secret as long aspossible, knowing that if it became public his credit would be damaged and his business worth little. I take it, therefore, that this is thought to be an opportune time to make application for assistance, especially since Mr. Sandford has been frank enough to say that those with whom he has contracted to supply material are negotiating with his bankers to see if his securities are sufficiently good to make it worth their while to have them transferred, so that they may carry him on by means of advances. Mr. Sandford says that from the outsethe has been led to believe that he will get a bounty or protection, and he asks Parliament to give him what he has been so long expecting. But none but a madman would invest £250,000 in a business which he knew would not stand without the assistance of a bounty or the protection of a duty until that assistance or protection had been obtained. -I am sure Mr. Sandford is not a madman. The honorable member for Adelaide, when at the head of affairs, strove as energetically as the honorable member for Hume is doing to get- Parliament to grant a bonus for the production of iron, or, as an alternative, protective duties. He failed to do so, because we paid attention to the experience of other countries. Once an industry has received the assistance of a bounty it requires further assistance, or the protection of duties. As a free-trader, I regard bounties as preferable to duties, because we know what they are costing. But I am not prepared to say that this industry requires either assistance or protection. I am not disposed to believe that those who reported upon it, and on the negotiations for floating the company, were not carrying out their instructions. Extraordinary information has been given to the public in regard to the failure of their effort to raise money. Some years ago I Avas interested in this industry, so far as the floating of a company in England was concerned, and I found that there was plenty of money available - to the extent of £1,000,000 or more - but that it must be shown that interest would be paid on the investment. The ironmasters of England know that a young country like Australia is the very place for the establishment of an industry like this. We have before us a proposal for the construction of a transcontinental railway, which would cost £5>000jO°o, most of which would be spent on steel rails, while for a distance of 1,000 miles or more iron pipes would have to be laid down to provide a water supply. It is also proposed to make a railway from
Oodnadatta to Pine Creek - a distance of 1,000 miles. These things are known to the ironmasters of England.
– What is a million?
– A million is really nothing in connexion with big enterprises like these, especially where a customer like an Australian Government is concerned, which always pays its way, and will have the best materials available. An expert was brought out - I think last year - to report on. the prospects of the iron industry here, and many of us had an opportunity to interview him. He gave us a good deal of . information, some of which has been referred to by those who have already addressed the House, and incidentally I may make two or three references to it as I go along. But before proceeding further, I wish to .Say that, as we have done justice to other protected industries, we should not do injustice to this industry. If the protectionists are satisfied that the industry can live and thrive, without a bounty. their course is clear. If it can live without a bounty, possibly it may live without a protective duty, and again their course is clear. But I should like to know whether the Government intend to depart from their policy of giving bounties, even to industries not already established here, and to others not believed to require protection? The Government may ask, “ What are we to do if the House will not pass this Bill ?’ ‘ Their course is also clear. The Bill embodies their policy, and if the House will not pass it they should resign. Either they are in favour of bounties, or they are not. If they think that bounties should be given, thev should see that they are given. I am opposed to the giving of bounties; but their course is clear enough; it is their policy, not mine. If the present Ministers cannot govern, there are those on this side who can, with what assistance may be got from the other parts of the House. The Labour Party proposes to nationalize the hon industry. Will the Government resign if the amendment be carried? Do they regard it_ as affecting a vital part of their policy, and are they in jeopardy ? I wish to know whether’ Ministers will resign if the Labour Party carries its proposal for the nationalization of the iron industry?
– Nothing is vital to them.
– It seems to me that we have no such thing as responsible Government. Ministers are trifling with the 4,000,000 people of Australia. We should know where they stand politically; whether they consider that a principle is at stake. On the last occasion I voted for nationalization, as did a number of honorable members, to force responsibility upon the Government. But they have not established the industry under conditions then laid down. I ask, why should this industry receive a bounty? If it be said that its existence is at stake, my reply is that there is no evidence of that. It has recently been proved to the world - because all the ironmasters were looking on - that we can produce steel equal to any produced elsewhere. It can. be produced in a limited quantity, in a quantity that will pay, but with the present plant enough cannot be produced to provide for all the proposed public works that are on the carpet. That is the question at issue. Can all the material required be supplied ? Competition is a good thing, and if we continue to get from abroad tIk first-class article that we now get, the local company must sup r) lv an article similar in price and in quality. Hitherto it has succeeded in the open market. A limited liability company has been floated successfully. It is said that bounties are necessary to enable the company to compete against importers. If that be so, the industry is not native to Australia. It is a rotten industry that requires bounties from the Government to enable it to compete successfully with industries from abroad. If bounties are necessary to enable it to compete, they will have to be continued for all time. But the company has asked for a bounty and a protective duty. There was a good deal of force in the contention of the honorable member for Gwydir that the Government should not pay a large sum of the people’s money to enable a few persons interested in an industry to make profits. Why should we find money for this industry ? If, when the money has been drawn and spent, the works are closed, what justification shall we have for having voted the bounty? The experience of Canada is that the industry will exist so long as the bounty is operative, but no longer. In all probability that will be our experience. I say that if we are going to expend £500,000 in encouraging the establishment of the iron industry we ought to exercise control over it. Who will pay this bounty ? Undoubtedly if will come out of the pockets of the wageearners. Protectionists claim that if an industry be protected for a sufficient time it will be strong enough to stand without adventitious aid, and that its product will be cheaper than it was prior to the imposition of the protective duty.
– What school of protectionists says that?
– They all say it.
– The price of an article is reduced by internal competition. That has been proved in Victoria over and over again.
– We are assured that protection inevitably leads to a reduction in the price of an article. Needless to add, I do not believe it. Some time ago I read of that great inventor in America who for a number of years has been endeavouring to produce from red hematite pig iron and steel which will be cheaper than any yet produced. Consequently, I shall not be surprised at a great revolution in this industry in the near future. However, these reforms are brought about slowly. The iron industry is native to Australia. We have iron deposits containing as much as 80 and 90 per cent, of iron oxides. We possess the lime, .the wolfram, and the coal, and there is natural protection in freights upon imports equal to 20s. per ton. We want for nothing, and if - we establish the industry near the seaboard, in all probability the freights to all parts of Australia will be very low. In New Caledonia there is an iron ore which is superior to anything that we possess in Australia, and as it is not more than 1,000 miles distant, that fact is not likely to impede the development of the industry. It has been said by those who are interested in the enterprise that the labour problem constitutes it; most serious drawback. But in the Old World the iron masters have had to face the same problem, and yet they can successfully compete with other countries. Is the labour problem ‘a menace to the national development of the industry? I do not think that it is. I come now to the proposal to nationalize it. I contend that the nationalization of . the industry would not be Socialism; the establishment of this industry by the Government would not be Collectivism. The honorable member for Swan, when Premier of Western Australia, carried out a work which will make his name famous in history when we are all forgotten. I refer to the laying of water mains from Perth to Kalgoorlie, actually into the heart of a desert. Was that under- taking a socialistic one? Not at all.
Would the honorable member establish a system of Communism?
– But Communism, is not Socialism.
– Communism is Socialism triumphant. When Socialism in its extreme form is successful we have Communism.
– When Individualism succeeds we have anarchy.
– Nobody will contend that the great work which was carried out by the honorable member for Swan was Socialism, nor are many large undertakings by the several States Governments . Socialism. Some people are prone to call the municipalization of services all over England Socialism. I do not. It is a progressive ! policy, and one which must be followed because the people desire it. But we said to the Labour Party, “Take down that placard in favour of the nationalization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, because you will have Communism when you get that.” The Labour Party pulled down that placard prior to the last election and when they did so they practically stepped over to this side of the House. The question which we have to consider is whether it is expedient that the iron industry shall be nationalized at the present time, in view of the fact that Mr. Sandford, the patriot, has shown us that he has made it a success.
– All the ingenuity of the honorable member cannot controvert the terms of his letter.
- His letter stated that he had £250,000 worth of security, that he applied to a banking company for an advance, and had obtained it. Now, what is the experience of men of affairs? Do we not know that, it is necessary to give a bank security to the extent of 100 per cent, in order to obtain an advance ? If Mr. Sandford secured an advance of £100,000, he must have had £100,000 of his own. That is probably what he did have. He has now appealed to the Government, and said, “ I will hand over to you the securities which satisfied this banking company, which had to think of the widows and. the little children, whose earnings were invested irishares, if you will come to my assistance.” Mr. Sandford has demonstrated that he can produce the iron.
– He is looking for a bit of Socialism now.
- Mr. Sandford is a protectionist, and as he entertains the notion that a lot of money is being given fo those who are engaged in manufacturing industries, he naturally wants to get a little of it. If honorable members opposite think that it is good to give away £500,000 of the people’s earnings, that is not my policy. Every wage-earner - every man who has to provide a breakfast table - will feel the pinch, and the man of wealth will have to pay no more than will the poor working man; and that is not my idea of the way in which we should provide for a national work. I have spoken on this question on several occasions previously, and I may say that the proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay is not one that I scout. If this industry, under a bounty, is not a success, the Government must step in and take it over ; and such a contingency has been foreseen, as is evidenced by some of the provisions in the Bill. There is no doubt in my mind that the Government will have to take over the industry if it is at all meddled with ; and I ask whether it would not be better for the Government to intervene before half a million of money is gone? Let the Government do as the honorable member for Swan did, when Premier of Western Australia, in connexion with Kalgoorlie water scheme, if they believe that private industry has failed. The honorable gentleman adopted that scheme, and declared that he would make it a success ; he did not wait until perhaps a million of money had been spent, or wait for the unfinished work to be thrown on his hands. Had he done so, his name would not have gone down to posterity as that of a great statesman, but as that of a great muddler.
– I have given great attention to the speeches of honorable members of the Opposition and of honorable members in the Opposition corner. Last night the honorable member for Flinders devoted much time to proving that the proposition of the honorable member for Wide Bay is impracticable - that . it is not within the realm of practical politics. I recognise that in this House there is about an average of intellectuality - much’ of a muchness. Very few of us stand intellectually much above the others; and many honorable members of the Labour Party would have been just as successful in life as honorable members opposite if similar opportunity had been presented to them. But my. colleagues had the disadvantage of not being born with golden spoons in their mouths. We have now a great opportunity presented to us as a Parliament. When Robert Fulton told Napoleon that he had invented a steam-boat which would convey the French troops -to England in four hours, Napoleon told him to consult his Ministers. But the Ministers said that a boat propelled by steam was nonsense. However, . Napoleon, in his seclusion at St. Helena, after the English had carried their flag over the chivalrous hosts of France on the blood-stained field of Waterloo, had time to meditate, and he came to the conclusion that if his Ministers had had brains enough to listen to Fulton, England would have been his. Those Ministers had hot brains to conceive that anything could be invented of which . they did not know ; and that is the trouble with honorable members opposite. On the other hand, the Labour Party are ever investigating and brightening their intellects in order to see what the best things in the world are.. The blast-furnace is antiquated. The honorable member for Flinders talks about spending £1,000,000 to provide a blast-furnace to supply the wants of a population not so large as that of Pennsylvania or Ohio-. In one of the southern. States of America there is a blast furnace which turns out 600,000 tons per annum, and the man who erected that made £20,000 out of the flotation of the company. The cost of flotation was about £100,000, because, as in England, Australia, and elsewhere, every one concerned had to have a “cut.” If people want to make money they must obtain a monopoly - they must not work themselves, but work those who work.
– Does the honorable member say that there is one furnace in the United States which turns out 600,000 tons a year ?
– Yes, and that furnace is antiquated.
– When Marcus Daley found that the great works, which he had built in Montana at a cost of £200,000, were antiquated, he simply hitched on a locomotive and pulled the whole “ show “ down. In Australia as in England, such works would have been allowed to linger on for twenty or thirty years. We must be up-to-date. Australia is different from any country that ever has been, or perhaps, ever will be. Here we have six independent States Governments, each exercising its sovereign rights in its own affairs, and each possessing a vast system of railways; and employing thousands of people in industries of various kinds. The very bedrock of all these industries is the iron industry. We are now talking ‘about building a /’Navy - talking war and blood and thunder. Go to any club, and the first two ping-pong collared Johnnies you meet will be found talking “ wah.” It makes no difference under our circumstances whether industries be nationalized by the States or the Federation - we are all one people, and ought to have one intelligence and one interest. How it is possible that reasonable-thinking men, in a new country, with new economic conditions, and under new economic laws, can think of allowing the iron industry to get into the hands of a private corporation, I cannot imagine. I was only a boy during the American war, but I can remember how the people were plundered - how the iron manufacturers organized and raised prices to an exorbitant extent. We have now a splendid chance offered to us; and the amazing fact to me is that the Treasurer, in spite of all his democratic declarations, should propose to tax me and my brethren in order to hand over public money to private individuals. Why not tax the “other fellow” and give me a “show?” I feel sure that to-morrow morning I could organize a syndicate with a view of getting a share of this plunder. But are we to allow the ignorance of the past to bluff the intelligence of the enlightened present? Are we for ever to refuse to do something for ourselves because our grandfathers did not do so ? Some years ago a man was seen walking from Leeds to London, and when asked why he did not travel by rail, he said, “ My lather never rode in a train, and the railways will never get a penny from me.” The same spirit can be found here. Let us exercise our observation and reasoning powers, so that we may benefit by the’ mistakes of the people of all the earth. Millions have appeared on this earth and fretted their lives away - let us profit by their mistakes. We want capitalists of the right kind, and individuals of the right kind - we want all sorts of people - but, at the same time, we wish all, as President Roosevelt has said, to devote themselves to the State and to the nation, and not always to selfish interests. Wehave now an opportunity presented to us to nationalize an industry which is in its infancy - in its swaddling clothes - and to rear it to a healthy and vigorous manhood. At the present time there is a famine of money in the United States. And why? The fact is that’ the American people have allowed themselves to get into the hands of a few capitalists, and are now endeavouring to free themselves from their influence. 1 was told weeks ago that the proposal of the Labour Party that the industry be nationalized would be defeated, and when I heard the leader of the Opposition supporting the granting of a bounty, I knew that the fight was all over.
– I think that the Treasurer has the numbers.
– I am sure that he has. The rejection of our proposal would be an act of treachery to the Commonwealth, a crime against the nation. We are not here to legislate for ourselves, and I hope that the House will use its brains for the benefit of the nation. In the event of the amendment being defeated, I propose to move a further amendment that the bounty be increased to £500,000, and that the Commonwealth Government be authorized to buy a controlling interest in all iron and steel manufactories in Australia, so that we may control them. We shall thus have a half-socialistic, halfindividualistic concern.
– Let us have a vote.
– I have sat here patiently for days listening to other honorable members’ addresses to the House. It is said that clothes do not make the man. I admit that they help the man to make the bluff: No one is going to bluff me, but I do not intend to occupy the time of the House for a moment longer than is absolutely necessary. I shall vote for a duty of 20 per cent, on iron. As the honorable member for Darling pointed out last night, the application of the bounty system to the iron industry in Canada has failed. The Dominion of Canada has voted millions of dollars bv way of bounty to the iron industry, and the men who are winning the bounties are asking for more. There is now before the public of Australia a new process - the Moore-Heskett process - of manufacturing steel, which is a thoroughly up-to-date one. Honorable members are constantly speaking favorably of . the work done by Mr. Sandford. I have the greatest respect for him, and for every man . who is industrious, and who, in battling to advance his own interests, advances the interests of the community. I should like to help Mr. Sandford, but would it be fair to vote him a bounty, ‘ and to refuse to allow others to participate in the system. New men are coming into the country. The Commonwealth Metals Company, which is a very important institution, has commenced operations. It has come to supply a great want. Certain complex ores, which were, to a certain extent, valueless, are being treated by it, and hundreds of men are now being employed in working those deposits in New South Wales. The company has taken up thousands of acres at Rylstone, and intends to erect works capable of producing all the steel and iron required in this country. If this Bill be passed, is it not to participate in the bounty ? It has also established works in Melbourne, and whilst honorable members are pleading for one man, we ought not to overlook the clalims of others. This new company has not asked for a bounty ; it has simply urged that a duty on iron should be imposed. My experience in Canada and the United States convinces me that if this Bill be carriedwe shall have, within two years, a demand for an extension of the bounty system; two years later a further extension will be sought, and, finally, we shall be asked to impose duties on iron and steel. Any honorable member who has200 or 300 men engaged in the industry in his electorate will not dare to vote against such a) request.
– That was an experience of South Australia in regard to the contract let to Fulton and Company. . They received £40,000 to start with.
– They did; and they then came along, like bald-headed bloodsuckers, seeking for more.
– The Government had finally to nationalize the industry.
– And it has since been a success. The honorable member for Darling has pointed out that in Canada the ironworks have made no profit, except on the basis of the bounty. Last night the honorable member for Flinders spoke about £1,000,000 being invested in this industry. I amprepaired to make this offer to the House - that I am ready to take this bounty, and put up, or get put up, securitv to the extent of £20,000 tomorrow, to erect ironworks in Australia that will turn out all the iron and steel of every kind that this country requires. I say that a capital of £250,000 would be sufficient for that purpose for the next ten years. I would take the whole job on. I said some years ago, when Sir Malcolm McEacharn. was speaking on the same subject in this House, that I would take it on, and I knew what I was talking about. I havebeen at this business. Americans are accustomed to put their hands to many things. lt is impossible to keep them down. Knowing this business as I do, I say that if some people talk about wanting £1,000,000 they can only want it in the event of their floating a company in London. It would cost -£300,000 to float a company there before the shareholders got anything out of it. I am putting this on record because I intend to challenge the supporters of this Bill on the subject years hence. I am going to be in Parliament as long as I live, and if I live I shall quote what I am now saying against those who support giving a bounty for this purpose. I preached here for years about the necessity of establishing a Commonwealth building in London before anybody would listen, to me. Now the building is to be erected. There must be pioneers who will sacrifice themselves on account of the ignorance of others. I say calmly, dispassionately, and without any ill-feeling to anybody, that this business is going to be a failure; that the promoters are going to water their stock; that they are going to over-capitalize to such an extent that they never can pay dividends ; and that the widows and orphans whose money is drawn out of British consols for investment in this business on the strength of the fact that the Commonwealth Government is at. the back of it, will be plundered, as they were by the boom banks here nearly twentyyears ago. We are sometimes told that the Labour Party is driving capital out of the country. If capital has been driven out of Australia, it was on account of the big men who lent their names to institutions which, a few years ago, went down with millions. The names of these men on prospectuses induced investors to take their money out of consols and send it to Australia. Alas, it was the last they ever heard of it. Australian securities stunk in the nostrils of the people of England for years. But why is it that our socialistic Australian Government bonds stand so high in England to-day ? Why is it that our 4 per cents, and per cents, are above par, and that our 3 per cents, are not very much below par? Because they are the bonds of socialistic Australian States, and because investors know that they are as good as the Rock of Ages. Why is it that some promoters realize that it would be easier to , go to Europe and get capital for their industries if they had the Commonwealth behind them? Because they know that the people of England will think that it is a semi-Government institution in which they are asked to invest. I could tell some tales about what took place in connexion with the bounty proposed six years ago if I chose to do so. I could tell some tales that would lift honorable members’ hair if they had any ; and if they had none they would make their hair grow. It is said that there is no corruption in this country. I will admit that there is none in this Parliament, but that does not say that there is none outside, or that there are not men outside who would, if they could, buy this Parliament as hogs are bought at Smithfield.
– The honorable member has either said too much or too little.
– I said that there are no men in this Parliament who could be bought, but there are men outside who would try to buy them if they thought they could succeed.
– And have tried.
– And have tried. “ I am in a position to make that statement.
– There are none in my constituency like that.
– I am quite prepared to believe the honorable member’s constituents are all pure. But I will not enter into these personal matters. If we agree to this bounty, it will be one of the greatest crimes that this Parliament has ever committed. It will mean putting the stamp of the Commonwealth on this business, so that the promoters cango to Europe and float it as a semi-Government institution. I say again that these works cannot pay, and ‘will not pay. What will eventually occur is that the Commonwealth Government will have to take them! over. If the Government wish to be honest and sincere, here is an opportunity for them to control the iron industry, just as we control our own post-offices, our Government Savings Banks, our lands, and our mines. Here is a great opportunity for the Government to establish an institution that will belong to the people, and which will make ‘ no discrimination. In the United States to-day President Roosevelt is spending millions of the people’s money on law to try to make the trusts honest. Not long ago Mr. Rockefeller was fined £5,500,000. I do not want to see that sort of thing in this country. One of the world’s greatest men, William Ewart Gladstone, said that the Government ought to endeavour to make it hard for people to do wrong, and easv to do right. Now, my honorable friends have a chance to make it easy for the people in this country to do right.
– The high Tariff in America made it easy for the trusts, too.
– My honorable friend has not’ grasped the situation. The United States is a nation of 90,000,000 persons, has an area bigger than the Continent of Europe, and is constituted of forty-five sovereign States. When a duty is imposed, the manufacturers have the market of 90,000,000 persons. The Tariff has^ made the nation. A duty makes every nation if it is a high one.
– It makes the trusts, too.
– But a low duty or no duty is a curse to a nation. It seems to me that the real free-trader may now be described as an antiquary. I believe that centuries hence mothers will take their children to the Federal museum to have a look at specimens of the legislators who used to preach free-trade.
– That is not original.
– There is nothing original in this world. I suppose that Demosthenes or some other great Greek said that years ago. better than I did. A great deal has been said here tonight - and it seems to be a bogy in the bosom of honorable members in opposition - that we cannot control, but will be controlled by the working men. Let them get that idea out of their minds. Take the example of a socialistic hotel in Western Australia. In a town where there is a socialistic hotel there are no drunkards. No man has ever been seen drunk in the town. Why? Because the publican has no interest in getting a person drunk. His interest lies merely in carrying on the business just as the Prime Minister’s interest lies in carrying on the Government of this country, and when a, man goes too far he is put under the Dog Act, and cannot get drink any more. It is of no use for honorable members to set up the bogy that we cannot control a number of men, that we have too many civil servants. In my opinion, it is not within the realm of economics, science, and politics, to talk such nonsense. Men are always amenable to reason if they are reasoned with, but if they are bullied or treated badly my honorable friends must expect to be treated badly. Only lately, when the proprietors of the collieries in New South Wales could not agree with the miners, and wanted to establish a lock-out, and so make the whole community suffer, the Premier, Mr.” Wade, stepped’ in and said, “ Settle this-
-Does the honorable member think that his remarks have anything to do with the Bill?
– I am replying to honorable members who have been talking about Socialism here to-night. As we want to nationalize the iron industry all strikes are germane to that question, are they not, Mr. Speaker? All those interests which are run by private enterprise, and have cursed this country, are surely relevant to that subject.
– The trouble is that Christmas is coming,
– I admit that, and if the Treasurer would drop his idea of giving a bounty I would vote for the imposition of a Customs duty of 20 per cent. Let me take another point, Mr. Speaker, and if I am wrong I hope that you will put me right. What defeated the South in the great Civil War in the United States?
– I am quite sure that that has nothing to do with the Bill.
– It was the iron industry - operated by private corporations - who raised the prices so high and refused to take Confederate money which defeated the South. Has that anything to do with this Bill, sir?
– I am afraid not.
– I ask honorable members, if the proposition of the Labour Parly is defeated, to vote in favour of the Commonwealth buying a controlling interest in all the various iron industries, because within two years they will all be brought into one monopoly. Why, sir, propositions have already been made to get a monopoly under one head. Is it not better for honorable members now to vote half a million pounds in order to permit the Commonwealth to get control of the iron industry ? Lately the President of Mexico, when he realized the significance of the operations of the railway corporations, stepped in and bought 52 per cent, of all the railway stocks in that country, and appointed his own directors. Germany has done the same thing. I am prepared to vote half a million in order to enable the Commonwealth to buy a controlling interest in all these industries, in the MooreHeskett process, in the Blythe River property
– The value of MooreHeskett scrip has gone up 200 per cent, since Mr. Bent said that he would give a contract.
– That shows what an excellent business man Mr. Bent is. While my honorable friends have been sound asleep, little dreaming of the day of disaster and ruin which awaits them, Mr. Bent has entered into a contract and had works erected.
– He suggested a contract, and . then the value of the Moore-Heskett shares went up 200 per cent.
-The Commonwealth could build the necessary furnaces for £75,000 and the rolling mills for £85,000. For a total expenditure of £160,000 it could put up every work which would be required to turn out all the iron and steel required by the wholeof Australia. Every iron importer and ironmonger has made his contracts three, four, or five years in advance. Will any one tell me that those hard-headed business men will revoke their contracts with the iron-masters of Europe, America, and Germany in order to buy their raw material in Australia? Certainly not. Mr. Sandford has proved that there is very little market for his productions.
– He has not proved anything of the kind.
– It is very easy to get money, if you have a market. Bring me something that has a good market, and I do not want any one to help me. When I was insuring lives, I did not want any one to help me, because there was a good market. If there was a market for Mr. Sandford’s productions, if he could go out and make contracts, he could take his advance bills to his bankers, and borrow all the money that he wanted. If he could not, let honorable members assist me to establish a postal banking system, and I shall enable it to be done. The money monopoly is al curse. But will importers be permitted to abrogate their contracts ? Will manufacturers allow
Australian importers to withdraw from contracts which they have concluded for a number of years? I had too much experience and training in the business centres of the United States of America! to expect that. The most iron that you can. expect to sell in this country in’ the first year is 50, 000, 60,000, or 80,000 tons. If it be necessary, add to your plant afterwards. I can see that, as the honorable member for Flinders pointed out, blunders will be made in the distribution of this bounty. A bit will go here, and a bit there, and no one will be benefited. I hope that honorable members will not force the . people of the country to commit a crime against themselves, but will think the matter over carefully. If they, are going to vote the people’s money away, I trust that they will help me to buy a controlling interest in the whole institution.
.- The most importalnt statement made by the honorable member for Darwin was that, six years ago, when the first Iron Bounty Bill was under consideration, certain persons endeavoured to buy members of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– He said either too little or too much.
– That is my opinion. If the honorable member for Darwin has in his possession the information which he says he has, it is his duty to Parliament, and to the country, to expose the business at the earliest opportunity.
– No offence to the House was meant.
– I had the honour of sitting as a member of the Iron Bounty Commission, which, some years ago, inquired whether it was advisable to grant a bounty, or to grant a bounty and impose a duty, for the assistance and protection of the iron industry. Together with the honorable members for West Sydney, South Sydney, and Parramatta, and Mr. WinterCooke, and Mr. Kirwan, who were then members of the House, I came to the conclusion, after a careful investigation of the whole subject . - taking into consideration the experience of bounties in other parts of the world, particularly in Canada, where one bounty after another has been granted to encourage the iron industry - that we were not justified in recommending the bounty system. I have heaird nothing during this debate to make me change my opinion on the matter. I hope that it is not true, as the honorable member for Darwin has stated, that on this question the numbers are certain, because I have facts to put before the House which, although the statement may appear egotistical, may otherwise influence honorable members. Several honorable members have justified the granting of a bounty because of a letter sent to us by Mr. Sandford, the managing director of the Lithgow Iron Works, in’ which he says- that, unless he gets a bounty and a duty, his industry will have to go under. A statement has also appeared in the daily press of Australia as to the unfortunate position in which the industry stands. I have every sympathy with Mr. Sandford, and should like his business to prosper ; but in considering a proposal to expend £250,000 of the people’s money we should not be influenced by an ad misericordiam appeal by an interested person. Any manufacturer could, on the eve of the consideration of proposals affecting his industry, make similar statements. Mr. Sandford’s efforts to establish the iron industry deserve all that has been said by the honorable member for Robertson and others. It seems to me that the proposal before us is not the granting of a bounty for the establishment of the iron industry in Australia, but, as the honorable member for Bendigo has pointed out, to give substantial financial assistance to Mr. Sandford. I was surprised at the statement of the honorable member for Bendigo. He said that the only method of establishing the iron industry was by granting a bounty, and that- this was a bounty to Mr. Sandford. It is rather remarkable that, although the honorable member for Bendigo said that he arrived at that opinion because of evidence taken on the subject in all parts of Australia, Mr. Sandford and Mr. Thornley, his manager, came before the Tariff Commission and stated that they did not want a bounty. Mr. Sandford, when before the Iron Bounty Commission some years earlier, asked for both a bounty and a duty; but when before the Tariff Commission he had changed his position, and gave reasons for it. I am about to read, not a letter written with the object of influencing Parliament at the last moment, and not a newspaper statement, but sworn evidence. Mr. Thornley, examined on the 20th March, 1906, gave this evidence in reply to questions asked by me. Honorable members can find- the passage on page 2583 of the Tariff Commission’s
Evidence. Vol. IV.. It commences with the question numbered 84,325 -
Did not your firm come before the Iron Bonus Commission some years ago in connexion with this matter? - Yes.
At that time you asked for a bonus for the establishment of works? - We did.
And also for a duty to be imposed subsequently? - Yes; the proposal was practically on Canadian lines.
You are not asking for any bonus now ? - No ; we have got a contract ‘ with the State Government of New South Wales, which alters the condition of affairs.
– They .found that it did not alter the position.
– What evidence is there to justify that statement?
– Is not Mr. Sandford’s letter sufficient?
– Are honorable members to be influenced by letters of that kind? That would be a queer reason for coming to a decision, one way or another, on a proposal to expend £250,000.
– This expenditure is not for Mr. Sandford alone.
– The tenor of the debate is that that will be the effect.-
– Every one, except the honorable member, would like to help Mr. Sandford.
– I would like to help him, and, in all probability, when the proper time comes, I shall be found helping him by giving him the assistance he asked for. I do not commit myself now, but, in all probability, I shall be found giving Mr. Sandford every penny of the duty he asked for when before the Tariff Commistion. I invite honorable members not to grant the bounty which he and his manager have specifically stated that they do not want. It is true that before the Iron Bounty Commission, and in the letter to which reference has been made, Mr. Sandford has said that he does want the bounty, but I prefer to be guided by the sworn evidence given by himself and his manager.
– Mr. Sandford has learned a lot since his evidence was given.
– Both Mr. Sandford and his manager have learned a lot since the evidence was given, and Mr. Thornley, during his travels in America and in other parts of the world, learned a great deal before he gave the following evidence to the Tariff Commission-
You are not asking for any bonus now? - No; we have got a contract with the State Govern ment of New South Wales, which alters the condition of affairs.
And you are asking for no duty on pig iron? - None whatever.
You simply ask for 12^ per cent, on bar? - Yes.
What has occurred to bring about the great change made between your application to the Iron Bonus Commission and that to this Commission ? - Speaking from my own point of view, I have had many opportunities of going into this question since the matter came before the Iron Bonus Commission. At that time I had only just joined the firm. In the meantime I have travelled twice to England and America, and have had more time to look into the subject. I am convinced that it would be a mistake to put on a big duty, and it was proposed at the time to erect large ironworks before there was a reasonable demand for the material. I saw some works in America turning out material at such a rate that they could produce in three months in some lines more than we should require in Australia in a year. I was convinced that it would be a mistake to put down such big works right away..
They go in for special works in America? - Yes ; they specialize everything.
And you could not hope to compete ‘ with them ? - We do not say that this small duty which we asked for will allow us to compete in those big lines, because the trade is not here to warrant the effort, and it is a mistake to tax people unless you can develop an industry by doing so.
When it was found by a portion of the Iron Bonus Commission that the “ evidence failed to show that there was any commercial necessity for the bonus proposed,” do you think that the portion of the Commission which so found were justified in doing so, in view of the proposal you are now making ? - No ; I do not think they were justified.
Will you kindly explain? - What the proposed bonus amounted to was a guarantee that we should have a certain amount of the trade of this country. That was really the effect of the bonus. It was not the value that we should get out of it that was important, but the guarantee that we shonld.be in a position to compete and get a certain amount of the trade. Now, however, the State Government has come forward and treated the matter in a business manner, apart from free-trade or protection. They want the iron industry established in the State. To get it established they have given us a guarantee of seven years’ work. That is the very guarantee we wanted to get to justify us in putting down a blast furnace.
As honorable members are aware, the firm have put down their blast furnace, and there was a celebration carried out in connexion with it some little time ago. They are now successfully turning out as good an article as is produced in any part of the world.
– And the bank is in possession.
– I quote this further statement from the evidence -
It amounts to the same thing from our point of view as a bonus.
They got the State guarantee referred to, and they admit ‘that that is as good as the bounty for which they ‘ previously asked. I have given the Committee the benefit of the evidence of Mr. Thornley, and if honorable members care to read the evidence given in answer to thirty or forty questions following those I have quoted, they will find ample justification for the position which I put to the Committee. I wish now to makea short quotation from the evidence given by Mr. Sandford himself. He was asked by me -
What is the basis of your sevenyears’ contract with the Government of New South Wales? - Certain prices.
Will you state the terms of the contract? - We have not got the figures here, but thev have been published, and can be got from the Government Department. I do not think that we. should be expected to give the particulars of our own business relations.
I think that when Mr. Sandford, or any other manufacturer, appears before a Commission asking for public money in support of the industry in which he is engaged, he should disclose the exact state of his business relations. Parliament is entitled to the information. How can any body of men decide to grant a bounty or increase protective duties unless they know the exact business ‘position of the manufacturers concerned? Mr. Sandford gave this further evidence -
You have shifted your ground very considertibly since you were examined . 1 few years ago, and I wish to know the circumstances under which it has been done? - The Government of New South Wales has given us a contract which is sufficient to enable us to erect a blast furnace at the least cost of£50,000, which we ask the Commonwealth Government to give us in the shape of a bonus, and therefore we do not ask for a bonus. So that as regards what we previously asked for the ground is swept away.
That discloses the position so far as Mr. Sandford is concerned. By his sworn evidence, and that of his manager, it is shown that he did not ask for the bounty in March, 1906, although he had previously done so when he was before the Iron Bounty Commission. It has been stated, by more than one member of the Committee, that this proposal means the handing over of £250,000 of the people’s money to . Mr. Sandford’s firm. In the circumstances, the House should give him the duty for which he asked when before the Tariff Commission, and should not be led away by the appeal in the letter which has been quoted, and the statements which have appeared in the Sydney press. What could be more fair than that those who are disposed to help Mr. Sandford should do so in the way which he has himself suggested? He has said that he does not want a bounty, but a duty of 12½ per cent. In dealing with this matter, I am not concerned with Mr. Sandford or with any other manufacturer. It is a matter of national importanceto the defence of Australia, a phase of this question to which too little consideration is given in this Chamber. I invite honorable members not to vote for the bounty provided for in this Bill.
– At this late hour, I do not propose to discuss the question of nationalization at any length. I think there must be some misconception on the part of certain honorable members. They cannot have read the Bill, or they would have seen that clauses 8, 9, and jo provide for practically the same thing as the amendment of which notice has been given by the’ leader of the Labour Party.. I undertake to say that the members of that Party will never get nearer to the nationalization of this industry than they will by supporting this Bill, which seems to me to have been planned for the purpose, and appears to disclose a close community of interest between the Government and their supporters. What is the good of the bond? If it is to be of any value, the bank must be associated with the gentlemen concerned in the bond. I understand that the proposal is that the State of New South Wales shall take over the iron industry so soon as private enterprise . has failed. What right have we to saddle New South Wales or any other State with a disability of that kind? Under this Bill, if the enterprise should fail, the State must either carry it on or carry the baby. I shall not vote for the measure unless clauses 8, 9, 10 are excised, and I shall not support the amendment of the Labour Party to nationalize the industry. There are one or two points connected with this matter which no honorable member appears to have studied. Canada has beenmentioned as a country which has attempted to foster the iron industry by means of the bounty system. I agree with the honorable member for Darwin, that if we sanction the payment of the bounty proposed we shall have to continue that system indefinitely. I have been told that the United States failed to establish the industry for a considerable time, and that it was not until they possessed a population of 30,000,000 that it became a success. I am further assured by a gentleman in whom I can place implicit reliance that it will be utterly impossible to make the undertaking successful in Australia until we possess a population of 20,000,000. I believe that a number of honorable members visited the ironworks at Lithgow in order that they might see this wonderful industry for themselves. They need not have gone so “far afield. They might have visited a little roller mill - the Lion mill - in South Melbourne, where they would have seen a gentleman who has established the industry, and who has never asked for State assistance, either by way of a bounty or by way of a duty. This gentleman employs more than 130 hands, and has never been called upon to pay any Excise. Mr. Justice Higgins will never adjudicate upon his case, because he pays his employes wages which attract them to the work. Honorable members might also have visited an adjoining building, where they would have seen for themselves one of the most wonderful inventions in the world - a machine which will turn .out horse-shoes more perfectly than they can be turned out by a man at an anvil. In short, they might have witnessed all the processes connected with the iron industry at this particular establishment. The letter which Mr. Sandford has addressed to honorable members is a plain, straightforward ad misericordiam appeal for assistance. I say that this Parliament was not created to grant assistance to private individuals. Further, it would be utterly impossible for us to buttress this particular industry. Before Mr. Sandford had embarked upon it, other men with flocks and herds lost something like £100,000 in it before they abandoned it. When we come to consider the whole position we must recognise that it is not merely a question of producing pig iron, and of converting it into rolled and flat iron. I am assured by those who understand the question thoroughly “that there are so many hundreds of matters connected with the industry that, to deal with it successfully, we should require buildings which would practically cover the whole of Melbourne, and even then work would not be provided for more than three or four days in the year. I recognise that it was necessary that this discussion should take place.” I am exceedingly sorry that it has interrupted the work upon which we were engaged, namely, the consideration of the Tariff. I hope that honorable members will consign this Bill - for the present, at any rate - to the wastepaper basket.
– During this debate we have heard a good deal concerning the socialistic aspect of the amendment submitted by the leader of the Labour Party. But I take it that, .to some extent, we are all Socialists, otherwise we could not live in a civilized community. Civilization itself is the outcome of collective ideas and co-operation. If there is one industry, above all others, which should be nationalized, it is the iron industry. During the recent election, campaign the leader of the Opposition declared that it would cost so many millions of pounds to nationalize certain industries. Here is an industry which can be nationalized without the State being required to pay anything, for the purchase of vested interests. Yet we are told that it would be impossible to carry it on successfully from a commercial standpoint. I recognise that the iron industryis the staple industry of all countries, and that it is essential we should undertake the production of iron in the Commonwealth. It is proposed ‘ to offer a bounty of £250,000 for five years for the production of iron. When the bounty ceases, how can the industry be carried on unless a further bounty is given, or a duty imposed?
– They will get a duty.
– It has been stated several times in this House that protection is like nursing a baby until it gets on its feet and is able to walk. I admit, as a protectionist, that if we are to maintain a civilized state it will be always necessary to impose duties against the introduction of manufactured commodities from the outside world. Every protectionist may not feel inclined to admit that, but I do, and at the end of the five years’ term I know that we shall have- to give those who engage in this industry the protection of a duty. If it is refused, they will say to us, “ You, as a Parliament, brought into existence an industry in which so many hundred men are employed, and now that you have ceased giving the bounty, are you going to allow the industry to languish for want of a protective duty?” That will be rightly said to us. We have no right to bring into existence and foster an industry unless we are prepared to assist it afterwards. Then why should we humbug one another with the hope that the bounty will do all that is necessary, when we know full well that at some stage of the existence of the industry we shall have to apply a duty? The common-sense course to take now, if we do not nationalize the iron industry, is to give it a duty in the same way that we,as protectionists, give protection to every other manufacturing industry. I have no-, thing to say regarding the attitude of the free-traders,’ except that it seems strange to hear reputed free-traders support a Bill for a bounty on the manufacture o± raw iron who refuse to vote for duties upon manufactured commodities, of which iron is the raw material. Where is the sense in voting for a bounty for -an industry, and denying an opportunity for the raw material produced by that industry to be used in making other commodities? The honorable member for Nepean, in whose district Lithgow is situated, has voted on every occasion for the lowest duty he could possibly get on any commodity, lt is an appalling fact - I do not know how his constituents will take it - that the other evening, when he had an opportunity of voting for a duty upon a manufactured commodity which would have used thousands and thousands of tons of the raw iron produced in his constituency, he actu- ally voted against that duty. I allude to the proposed duty on gas stoves, on which the honorable member for Nepean voted for the lowest duty he could get, although thousands of tons of iron could be used in the manufacture of gas stoves in Australia. It is useless for us to delude ourselves, as protectionists, with the idea that the application of a bounty will be all that is necessary to establish the manufacture of raw iron. We have the experience of the past to guide us. If we want to maintain a state of civilization here, to provide that our workers shall have proper conditions of living, and that the men who invest their money shall have a return upon it, we must always have a high duty placed upon imported commodities. I am surprised at some protectionists voting for a bounty in this case, and shutting their eyes to .the fact that the proper way to encourage the industry is to impose a duty, and I am surprised at free-traders voting for a bounty and refusing to vote for duties upon articles which they should hope to see manufactured here from the raw iron.
– When this Bill was previously before the House I opposed it. I take exactly the same stand to-night. Not one argument advanced by any supporter of the Bill would justify the House in voting a quarter of a million of money as is proposed. It is deeply to be regretted that Mr. Sandford sent’ the letter so frequently referred to to members of Parliament on the eve of this discussion. The result has been that the whole of the debate has hinged upon the question, not of whether a bounty should be granted to establish the iron industry in Australia, but of whether Parliament should vote money to enable one individual to meet the financial obligations in” which the industry has landed him. That is not a proper position for the House to be placed in. The honorable member for Illawarra has shown that Mr. Sandford himself declared that he did riot want a bounty. The position seems to be now that Mr. Sandford has the idea that, as the Federal Parliament is granting bounties rather freely all round, he might as well have a cut at them also. But we are not discussing Mr. Sandford or his position alone. If Parliament is to do anything in this direction, we should have regard to the broad principles of establishing the industry in many parts of Australia, rather than to the needs of one particular individual in one particular place.
– Why attack Sandford?
– I am not attacking him. I say that it is deeply to be regretted, that, owing to a certain circular letter being sent to members of Parliament, the individual and not the industry has been brought into prominence.
– He has not done any more than a good many manufacturers have done lately.
– I admit that, with regard to a great deal of the lobbying that has been going on for some time past, it would have been very much better for the men concerned if they had stayed away. Personally I do not think that the legpulling that some of them have tried to indulge in with regard to other parts of the Tariff has improved their chances in many instances.
– It has been done by both sides.
– I am not speaking of one side more than of the other.
The Lithgow district is not the only one in which it is proposed to establish the iron industry. There is in the electorate of the honorable member for Darwin one of the grandest deposits of iron in the known world. That is the testimony of experts. Mr. Keats, the gentleman who had the flotation of that company in hand, stated in evidence before the Iron Bounty Commission that he did not want the bounty. He said further, that, if it was proposed to give a bounty, a trifle of -£250,000 would not go anywhere towards establishing the industry. That will be found in question 2330 of Mr. Keats’ evidence. Mr. Jamieson, the Chairman of Directors of that Company, also said that the bounty was quite useless to establishthe industry, and that a Customs duty would be required. I shall try to show briefly what has been the experience in Canada. More than one honorable member has pointed out that the industry was established in Canada by a bounties system. According to the Canadian Annual Review the iron industry, after twenty years of bonuses, is in such a condition that, last year, the Government had to come to the rescue with a grant of £500,000. That is the result in Canada, although there is a stiff protective duty of 25 to 30 per cent, on all Iron imported, including steel rails.’ I may point out that the production of steel rails in Canada last year exceeded 600,000 tons, and we must not forget that the production of steel rails is one of the most profitable branches of the industry, and that owing to the great number of railways being constructed there is an enormous output. Another important point is that the railways in Canada are owned by private companies, who when they import rails have to pay the duty which I have mentioned. But the Full Court of New South Wales has ruled that the Federation has no power to levy a tax on the rails imported by a State.
– Oh, but there is power !
– It is all very well for the Treasurer to say that, but the case has-been tested in the Full Court of New South Wales, and the judgment has been given against the Federation.
– The question is to be tested in the High Court.
– The question ought to have been tested in the High Court months ago. At any rate the position we are in to-dav is that the Federation has no power to levy a tax or duty on iron or steel rails imported by a State Government.
– If that is good law the Federation will break down.
– I am not saying whether it is good or bad law, but merely that that is the law as it stands to-day; and that is the judgment on which the Federation has slept.
– The States are paying the duty.
– Yes, under protest, simply because the Federation is in possession. If the judgment of the New South Wales ‘Full Court is upheld, we shall take from the industry a great source of profit which it possesses. In view of the experience of Canada, there is no hope of establishing the industry by means of the proposed bounty, and if the experience of Canada is to be repeated here, it would be better for the Government to conduct the industry themselves. Twenty years ago Canada had the same population that Australia has to-day, so that it is proposed to start the industry here under exactly similar conditions; and if our experience is to be that of Canada - if we are to pay £8,000,000 or £10,000,000 in bounties and undertake all the risk - let us take any profit that may be going. I shall vote against the granting of this bounty. The men who have entered upon this industry tell us that they do not want a bounty ; and we know from the experience of other countries, notably Canada, that such a bounty as that proposed is a mere crumb on the waters. We have no possible hope of establishing the industry with such a small bounty; and the money will be simply frittered away. There are honorable members opposing this bounty, who, some weeks ago, when it was proposed to fritter away money in a similar way on other industries, simply tumbled over one another in their anxiety to support the proposal. I voted against those other bounties and I intend to vote against the present proposal, first, because it is not justified, and, secondly, because it is quite inadequate to establish the industry.
.- I may mention, parenthetically, that the measure before us . is a Manufactures Encouragement Bill. Into this discussion there has been woven nearly every subject under the sun. We have had historical disquisitions, side lights, and American history, and patches of economics. I do not intend to follow the example of other honorable members in this discursiveness, but simply to address myself, in a few plain, blunt words, to the question before the Chair. It is said that when a man is going to the penitent stool, the sooner he gets there the better; and, in parliamentary life, it is better for a man to attack himself than to- allow others to attack him. I have on every occasion that presented itself opposed the granting of bounties ; and the same arguments that have been used against this measure by honorable members who preceded me I have used myself. I do not think that one word which has been said against the granting of this bounty is not exactly true ; but, all the same, I am going to vote for this Bill.
– When did the honorable member change his mind?
– I managed to change my mind before the last election. I found that some honorable members were very grandiloquent on economic theories when the question did not affect their electorates or their States - that free-traders, who could be very frigid and rigid on occasion, were neither frigid nor rigid when the interests of their constituents were concerned. The honorable member who preceded me has put the matter very clearly before the House. He said that, apparently, those interested in ironworks are under the impression that this Parliament is “out” to give bounties, and think that under the circumstances they have a right to be “in it.” Without attempting to justify, myself in any way, I may say that, if the Government are throwing around this plunder or loot, or whatever it may be called, I shall see if I cannot get some of it for my own State. When a bounty on sugar or on rice or cotton was proposed, we heard no cry for nationalization. We are now dealing with the iron industry, which is specially identified with New South Wales. Last week we imposed heavy duties on woollens and hats, and I now find myself on the horns of a dilemma. The Treasurer says that he does not desire the Bill to be discussed in detail at this stage. He simply desires to obtain a decision of the House, so that he may know whether the iron industry is to be encouraged by means of a bounty or by the imposition of duties. Mv electorate is largely concerned in the use of iron, but not in its manufacture. I recognise that if this Bill be rejected an import duty will be imposed on iron’, and that it will press heavily upon those who use it in my electorate. Of the two evils I prefer a bounty to a duty. At the last general election, I asked my constituents to give me a free hand to vote as I pleased in regard to propositions of this kind, and since they acceded to my request I should be a fool if I did not exercise my freedom. My policy is that if assistance is given to one industry it should be given to others. The granting of a bounty is less harmful than is the imposition of a duty. The cost of a bounty system to a State or the Commonwealth may be readily determined, but no one can estimate the extent to which a duty may penalize individuals. Throughout my career as a member of this Parliament, I have studiously refused to be interviewed by parties interested in legislation before us. I have refused to be interviewed either by manufacturers or importers, and although it has been said that certain influences were brought to bear upon honorable members in the last Parliament, I know nothing of them. The Parliament which dealt with the Tariff of 1902 was free from the American system of lobbying and its evil influences. It was absolutely pure. I think it necessary to make that statement, in view of what has been said in the presence of a number of people in the gallery, who might otherwise go away with the impression that this Parliament is liable to corruption. I do not think that it is. If I knew of any evidence in support of such a suggestion, I should be one of the first to bring it before you, Mr. Speaker. As I have said, my constituents are interested in this Bill only so far as the use of iron is concerned, but in New South Wales we have a gentleman associated with the iron industry who has shown indomitable pluck, and has a perfect right to appeal to us for assistance: If assistance is to be given to manufacturers of woollens, hats, and other goods, why, then, . should similar treatment be denied to the iron industry of New South Wales? I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill, and in Committee shall point out what provisions I think should be inserted for the protection of the public. If a bounty be granted on the production of iron, we ought certainly to be prepared to grant a bounty on shit)-building. The one is the natural corollary of the other. It is all very well for those who support this Bill to draw vivid pictures of the uses to which iron may be put, but something more is necessary. If we are to have naval dockyards and an expansion, of the ship-building industry, honorable members must be prepared to grant a complemental bounty on ship-building. ‘ If any industry ought to be assisted by us, then the two that I have mentioned are deserving, of encouragement. The character of the work .and the wages paid in the ship-building industry entitle it to every consideration. When the Iron Bounties Bill was before us in 1902, I, with others, voted for the amendment providing for the nationalization of the industry, because it was submitted with the avowed object of defeating the Bill. Some honorable members have gone so far as to suggest that the nationalization of this industry would be a species of Socialism. I hold that it would not. Any well-informed Socialist will admit that Socialism does not permit of the nationalization of an industry in order that a profit may be made out of it bv the State. Honorable members of the Labour Party have urged that this would be a profitable State monopoly. The true Socialist abhors State commercialism Hist as much as he abhors the commercialism of individualists.
– I think that we are against the same kind of Socialism as the honorable member is.
– Perhaps so; but at the last general election there was no differentiation between the various classes of Socialism. If, at the next general election, we differentiate between them, as I am now doing, honorable members of the Labour Party will probably find many who voted against them at the last election according them their support, whilst’ some of their old supporters will oppose them. In the near, future the electors will be divided, not as they were at the last general election, but as the true advocates of Socialism .are’ separating themselves from many members of the Labour Party. If I voted for the nationalization of the iron industry, I should be justified in voting for the nationalization of all other industries. I am absolutely opposed to that for several reasons. Supposing this amendment to be carried, do I understand that State ownership or Commonwealth ownership is meant?
– Commonwealth ownership.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has made the matter quite clear. Many honorable members who favour nationalization in this instance may have considered that what was meant was ownership by a State. But before we can determine whether the idea of the honorable member for Wide Bay can be carried out, we have to settle whether it is constitutional for the Federal Parliament to enter into this matter.
– Some one else will discover that for us.
– The State of New South Wales has done a great deal to assist in the establishment of the iron industry. At the present moment it . is considering whether it will not afford further financial assistance. Indeed, the Premier of the State is considering whether his Government will not finance the industry. They see a very fine industry being conducted in New South Wales. They consider it to be to their interest to keep it going. As a Federal representative, my position is that I have seen many other industries coddled by means of duties; therefore, I feel justified in voting for a bounty to coddle this industry. I openly say that it is coddling, but, under the circumstances, I think it justifiable. We have been told that it is advisable to nationalize “ public utilities.” That is a splendid phrase. No one knows better than I do how useful a high-sounding phrase is on the public platform. But food and clothing are also public utilities. Is it proposed to nationalize such things as those? I draw a distinction which I do not think is a fine. one between State-ownership of such things as railways and a State iron industry. I do not think that any man in the present day in Australia would argue against the advantage of State-owned railways. I do not think that any one would say that it is not advisable that the State, or the municipality, should own’ waterworks, the postal service, and the means of illumination. The adjective “ socialistic “ can be applied to such enterprises for purposes of definition, but the line of distinction is that they concern practically every member of the community. No matter whether a man be a primary or a secondary producer, a capitalist, or the humblest worker, he is interested in our State-owned railways. But the number of those who would be concerned in State-owned ironworks is very limited. No one could contend that an iron- industry would affect the whole of the people. But if we are to nationalize the industry, why should we stop there? Why not nationalize the sugar industry or the clothing industry? I have already explained my view with regard to the new protection and the bounty system. I have seen assistance from the public purse given to many other industries. Whether that assistance is given by a duty or a bounty is a matter of indifference. I put in. a plea for a New South. Wales industry in connexion with this bounty. As we are going in for higher duties and bounties all round, I am not going to see my own State neglected. If other bounties had not been voted, and if duties had not been passed for the advantage of other industries, I should have been one of the strongest opponents of this proposal. But when I have seen other industries receiving assistance from the Commonwealth, I certainly think that the iron industry has a right to be considered ; and the cheapest way to consider it is to give it a bounty. . The mere fact that Mr. Sandford is immediately concerned has nothing to do with the question. There is nothing to prevent a thousand other persons from applying for the bounty if they choose to establish ironworks. Mr. Sandford has shown a good deal of energy and is deserving of encouragement. The argument of some honorable members, that they will not vote for a bounty until the industry has proved itself self-supporting, is one that they have not applied when giving their votes to the advantage of other industries. Why did we not hear that argument when the- hat industry and the sugar industry were concerned? Another difficulty has to be faced if the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay be carried. If the Commonwealth is to establish and finance the iron industry there will undoubtedly be a struggle as to where the works are to be established. There are iron deposits in Tasmania, New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria. If the Commonwealth is to take a hand there will have to be not one, but a series of iron industries. Any one can see the absurdity of that, because the demand for iron in Australia is not sufficiently great to warrant the establishment of more than one industry. I have now, 1 consider, given sufficient reasons for voting for the Bill. I should not pretend to defend it from an economic stand-point, or from the stand-point of experience, if it stood alone. I defend it from the basest of all base reasons - that the State of Victoria and other States having received assistance, from the Commonwealth, I intend to vote that an industry in which New South Wales is particularly concerned should receive similar assistance.
– I am perhaps more Interested in this proposal than are most honorable members. It is all very well for the Treasurer to show impatience, but I consider that I ought to let my constituents know my intentions on this question, because, as I said, I am interested. There are two of the biggest iron deposits in my electorate, one of which is the contributing source of supply to the ironworks which have been under review this evening. Unlike the last speaker, however, I have not fallen from political grace so far as to enter into a scramble for a. bounty for my electorate. I do not consider that to be .politics at all, but merely child’s play. I am opposed to the grant of a bounty. It is hardly necessary for me to say that I regard the iron industry as practically the basis of modern civilization, in so far as all superstructure depends more or less upon the manufacture and use of iron. In view of the fact that we shall be beholden entirely to outside countries for our supplies, and that in the event of a crisis we should suffer from the shortage, it becomes imperative for us, in my opinion, to give some encouragement to the industry. But if it is necessary for us to pay away the people’s money, for goodness’ sake let us buy them an interest in the concern. Let us act as honorable trustees of their money. That is the consideration which appeals to me. Seeing that revenue duties have been supported by those who are averse to direct taxation, I cannot indorse any proposal to pay away to any private individual solid cash wrung from the poorer classes at the Customs House. If it is necessary, in the interests of the nation, to promote the iron industry - and I believe that” it is,, for we live in the “iron age” - let us act in a business-like manner, as men who are worthy to represent the people, and if we spend their money in that direction, let us buy them at least an interest in the concern. If that is unconstitutional, so must be our proposal to nationalize the industry. We have so far had only two issues placed before us. I shall certainly support nationalization in preference to granting a bounty. If, however, we cannot carry our proposal to nationalize, and the proposal to give a bounty is not carried, then I shall favour the imposition of a high Customs duty with all the reservations which may be necessary to regulate local industries. It has been stated that the iron industry cannot succeed in Australia, that in any case it will not pay. It has not paid so far, and it is quite possible that there is no market here to make the industry profitable. I must concede that I have very serious doubts as to whether in any case it would be a profitable industry. But that is no reason why we should “drop the baby,” as some one has been pleased to term it. If it is necessary for us to have an iron industry, as I believe it is, we must secure its establishment in order to protect our own secondary industries at all costs, and take the steps which will entail the least possible sacrifice by the people. I contend that direct control, whether whole or partial, is the best way in which to secure the most beneficial results, whether the industry is going to be profitable or not. I regard the establishment and conduct of the industry as essential to the development of Australia, and shall support any practical measure other than one to grant a bounty.
.- I do not propose to deal in any way with the amendment. I am in somewhat of a dilemma with regard to the two proposals of the Government, namely, to grant a bounty or to impose a Customs duty of 12½ per cent. There certainly is reason to doubt whether the grant of a bounty would lead to any very good results. If that proposal stood by itself, I should feel disposed to oppose it as it stands, on the general ground that it would be practically throwing away the money. In the first place, I do not consider that the amount of the proposed bounty is enough, and in the second place, I do not think that the method in which it is proposed to be applied is efficient. On the other hand, if the proposal for giving a bounty be defeated, undoubtedly the Government have sufficient support in this House to carry their proposal to levy an import duty of 12½ per cent, on the raw material, and, I take it, will do so. Last year we imported raw material to the value of £1,500,000, and a duty of 12½ per cent, on that sum would yield a. revenue of nearly £200,000. That would be the annual tax on all sorts of people and industries. Of the two evils I prefer the lesser, which is the proposal to give a bounty. I hope that if granted it will do some good. At any rate it is far better to spend £250,000 out of the general revenue in that way over a period of five years than to tax all our industries to the amount of £200,000 a year for all time. For that reason I shall vote for the proposal to give a bounty in the expectation that the measure will be amended in certain directions in Committee, and I hope that we will never impose the import duty of 12½ per cent, on the raw material which is used by every blacksmith, wheelwright, and other manufacturers throughout Australia.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has handed in to me a suggested alteration of the wording of his amendment, in order to meet the point raised this afternoon by the honorable member for North Sydney. He desires to add the following words:- and there should be incorporated in the Bill provision for the nationalization of the iron industry.
Is it the’ pleasure of the House that the form of the amendment should be altered as desired?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
Amendment amended accordingly.
Question - That, the words proposedto be added be so added (Mr. Fisher’s amendment) - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That this Bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and considered in Committee pro forma.
Christmas Adjournment - Estimates - Tariff - Excise Procedure Bill - Standing Orders- Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act - Alleged Sweating in the General Post Office, Sydney - Conduct of Business - Contingencies - Ventilation of Chamber - Papua: Black Labour in Mines - Federal Capital Site - Commerce Act : Payments to State Officers - Trunk Telephone Lines to Katoomba and Lithgow - Taxation of State Imports : Seizure of Wire Netting.
In Committee of Supply:
– I move -
That a sum not exceeding £704,457 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending 30th June, 1908.
I desire to say that I bring this motion forward at the present time as I understand that the Senate intends very shortly to adjourn, and will be unable to do so as early as is desired unless a further Supply Bill is passed.
– When are we going to deal with the Estimates in chief?
– I am afraid that we shall not be able to deal with them until we return after the Christmas adjournment. The Government desire, if possible, and I hope and believe that with the concurrence of honorable members generally we shall be able to do so, to deal with the Tariff in this House before Christmas, in order that we may be able to adjourn for a reasonable recess, and need not return until some progress has been made with the consideration of the Tariff in another place. I am sure that honorable members do not wish to have to remain here during the Christmas holidays, and those who desire to go to Queensland,
Western Australia and other distant States, require a fairly lengthy adjournment for the purpose.
– Does the honorable gentleman not think that the Tariff is quite enough to get through before Christmas?
– There is very little other business proposed to be done before Christmas. I know that the Prime Minister wishes to deal with the Disputed Elections and Qualifications Bill, and also, I believe, with the Excise Procedure Bill.
– Surely that might be left over until we are considering the general scheme to give effect to the new protection.
– I believe that the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court is very anxious that the Bill referred to should be passed. I have no authority to say positively that it will or will not be proceeded with at this stage. The Prime Minister must decide that question; but I am aware that he wishes to have it passed as soon as possible. There is then the Tariff and the Mail Contract to be disposed of, but at this moment I do not know of anything else that requires to be considered before Christmas. From the assurances I have received from the leaders of parties I believe that if we set to work earnestly we shall be able - after the other measures to which I have referred have been dealt with - to get through with the Tariff by Christmas. The occasion is exceptional, and that is why I make this statement. In regard to this Supply Bill I gave instructions that it should contain nothing of a debatable character. Honorable members will see that the amount asked for is less than the amount asked for in the last two months’ Supply Bill just passed. I saw the Secretary to the Treasury to-day, and he assured me that there is nothing in the Bill to which honorable members can fairly object.
– To what date is Supply now being asked for?
– The Bill to be submitted now will provide for Supply up to the 14th March next, and the intention is, if honorable members are agreeable, that the Christmas adjournment shall extend to the first week in March. It is not likely that honorable members will be called back before that time, and that is the reason why two months’ Supply is again being asked for.
.- I intend to offer a protest against the passing of this Supply Bill. I know that it is useless to resist it, as from the way in which the Treasurer has put the matter honorable members will be induced to support the Bill to meet their personal convenience. This is the fourth Supply Bill with .which we have been asked to deal during the current session. If is all very well for the Treasurer to say that it contains no debatable items. But I submit that by granting Supply for another two months we shall be surrendering our control over the Estimates, inasmuch as the Supply which will then have been granted will cover eight months of the current financial year.
– What other course could the Government take?
– I admit that the Treasurer is in a difficult position. Only last week we passed a Supply Bill covering two months. The leader of the Opposition took up a very strong attitude in regard to that measure. He stated that if it had covered- three months he would have opposed it.
– But he would not have opposed this Bill under the circumstances.
– Upon two occasions the honorable member for Flinders has declared that we ought to have resisted the passing of the first Supply Bill. Yet we are now discussing the fourth measure of the kind.
– We passed five Supply Bills in 1904, and three in 1905.
– It is a slovenly way of doing business.
– I admit that, but the honorable member must recollect that we do not have to frame a Tariff every year.
– The Treasurer has stated that he will get the Tariff through by Christmas.
– He will not get it through now.
– His reason for endeavouring to rush the Tariff through is that we may enjoy a longer- recess. But this House cannot’ reasonably sit after 13th December if honorable members are to be enabled to reach their homes by Christmas. Does the Treasurer suggest /that we can give proper consideration to the Tariff, in addition to the measures which he has outlined, in twenty-one days?
– The Treasurer cannot accuse members of the Opposition of having obstructed the progress of the Tariff. There are a large number of debatable items still to be considered.
– There are not many.
– I venture to say that the whole of this week will be occupied in dealing with measures other than the Tariff. The Senate will have to reassemble in the New Year, so that the question which we have to consider is whether we shall have a recess extending over eight weeks or over eleven weeks. Of course, I can understand the representatives of distant States desiring to get as long a holiday as possible, but I certainly did not anticipate a recess of more than six weeks. Personally, I shall not agree to the granting of Supply until the Bill dealing with the new protection proposals of the Government has been laid upon the table. The Prime Minister promised me a fortnight ago that he would circulate a memorandum dealing with the salient points of the Ministerial proposals, and also a schedule of the industries to which they will apply. How can we dea with the contentious items of the Tariff until we know what is embodied in that Bill? Naturally the Treasurer desires to get into recess, and I frankly admit that he has been the most hard-worked Minister in this Parliament up to date. I am astonished that he has not allowed the Minister of Trade and Customs to assist him in piloting the Tariff through this House. When the first Commonwealth Tariff was submitted, it was in charge of a giant in the person of the right honorable member for Adelaide, but even he had the assistance of the then Treasurer, Sir George Turner. I suppose that the present Treasurer has refused assistance because he is ambitious that his name shall be associated with the Tariff of T907. I recognise that my protest will be an idle one, but that does not deter me from placing it upon record.
.- I protest against the action of the Government in bringing forward a Supply Bill at this hour of the evening. We ought to have a Standing Order providing that no new business shall be dealt with after 11 p.m.
– We have a Standing Order to that effect, but no honorable member objected.
– I did not understand the position or I should have objected.
– Does not the honorable member wish to transact business?
– Yes; but it is too bad to bring forward a Supply Bill involving an expenditure of £700,000 after 11 o’clock at night. It is very unfair to bring this Bill down at this time of night, and expect honorable members to discuss it. I regret that I did not know that we could object, under the Standing Orders, to the bringing on of new business after a certain hour. If I had known I should have objected. I know that honorable members are anxious to get away, but there are important matters to be attended to. I do not know that there is any particular virtue about getting home on Christmas morning. A turkey tastes just as well on the day before or the day after Christmas.
– I have been asked by a great number of members, more particularly those belonging to the Labour Party, to allow them to get away.
– I am not particularly anxious to sit here. I prefer to get through the work and get away, and I would just as soon have a holiday as stay here. I am not particularly anxious for hard work. I do not know that I ever was; but work should not be done in a slovenly fashion, merely for the sake of getting away for Christmas. One of the most important matters with which we have to deal, according to the Government, is the Tariff. That sort of work should not be done hurriedly late at night, when people are tired, merely for the sake of compressing a certain amount of work into a certain time. It would be far better to do the work well, even if we sat a week later or a week after Christmas. We are told that this Supply Bill is introduced in order that another place may deal with it at once. I do not know that we should hurry for the sake of another place.- I have not had time to go through the schedule to see whether there is anything in it that ought to be objected to ; but I do object to this business being brought on at this time of night. I trust that the Government will not do it again.
.- When a Supply Bill is bounced upon the table at a quarter to 12 at night, the Treasurer might explain when we shall have an opportunity of considering the Estimates. When this Bill is passed, about eight months’ appropriation out of the twelve will have been removed from our control without the general Estimates having been considered.
– I hope that the Estimates will be the first business as soon as we return after the Christmas adjournment.
– As there appears to be no hope of discussing the general Estimates this year, we ought to be given a better opportunity of discussing a Supply Bill of this kind. It is urged that another place is desirous of getting the Bill through in order that they may adjourn. Only a few days ago there was a general story about the building that another place had absolutely no intention of adjourning until the Disputed Elections and Qualifications Bill was returned to them from this House. Therefore, one of the stories must be wrong. Either another place considers it urgently necessary that that measure should be passed, or it is to be left in the lurch if another place adjourns at the end of this week. I am not going to express any particular anxiety for the Senate to have an opportunity to get that measure passed before they rise, as it may deal not only with one case, but with other succeeding cases, and therefore it should not be rushed through without serious consideration. Although I come from a distant State and have no opportunity of getting home at the week-ends, I would prefer to stay in Melbourne a little longer than to see important measures passed through with undue haste.. I am going to have my Christmas dinner in Western Australia if it is possible; but the passage of a Bill appropriating a quarter of a million pounds of the people’s money in the shape of iron bounties after ‘two days’ discussion is of much more serious consequence to the people of Australia than is the question of where I eat my Christmas dinner. It seems futile to-night to endeavour to raise the question of the attitude of the Government with regard to carrying out the provisions of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act. I thought an opportunity would have been given to honorable members on the next Supply Bill to hear a thorough statement from the Government as to their intentions on that question.
– Honorable members have had statement after statement, and are never satisfied. . I will not make any more statements if they are not believed when made.
– The honorable gentleman is right in saying that we have had statement after statement. We have had about fifty different statements with regard to one particular matter.
– Every statement has coincided.
– But we have not been able to get any facts that will give satisfaction to those who are desirous of seeing the Act carried out in its entirety and in accordance with its spirit. However, I recognise that it is impossible to approach such a subject at this time of the night; but there will’ be an opportunity, on the motion for the adjournment, to make some further remarks. Having expressed my opinion, I am prepared to let this Supply Bill go through.
– I see no reason, under the circumstances, in tilting against this Supply Bill. If ever there is any justification for a Supply Bill, it is on the eve of a Christmas adjouvnment. The Public Service must be kept going; and one wonders that honorable members in the Labour corner, who have allowed other Supply Bills to go through without protest-
– Withdraw that.
– Perhaps I should say, except the honorable member. When some objection was raised to a Supply ‘Bill, which took in a third of the financial year, I did not hear any protest from the Labour corner. Had the Government seriously thought of putting the Estimates through in the month between the introduction of the Tariff and its discussion, they could have done so, but they preferred to fritter away the time with other legislation, and now there is really no opportunity, to deal with the Estimates before Christmas. Honorable members had better make, up their minds at once that any opportunity for the effective control of the year’s expenditure is gone.
– Is this a proper time of night to introduce a Supply Bill ?
– I inquired the reason, and was told that it was to enable the Senate to rise to-morrow night. When a Supply Bill is inevitable, and its passage will afford another place an opportunity of adjourning to-morrow, I see no use in objecting. The whole circumstances are unusual.
– Does the honorable member conclude that the Senate is going to rise without considering any amendments we may make in the Disputed Elections and Qualifications Bill?
– I do not think it is.
– I hope the Senate will not rise until it has dealt with that Bill, which ought to have been considered days ago. It is one of the most important proposals in the Government programme, and the sooner the Question is put at rest one’ way or the other, the better. I hope that the Bill will be dealt with immediately, so that it may be returned to the Senate to-morrow. Do I understand that it is proposed to deal with this Bill at once?
– It is in the hands of the Prime Minister, and I think that is his intention.
– To-morrow morning ?
– To-morrow some time; I suppose to-morrow morning.
– I see nothing unusual in the items of the schedule to the Supply Bill.
– We surrender our right of criticism of the Estimates.
– Personally, I perforce surrendered that right a couple of months ago.
.I see no justification for blocking the Supply Bill, unless an attack on the Government is meditated. It would be useless for us to meet in January if we had no work to do. To me it seems evident that the- session will cover the whole of the financial year, with, perhaps, a holiday at Christmas. The Government have Supplv to the end of the year, and desire Supply for two months longer, so that we may, if needs be, meet early in March.
– And as soon as we meet, the Government will introduce a Supply Bill.
– The first business of Parliament is to see that the public servants are paid. It is quite true that the Estimates should be considered earlier ; but until we adopt the plan of devoting one day per week to their consideration, we shall have the old system of dealing with them at the end of the year in the most perfunctory way.
.- I desire to ventilate a matter of serious moment affecting the Postal Department in New South Wales, to which I referred at the commencement of the sitting. In the Sydney Morning Herald of yesterday, there appears an article with the following heading : “ Chaos in the General Post Office; Dissatisfaction rampant; Strike narrowly averted.” In that article is given a vivid description of the sweating conditions which continue to prevail in that office. In regard to the Telegraph Department it is stated that the position has become so acute that the operators are bordering on open revolt. I do not know whether that condition obtains at the present time, but I understand from the Postmaster-General that something has been done to relieve the pressure so far as the telegraph operators are concerned. But still it appears that sufficient has not been done to make any material alteration in the conditions, although they have been modified. The greatest cause fo; complaint appears to be in the clerical division, and the chief basis of complaint is that the officers have not the means of gaining access to the administrative heads of the Department, who are situated six hundred miles away in Melbourne. Ob stacles are said to be placed in the way of their getting their grievances under; the notice of the Public Service Commissioner or his responsible lieutenants. Therefore the officers in Sydney are labouring under a sense of injustice. Time after time representations have been furnished to the PostmasterGeneral, in which allegations as to the undermanned condition of the service have been made. The first of these reports of recent datewas furnished in March, 1906. It was stated at that time that in three months from the 1st of January, something like 5,000 hours overtime had been worked bv the clerical staff. A later report was furnished in June of the same year, which revealed that a similar condition of things prevailed. The chief officer at the Sydney General Post Office stated that the staff was quite inadequate to cope with the work, and that the overworking of officers had resulted in a serious impairment of their health. We may take it that as those facts are stated by officers in a position of responsibility, they are not likely to be exaggerated. And indeed the heads of Departments themselves, with their onerous duties and heavy responsibilities, are probably as much overworked as any of their subordinates, and have to bear an ever increasing load of worry and anxiety. In a third report, three months later, it was shown that the number of hours overtime worked by the clerical branch - exclusive of those employed in the mail and telegraph branches - was 8,000 hours. Since then, conditions have been going from bad to worse. It is stated in the Sydney Morning H erald article that the men in thirteen branches of the Clerical Division, at the General Post Office, Sydney, have worked 32,000 hours overtime between 1st January and 31st August of this year - equivalent to 869 weeks of official labour. That is surely a deplorable and disgraceful state of affairs.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– Another practice that prevails in the Department is that although the official hours of work are supposed tobe from 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on week days, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, the officers are now required to work from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. on weekdays, and from 9 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. on Saturdays.
– The Public Service Act made that alteration.
– It means that an hour a day has been added on to the work of these men without extra pay. They are compelled to work an extra six hours per week, and that is not counted as part of their overtime.
– I assure the honorable member that it is counted in the overtime.
– Of course I must accept the Minister’s assurance, but I have been otherwise informed. One of the most serious of the allegations in the Sydney Morning Herald article is this, that there is a system of alleged terrorism prevailing
Over the whole Department official terrorism exists. The employes are forbidden to open their mouth to any press representative. Even the officials of the Post Office . Associations are similarly gagged, and the Deputy PostmasterGeneral will not speak on anv particular subject to a press representative, and when requested for a statement of affairs in Sydney refers the reporter to Melbourne.
– A very good thing - not to let the press overrun the Department.
-I can understand that it would, be highly undesirable to allow unrestricted- communication with the press in regard to departmental business which is more or less of a confidential character - I do not find fault with that; but it is alleged that terrorism exists in the Post Office.
– The officers did not say a word to me about terrorism when I met them.
– The Minister will understand that I am not making any charges, but simply drawing attention to charges which have been made by a reputable newspaper - the Sydney Morning Herald - in an article which was written after a representative had been sent specially to investigate various matters.
– I ask honorable members to desist from conversing across the chamber.
– The article continues -
The men recognise that a certain amount of Sunday labour is necessary, but ask that it be kept down to absolute necessity, and where an official is required for Sunday duty he should in all cases be paid for it. Time off on another day they object, to, as such a system, they claim, simply entails extra- duty on some one else. In the Sydney office there are two ormore of the night staff off each night in lieu of Sunday. The whole or a portion of their work is done by a similar number of the day staff doing “overtime.” Sometimes this may be only a couple of hours; sometimes it runs into five or six hours, making the total shift len or eleven hours, which is performed without a break.
I know that the Postmaster-General has not been sufficiently long in office to be able to deal satisfactorily with the various complaints. I believe he has a desire to see that the conditions which have been a source of frequent complaint for so long a period shall be mitigated, and that something like decency, order, and fair conditions of employment shall prevail in that branch of the Public Service. But. I remind him that only recently the Deputy Postmaster-General, after going through all his branches, and no doubt trying to do with as few men as he could, said that it was necessary to have at least 600 additional hands to cope with the work in order to givehim an opportunity to meet and overcome the evils complained of. Instead of getting those 600 additional men, provision has been made for only 267. I know that that is so, because the Postmaster-General gave me that information in reply to a question I asked a little time ago. If the Deputy Postmaster-General says that 600 additional officers are necessary to cope with the work, no less than that number should have been provided for him, because I take it that all the administrative heads in Sydney are men who are competent to hold their positions, and who would not dream, of asking for a greater number of men than are sufficient to deal with the work. The Christmas holidays are approaching - and that is the busiest season of the year - and unless something is done immediately to relieve the congestion of work and to improve the conditions of labour, there is every prospect of the whole Department breaking down from stress of overwork. It may be that a great many of the matters complained of are due to want of system in the working of the Department. In this article it is complained that matters which might be settled in two or three minutes, by going into an office next door to interview the head of a Department, cannot be settled in that way, but that a great amount of work is entailed upon the officers by the system of red-tapeism which prevails, and which necessitates so much correspondence with Melbourne. In that way an immense amount of work is put upon the shoulders of the officers which otherwise might be avoided. As the article states, instead of walking into an adjoining room to consult the chief, the officers have to write many letters and reports for Melbourne before they can obtain an answer. It goes on to say -
It is estimated that in some branches the additional work caused by the present system amounts to 50 per cent., and in others to 30 per cent. Yet the staff is not correspondingly increased.
– I can assure the honorable member that I am increasing the responsibilities of the Deputy PostmastersGeneral, and trying to reduce that correspondence with Melbourne.
– The honorable gentleman will understand that I am in no way reflecting upon his administration of the Department. I give him credit for being anxious to institute a better . condition of things. I remind the Treasurer that he is credited with being very largely responsible for the present position by refusing to make sufficient provision on the Estimates to meet the requirements said to be necessary by the departmental heads.
– I shall take all the responsibility.
– What I ask the honorable gentleman to do is to consider the efficiency of the service.
– I have my own opinion about the efficiency of the service, and the work which has to be done. I have been in the Sydney General Post Office two or three times.
– Possibly the honorable gentleman may know more about the working of that Department than I do, as he has been in public life very much longer than I have been.
– As I have been there two or three times, I ought to know a good deal about the work done there.
– But is that statement not a reflection on the competency of the officers in charge, who have been there for many years? It seems to me that the whole subject of the administration of the Post and Telegraph Service - in New South Wales, if not throughout the Commonwealth, ought to be inquired into by a Commission, because these complaints have been general, and the dissatisfaction has been prevalent over a wide area.
– It is the best paid and easiest service in the world.
– That is called in question.
– There is. no question about it.
– It is called in question, not in one State or city alone, but all over the Commonwealth. I have heard honorable members representing different States and different parts of States making complaints of various kinds in connexion with this Department. It has been said that in the Customs Department similar conditions prevail, though not to anything like the same extent. How true that statement is I do not know. . I feel that I have had sufficient justification, even at this hour, in drawing the attention of the Committee to the allegations, and I do so with the fervent hope that steps will be speedily taken to prevent this congestion, and to try to give more assistance, in view of the near approach of the Christmas holidays, and the consequent large increase of the work.
– I shall take no notice of an article of that kind which appears in the Sydney Morning Herald.
– Then the Treasurer must take the full responsibility for any break-down that may occur.
– I did not know of the existence of this Supply Bill until a copy was put into my hand a short time ago. I do not think it is fair to ask honorable members to pass at this hour of the night Supply amounting to £704,457 - nearly three-quarters of a million. The contingencies alone come to between £135,000 and £140,000, or, roughly, 25 per cent, of the whole sum. I wish for information in regard to many of the amounts, and especially in regard to the miscellaneous expenditure in division 16, under the Department of External Affairs ?
– The honorable member cannot deal with the details of the Bill until it is being considered in Committee.
– It would save time if I said now what I have to say ; but I bow to your ruling, sir, and, later on, as each item comes up, I shall have something to say about it.
– The honorable member was not here about two weeks ago, when an exactly similar Supply Bill was introduced, and the question of contingencies dealt with. I did not make an explanation to-night, because I made one on the previous occasion.
– As I am here to-night, I wish to know all about the Bill. My constituents sent me here to guard their interests, and I wish to know why the money is to be spent. It will be useless to discuss these items on the general Estimates, because, if we do, the Treasurer will say, “ You have already voted the money in the various Supply Bills.” By passing these Bills we are tying our hands, and voting money without knowing how it is to be spent. I have hardly left the chamber since the House met at 2.30 yesterday afternoon; but I have not heard a word of explanation from the Treasurer.
– I explained the matter at some length on a former occasion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That Mr. Chairman do leave the chair, and report the resolution to the House.
– Before you report to the House, sir, I wish to know from the Treasurer what is the total amount set down for contingencies, and what is the explanation of the proposed expenditure, on the investigation of tropical diseases, and under other heads, in division 16?
– The honorable member must wait until the Bill has been introduced and is in Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the Standing Orders be suspended in order to enable all steps to be taken to obtain Supply, and to pass a Supply Bill through all . its stages without delay.
– I wish to know from the Treasurer if he is prepared to give me the information for which I have asked?
– Yes; directly we get into Committee on the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means, covering resolution of Supply, adopted.
That Sir William Lyne and Mr. Mauger do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir William Lyne, and read a first time.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I, like other honorable members, wish to enter my protest against the slipshod manner in which the Government does its business.
– The Chairman of Committees protesting 1
– I have as much right as any other honorable member to protest. In the fourteen or fifteen years during which I have been in political life Ihave not seen business conducted in such a slip- shod manner.
– I could say much the same thing about the manner in which the Chairman of Committees conducts his business.
– I do not care what the Treasurer says.
– I like fair play.
– I shall deal fairly with the honorable member. I have never seen a Minister conduct the business of the House in the manner in which he has conducted it, and if I, as Chairman of Committees, do my work as badly, I hope that some honorable member will be honest enough to tell me, so that I may retire from the position. If the Minister thinks, that he can throw off at me, he will find that I can throw off at him.
– I do not want any remarks from the honorable sparrow.
– I have certain duties to perform, and I am going to per- form them, whether the Minister or any one else likes it or not. We are approaching Christmas, and the Government have never yet made a legitimate attempt to get through the business in proper order. They have allowed honorable members to take their own course in a manner that has not been creditable to the House or to the Government. Honorable members have been kept sitting here for a very long time, and it looks as if the session would last for the whole year. When we come back after the Christmas adjournment of a month or six weeks, or whatever it may be, the chances are a hundred to one that the business will continue to be conducted in the same loose way, and we shall continue to sit until the end of the financial year. Eight months of the Supply required for the current financial year will have been passed when this Bill is dealt with, and it means that we are practically giving the Government a free hand for the next three or four months. If we meet in February next, the Government will have no other alternative but to come down with another Supply Bill, and if they then ask for two months’ Supply ten months of the Supply required for the year will have been granted before we shall have been given an opportunity to consider the Estimates at all. I question very much whether such a state of affairs ever before existed in any Parliament in Australia. I enter my protest against this method of doing business, which is not creditable to the Parliament or to the Government.
– I cannot allow the very unfair remarks which the honorable member has made to pass without reply.
– Perhaps the honorable gentleman will show in what way they are unfair.
– The honorable member has made remarks which every other honorable member present will admit have been absolutely beside the mark. He has said that he never knew such a length of time to be occupied in dealing with the Tariff. I have here a calculationas to the number of days occupied in considering a certain proportion of the Tariff in 1902, and we have been only two-thirds of the time dealing with nearly twice as much of the present Tariff.
– The first was a new Tariff that was considered for the first time by the Federal Parliament.
– Still, the honorable member has had the conscience to make a statement which I have been very much surprised to hear him make.
– That does not trouble me.
– If the honorable member’s observations had been just or reasonable I should have takenno exception to them; but I am not going to sit silent under the bounce of the honorable member.
– When I begin to bounce the honorable gentleman will have reason to talk.
– The honorable member cannot know how unfair his remarks have been. No member of the House has attended more assiduously to his duties than I have done; and no Minister ever carried a Tariff so far through this Parliament in the same time. What, then, has the honorable member been talking about? He has said that honorable members have been allowed to do as they liked: I could not prevent honorable members from talking, though I have tried to do so in everv possible way. I have controlled my temper, and restrained myself in a way that I scarcely thought I would have been able to do, while the long talk has been going on, and the honorable member for Kennedv has had no justification whatever for any of the statements he has made. If the honorable member were to tell the truth, I would not mind, but in his heart he must know, as well as I do, that what he said to-night about me is absolutely wide of the mark.
– I shall say it again, because I believe it.
– Then no one will take the slightest notice of the honorable member if he does. If he will inquire into the matter himself he will see that I am correct in the statement that I make - that the previous Tariff was- not carried as far by a half as I have been able to carry the present Tariff in the same period.
– The previous Government had a fighting Opposition to contend with.
– What I have had to contend with few know ; but I feel that in most cases honorable members have been very considerate, in view of the peculiar position in which we find ourselves at the present time, with so many parties in this House. I can scarcely, think the honorable member is in his right mind to make such an attack upon me.
– Surely that is absolutely unjust.
-The remarks which the honorable member has made in reference to me have been the most unwarranted I have ever heard in this House.
– I may be a fool, and I know it, but you are a fool and do not know it.
– Order !
– I thank the honorable member very much for his courtesy. In reference to the matter referred to by the honorable member for Maranoa, the information for which he has asked was given when the last Supply Bill_ was being considered, only three or four weeks ago. I did not know that the honorable member was not present on that occasion. If he had been, he would have remembered what was stated at the time. When we get into Committee presently I shall be very glad to give the honorable member all the information I can, especially in regard to the question of contingencies, which was the principal question raised by the deputy leader of the Opposition when the last Supply Bill was being considered.
– Will the honorable gentleman also reply to this attack, when we get into Committee?
– I do not wish to say any more about it. Perhaps I should not have taken any notice of it; but I really felt very much hurt by the remarks which the honorable member made.
– The honorable member does not look hurt.
– I cannot sit quietly under anything of that . kind. I felt very much hurt at the uncalled-for attack which was made upon me.
– The Chairman of Committees is entitled to be given a “ show.”
– I must ask honorable members to have some regard for the dignity of the House. These apparent attempts to stir up ill-feeling are most undignified.
– Am I to understand, sir, that you are referring to me?
– Does the honorable member object to my ruling?
– I did not know it was a ruling; I thought it was merely a remark.
– I have ruled that the remarks which have been made by three or four honorable members are undignified and out of place. If the honorable member for Dalley thinks he is guilty, I am prepared to accept his apology.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses1 to 4 agreed to.
– I forget at the moment the particular items the honorable member for Maranoa referred to.
– I wish to obtain some information chiefly about the votes for contingencies, which amount to from £135,000 to £140,000.
– If the honorable member had a copy of the Estimates before him he would see that . the contingencies required for each Department are clearly set out. The votes tor contingencies in these Supply Bills are merely appropriations in respect of the votes for contingencies set out in the Estimates in chief, and in this Bill the amounts ask for represent the proper proportion of total votes stated in the Estimates to cover requirements for two months. If the honorable member refers to the Estimates in connexion with each Department, he will see what these contingencies represent. There is nothing to which honorable members can object. Upon the last occasion that a Supply Bill was under consideration, the honorable member for Parramatta asked a similar question. In reply, a number of items were enumerated in the various Departments, and he was shown how the various amounts were made up. Take, for instance, the item relating. to the development of Papua. A number of important works have been recommended by the Commissioner of Lands and approved by the Acting Administrator. These could not be approved without a special grant, and that is why the item appears here. Then there is an item relating to the investigation of tropical diseases. The money provided in that connexion represents the third annual contribution required during a period of five years.
– What does the item relating to the advance of the study of diseases mean?
– It relates to an institute to be formed in connexion with the Townsville Hospital. It was the Bishop of North Queensland who suggested it. The University of Sydney has already contributed £100 to it, and the Universities of Melbourne and Adelaide combined have contributed £150. Everything in the shape of contingencies is to be found in the Estimatesinchief.
.I ask the Treasurer if any provision is made in this Bill for improving the ventilation of this chamber ? If the Government are in earnest about the matter, I think that some amount should have been included in these Estimates.
– The matter is being dealt with by Mr. Speaker. If money is required for the purpose it will be provided from the Treasurer’s advance.
– There is one item in these Estimates which ought to be explained - I refer to the proposed vote of £5,000 towards the development of Papua. Some time ago a Commission was appointed to investigate affairs in the Territory, and according to the report of that body its administration was not very satisfactory. Honorable members should be informed what the Government propose to do in connexion with that report. Is the House to be invited to consider the grave matters discussed by the Commission in question? Then there is an item of £200 provided in connexion with the Federal Capital site. I should like to know what that expenditure is for?
– It is intended to cover the cost of the trip to Canberra.
Mr. Mcwilliams (Franklin) [12.57 a m.] - . The question of the development of Papua, to which the honorable member for Calare called attention, is a very important one. Over two years ago the Prime Minister promised to make inquiries into the deathrate among the blacks employed upon the mines there. At that time the mortality was nearly equal to 26 per cent., which is by far the heaviest death-rate amongst working men in the known world. Since the Prime Minister gave that promise Mr. Atlee Hunt has reported upon the state of affairs in Papua, but he made no inquiry whatever into that aspect of the question. The Royal Commission which was appointed to investigate the administration of the Territory gave it no consideration. After reading its report one thing struck me very forcibly. Previously I had been under the impression that Captain Barton had not acted in the best interests of New Guinea, but a perusal of the evidence satisfied me that he was sacrificed because he attempted to protect the blacks from those who sought to take advantage of them.
– He was no administrator.
– The evidence tendered to the Royal Commission shows that a complete set was made against him because he attempted to protect the natives from those who desired to deprive them of the privileges which they ought to enjoy.
– Anybody who reads the evidence and declares that the services of Captain Barton ought to have been retained must be prejudiced.
– It is a singular circumstance that officers who sat at Captain Barton’s table, and partook of his hospitality and divulged private conversations to condemn Captain Barton have been promoted. The Administration of New Guinea is discreditable to the Commonwealth. One of the witnesses before the Commission complained of Captain Barton because he refused to grant permission to certain persons to disperse the blacks with shot-guns. Before one penny is voted in connexion with the development of New Guinea, the Government’ should make a complete statement upon this matter, especially as to the control of the natives, in the care of whom a great responsibility rests upon the Commonwealth Parliament. These statements have been made publicly, but the Government have never attempted to make the slightest inquiry into the charges preferred by their own officers. The honorable member for Melbourne and myself went into the figures, and showed that the death-rate among the natives was appalling. The Prime Minister promised that an inquiry would be made. Two investigations have been held into the affairs of Papua, but not the slightest information has been given to the House on that subject. Before we pass further money for the administration of Papua, a complete investigation should take place, and the Government should show clearly that a great improvement is being made in the control of the affairs of the Territory.
– Does the honorable member desire to cripple the present Administrator in the meantime?
– I have no desire to do so; but for over two years information has been coming from the wardens on the gold-fields, announcing the high death-rate of natives, but the Government have taken absolutely no steps to put an end to it. It is time the Committee declared that before further moneys are voted, there must be an explanation from the Government, and some indication of a determination that the appalling deathrate amongst the blades shall be stopped. At one of the gold-fields the doctor said that it was more dangerous for the blacks to be employed there than it was for men to be engaged in the Russo-Japanese war, because the death-rate amongst the men working on that gold-field was greater than amongst the armies engaged in that deadly conflict. And still the Government have taken no steps whatever to inquire into the subject or put an end to the scandal. The thanks of the Committee are due to the honorable member who brought this subject forward. There should be a complete investigation into the question of the control of the natives, especially ofthose who are working for the princely sum of £6 a year, while fines are deducted for every little offence that they commit, with the result that often, after their year’s labour, the poor wretches go home with practically no wages to draw at all. The condition of the blacks in Papua working on some of the gold-fields under the control of this Parliament is in some respects infinitely worse than that of the Chinese on the Rand, and we are talcing no notice of it.
– I observe an item of £5,300 “ to reimburse the States the cost of carrying out the provisions of the Commerce Act 1905.” It strikes me that that Act is beginning to be very expensive. Will the Treasurer state whether that sum represents the disbursements for the whole year, or, if not, for how much of the year, and in what proportion and under what conditions it is paid to the States. I have never yet heard a statement from the Minister in this matter.
– If the honorable member will allow me, I shall be very glad to explain. After the Commerce Act was passed, I did not desire to interfere any more than was absolutely necessary with the work that was being done by the States. I therefore made an’ arrangement for the States to carry on the work, and they are now doing it. They are carrying out the Commerce Act, to a certain extent under the direction of the Federal Government, in that they cannot make any appointments or do anything without the consent of the Federal Parliament, but a claim was made that the States officers hi doing Federal work were taking the place of officers whom the Federal Government would otherwise have to appoint, and therefore I agreed to pay the salaries of such officers when employed in this work. Some officers are doing partly State work and partly Federal work. This item is a part of the total amount, which in all comes’ to £11,000, or £12,000 a year.
– That is pretty stiff, is it not?
– The States demanded an increased sum after I made the arrangement with them.
– How many States does it apply to?
– To all the States which are carrying out the Act, including Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales. I do not know whether Queensland is being paid at the present time, but it will be paid if it demands payment. The total payment in the case of New South Wales comes to between £3,000 and £4,000 a year, and the amount is about the same in Victoria.
– For both imports and exports?
– It is for carrying out the Commerce Act, so far as that is necessary in addition to the work done by the Customs Department. The administration of Papua is not in my Department, and I do not know what has reallybeen done, but I remember that the Prime Minister intended to make a statement with reference to certain matters connected with the general management of the Territory. All I can say now is that I will bring the remarks of the honorable member for Franklin under the notice of the Prime Minister, who will doubtless be able to give whatever information he possesses within a reasonable time.
.- I desire to urge upon the Postmaster-General the necessity of putting under way . as soon as possible the proposed erection of the new trunk telephone line to Katoomba. There is at present an absolute break-down in the work of the line. Although the season has not yet properly commenced, even now anybody who wishes to use the telephone line between Katoomba and Sydney has to wait at least an hour, and sometimes as long as two hours, before he can , get connected with
Sydney. I was at Katoomba the other day, and ran across a very irate subscriber, who had been trying for over an hour to get on to his Sydney office.” He told me that a matter of over £100 depended on his getting the connexion before 12 o’clock that day. No one knows better than the late Postmaster-General that what I say about the Katoomba telephone service is true. There is an absolute failure to realize the wants or to satisfy the desires of the people in the matter of telephonic communication.. One man who uses the telephone frequently, and whose payments to the Department amount to between £40 and £50 a year, told me that he had kept a check of 100 calls within the last month or two - and, as I said, this is not the busy season - and in over seventy of those cases he had to wait for an hour or more before he could get Sydney. On Saturdays it. is absolutely impossible to get Sydney at all. The people of Katoomba have been promised over and over again a telephone trunk line for their own service. There are eleven different lines cutting into their line at the present time.-
– Is the line paying?
– It is, absolutely. Those who desire the new line offered to guarantee, two years ago, a 10. per cent, return, and the Government were so satisfied that the line would pay that they agreed to construct it without a guarantee. If the line I suggest be erected within the next month or so, one-third of the cost will be returned during the busy season. I also desire to draw, attention to the fact that one man is expected to do all the repairing between, I think, Bathurst and Penrith, and also to erect . all new telephones. In Lithgow subscribers have been waiting for two months, and at Wentworth Falls for as long ‘ as four months, in order to be connected. The whole position is absolutely chaotic. The same complaint in reference to the delay in connecting with Sydney applies also to the Lithgow line. At present the whole of the Lithgow users are put on the Bathurst line, which has to carry thirteen or fourteen important exchanges, including Orange, Blayney, Portland, and other centres. I know from experience that it takes pretty well an hour to get connexion with Lithgow at the present time. I trust that the PostmasterGeneral , will give immediate consideration to the matters I have placed before him.
.- I should like to ask the Treasurer whether the Government are taking steps to test in the High Court the question whether the States Governments can have duties remitted on their importations, and also, what action the Commonwealth Government are taking in connexion with the Carruthers episode, when wire-netting was taken from the Customs Department?
– The Commonwealth Crown Solicitor and the State Crown Solicitor of New South Wales are endeavouring to arrange to have a special case, if possible, laid for decision before the High Court. There is a series of cases arising out of the seizure of wire-netting, as to the liability of an individual, purporting to act under State authority, in taking out of the control of the Customs certain goods without the sanction of the Department.
– Why is Mr. Carruthers not treated in the same way as any other private person
– The action taken is correct. The facts of the case can be admitted, and the legality of the action is proposed to be tested in a case stated to the High Court. In regard to the other question, a case is also being stated to decide the question whether the Commonwealth has power to tax goods imported by the States Governments. This matter will be dealt with at the earliest possible date.
– That question is not raised by the wire-netting episode.
– The point has been in suspense for some years. In 1904, the State Government of New South Wales agreed to an action, in order to test the matter. Even so late as two or three weeks before the seizure of wire-netting there was. a letter written by the State authorities referring to action to test the legality of what had been done.
– Is there not a judgment of the State Full Court against the Commonwealth ?
– That judgment cannot be taken as final as against the Commonwealth as a whole.
– The Commonwealth has slept under the judgment.
– The States have slept under it.
– A promise was given by the State of New South Wales to test the matter. The position is that a case will probably be stated, and will come on for decision in the High Court.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) pro posed -
That the House at its rising adjourn until half -past ii o’clock this day.
– I object to the proposal to alter the hour of meeting.
– If there is any objection, as I do not desire to keep honorable members here to debate the matter, I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to draw attention to a function which took place in one of the rooms of Parliament House on Thursday last. This, I understand, was a gathering brought together by a member of the Labour Party, and I desire to ask whether instructions have been given by yourself, Mr. Speaker, or the President of another place, stating whom honorable members may, and whom they may not, entertain. I ask this guestion because I, in common with other honorable members, have no desire to transgress the rules of the House. I know that the member of the Labour Party who gave that function had no desire whatever to transgress the privileges enjoyed by a member of this House. It is a remarkable fact that, on the very first occasion on which a Labour member gave a function of the kind, attention was drawn to it in another place, though no mention was made, and no objection was taken to, a function which was of a political character pertaining to the opposite side in politics. I believe that the Treasurer attended the luncheon in question. I know that the Mavor of
Richmond and some of the councillors were present. I have never heard that their sympathies are identical with those of the honorable member for Coolgardie.. I might refer to another function which took, place a little while ago, when the wives of honorable members belonging to a certain political party in this Parliament were the hostesses.
– No one objected to it.
– But I understand that certain restrictions are now to be plated upon honorable members with regard to entertaining their friends. I am sure that no one desires to transgress the privileges which we enjoy. It is a remarkable thing that this objection should have been taken to a function given by a Labour member when no objection was taken to previous functions, some of which were unquestionably of a political character. This particular affair was not political. I shall be very glad, Mr. Speaker, if you will state whether any arrangement has been arrived at, and whether instructions have been issued, limiting the privileges of honorable members. We ought to know exactly how we stand. I feel sure that if the Treasurer chooses to say a word or two he will acknowledge that what I have said is true, namely, that the function in question was not political in its character.
– I desire to direct the attention of the honorable member to the notice-paper for to-day, where he will see that a meeting of the Joint House Committee is summoned for noon in the President’s room. I understand that part of the business which that meeting will consider will be whether regulations shall be made, and, if so, of what character, in reference to persons, who are not members of Parliament, receiving hospitality within Parliament House.
– I was present at the function referred to by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I was introduced there to Mr. Snowball, so that I do not think it can be said to have been a gathering of a political character.
– That is not the first time the honorable gentleman has been on friendly terms with people belonging to a certain body.
– It was the first time I ever met Mr. Snowball, I saw no harm in the gathering. The honorable member for Coolgardie asked me to join him, and there certainly was nothing political in the function - not in any sense of the term.
– It certainly was not a gathering of a party character.
– I said a few words about defence, and that is about all. I do think that it was an extraordinary thing for notice to be taken of the affair in another place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1.25 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 November 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19071120_reps_3_41/>.