4th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. JENSEN presented a petition from certain Tasmanian fruit-growers, praying for the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the export, transport, receiving, and marketing of fruit and fruit products.
Petition read and received.
– In connexion with the petition just presented, I ask the Prime Minister if there is any constitutional difficulty in the way of arranging with the Government of South Africa for a State line of steam-ships to serve the Commonwealth and South Africa?
– In the absence of the Attorney-General, I am not able to reply to the honorable member on the point of law involved in his question, but so far as I am concerned there is no political difficulty.
– It appears from this morning’s newspapers that the Prime Minister has stated that negotiations are proceeding in regard to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, and that there is a better hope of a satisfactory arrangement being made with South Australia. Will the right honorable gentleman, if he possesses information not already given to honorable members, make it available to us ?
– All I said to the representatives of the press was that I am confirmed in the opinion previously ex- . pressed, that there will be no difficulty in arranging with South Australia and Western Australia before the session closes regarding the commencement of the proposed railway from both ends.
– And the granting of the necessary land.
– I think so.
– Has the attention of the Minister of External Affairs been drawn to an article in last night’s Herald, from its London correspondent, wherein it is stated that the Agents- General are unable to do more to promote . immigration, owing to the lack ‘of accommodation on vessels coming ‘ to Australia ? It is stated that they waited on the High Commissioner, and that he, having pointed out some of the difficulties in the way of the Commonwealth, promised to make the case known to the Minister of External Affairs. Has the Minister received any representations from him, and, if so, what action has been taken on them?
– I have not received any representations on the subject.
– Will the Minister of External Affairs explain why there was published in last week’s Commonwealth Gazette an order prohibiting the introduction into Bathurst and Melville Islands of stock from other parts of the Commonwealth? What diseases are prevalent among the stock of theCommonwealth which are not to be found on Bathurst and Melville Islands?
– I understand that there are no diseases on either Bathurst or Melville Islands, though I regret that diseases exist on the mainland tick, for instance, in the Northern Territory. The prohibition has been made with a view to keeping these islands free of disease.
– Has the attention of the Postmaster-General been drawn to the following telegram from Melbourne in the West Australian of the 29th ult. -
The Government has received a notification from the Marconi Company that it is taking steps to protect its wireless rights, and that the system contracted for by the Commonwealth is considered to be an infringement of these rights.
– The honorable member drew my attention to the paragraph, but I do not know what it means. With regard to wireless telegraphy, I should like notice of questions, unless on very direct subjects.
– Is it proposed to establish a wireless telegraph station at Brisbane, and, if so, are negotiations in progress for the selection of a site ?
– It is intended that ultimately a station shall be established at Brisbane, but the four stations to be proceeded with first are Melbourne, Hobart, Port Moresby, and Cooktown, or Thursday Island.
– Is it a fact that the Postmaster-General has received notice from the Marconi Company that it intends to protect its rights here?
– Yes, but that portion of the paragraph which relates to the Australian infringement I do not understand.
– Perhaps they do, though.
Hiking of Horses - Area Officers - Aviation
– On the 25th November the honorable member for North Sydney asked a question relating to the hiring of horses for field artillery work. The following reply is now to hand : -
The Minister for Defence is aware that horses have been hired for some of the Field Artillery batteries in New South Wales since the commencement of the purchase of horses.
The purchase of the horses required for Militia batteries is nearly completed, and about one half are broken in, but the depot for their maintenance near Sydney is not yet complete. Arrangements are in course of completion by which these horses will be made available, not only for Militia Field Artillery, but for other arms, and the hiring of horses avoided as much as possible.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether he has yet considered the representations made here concerning the remuneration paid to area officers, and, if not, whether he will do so, and make a statement to the House before the session closes ?
– I shall ask the Minister of Defence if he is prepared to make a statement before the House rises.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Postmasters’ Hours - Telephone Lines
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
South Wales supposed to observe daily?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
– On the 8th December the honorable member for Richmond asked the following questions : -
The answers to the questions are as follow : -
On the 7th December the honorable member for Eden-Monaro received an interim reply to his question -
What is causing the delay in constructing the telephone line between Braidwood and Nerriga?
The following is the reply now supplied : -
The erection of this line has been awaiting the arrival of wire, on order, and the Deputy Postmaster-General, Sydney, has been instructed to purchase substitute wire, if any is available locally.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will have a return prepared showing the prices paid in London during the last three years for Australian, New Zealand, and Danish butter?
asked the Treasurer, upon notice - 1, What amount has been received for Commonwealth notes up to the 30th November, 191 1 ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
November, 1911, £9,883.969.
New South Wales Funded Stock, £1 ,000,000, due 10th August, 1919, at 3$ per cent, per annum.
Victorian Government Debentures (face value, £1,000,000), £980,000, due 1st May, 1921, at 35 per cent, per annum.
Western Australian Stock, £650,000, due 1st January, 1926, at 3! per cent, per annum.
Tasmanian Inscribed Stock, £470,000, due 1st April, 1921, to 1st October, 1921, at 3 J per cent, per annum.
Fixed Deposit with State Government of New South Wales, £1,000,000, due 13th to 21st June, 1912, at 3 per cent, per annum.
Total - £4,100,000.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
If, in view of the fact that in New South Wales, by the workmen’s weekly tickets, a passenger can travel second class a distance of 408 miles for the sum of 4s. 2d., and in Victoria, with a similar ticket, 240 miles for 3s. 4d., will he communicate with the Ministers for Railways for New South Wales and Victoria with a request to run a weekly second class train between Melbourne and Sydney, and charge fares based upon those fixed in New South Wales for workmen’s weekly tickets?
– The The following is the reply to the question : -
It is understood that workmen’s weekly tickets are only granted within a radius of about 20 miles, and where there is a frequent and wellpatronized train service. This is done to enable workmen to travel daily to and from their homes, which would manifestly be impossible between Melbourne and Sydney. The Railway authorities cannot, I understand, afford to grant such, fares in connexion with long-distance trains.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to each question is “ No.”
Minimum Salaries - Transferred Officers
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
– On the 8th December the honorable member for Lang asked the following questions : -
How many officers have been transferred to the Department of Trade and Customs in New South Wales-
How many of those officers transferred accordingly from the Post and Telegraph Department passed either the Federal Public Service examination or the transfer . examination prescribed by the Public Service Regulations for promotion from the General to the Clerical Division?
Have any of the New South Wales Customs officers suffered in seniority by the transfer of postal officials? If so, how many?
The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following information : - 1. (a) Eighty-eight;
Mr. KING O’MALLEY laid upon the table the following paper -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land disposed of, Saleyards, Perth, W.A.
Debate resumed from 5th December (vide page 3686) on motion by Mr. Thomas -
That this House approves of the purchase of the following site, and the erection of a permanent building thereon for Commonwealth offices, viz. : - That part of the London County Council’s property included within the Strand’, Aldwych, and Melbourne-place, London.
– I beg to congratulate the Government upon having brought to a conclusion the inquiries and negotiations which have been proceeding for nearly seven years. From the very establishment of the Commonwealth it was always recognised as one of the essentials that we should be represented in London, and on a fitting scale. This was due first to the dignity of the Commonwealth, and secondly it presented opportunities of which we were always anxious to avail ourselves of assisting the isolated efforts of the State Governments in different fields. This is not the place, nor have I the desire to make any reflection on the oversea management of
Australian affairs in the past, although some comment is necessary to indicate that, notwithstanding the endeavours of the States, notwithstanding our own efforts during the last six or seven years, there has been no successful grappling abroad with the main interests of Australia. Although the States have been working in harmony, so far as that could be secured by regular meetings of their representatives, the harmony has been imperfect, and it is certain that a great deal of the work done by the offices of the Agents- General has been duplicated at unnecessary expense. Moreover, it has been less effective than is desirable. No doubt critics at this distance should refrain from saying more. We are all willing to believe that these gentlemen, placed in a somewhat anomalous position, have done their best in trying circumstances. A good deal has been achieved, though only in a partial way, for which we are indebted to them. It is not quite natural to expect that the occupants of these offices will now prepare to commit the happy despatch, and no one desires that they should. Still, it is desirable that some friendly arrangement should be made by which there will be a closer and better cooperation than has yet been achieved in which the expense ratio will be reduced, and which1 will, in addition, afford the Commonwealth a proper opportunity of throwing its whole weight behind the endeavours which are put forward by the representatives of the States in their own interests. I admit that this is a work calling for a good deal of diplomacy and for mutual concessions ; but, for my own part, I doubt if we could have had as the representative of Australia a better man, or one more qualified by nature and by practice, for composing differences amongst those with whom he is working, or by whom he is surrounded. I think we can safely rely on Sir George Reid to do all that the Commonwealth seeks in this regard.
Amongst the first responsibilities by which we are faced is undoubtedly that of housing the Commonwealth representatives in London. This work was commenced, as I have said, seven or eight years ago, and assumed a practical shape, I think, in 1906.
– I - It was 1905.
– I do not remember the proposition of 1905, except that it was of a very general character. At any rate, we commenced about 1905 or 1906 ; though the first occasion on which, so far as I recollect, still speaking from memory, any definite proposal was laid before Parliament was in 1907. This was after there had been an opportunity of inspecting several sites under the conditions on which they were then offered. We recommended to Parliament, and could have carried here, a proposal to establish Commonwealth offices in Aldwych. I now recollect that the Minister of Home Affairs is right ; there was previously a proposal in regard to Aldwych in connexion with a vote °f £1,000 submitted in order to test the feeling of both Chambers. The proposal then, however, was to acquire only one part of the site. What was always felt to be the grave objection to the project as a whole was the refusal of the London County Council to part with the freehold. Although we were satisfied of the possibilities of the position, it was most unwillingly that we undertook, and rather doubtfully that the House nearly accepted, a proposal which would have left us tenants for a long term of years. However, that proposal commended itself because we felt the urgency of taking some action. As we did not take the opportunity to acquire that site, it was then supposed we should be compelled to choose elsewhere; but there can be no doubt that the Aldwych piece of land had very great recommendations. It is one of the few blocks consisting, so to speak, of an island surrounded bv highways, and capable of being occupied by one building devoted to one purpose. At that time, however, we were negotiating for only a portion with a frontage to the Strand. Though thus limited, the area, no doubt, would have sufficed for many years, but there was another element which detracted from it at that particular time. After visiting London in 1907, and taking special opportunities afforded to investigate the available sites, and having regard to the fact that the London County Council still insisted on retaining the freehold at Aldwych, we entered into negotiations for what is known as the Trafalgar Square site.
– The site of Morley’s Hotel ?
– No; on the other side from Morley’s Hotel, close to the Charing Cross railway station, and almost opposite the Admiralty. This site, I still think, is the best in London as a means of advertisement and for actual convenience. The great attraction was that the site is freehold, though it was awkwardly shaped.
– I think we agreed to accept that site.
– I was mistaken in saying that this House agreed to accept that site. The proposal was negatived by another place, and we did not proceed with it.
– Speaking from memory, I should have said that the Minister of External Affairs was right in his first statement. As a matter of fact, we had the numbers here, but I have confused what was with what might have been had we proceeded. Trafalgar Square, I still submit, possesses many advantages which the Strand site does not. The Trafalgar Square site is passed every day by a greater stream’ of people than any other spot in London.
– In the world !
– That may- be. Trafalgar Square occupies an extraordinary position, which, however, it is unnecessary to describe, since we are not dealing with any site there. As it happens, owing to Charing Cross station, and to its central position, the hundreds of thousands of people who pass through the square every day furnishes one of the most astonishing spectacles in London. Of course, crowds can be found in the Strand and the narrower thoroughfares in London, where we find frequent blocks in the road traffic; Still, there is manifest congestion even in Trafalgar-square with all its exits and entrances.
– The honorable member should have seen it on the occasion of a Labour demonstration as I have when a young man !
– The defects of the Trafalgar Square area lay in the particular shape which would have made it somewhat difficult to expand the accommodation as required.
– Was there not some difficulty about the title?
– That difficulty was disposed of. Since then the situation has been entirely altered by the reluctant and tardy consent of the London County Council to part with the freehold of the Aldwych site, of which the Government now invite our acceptance. We must admit that this great area enjoys an exceptional position on the highway, equi-distant between the two best-advertised and bestknown sections of London - the city proper, where all the financial interests are centred, and the west end, where politics are centred and the Departments of the Government are gathered together. There we are in touch with many of the great shipping and other interests, so that, though it is not, perhaps, in itself as good as a site of equal size, either in the centre of the city or in the centre of Trafalgar Square, this block presents advantages impossible elsewhere except at a far higher figure than we are prepared to give. It appears to me the best site we are likely to obtain. On this site, always a conspicuous position in London, we may well be content to erect the building- to house our representative men in London, whose business it will be to study Australian interests at that centre. It will be confessed that we have been rather tardy both in our choice and in this action, especially when we take into account the extraordinary success of the efforts which have been put forward by the great Dominion of Canada during all the years that we have been idle.
– Were not the efforts which have been put forward those of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company ?
– In Canada the people have a Government which is entirely sympathetic, which lends its assistance to every possible agency for the development of its territory, year after year throwing the whole weight of its most experienced and able High Commissioner into the balance. But it has also the Canadian Pacific Railway Company - one of the greatest financial bodies represented, even in the city of London - which spares no expenditure and no advertisement to bring about the same result. To-day the second great trunk line of Canada is being constructed by the Dominion Government, thus increasing the man hunger and the woman hunger of the great Canadian West, where in the near future some millions of our people will be settled as prosperous land-owners.
With this great example before us and with the keen competition to which we shall then be exposed, it becomes necessary for Australia to enter into a scheme, which, I confess, at first sight, rather shocked me by reason of its seeming extravagance. To me, £600,000 appears a very large sum to invest upon London offices, especially when we consider that their adequate upkeep will involve a large annual outlay. But what braces one up to face this large expenditure is a glance at what Canada has done and at the reward which she has reaped. In that country, in spite of certain disabilities, the rate of progress is amazing. Even the influx of immigrants across the United States border has been in a large measure due to the success of Canada in her advertising schemes. She has shown the always open-eyed Americans a ready means of making money and of establishing homes. The day of this competition is by no means past, and is not likely to pass.
– The trusts of Australia are doing their best to prevent competition,
– They are doing their best to limit competition to that which can be beneficial to themselves. After all, there are trusts and trusts, and no particular line of industry of any size here is under the thumb of only one trust. Competition is not likely to cease. We have to pit ourselves in friendly fashion against our own relatives in the Empire if we are to secure our share of that stream of. British immigrants which will not be indefinitely continued, and which we must confess is partly stimulated by conditions in the Mother Country that are open to question.
We have no time to lose, and in these circumstances I think that this Parliament can be persuaded to approve of the proposal of the Government. I must confess that if we could have started operations on a smaller scale I should have preferred it. It seems to me, however, that the situation has been narrowed down by investigation, until the only choice we have to-day is between the smaller area, with its frontage to the Strand, and the whole area. There is no doubt that the 13,600 square feet which front the Strand represent, from an advertising point of view, by far the best portion of the whole block. The remainder of the site will front the new streets called into being by the London County Council - very fine and very handsome streets, but thoroughfares which do not carry a tithe of the population that flows to and fro along the Strand. Under these circumstances, although I cannot but grudge the money - although ‘ I cannot but feel that we are being committed to a lavish expenditurehaving in view the developments which we. are reasonably entitled to hope will at once follow, and the gradual expansion which, under ordinary circumstances, we may anticipate, I am of opinion that, from a national point of view, we should acquire the larger area.
The possibilities of our achievements in the Mother Country, as the result of our embarkation upon an active policy, are not shown merely in the case of Canada. They have been shown even more to our discredit - if I may be permitted to use that term - by the manner in which New Zealand, despite her small area and .population, has contrived to cut a figure in the Mother Country enabling her to appear as if she could offer the same opportunities for development as the whole of this continent. All credit is due to the active and energetic New Zealanders who have initiated and continued this policy, and who have managed to keep their Dominion to the front under good or ill circumstances. That country affords us an object-lesson of what can be accomplished even upon a relatively small scale.
The investment which is now proposed is, of course, somewhat speculative. But we cannot get rid of that element if we are to provide in advance for the possible and probable developments of the future. If our agency is to be truly Australian - that is to say, if it not only justifies the confidence of our people as a whole by the ability and vigilance with which it is conducted, but, if by judicious and friendly consideration, we are fortunate enough to enlist - as we ought to be able to enlist - the co-operation of the several State Governments with us in at least as much of this work as is common to them., we shall not only have set a good object-lesson in London as well as here, but we shall have united our forces in such a manner as to obtain the best possible results.
– Is there any necessity for State representation in London?
– Always. For instance, the States are great buyers of material for their railways.
– Before many years have passed the railways will be Commonwealth property.
– Possibly ; but in the meantime they are State property. In addition to that, the States are deeply interested in the sale of their citizens’ produce to the greatest advantage in the London market. Among the functions with which the Commonwealth is associated, this represents one of the most important to us from the £ s. d. point of view. In this matter there need be no exclusiveness. I am sure there would be no gain if we wiped the slate clean of all State activities and agencies in the Mother Country to concentrate them in ourselves. What we need is the true Federalism, which gives us the advantages of centralization in all matters calling for control, while encouraging the States to take up the smaller matters belonging to them as individual entities, into which the Commonwealth, being concerned in larger matters, cannot in a general way be expected to put the same amount of drive and interest.
– Do you look forward to the absolute permanence of the States as States ?
– The honorable member is, perhaps, alluding to the question of boundaries.
– Order !
– He is alluding to his proposal to wipe out the States.
– That question, into which I am not permitted to enter, depends on what you are going to do with your boundaries.
The best prospect possible for us to-day is to make the terms on which the States will place their offices in this building, in juxtaposition, to each other and to the Commonwealth, such as to encourage them to join us there. Thus every opportunity wilL be afforded for frequent and easy intercourse on all. matters of moment. In that regard the Government have made a very judicious offer, which, I trust, will be accepted. I understand it has been accepted by every State except Queensland, which has pointed out that the lease of her existing building runs many years ahead. However, a lease, especially of that duration, can be disposed of at any time on fair terms. There is plenty of time for the Queensland Government to consider its-“ decision during the erection of the structure. We are not obliged to have an answer off-hand to-day. We and they can afford to wait. I therefore take its reply merely as an intimation of one obstacle, which, I am satisfied, will be overcome long before we are able to offer anybody an actual home in the new building. Possibly some of us are still smarting under our recollections of the manner in which our overtures for Federal unity ,were received in many quarters, but, as these die away, we shall have, I hope, no motives of any kind for impairing the friendlier relations which we hope to see established, or for delaying the cementing of our Australian aims and feelings. This will be within our grasp when the building has been established and is occu pied both by those who will speak for the Commonwealth and those who will speak in their individual matters for the several States.
The cost is the only question which we are called upon r to consider now. After several years of negotiations, we may be fairly satisfied that we cannot expect to beat down the County Council any lower. I do not know that we are entitled to try, because this is a wholly exceptional part of London; but even if we were inclined to try, we must realize that it is hopeless. We can, I think, put that course out of court. It is now a question of “ take it on those terms, or leave it.” In the circumstances, our path is plain. We must have a wise regard to the opportunities which we need, and of which we ought to make use, for popularizing Australia in the Mother Country.
This is a work which will bear fruit in many ways at first unseen, and affect, I hope, our relations with the Mother Country to a great extent. When more intimate confidences are established between us, when we are more in touch with Downing-street, and Downingstreet is more in touch with us, the few remaining causes of friction among those that existed during our experience as a Commonwealth will be removed. The Government of the day in this country should be in such constant and intimate relations with the Government of the Mother Country on those great Imperial questions which affect Australia, that we should find the new conditions immensely more favorable than those we now enjoy. Even at present we have little to complain, considering our remoteness from Europe, the strangeness of our geographical, and some of our physical, circumstances, taken with the absorption of our people in their own interests. To a great extent, there is a similar absorption of the people of the great centre of the Empire in those striking and vivid events pictured in their daily reading which govern their daily reflections. We cannot wonder that Australia has not occupied in the past that position in the estimation of those of our own bipod, and even of the Government of the Empire, which we think the incredible opportunities of this enormous continent ought to have created in their minds.
I look forward to the accomplishment of this great building as one of the most important pieces of advertisement possible to us. We are bound to call it an advertise- ment. The eye after all is the best educational agency we possess. It may seem relatively a minor matter, but when in that great thoroughfare between the city and Parliament House hundreds of thousands of people have their attention drawn day a after ‘ clay to this majestic building, probably the finest structure along the whole line of the route, and to the fact that it re- j presents Australia, they will begin in spite cif themselves to have some conception of Australian areas, Australian possibilities, and Australian power, although yet all are utterly undeveloped.
– The existence of Australia is a puzzle to a great many. Mr. DEAKIN. - It is, but of course the march of science, displayed in the improvement in our shipping accommodation, is yearly reducing a voyage which, when my parents arrived here, was formidable indeed. In those days the journey to Australia meant battling for upwards of a hundred days in poorly-found vessels under circumstances of the greatest discomfort. When we contrast this with the accommodation to be obtained in even the great liners which go round the Cape of Good Hope, we realize the progress made, and can leave the rest to the future and the more capable men who will take up our task when we have passed on. It is not a little thing, although it seems so until we reflect upon it, to have in the very heart of the Empire an adequate structure representative of this great continent. In that aspect, in spite of the amount to be spent, and the very large upkeep which will be implied, I am inclined to think that we shall get good value for our money lief ore long. I never doubted that we should get it in course of time, but I now hope and believe we shall get it before long. I have also faith that some of the younger members will live to see the time when there will be no such misapprehension between the Mother Country and ourselves i.s now exists between the Mother Country >ind even some portions of her own area. I trust that by then our education in the public sense will have been broadened a.nd deepened, until we are actually able to appreciate the conditions under which the inhabitants of the British Isles live and work, while they will understand and appreciate the methods and aspirations of their fellow citizens all the world over. At present we sometimes feel ourselves strangers in our mother’s household - or, rather, we did so more than twenty years ago, when I first had the privilege of visiting the country of my ‘fathers. We have reason to hope that, all feeling of strangeness will disappear, and that a close touch will be established between all the peoples of our race and govern-‘ ment. This tie must be of the highest value to us - it may be termed priceless. All these things will work together to improve our reputation, and thus our credit. Whatever lack of confidence there may have been in the past has been due to a want of knowledge among many even of the most potent influences in the financial world, lt may be said that it is not the business of those engaged in financial affairs to educate public opinion, especially as buyers of securities, in which they wish to deal on the most-advantageous terms. I look even to an improvement in that regard that will affect our country. And so, Mr. Speaker, although I admit that at first these figures almost stagger me - although when this proposition was brought forward, with its plan of a building of seven stories, it seemed for a moment that we might be climbing a little too high, yet, on the whole, after reflection, I must say that it would be unwise if we delayed any longer. We have already delayed too long. Although we have great projects before us, involving the expenditure of large sums of money, and huge in the amount of work which they will entail, I believe that this additional proposal is not too much for Australia to face. We need this structure to herald our alliance and kinship. We need this, and everything else that we can add, before the inevitable day when Australia, facing her duty to the British Empire, will need to be able, for some time at least, to stand alone against possible assault. Nothing can save us from that but a large accession to our white population ; and for that white population we have looked, and shall continue to look, first to that Mother Country from which our mothers and fathers came.
– I have listened to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition with very much pleasure in so far as it dealt with the patriotic aspirations of the Australian people, and also so far as it referred to our relationship to the Mother Land. But I should like to make a few observations in regard to this matter from the material point of view rather than from a sentimental aspect. There is no doubt that the site proposed is a very good one in regard to its being centrally situated, and also in regard to the large traffic which passes it on both sides. It is situated one mile and a half from the Bank of England, which may be taken to be the great centre of commerce and finance of the British Empire. That, in my opinion, is a long distance in a crowded centre like London, although there are facilities for travelling by the underground railway from the Temple station, and also facilities by electric tram to the northward.
– What about the penny buses ?
– It takes too long for a busy man to travel by ‘bus in a crowded place like London. Sometimes it would take, perhaps, an hour to get to the Bank.
– I used to think it a picnic to get a ride on a penny ‘bus.
– If the honorable member were in a hurry nowadays he would not take a ‘bus. The site is also 50 chains from Charing Cross, which is 10 chains over half-a-mile. It is a mile and a quarter from Downing-street and the Houses of Parliament. So that it is centrally situated, though not very close to any one of the important places that I have mentioned. In my opinion, it is rather a noisy site. I may be met with the reply, “ So is the site of the Bank of England.” But at the Bank of England the traffic is very much congested, and is consequently slow. There is not the noise there that there is in the Strand, where the traffic is very much more rapid. Coming down Kingsway, and to and from the city, the traffic is quicker, and consequently more noisy.
– The right honorable member would have to go far further than a mile and a half from the Bank of England to get a- quiet spot in London.
– The honorable member forgets that the traffic in the neighbourhood of the Bank of England is nevertheless necessarily slow. I consider that Trafalgar Square is a much nobler situation. It is really at the very heart of London, and any building there would occupy an eminently noble situation overlooking that great square.
– There is sentiment creeping in again. The right honorable member is thinking of the Battle of Trafalgar.
– Trafalgar Square is a far better site in every way.
– I am very glad to hear that from the honorable member, who has been there.
– I was for nine years in Morley ‘s Hotel.
– I should like to ask whether this building is really required in the first instance for purposes of advertisement, or whether it is to further the immigration policy of the Government that it is desirable that a splendid building should be erected in London. The Prime Minister in his Budget speech said that a great building such as this would be a bigger advertisement for Australia than, perhaps, £100,000 spent in any other way. Well, as an advertisement, I do not think that it is quite worth ,£600,000. It may serve a necessary purpose, but we must not forget that there is no great urgency about the work. It is not urgent that we should spend £600,000 to provide a building for the High Commissioner at the present time. The opportunities for obtaining a suitable site will not be less, I suppose, as time goes on. But at the same time we must not forget that in this new country we require very much for the development of our own resources. We have a new land requiring development. We need almost all the capital that we can command to facilitate settlement. We want railways, roads, water supply, and other necessary works in order that this great territory of ours may be occupied. We require numbers of our own countrymen - those of the stock from which we spring - to come here, and take a part in helping to develop Australia, and to make it a place that will be self- reliant and able to defend itself in such times of difficulty as have been referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. When we require all these things, is it necessary that we should spend £600,000 at the present time? The States are making every effort-at present to develop their lands, and we are taxing the people very heavily to obtain the necessary funds for carrying on Government projects of various kinds, and since we have also to take in hand that great work, the development of the Northern Territory, we ought to consider whether we may not be open to the charge of being rather reckless in proposing to expend £600,000 upon a show place even in London. We are trustees of the public funds, and whilst we have complete control over our own. finances we must not forget that the finances of the States are rather tight. We ought to have regard to material matters in expending the money that comes to our hands. I may be told that this will probably be made a selfsupporting proposition. If that is the intention my objection to the expenditure altogether disappears.
– We do not say that it will be at the beginning, but we hope that it will go a long way towards being selfsupporting.
– I shall require to be satisfied that it will go a long way in that direction before I consider that it would be in the interests of the country to expend ^600,000’ for this purpose. When we have erected this building, what are we to do with it? The Minister of External Affairs said that a portion of the building would be leased. We are not driven to erect a building for that purpose. I can well understand that if we are now offered an opportunity to secure a particularly good site some sacrifice might well be made in order to obtain it; but the question arises whether or not we need to buy this land. Very few houses in London are owned by the occupiers, and for many years at all events we should be able to lease a building to meet our requirements. I do not think that either the Dominion of Canada, or the great railway company to which reference has been made, own their own properties in London, although I know that they have in Trafalgar Square substantial buildings on which glaring advertisements are displayed. . I question whether the erection, of a large building will do us much good as an advertisement for Australia unless we have in the building itself that which is necessary to secure for us a material advantage. That brings me to the question, “ What are we going to do with this building?” Is it proposed that we shall inscribe our own stock in London? If it is, then a building a mile and a half away from the financial centre of London will be found unsuitable for that purpose.
– Then what about the Trafalgar Square site which it was proposed to acquire ?
– That was equally unsuitable from this particular point of view. I did not advocate its selection ; I simply acquiesced in. the proposal that we should secure it as a site for advertising purposes. The building in which we inscribe our stock must be near the great financial centre of the city. As a matter of fact, however, I think it would be wise for us to leave the inscription of stock in the hands of the Bank of England, or some other great financial institution. The British Government, notwithstanding its vast financial operations, has to this day abstained from inscribing its own stock. It is all very well for honorable members to think that we are so important that we can run the world alone; but we need help individually, collectively, and as a nation. Mr. Goschen would not have carried through his great operation for the conversion of the national debt of Great Britain if he had not had the banks on his side.
– I suppose the business paid the banks. They did not undertake it as a mere philanthropic work.
– If they had not been on Mr. Goschen’ s side he would not have got through with his scheme. Honorable members opposite think that if we pay a man we should have a claim for all time both on his body and his soul ; they think that nothing is done for the sake of friendship ; that in everything that is done he is actuated’ solely by business considerations.
– There is no friendship in business.
– There is in business, as in everything else, a lot of give and take. If you are good to an institution it is good to you.
– I suppose the honorable member is thinking of the poor widows who are shareholders in the banks?
– If the honorable member resorts to that line of argument, I am afraid that we shall get to loggerheads. If he thinks there is no friendship or reciprocity in business he cannot have had much business experience. In connexion with this question, we have to ask not only whether we are going to inscribe our own stock, but whether we are to carry on our immigration policy from one centre. We might just as well try to carry on the sale of newspapers and periodicals from one centre as try to conduct from a central building in London an immigration policy for Australia. We must have agencies, agents, and lecturers in the principal centres of Great Britain - in places where we are likely to get the people we want. If we wait till they can go to London and see “ Australia House,” we may have to wait a long time for them. As an advertisement for immigration purposes I do not think this proposal is worth taking into account. A central building in London would, I recognise, be useful as a means for displaying our products, but we need also to make displays of our wool and other staple products wherever there are people who are likely to be interested in them. What are we doing in England at the present time? The High Commissioner is a good figure-head, and is able to express himself in language that is very much appreciated. With the exception of making speeches on certain occasions, I consider that the High Commissioner has very little urgent and important to do. I believe the staff of his office includes twenty or thirty clerks who are engaged chiefly in issuing certificates to enable exporters to secure Customs rebates in Australia under the preferential duties applicable to British goods. I made inquiries on the subject while in London, and was told that there were twenty or thirty clerks in the office, and that there was a very great deal of work to be done in connexion with the Customs Department. In my opinion this is work the expense of which should be charged to the Customs Department and not to the High Commissioner’s office. It is very necessary that the work should be done, but it is routine work and has no necessary relation to the High Commissioner’s office. I should like to know what has been done by the High Commissioner in the matter of making arrangements for the taking over of the State debts. Perhaps the Government are treating him in this matter as the Minister of Home Affairs has treated the Chief Electoral Officer. We know that the honorable gentleman neither asked for nor received a report from that officer in regard to ‘ the working of the postal vote. I shall not pursue that subject, and mention it only to remind honorable members that we have in London an officer who might be referred to for a report in connexion with the other matter to which I have referred, and yet we get no advice from him on that great question.
– Order ! The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the duties of the High Commissioner.
– I will not trespass unduly, but I understand that the object of taking over the State debts, in addition to other great advantages, is also to save £25,000 a year, and I mention the fact that no steps whatever have been taken by the Govern ment in the matter to which I have referred during all the time they have been in office. Then there is the question of immigration to be dealt with, and we know that in this matter the Government have done nothing. We are told, also, that it will be possible in this building to provide for an exhibition of Australian products. What has been done in that direction so far? Nothing at all.- We have had no results from the policy of the Government.
– Yes, we have. Surely the honorable gentleman was at the Norwich show, and saw what was done there ?
– That was the work of State Governments ; we were not represented there.
– Yes, we were.
– What was the cost to the Commonwealth? Nothing. I say we have done nothing yet in this direction. I am afraid that the High Commissioner is placed in pretty well the same position as that occupied by the Ministers, and when it is necessary for him to make a speech he does not know exactly how far he can go. He is obliged to make observations which are entirely non-committal.
– That is rough on a former colleague.
– It is not rough upon the High Commissioner, but upon the Government, who would be down on him like a hundred of bricks if he said a single word they did not approve of.
– More immigrants were introduced in- 1910 than during the whole of the time the honorable gentleman’s party were in office.
– No thanks are due to the present Government for that, because we know that they and those who support them have put every obstacle in the way of immigration. Let the Minister of External Affairs say frankly that he wants immigrants to. be introduced, and let him attempt to do something to introduce them, and he will soon find himself placed in the same position as the High Commissioner would be placed, if he were to advise this Parliament freely and openly.
– Order !
– The honorable gentleman is now in the same position, because he is afraid to say anything in support of an immigration policy from the fear that he may be found fault with by the party supporting him. I shall not oppose this motion, because I should be sorry if it were thought that I am not progressive, even in this matter ; but in view of the great demand for money for developmental purposes, I think we shall not be acting wisely in the interests of the Commonwealth in spending ^600,000 on the proposed building at the present time.
– - I cannot agree with the remarks of the last two speakers. Although they are ot opinion that the site proposed to be acquired is a very good one, they seem to condemn it and to prefer the Trafalgar-square site. I consider the latter site utterly inadequate for our purposes. The area is not sufficient; the existing building would have to be levelled to the ground and a new structure put up, and it would be possible only to get a lease of that site. . With all deference to the opinions of some honorable members, I think it would be very unwise that a Government representing the Australian people should be under any obligation with respect to a lease to any person in the Old Country. I do not intend to refer to the sentimental aspect of the question. I would not persuade any honorable member to agree to this motion on the ground that a number of persons passing this building would say what a wonderful building it was, and what a wonderful country Australia must be. This would be rather an expensive undertaking if proposed for the sake of an advertisement alone. People in the large centres of population in the Old Country are so familiar with advertising that they take no notice of advertisements at all, unless they are of a specially artistic and striking character. I think the mistake we are liable to make is this : We are looking for a site for a .building which will represent Australia. The Commonwealth, which is only ten years old, has a great future, and we should regard ourselves as shareholders in a big company which is considering a business proposition. Long after we have passed away, the Commonwealth will be recognised all over the world and in the Mother Country. If the Old Country continues to progress, from a material point of view, as she is doing at present - I wish I could see the same rate of progress in other respects - we shall be able, by the proposed investment, to double our money within twenty or twenty-five years. That, surely, is good business. In Melbourne, Sydney, and other State capitals, you find shipping and insurance companies erecting palatial buildings, in which most of the accommodation is subsequently let out for offices. The companies get good returns from these investments. A shipping company, in its calculation of profits, pays regard to the return from its buildings as well as to the return from its ships. Business men are fond of saying that politicians have no capacity for business, but the Government is now submitting one of the best business propositions that could be made. Undoubtedly we shall have to incur a large expenditure, but if we do not close with the offer of the London County Council, that body will not have to go begging to some one else. Any one who has seen London during the last few years knows that. The Council has gone out of its way to make us a generous offer. Its policy is to. let its land on leasehold, but it has made an exception in our favour, and offers us a freehold. ‘I do not know where else in London we could get a freehold to-day. That we have big public works to carry out in Australia is not a reason why we should be blind to what is taking “place in other parts of the world. The right honorable member for Swan suggests that we should go all round London, leasing this corner and that corner, and being kicked out every few years.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
-The honorable member said that it is possible for us to lease the land that we require. I do not think that it would be dignified for us to take a leasehold, and be liable to be dispossessed after a comparatively short time, to make way for a leviathan restaurant or some other enterprise of the kind. The desire is that the Governments of the States shall lease parts of this building from us, and it is intended to provide a central place in the heart of the Empire where any one seeking information with regard to Australia can obtain it. It is said that the States do not wish to join in with the Commonwealth, but the day will come when this prejudice will cease. In any case, by letting the spare space for office accommodation, the Commonwealth will be able to get its money back. As for the Trafalgar Square site, it would be necessary there to take a lease, and Trafalgar Square is not the centre that it was forty or fifty years ago, when Parliamentstreet and that part of London was supposed to be of more importance. Now
Trafalgar Square is an attraction for small boys and women who wish to see the fountains and the Horse Guards, but more traffic passes through the Strand than there is in any other thoroughfare of London. The two main arteries in the city of London are the Strand and Queen Victoriastreet, running down to the Embankment, and our offices will face the Strand, and be within a minute or two of the Embankment. Moreover, they will be within a few minutes of the Bank of England and the other banks in Threadneedle-street, and in Fleet-street. Close to the site, there are some of the most respected and timehonoured banks, whose names are well known to all business men. The offices will also be near the Times office, and close to the respectable, influential press of Great Britain, with which our representatives should be in touch. Kingsway enters the Strand close to the proposed site. It is the great thoroughfare from North London. At present there are no buildings on it, because the London -County Council pulled down what were there, and now holds the land for leasing. There is no doubt that in the immediate future Kingsway will be fronted with large palatial buildings, possibly not equal to our buildings, but in the very nature of things it must always be one of the leading arteries in the city of London. I do not know a site better fitted for our purpose than the one which -has been chosen. I fail to see any advantage in going elsewhere for a site unless it be for the purpose of advertising. I should not be one to ask Parliament to spend much money in that direction, because I do not think that it is worth while. If we erected our offices on a site in Trafalgar Square we should be farther from the Bank of England and the press, whereas if we take the site in the Strand, and have any important cases of litigation, though I hope that we shall not, we shall be practically next door to, the Law Courts. It is claimed that if we take a site near the west end we shall be in closer touch with, Downing-street, but I contend that it is far better to choose a site near the commercial and literary centre of the Empire than to be near the door-mat of Downing-street. For all practical purposes I think that the “advantages are strongly in favour of a site near the city of London rather than of a site near the west end. I fail to see why the High Commissioner is located in Victoriastreet, unless it is to swell the ground rents of the Duke of Westminster. For all commercial and business purposes the nearer the Commonwealth offices are to the city of London the better it will be. The right honorable member for Swan has stated that we ought to have taken a building in the city. I would remind him that the price of freehold there is prohibitive. There is no Australian Parliament, I think, which would vote the money to purchase such a site. It is singularly fortunate for the Commonwealth that the site under offer in the Strand is a vacant block. It is owing to the large improvements which the London County Council have been making for many years past that the Commonwealth is afforded an opportunity to get a freehold site of this character. We shall lose a splendid opportunity if we do not accept the offer. For that reason I am strongly in favour of the motion. I am no more anxious than are other honorable members to sink £600,000 of public money, but I recognise that if the Australian people are to have a representative in London, he should be suitably housed. Of course, we do not want a building equal to Buckingham Palace, or to the Mansion House, but we should have, as near as possible to the city of London, a building which, without being gaudy or vulgar in style, will be creditable to Australia. I do not suggest that we might not be able to get a more suitable site, but we certainly cannot get a site anywhere we like, because the number of sites available is limited. The Commonwealth offices, if erected on the Strand site, will be very nearly opposite Somerset House, and situated in the main artery from the west end to the city. We have heard a great deal about what Canada is doing in London. I admit that wherever one goes in the west end, or in the city of London, or in any country town or city in England one will find advertisements ad nauseam that Canada is the greatest country on the globe. In fact, only the Garden of Eden can be compared with Canada, if one is to go by the language of these advertisements. In almost every street there is an agency or somebody touting for wonderful Canada. But I doubt very much if its Government spend £250,000 a year on advertising. The position is very simple. For all practical purposes, Canada, belongs to the Canadian-Pacific Railway Company. It owns Canada and its Government, and the ordinary public are bamboozled with the idea of what a great deal it is doing, when
I question very much whether the Dominion Government are doing as much as the Australian Governments are doing to keep themselves under the notice of the public.
– Does the honorable member say that the Canadian- Pacific Railway Company owns the Canadian Government ?
– That is my opinion, though I do not claim to be infallible. I think that most persons - unless they are tied up in financial (< specs.” or are intimately connected with capitalistic interests in the Old Country and have no sense - believe that the CanadianPacific Railway Company owns the Canadian Government. I do not want to go into any particulars. I think that a good many of those who were with me in London during the summer have not any doubt about the matter. I had no doubt before I went to England, and if I had had the slightest doubt it would have disappeared long ago. We do not want to be rivalled with Canada in such conditions at all. They can keep their Joe Robins’ advertising. They can keep their agents wandering not only through England, but through Europe, in the determination to ‘ get immigrants, and fill up the Dominion utterly regardless of nationality or anything else. For that reason I do not take it as a compliment to be told that Australia is not doing what Canada is doing. With regard to the inscription of stock, I agree with the right honorable member for Swan that if we can get the Bank of England to do the work we should ; otherwise we should undertake it. We hear a good deal about the necessity of spending more money in promoting immigration. If we are anxious to bring under the notice of British people the requirements and the advantages of Australia, it can be done far better by having agents to lecture through England, with literature at their service and possibly an assistant. No man is fit to lecture on Australia unless he has been here for quite twenty years. It is necessary that a lecturer should know what Australian life is, and understand the type of people here. He should be able to talk well and give popular lectures. It is of no use to employ English agents for the purpose, because they know nothing about Australia, and they lie like Trojans. Quite a number of persons have come out under absolute misrepresentations. This would not be done by men who know what Australia is, and what it requires.
If we get the right stamp of lecturer, it will be quite easy to get the right stamp of immigrant. I know that if I were a lecturer for the Government, and paid £z per head, I should make a good many pounds per day.
– Even with the strictest regard for the truth these immigrants could be obtained.
– Of that I am absolutely certain. A man who has lived in Australia, especially if he is a working man and has gone through the mill, would find numberless people ready to jump at the chance of coming to this country. There are numerous people ready to come who are not worth carrying even as dunnage; and, as a matter of fact, many such people are coming here now ; there are those amongst the immigrants who boast that they have never done a day’s work in their lives, and never mean to. Such people ought to be allowed to remain in England, for I fancy we can raise as many of that stamp as we require here. I am not asking the Government to spend money on immigration, but, if money is spent, let it be spent judiciously, and so that we may have a return. Of course, if it is thought that Australia will end with the life of this Parliament we need not bother about a vote of this nature, but if we are building up a great nation we ought to have a place in London, erected and conducted as a sound financial business proposition. No doubt this will cost a great deal’ of money, but I fancy that the Commonwealth will be able to bear the terrible burden of ^600,000; if not, we cannot say much for the future of Australia.
.. - As one who, iri a Ministerial capacity, had something to do with this matter, express my gratification that the Government are submitting this proposal in its present form. There is an exceptional opportunity to obtain an excellent site, and it is wise to close with the offer at the earliestpossible date. The scheme is consistent, not only with what Australia is, but with’ what we hope Australia is going to be. The building and the lines on which it is designed are significant in what we think to be the proper relations between the Commonwealth and the States in the Old Country, representing as they do complete co-operation and combination of their powers for the benefit of Australia and the
Empire. I am glad to notice the following paragraph in the report of the High Commissioner : -
The Agents-General and I meet together once a month, visiting the several offices in rotation, in order to reduce, if we could not prevent, the evils of overlapping, and in order to consult and co-operate in all matters arising which might be Federal, and yet affect the States or State concerns, and yet affect the Commonwealth; or, perhaps, in point of form relate to any one, yet affect the whole of the seven Governments. These gatherings have been at all times most useful and harmonious ; and I cannot too fully acknowledge the help which my colleagues have afforded me. since my arrival in London.
This is the High Commissioner himself speaking of the advantage he finds in. the co-operation of the State agencies. In the new building there will be a common meeting place, affording more frequent opportunities for consultation, and rendering more effective the desired co-operation. The Minister has told us that all the States, with the exception of one, have favorably received the idea. In the case of Queensland we can understand that, owing to the fact that a very extended lease has been entered into by the State, and some money spent in connexion therewith, there may be some hesitation at first ; but this, I hope, is only a matter of negotiation.
– We have no definite offers from any of the States except Victoria, the Government of which have already arranged for offices on the same site.
– The Minister is on sure ground, because the ideal represented in this building is the true ideal of the Australian people. The ultimate trend of events must be to concentrate all such efforts for the sake of efficiency, economy, and harmony. Let the Government induce as many States as possible to co-operate, and I believe that we shall ultimately have all under one roof, and thus accomplish the results we desire. My own opinion is that the Commonwealth could well afford to lose even £10,000 a year, considering the prominence of this building and the advertisement it will be to the Commonwealth. The building will represent to England what Australia is and what it hopes to be - it will be the embodiment of the power of a Dominion. The accommodation now provided for the High Commissioner is utterly unsatisfactory, and I believe that the first instruction given to Sir George Reid, after his appointment, was to look out for avail able sites for Commonwealth offices. In his report we find the following :’ -
The accommodation at our present offices is very unsatisfactory in every way, and removal to more convenient and suitable premises is urgently required.
So urgent is the need that he adds -
Even if the scheme which I have so strongly recommended for the purchase of the site offered by the London County Council in the Strand, and the erection of offices thereon, is soon approved, there will be a long delay before the new offices can be completed.
If ihe site is purchased 1 will recommend that we get as near it as we can as soon as possible - on a short tenancy.
As to the expenditure of £600,000, we ought to look at it rather from an interest point of view. On a 4 per cent, basis, it represents an annual expenditure of £23,480; and, on a by no means oversanguine estimate of receipts, the estimated cost to the Commonwealth is £11,288 per annum.
– For that the Commonwealth gets all the accommodation that it requires.
– The expenditure includes a common-room for exhibitions, which, of course, will be at the disposal of all the States. If we did not acquire this site, and had to pay for adequate office accommodation in London, our outlay would be at least £5,000 per annum. Even that sum would not be sufficient to provide reasonable space in which to exhibit Australian products. So that, allowing for the growth which we must contemplate in the future, it seems to me that the proposition put forward by the Government is a sound and business-like one. What we have chiefly to remember is that the building which it is proposed to erect is intended to serve certain definite purposes - purposes which are as wide as are the duties of the High Commissioner. We require central offices in which the High Commissioner and the whole of his staff may be established. The inspection of materials purchased for the Commonwealth or the States will thus, be carried out with greater economy. Then, the building will prove a boon to those seeking information concerning Australia, so that from the immigration stand-point the position will be infinitely better than it is to-day. I trust that the products of Australia which will be under the control of the High Commissioner will be used for exhibition purposes in various parts of Great Britain. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion.
. -t-I desire to congratulate the Government upon their determination to acquire this site thus early, because I am of opinion that it will advance considerably in value after the Commonwealth has established offices upon it. I am pleased to place upon record the fact that every honorable member who visited London in connexion with the recent Coronation festivities was afforded ample opportunity for inspecting the various sites which the Commonwealth then had under offer. We are all particularly indebted to the late Mr. Batchelor for his efforts in that direction. The opportunity of inspecting these sites was availed of by almost every honorable member who journeyed to London, and, as a result, we are now able to cast a conscientious vote upon this question. Personally I am of opinion that the Government have selected the best site available, and that they are getting a splendid bargain. The sum of £600,000 is a very small one to pay for such a valuable block of land as that which it is proposed to acquire and for the buildings which are to be erected upon it. I hope, therefore, ‘that there will be no delay in closing with this magnificent offer. During my limited stay in the Old Country I fully recognised the necessity of establishing the High Commissioner in more suitable offices. At present he is dreadfully hampered for want of room, and I feel sure that he would do much better work for the Commonwealth if he were located in offices which gave greater floor space, and especially if the Agents-General of the various States could be induced to occupy the same building. During this debate we have heard a good deal about the development of Canada. But honorable members must recognise that the Canadian- Pacific Railway Company has done much to advertise that country. Why? Because those interested in it realize that every individual who is brought into the Dominion will add to its wealth, and assist in enhancing the value of the land which has been give-‘ to them by the Canadian Government. The great question which presents itself to my mind is, “ Are all the immigrants who are attracted to Canada of a desirable class?” To my mind they are not. If we establish our High Commissioner and the Agents-General of the States in the same building in London we shall be able to do much to advertise Australia, and to secure to the Commonwealth that stream of immigration which we all desire. Seeing that so much reference has been made to the question of immigration-
– Order ! I interrupted the right honorable member for Swan when he referred to that subject.
– I am sorry that my remarks are out of order, because I desired to read an extract from the reportof the High Commissioner, showing that the stream of immigration to Australia today is greater than it has ever been. Even now Sir George Reid is doing much to advertise the Commonwealth, but he will be able to do infinitely more when he secures an exhibition of Australian products in the building which it is intended to erect upon the site which is now under consideration. I am quite in accord with the proposal of the Government, and I think that the money about to be expended upon this project will be well spent.
.Like the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, I desire to thank the Government, and especially the late Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Batchelor, for having afforded honorable members who recently visited London an opportunity of inspecting the various sites for Commonwealth offices which were then under offer. I am very pleased to be able to support the Government in this scheme. They are doing the right thing. While in London, we were shown over the present offices of the High Commissioner, and I have no hesitation in saying that they are miserably small and inconvenient, and in the wrong place. After inspecting all the sites, I am convinced that the one now offered is the very best. It is much superior to the Trafalgar Square site. With the land costing ^364,000, and the building estimated to cost ^223,000, the site is a very cheap one indeed, considering the space available, and I agree with the honorable member for Hindmarsh that in twenty years’ time the land and buildingwill have more than doubled in value. After going through the country, we did not think Great Britain was at all decadent. Rather we thought it was growing every day. Some one said that he would like the building in the heart of London, but it would be impossible for any one to say, from a general view, where the heart of London is. London is everywhere. It is spreading so much that it is likely to spread over a great part of England. When approaching London the guard asked me where I wanted to be put down, and I said “ London.” He said, “It is all London,” and I told him to put me down at the nearest place to London. The right honorable member for Swan said that Sir George Reid’s speeches were simply amusing, but I have no hesitation in saying that Sir George Reid has been the best advertisement ever sent to England from Australia or any other country. When we were in the Old Country his speeches were more sought after than those of any man in Great Britain at that time, and that is saying a great deal. Sir George Reid is doing everything that it is possible for a man to do in the circumstances. I was greatly pleased to see, at the great Norwich show, the Australian Commonwealth Court with its striking display of Australian products, with the best lecturers in attendance. The whole thing was put in the most attractive form, and was a great credit to the Commonwealth Government and to the High Commissioner. This show was attended by people from all parts of southern Britain, and there was therefore a great chance of advertising Australia there. When we went to the show at Inverness, in the Highlands of Scotland, we were also very proud to find the Australian Commonweatlh splendidly advertised, its products being displayed to the best advantage. I do not think any better medium for advertising Australia and its resources could be devised than that followed by the High Commissioner in visiting the large shows in Great Britain and displaying Australian products there. We are on the right track in this matter, and I am sure that when the proposed large building is complete and equipped in the way which the Government intend, it will be one of the grandest advertisements Australia has ever had. We found it very inconvenient to visit the Agents-General, whose offices are scattered all over London. When they are brought with the High Commissioner under the one roof it will be a distinct advantage to the Commonwealth. As sensible men they will confer with the High . Commissioner, even if they are not asked to do so, on matters affecting Australia. This will be to our advantage, and to the advantage of the British Empire. This building is not for a day, but for all time, and every Australian will make direct for it when he reaches Lon: don. There he will meet people from all the States. As the trustees of Australia, it is our duty to give Australians the greatest facilities for meeting one another in the heart of the Empire. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said that our representatives would be close to the press of London, but I do not think we have much to thank the English press for at the present time, so far as the advertisement they give to Australia is concerned. While we were there they gave very small space indeed to Australian matters. In that regard they were very unlike the Aus-‘ tralian press, which advertises a good many things that come from the British Empire, and every morning gives considerable space to happenings in all parts of the world. I had the honour to meet a good many of the Canadian agents in Great Britain. The honorable member for Grey will recollect the man we met at Leeds. He was a very live agent indeed for Canada. In fact, in every large town throughout the United Kingdom, Canada has a live agent, who knows all about its resources and advertises it continuously. It would be a good thing for Australia to have similar agents appointed to advertise Australia all over the British Empire. I agree with the honorable member for Hindmarsh that we need men conversant with’ Australian conditions to advertise Australia properly. It is of no use for a man to attempt to represent a country about which he knows nothing. All honour and credit are due to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, who have opened up the great prairies of America that would otherwise have been still. lying waste. They give the people great facilities to get on to the land, and do not make the interest very high. The people who want to go on the land in. this country have to pay’ a rate of interest only i per cent, less than the Canadian Pacific Railway Company charge to the settlers of Canada. We might, with great advantage . to Australia, follow the Canadian example in many respects. We have a great .territory . waiting for people. Knowing something about land in most countries, I am confident that we have the. finest country in the civilized world waiting to be opened up from Oodnadatta to Port’ Darwin. That work ought to be gone on with at once. It does not matter who puts the railway there, it should go. There should not be any quibbling as to whether the South Australian Government or the Western Australian Government are going to give us land. We have land of our own on which to build railways, and we should set to work to build them.
– Does the honorable member regard that country as very suitable?
– No one knows better than does the honorable member for Fremantle that no country can be developed without railways. I hope the honorable member will give us the benefit of his great experience in railway building. I have the greatest pleasure in assisting the Government to carry out this great scheme. I hope and trust that they will go right ahead with it at once. When they have accomplished this work, let them devote their energies to building railways in Commonwealth territory where we can proceed with work without asking the consent of anybody.
.- I am in favour of this proposal, which I consider to be one of the best propositions which the Government have brought before the House. When a similar project was under discussion a year or two ago I objeered to it because it was proposed to erect a building with a 200-foot frontage and a depth of 60 feet. That was of no use to us. We must have depth and area. I am gratified that the Government intend to purchase the whole block of land. They are undoubtedly on the right track. As has already been mentioned, the building will be the best advertisement Australia can have. People from different parts of England who see it will recognise that Australia is a place that desires to be known to English people, and on inquiry they will ascertain what opportunities are available for industrious persons who choose to come to this country. It will be like an exhibition always open for inspection. I trust that the work will not be half done, but will be carried out properly and quickly. I congratulate the Government upon securing the freehold of this valuable block in the chief city of the world. The Minister has told us that the expenditure may be something like £1 1,000 a year. If it were double that amount I should consider that it would be the best advertisement that we could have, and would therefore be in favour of what is proposed.
.- We have been some years talking about securing a site in London, and various propositions have been laid before Parliament I am glad that the Government have at last had an offer made to. them which, as far as I can judge, is better than any previous offer. Honorable members who have lately had the privilege of visiting the Old Country are in favour of the project, and we must be largely guided by their opinion. We shall be able to erect a building which will be fairly representative of the Commonwealth, and shall be able, not only to assist in working with State agencies, but also to show to the people of the Old Country something of the relation between the Commonwealth and the States. As far as I can judge, some such building is very necessary at the present. There seems to be a vast amount of ignorance amongst people at Home as to Australia generally, and especially as to the relation between the Federal Government and the States. In sucha building as it is proposed to erect, the Commonwealth and States will be able to co-operate, not only in the greatwork of immigration, but also in developing markets for Australian produce in England and on the Continent. We shall likewise be able to protect Australian interests. It is frequently alleged that Australian butter, for instance, is sometimes sold in England as best Danish.
– Order ! Will the honorable member confine himself to the motion before the Chair?
– With all deference, Mr. Speaker, I submit that my remarks ‘are relevant. I was pointing out that the site is a valuable one, and that the building proposed to be erected, with the agencies that will be centred there, will give us a better chance of coping with the difficulties that confront) the producing interests. Complaints have many times been made- that Australian products are not fairly treated, inasmuch as our best commodities are often treated as goods belonging to other countries.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing that matter.
– Turning to the question of immigration, I maintain that a policy on that subject has not been seriously taken up by the Commonwealth yet. It is time that we did something. I do not expect to see the numbers that go annually to Canada coming to Australia. ‘
– The honorable member must not discuss immigration. The question is simply one of purchasing a site.
– One of the reasons Why I say we should . acquire this site ia because the Government will thereby be enabled to further an immigration policy. One of our greatest interests at Home lies in the direction of securing proper immigration to this country. The whole crux of the immigration question lies in the selection of proper immigrants.
– The honorable member must not discuss the question of immigration.
– I was only alluding to the question incidentally. I am glad that the Commonwealth is acquiring the freehold of the London property. Honorable members opposite have hitherto professed that they favoured leaseholds rather than freeholds. Now, however, they prefer a freehold. I congratulate the Government on being able to acquire the freehold of a great London property. I am satisfied that we should not do better by waiting. We have offered to us a site that seems adequate for our purposes, and the best thing we can do is to close with the offer as quickly as possible. By taking this step we shall put ourselves in a far better position to advertise our resources than we have hitherto occupied. I do not like a proposal to sink £600,000 in this way, and if we could use a portion of that money in other directions we might get better value for it.
– The honorable member suggests that we should have a perambulating office on wheels?
– No. I was thinking that we might get more for our money by advertising ; but since we are going to acquire the land, the sooner we erect a suitable building the better. I am glad to learn that the net cost of conducting the offices will be only about £11,000 per annum, and that, after all, will be but a small expenditure if it leads to an improvement in our position and enables us to better set before the world the attractions of Australia.
.- I hope that when the Government come finally to deal with this matter they will endeavour to make two ends meet. Whilst I do not think that they propose any undue expenditure, I believe it is possible to so arrange matters ‘that they may derive from the building an even greater income than that outlined in the scheme put before us. I agree with the honorable member for Hindmarsh that business firms do not erect palatial premises for philanthropic reasons. Such enterprises are keen business, propositions, and we should be able to deal in the same way with the building! to be erected on this magnificent site. We have placed before us two sets of figures. One of these, prepared by Messrs. Hampton and Sons, appears at page 12, and the other, for which I do not know who is responsible, on page 13 of the memorandum issued by the Minister. There is a considerable discrepancy between the two. Messrs. Hampton and Sons’ figures show that we shall stand to lose £9,958 per annum on these buildings, or, in other words, that that will be the actual amount that the Commonwealth would have to pay by way of rental. In the other estimate the net annual cost to the Commonwealth is put at £7,368, or a difference of over £2,000. In all probability, both estimates on the figures given us by the Government will be exceeded. I think that the cost will be more than £600,000. Honorable members will recognise that these figures are merely an estimate, and they are given on the assumption that the whole of the lettable space is continuously occupied. That, I think, is hardly likely, and in all probability we shall be paying about £12,500 per annum for the premises that we actually occupy. That position, I think, can be improved upon, but even if it is not, what will be the position ? We shall be paying for the conduct of our offices in London, and for the great services which that office renders, £3,000 per annum to the High Commissioner, £12,500 for the rent of our premises, and £12,755, according to the figures in the Estimates, for cost of management - not including the present rental of about £1,700 per annum - making a total of £28,255. Taking into consideration the enormous advantage which this representation gives us, that is not an exorbitant sum to pay. I think it possible, however, for the Commonwealth Government to obtain a better return from these premises. Firms doing business with Australia would no doubt like to obtain accommodation there, and even our own business firms which have London offices will realize that they are likely to be materially benefited by concentrating their business agencies in the actual business office for the Commonwealth.
– W - We may have big wine cellars there.
– I do not know that that would be altogether an advantage; but we need not go into details at this stage. I merely rose to offer the Government my congratulations on having carried these negotiations, which have been going on for a long period, to a successful termination. I believe they are acting wisely, and I trust that in carrying out this scheme they will exercise due economy. I presume that these offices are to be built out of loan funds. Expense of this kind is properly chargeable to capital account, with, no doubt, a sinking fund providing for repayments over a long period. There is no reason why our current revenue should be immediately burdened with a heavy expenditure of this sort. The expenditure should be extended over a term of years, and as we shall only be paying a small rental, the cost to the Commonwealth will be very small.
.- The only warning note I wish to sound is that we ought not to endeavour either tacitly or openly to increase the idea that we want the Agents-General, as such, gathered into this building. I think that the interests of the States and’ of the people of Australia require now that the Agents-General as such should be retrenched. The States will require financial agencies in London, but now that we have a High Commissioner I do not think that we need a sort of second-rate ambassador for each of the States of the Commonwealth.
– T - They will be general agents.
– We want general agents, because the States have peculiar interests that require peculiar representation; but we do not require a sort of semiambassador on behalf of any State. If we have such men they will undoubtedly tend to detract from the importance that should attach to representations made in London by the Australian High Commissioner. The site selected, I think, is the best that could be got, and the Government should be able to make a deal in getting rid of the surplus office accommodation. I only hope that the money for this proposition will come straightforwardly from Loan Account, and will not be taken from funds derivable from the Savings Bank deposits which the Commonwealth will shortly acquire.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That a copy of the foregoing resolution be conveyed to the Senate with a message requesting its concurrence.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Purchase Telephone Lines Acquisition Bill.
Post and Telegraph Rates Bill.
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Bill.
– I have received the following letter from His Excellency the Governor-General : -
Melbourne, nth December, 1911.
Referring to your letter of the 7th September last forwarding an Address to His Majesty the King, which was agreed to on the 5th idem by the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively, I now have the honour to transmit herewith a copy of a despatch which I have received from the Right Honorable the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the subject.
I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient Servant,
Downing-street, 10th November, 1911.
I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that I have duly laid before the King the Address from the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth on the occasion of His Majesty’s Coronation forwarded in your despatch No. 173 of the 25th September.
His Majesty was pleased to receive, the Address very graciously and to command that his thanks should be conveyed to the Senate and House of Representatives for their congratulations and assurance of loyalty to his Throne and person.
I have, &c. ,
His Excellency the Right Honorable
The Order of the Day being called on -
– Will any honorable member be in a position, when he feels that the duties proposed are not sufficiently high, to move to increase them?
– That is a question for the Chairman of Committees.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from 30th November (vide page 3509), on motion by Mr. Tudor -
That Schedule A to the Customs Tariff 1908- 1910 be amended as hereunder set out, and that on and after the first day of December, One thousand nine hundred and eleven, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs Tariff as so amended. . . .
– The question isThat the introductory paragraph be agreed to.
– I agree with the Leader of the Opposition as to the evasion of Tariff reform by the Government. The manufacturing and industrial community must be considerably disappointed by this measure. I do not discount the value of many of these proposals from the departmental stand-point, as they probably assist classification and interpretation, and the removal of minor anomalies. But remembering the harrowing pictures drawn by the Minister of Trade and Customs and other Labour members during the last electoral campaign, when we were told that Protection was in danger, and that industries were languishing and dying because of the want of sympathy on the part of the then Administration, the present fiscal makeshift seems grotesque - but there it is - the product of eighteen months of Labour rule. I think that some explanation is called for from those now in power. The measure before us, except for three or four items, might have been introduced by a Free Trade Government. The Prime Minister, speaking in March, 1909, said that Australians had, rightly or wrongly, settled -on the policy of Protection for Australia - apparently he had not made up his mind as to whether the policy was the right or the wrong one to adopt - and that it was the intention of the people that it should continue. That remark indicates the attitude of the Government, and the half-hearted feeling of the Government so far as Protection is concerned. The Minister of Trade and Customs, who was at one time almost a -prohibitionist, when asked by the honorable member for Wimmera if this is the complete policy of the Government, said that the schedule he was submitting constituted as much as we should be able to deal with in the two or three days that could be devoted to the consideration of the question before Christmas. Whose fault is it that there is not more time available? The introduction of business is entirely a matter for the Government. Ministers know the relative importance of their proposals, and had they been sincere in the profession of a desire for Tariff revision, they could have allowed the necessary time for it. Had the policy of the- last Administration ob tained effect, Parliament would now be irc a position to deal with the Tariff in the light of the fullest information. That policy was set forth during the electoral campaign in 19 10, when we stated our intention to rectify anomalies harmoniously with the protectionist policy of the country. The rectification of anomalies would have been one of the first measures of the new Parliament had we been returned topower. Concurrently we intended to propose the appointment of a Board of Trade, charged with the investigation of Tariff questions, to enable them to be dealt with by Parliament in the light of the fullest knowledge. Had the last Administration been able to give effect to that policy, we should now have all information possible to guide us. The homoeopathic dose of Tariff reform now offered cannot be satisfactory to either Protectionists or Free Traders. Although many of these proposals are simple, they are farreaching in their effects. It is impossible to deal with any considerable number of items without seriously affecting many others. That has happened in this case. Deputations presenting various requestshave waited on the Minister, and honorable members have been deluged with circulars and letters relating to Tariff reform. We are invited to deal with the Tariff in the absence of any information whatever. This is exceedingly unsatisfactory ; and in so proceeding, we are doing an injustice to ourselves, and, quite unconsciously, to various industries affected.
– If the matter is so simple, how can the alterations affect other industries so much ?
– That is just the point. This is possibly one of the simplest forms in which a Tariff could be placed before us - that is to say, the vast majority of the items are more or less formal and harmless in many respects ; and yet there are others which seriously affect industries. Honorable members must have realized that such is the result, if only from the circulars and other literature that have poured in on us. It is only reasonable, when we attempt to deal with a matter so vitally affecting industrial affairs, that we should, at least, have before us information which will enable us to do justice all round, and yet the Government does not deign to furnish us with that information. Speaking generally, both Commonwealth and States have from time to time had investigations made preparatory to dealing with Tariff amendments.-
A Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the Tariff proposals of 1908, and the investigations were continued over some eighteen months. All the items of the Tariff were thoroughly overhauled, and the fullest reports of the evidence, and the reasons for the recommendations of the Commission, were placed before us. From an official return presented to Parliament, we find that in 542 cases Parliament accepted the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
– These were the recommendations of only one side of the Commission.
– Was there a majority report ?
– No, the numbers were even.
– My only object now is to show honorable members how Parliament appreciated the recommendations of the Commission. In ninety-three cases the rates recommenced by the Commission were raised, in eight cases the rates recommended were reduced, and in six cases the rates were varied to fresh bases.
These figures, according to the return, represent different rates, and not . items, because items frequently consist of two or more different rates, and some of the rates recommended under, an item were varied, and others followed. Honorable members will see that in dealing with the Tariff of 1908 we had the great advantage of the recommendations of the Commission.
– And of the evidence.
– Yes. The evidence was all given in detail-; and nothing was more usual than to hear large portions of evidence quoted by honorable members in the course of the debate. I should like to quote a few items to show the anomalies which will result if the Tariff be passed as proposed. Item 303 in- cludes -
The old Tariff provided that New Zealand pine should pay a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet. It is true that the present proposal is to be brought into effect under by-laws, but I am not sure that that necessarily insures in all cases, though it will in some, the application of this timber to the particular uses for which if is imported. I most thoroughly approve of the free admission of butter box sizes, but I contend that the Government proposals in their present form will penalize other primary industries, as they will have to pay a duty of something like 2s. or 2s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet on their timber instead of 6d. under the present Tariff.
– Why should the timber industry not have protection in the same way as other industries?
– Exactly, but there is no suitable Australian timber for butter boxes. I admit there is some magnificent timber in Queensland, and that Australian hoop pine is of excellent quality.
– It is too good for butter boxes !
– Quite so; and, further, the demand for hoop pine is so great that it is quite impossible to supply orders at the present moment. I am given to understand that the sizes quoted in the item are not quite correct, and that they should be 5 in. x¾ in. and 14 in. x1 in.
– I am prepared to say that the sizes in the item will be altered.
– Commendable as may be the idea of admitting the wood for butter boxes free, the Minister has no right to penalize other industries, such as the fruit industry.
– The honorable member knows that hardwood will do for fruit cases.
– The interjections show how dangerous it is for us to attempt to deal in piecemeal fashion with the Tariff without the necessary information as to the result. I am given to understand that some 40 per cent. of the white pine imported is used for butter boxes, and the balance chiefly for fruit cases, rabbit cases, cheese cases, preserved milk cases, and’ so forth. I do not think I can better state the case than by quoting a paragraph from a circular received from Pearsons Proprietary Limited yesterday as follows : - it is estimated by those in the business that 35 per cent, to 40 per cent, of the total white pine imported is used- in butter-boa making, which states the position more clearly as. regards this timber; then another 1.5 per cent to 20 per cent. of the white pine is used as shelving, a use for which practically no Aus tralian timber is suitable.
– The honorable member shows clearly how utterly incapable this Committee is of dealing with the Tariff without inquiry. The circular proceeds -
The balance of imported white pine (the offcuts), is used in various industries, such as making fish, cheese, rabbit, potato, onion, and poultry crates, fruit, jam, and malt cases, sultana and raisin trays, &c. ; also in the furniture trade, for which a light weight and white timber is demanded (such as for cheap table tops, safes, &c), and practically the only other timber that would be accepted for the bulk of these boxes and crates would be American spruce, Pacific and Japanese pines, so that under the present conditions of the Tariff it will be foreign timbers (not Australian) that will benefit by the lessened imports of New Zealand pines, as no doubt the New Zealand red pine and cheaper lines of kauri, which, besides white pine, have been used for the above articles, will probably come into the Commonwealth in lesser quantities as they will not be able to pay the proposed rise of duty and compete with the cheap foreign pines.
Thi., I think, fairly summarizes the position. I admit the difficulty that we have to accept ex -parte statements of this kind, and urge that we ought not to be placed at that serious disadvantage.
– The Minister is in the same position.
– I apprehend that the Minister has satisfied himself in some way, though he has given us no information as to the foundation of his recommendations.
– Does the honorable member think that it would have been better to leave the Tariff as it was?
– What I say is that the alterations are not sound and good.
– And, therefore, that the Tariff should have been left as it was?
– Not at all j but I think the Minister’s recommendations are capable of amendment so as to do justice all round. Motor car chassis under the Tariff of 1908 were subject to a duty of 5 per cent, general Tariff, and free from the United Kingdom. It is now proposed to subject them to duties of 15 and 10 per cent, respectively. According to the information at hand, this proposal is unwarranted and far-reaching in its effects, and will hamper a growing trade and discourage the use of industrial motor vehicles. I am informed that the new duty will average £40 per commercial car lorry, and give a serious set-back to the movement for the use of motor vehicles for carriage and tran-* sit purposes. The outcome will probably be that cars will be imported completely made up, whereas up to the present the chassis have been imported free or subjected to a duty of only 5 per cent., and the bodies of the cars have been made here. The proposal to encourage the assembling of the cars here will not, I am informed, be of any real value, because the cars are made up in the Old Country and tested before they are sent out here, and to pull them to pieces again in order to send them out here in parts would be an expensive process. It would be much cheaper to pay the higher duty and import the cars complete. What I most object to about this item is that it will be a serious blow to the motor body industry of Australia, which is becoming a splendid one. The practice is to import the chassis and make the bodies here. A vast number of men are employed in the industry, and are doing excellent work. It is within my own knowledge that the motor body makers have been so busy throughout Victoria, and I believe it is the same in the other States, that it is most difficult to get them to undertake any extra work at the present time. The manufacturers have made a very strong protest in this connexion. It was publicly stated by one of them that -
The effect of putting a duty of 10 per cent. British, and 15. per cent, foreign, on motor-car chassis would be that complete motor-cars would be imported, and therefore the body-building trade of Victoria would be ruined. It was flourishing now, and men earning satisfactory wages would be thrown out of employment. He estimated that 300 men would be affected in Melbourne and its suburbs. The difference in the freight from England between a chassis and a complete car was only £2.
– If you and the Minister of Trade and Customs, who are the two archProtectionists of Victoria, cannot agree about this matter, how do you expect us to do so?
– I suppose, like other honorable members, I have received a number of letters from various workers throughout my constituency interested in these items, pointing out their serious effects and the probable consequent loss of employment in many cases.
– Chassis are being made in Auburn.
– Why should they cease to make bodies here because chassis are imported ?
– Because the chassis is the raw material, so to speak, and if taxed, as proposed, it will be cheaper to import the whole car. When chassis are brought out here the local manufacturers build bodies for them, and I am informed that the imposition of a duty on chassis will cause the complete cars to be importedWhile this proposal is made by the Minister in the utmost good faith, it will create an anomaly resulting immediately in loss of employment to some 300 workmen. We cannot consider that with equanimity.
– Those are only ex parte statements.
– They are statements made by manufacturers and workmen alike.
– Similar statements are made every time a Tariff is introduced.
– The point I am making is that the Committee is utterly incapable of dealing with questions of the kind without the fullest information and evidence.
– Why did the manufacturers want a duty before? They wanted a duty on both the chassis and the body.
– They made no representations of that kind to me. Another item which is going to cause a serious anomaly is that of flannelette. At present flannelette is dutiable at 5 per cent., general Tariff, and free from the United Kingdom. It is now proposed to make what is called inflammable flannelette dutiable at 25 and 20 per cent, respectively, while admitting non-inflammable flannelette at the old rates; the non-inflammable to be dealt willi by certain departmental tests. I believe it is possible by a chemical process to make flannelette temporarily noninflammable.
– And inferior.
– Exactly. Inquiry, however, will demonstrate that when flannelette so treated has been washed three or four times it becomes just as inflammable as before. It is also urged that the chemical process makes it more or less injurious to health. The important point is that we are seeking to do by means of the Tariff something which is outside the province of the Tariff altogether. The object sought to be achieved by the Minister is a matter rather for merchandise or health legislation. The question of the inflammable nature of flannelette has been the subject of inquiry by an Imperial Commission. It was also considered by the Tariff Commission, of which the honorable member for Bendigo was chairman. They decided that on the evidence brought before them they were not justified in making any recommendation on the subject. In view of the facts I have stated, it is a delusion and a snare to attempt to discriminate between inflammable and non-inflammable flannelette in the way now proposed. The proposal does not attempt to protect any industry. It is simply intended by a process of penalization to discourage the importation of flannelette, which after all is no more inflammable than calico. The Government might as well say they will penalize the introduction of calico. In Australia there are now large establishments where flannelette is made up into garments. These will be seriously interfered with by the proposed duty, which will probably lead to the introduction of an inferior and much more injurious class of material than that at present in use. Flannelette is used mainly by the workers, who will therefore be hit most by the duty. We therefore ought to pause before adopting this proposal to discriminate. I am told that it is completely unworkable, and if attempted to be put into force will result in vexatious delays, and be, at the best, most unsatisfactory. There is another item which shows the far-reaching effect of even these simple proposals, lt is intended to impose a duty of 25 per cent, on oil or water colour paintings other than those by Australian students or those presented to public art galleries or similar institutions. It is a retrograde step to attempt the taxation of art or literature by Tariff means. I would suggest to the Minister that it might be desirable to charge perhaps a fixed duty on pictures of the value of, say, £25 or less, but it would be a serious mistake to attempt to fax pictures of greater value and discourage their importation into Australia, thereby discouraging their educational effect. Our anxiety should always be for the greater education of the people.
– Why do not rich Australians patronize Australian artists here?
– I want Australian artists to be protected, but do not think that we ought to discourage the introduction of valuable and beautiful pictures.
– The whole proposal is ridiculous.
– My honorable friend, who is in a position to judge a matter of this kind, says that the whole proposal is ridiculous. If the Government desire to take action in this direction, let them impose a fixed duty on pictures of the value of £25, or such other amount as the ‘Committee shall determine. But do not let us discourage the introduction of beautiful pictures which must have a great educational value.
– In any case, we ought to remember that there are Australian students of art in London.
– And their pictures will be taxed when it is sought to bring them into their native land.
– They will not be taxed under this proposal, since they will, be the work of Australian students.
– It is also proposed to increase the duty on looping for boots. That is a very small item, but it affects a big industry. Looping for boots, with names woven thereon, was exempt from duty until the 1st inst.
– No; such material previously came in under item 108. The duty has been increased.
– I am informed that it was duty free until the 1st inst. I am further informed that one or two attempts have been made to manufacture these loops in Australia, but that they have, unfortunately, failed. This proposal will aim a blow at one of our greatest industries, and unless there is some real justification for it, we should not agree to it.
– Looping for boots is being made here.
-Some told me that it was not being made, while one man said that it was, but that that which he had seen was so unsatisfactory that it could not be used. The last anomaly to which I shall refer is contained in division 12, which deals with leather and rubber. It is proposed to add to item 353 a new sub-item, providing for a duty of 5s. per hide on “ hides limed or fleshed or split.” I understand that for a considerable time hides limed, fleshed, split, and haired have been regularly imported from New Zealand, but that the imposition of this duty will prevent their further importation.
– Why can we not produce hides as good as those which are produced in New Zealand?
– We ought to be able to do so, but we are putting the cart before the horse. New Zealand has stringent laws regarding branding and flaying. The hides are thus protected from flaws and blemishes, with the result .that industries have been long since established to deal with these hides in the way mentioned, and a ready market is commanded outside. It costs about is. od. per hide to prepare hides in the manner referred to. I believe some slight effort has been made to deal with hides in this way in Australia, but unfortunately Australian hides are so scarred and cut about, and the branding is so irregular, that it is impossible to make satisfactory use of them in this way.
– We want to hear the other side.
– I have given the Committee an ex parte statement as made to me. If it were possible to induce the State Governments to effectively regulate the branding and flaying of hides this item would be fully justified, and 1 should be one of the first to support it. I have here a statement from a local firm of tanners that -
The fact of these .hides being duty free has also enabled us to supply ‘very large quantities of the finished article in competition with the outside world to the various States, and also New Zealand. The imposition of a duty as proposed by the Ministry means the annihilation of our industry, for it will be impossible for us to carry on, as the average Australian hides offering at the present time will not suit our purpose, having far too many blemishes, owing to being badly and excessively branded, carelessly flayed, and full of cuts, scratches, and scars, and until legislation is brought into existence compelling greater care in connexion with this - one of our natural products - an alteration cannot be hoped for. Therefore, to impose this duty can hardly be considered in the interests of the public as it will confer an advantage on no one, but will force out of existence a growing industry and compel the users -of high-class leather to import their requirements.
I have also the further statement that -
The labour expended on these hides after we receive them from New Zealand costs considerably over 15s. per hide in wages paid, which are based upon rates much higher than those determined upon by the Wages Boards in connexion with the tanners and curriers industry, and the proposed duty means sacrificing the whole of this besides preventing the public from obtaining the high-grade” leather we are enabled to manufacture by virtue of being able to secure a special selection of skins for practically no gain to the worker seeing that, as previously stated, the amount of wages paid for the preparing of the hides in the manner referred to in the proposed Tariff does not exceed is. od. per hide.
I have referred by way of illustration to a few cases showing the anomalous and farreaching character of some of these proposals. They indicate that we need fuller and more complete information. I now wish to cite a few cases where investigation is urgently demanded, and where possibly increased duties would be imposed, or at least adjustments of different items would be made, if full inquiry were made. They are only a ‘ few out of many cases which could be cited. I refer to them to demonstrate the necessity for a board of trade or some such body to conduct these investigations. If the Minister, before the present session ends, were to make some proposal for the appointment of a permanent body such as that to which I have referred, I do not think it would receive much opposition, and I am certain that by next session the beneficial result of doing so would be fully demonstrated, because that body would be in a position to supply us with information that would enable us to make at once at least a partial revision of the Tariff in a satisfactory manner. Two sessions have already passed without any serious attempt at Tariff revision, and it ill becomes us to allow another to pass without securing that information which would enable us to proceed intelligently, instead of blindly as we are doing at present. I recall to mind a few illustrations of cases where, as I have said, investigation is urgently required, and which could be conducted by a board of trade during the recess. Our imports of boots and shoes, n.e.i., for instance, in 1908 were of the value of £193,734, whereas in 19 10 they had increased to £262,421.
– Not one boot manufacturer has asked for an increase.
– Throughout the last general election there was hardly a public meeting in Victoria at which a demand for increased protection for the boot industry was not made.
– - There are more boot factories in my electorate than in any other, yet no such demand has been made to me.
– I am speaking only of the platform experience of myself and many other honorable members. If there is any industry in which we have excelled it is the boot trade. We can make boots as well as can any other country.
– Tell us of what these increased imports consisted.
– The case made out by the manufacturers is that the wages paid have been increased very largely, and have relatively affected the duty. They therefore say that an increased duty is required. For instance, in 1908 the wages paid ranged from 42s. to 48s. per week, whereas in 1910 they ran up to 54s. per week. Another industry requiring investtigation is that relating to apparel. We are annually importing something like £1,000,000 worth of apparel.
– And local manufacturers cannot supply their orders.
– That means that we should introduce a larger number of workers, so that we may extend our industries and do justice to them.
– And give better wages ?
– I hope so. There are already five boards in that industry.
– The bootmakers tried to avail themselves of the Arbitration Court, and found that they could not do so.
– Apparel is duri, able under item 106 at 40 per cent, and 35 per cent. The importation in 1906 of minor articles was worth £174,638, and that of apparel and attire and articles n.e.i. over £1,000,000. Yet the only thing done to assist this industry is to make woven coat hangers and labels dutiable at 40 and 35 per cent., instead of at 30 and 25 per cent. There is a great deal of dumping in this line which the Minister might have taken some steps to prevent,
– The honorable member for Kooyong did nothing, although a big. deputation waited on him.
– The last Ad-, ministration did as much work as could be done in the time, and made proposals to the country.
– For a board 1
– To scientifically inquire into the whole subject.
– We desired that Parliament should proceed on information, and not be asked to deal with the Tariffblindly. The Canadian Customs Tariff contains this provision -
Whenever it appears to the satisfaction of the Minister that the export price or the actual selling price to the importer in Canada of any imported dutiable article, of a class or kind made or produced in Canada, is less than the fair market value, such article shall, in addition to the duty otherwise established, be subject to special duty equal to the difference betweensuch fair market value and such selling price.
We might well adopt a similar principle, and by an improvement on the Canadian Act prevent the dumping which does such injury to our industries, and is frequently resorted to to kill them, with a view to a subsequent increase of importations. Confectionery making is an industry which has reached large proportions, as the honorable member for Batman knows. In 1906, our imports of confectionery were valued at £116,305, and in 1910 at £186,162. Wages have also increased. Whereas the wages for males in 1908 went up to 50s. a week, in 19 10 they went up to 54s. a week, while for females they increased from 17s. to 20s. Earthenware-making has been successfully undertaken all through Australia, and is an industry capable of large extension. In 1906 the imports of brownware and stoneware were valued at £140,857, and in 1910 at £191,637. On tiles for flooring the duties are now 30 and 25 per cent. These tiles are imported in tanks, and used for ballast, so that they come out at low rates for carriage. The rates of wages in the industry in England are 15 per cent., and in European countries such as France and Germany, 50 per cent, lower than our rates. The importations of tiles have increased in value from £27,097 in 1906, to £46,086 in 1910. In the agricultural implement making industry the value of the importations of mowers, reapers, and reapers and binders has increased from £[15,778 in 1908 to £17,635 in *9, and the value of other importations of agricultural implements from £35,075 in 1906 to ;£6l,737 in 1910.
– Does the honorable member suggest higher duties?
– Possibly, or an adjustment of the Tariff. At present we have an all-round duty of 20 per cent, on oil engines, which are imported wholesale, mostly from America. The value of the importations under this head in 1906 was £98,983, and in 1910 £124,732. The rates of wages in this country have increased 15 per cent, during the same period. No attempt is made to protect the making of oil engines. The present protection to the hat and cap making industry is ineffective, because of the keenness of foreign competition. In Italy the hours worked are from 60 to 70 per week, and the wages paid from- 15s. to 25s. The value of the importations of hats of fur and wool increased from £118,474 in 1908, to £141,670 in 19.10, and of minor articles for hats and caps from £134,378 in 1906, 10 .£233,792 in. 1910.
– In those lines, the local manufacturers cannot supply the raw material.
– That is true.
– Then why increase the protection?
– The facts are a reason for importing the necessary workers. We should see that our industries expand as much as possible. We shall lack enterprise if we do not provide for the undertaking by our people of all the work that is available for them.
– Will not prices be increased if the duties are raised?
– The Home or internal competition will keep prices at a reasonable level. Our policy in regard to bags and sacks differs from that of other countries. The people of the Argentine make their own bags, and nine-tenths of the bags used in America are made locally. The Canadian duty is 35 per cent., that of the United States 45 per cent., and that of the Argentine 40 per cent. The value of our importations of corn and flour bags was £681,676 in 1909, and £1,030,985 in 1910. I do not propose to make further suggestions as to the industries requiring more protection by the raising of duties or their readjustment; I have said enough to indicate the need for an investigation, and to impress upon honorable members how necessary it is that another session should not pass before we have obtained the information required to deal effectively with this subject. The facts prove the need for a board of trade, or an advisory board, to collect information. In Germany there is an Imperial Consultative Board, and during the preparation of the last Tariff no fewer than 2,000 experts were consulted. In the United States of America, in September, 1909, an Advisory Board was appointed to deal with Tariff matters. Its duty is to watch the operation of every item in the Tariff, to ascertain the chief sources of supply at home and abroad, and the uses to which the Tariff items are applied, and to collect all requisite statistics, so that Congress may be furnished with the most exhaustive information. The establishment of a board’ of trade to deal with Tariff matters is a leading plank of the policy of the new Canadian Government. Australia is ripe for the creation of such a board. Protection is our acknowledged and settled policy, and .we need machinery for continuous inquiry and investigation, so that Parliament, in dealing with the
Tariff, may be furnished with full particulars regarding the position of every industry. Finality in Tariff matters cannot be expected. A Tariff must be kept up to date, and in conformity with the requirements of the country. That can only be done as the result of a precise and continuous investigation of all the factors of production, including cheapness of transit, and other operating causes. The Act denning the duties of the American Bureau of Manufactures says -
It shall be the province and duty of the said Bureau, under the direction of the Secretary, to foster, promote, and develop the various manufacturing industries of the United States and markets for the same at home and abroad, domestic and foreign, by gathering, compiling, publishing, and supplying all available and useful information concerning such industries and such markets, and by such other methods and means as may be prescribed by the Secretary or provided by law. And all consular officers of the United States, including Consuls-General, Consuls, and commercial agents, are .hereby required, and it is made a part of their duty, under the direction of the Secretary of State, to gather and compile, from time to time, useful and material information and statistics in respect to the subjects enumerated in section three of this Act in the countries and the places to which such consular officers are accredited, and to send, under the direction of the Secretary of State, reports as often as required by the Secretary of Commerce and Labour of the information and statistics thus gathered and compiled.
We require a body capable of undertaking a grave and important work of this kind. The last matter to which I desire to refer is one dealt with in an interview reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 8th December last with Mr. Arthur Kidman, who has had a large hand in building up the frozen meat and butter trade between Australia, Canada, and the United States, on the question of reciprocal trade with the Dominion. Mr. Kidman, in this interview, put forward a special plea for preference on the ground of the loss Australia is sustaining in the meantime. The report of “the interview commences by saying that -
Trade is gradually slipping away from the Commonwealth and going to New Zealand instead, owing to the fact that the latter now has first call on the refrigerated space in the mail steamers, and enjoys a Tariff advantage over Australia of a £d. per pound on both meat and butter under a reciprocal arrangement.
That is a very serious handicap so far as Australia is concerned -
It is undoubtedly a fact that Australia is most advantageously placed for the purpose of acting as food suppliers to the west coast of Canada and America, also interior points, and providing a substantial reduction of their duty took place, our exports of food products - frozen meat, butter, canned . meats, onions, potatoes, fresh fruits, &c, but particularly the three former - would decidedly show a rapid increase.
Let me point out in very few words the position of affairs. The total value of Australian exports to Canada in 1910 was £100,398. I may say that the proposal is that there shall be extended to Canada the same preference that is now extended to the United Kingdom ; and if that were done, of this £100,398 worth of exports, £63,000 worth would be subject to preference. The butter exported to Canada last year was 570,416 lbs., valued at £26,967. This butter is liable under the present arrangement to a duty of 2d. per lb., whereas, with a preference, the duty would have been 1½d., thus showing a loss to Australia of £1,188. The exports of mutton and lamb were 2,331,652 lbs., valued at £23,745. The present duty is 1½d. per lb., and the preferential duty would have been id., showing a loss to Australia of £4,857. The tinned meats exported were valued at £5,746. The duty on these meats at present is 27^ per cent., and the .preferential duty would have been 17J per cent., showing a loss to Australia of £574. The onions exported were valued at £2,757. The duty is 30 per cent., and the preferential duty would have been 15 per cent., showing a loss of £413. The total loss to Australia in excess duty paid on produce in Canada amounts to £;7,74o. I now desire to show how easily at the present time a reciprocal arrangement could be made with Canada. The total value of the imports from Canada in 1910 was £802,045. Of this the portion which would have been subject to Australian preference amounted to £119,612, and the portion not so subject to £682,433. This shows a loss to Canadian exporters, in excess duties paid, of £6,562. Honorable members will see that the total loss to Australia was £7,440, and the total loss to Canada £6,562 ; and, with figures so close, an adjustment might easily be made. The steamers subsidies paid by Canada are: to the Vancouver steamers £37,091, and to the Montreal and St. John’s steamers £24,660, or a total of £61,751, equivalent to about 7$ per cent, on the total exports. Before leaving office, I prepared a Bill, having for its object the extension of the British preference to Canada, and it is available to the Minister. As the Minister is aware, the Canadian Government are prepared to make a reciprocal arrangement by which they will give us the benefit of their minimum Tariff, provided . we give them the benefit of the British preference; and I think that, even this session, there is time to bring about a reciprocity which would result in a large expansion of our primary industries. I urge on the Government two things most strongly - one is to bring in that Bill, and the other to seriously consider the advisability of establishing an advisory board, so that we may have the benefit of its conclusions when next we are called upon to effectively deal with Tariff revision.
.- The honorable member for Kooyong has made a very long speech, on which, however, I cannot compliment him. Although he is a Protectionist he has endeavoured’ to blame the Government for doing what they can in the way of Tariff revision at this present stage of business in the House. But who was it prevented anything being done when I introduced the subject of Tariff revision some time ago? Was it not the members of the party with which the honorable member for Kooyong is now associated? And, regarding the Tariff, the opposition then came from ten Victorian representatives, who said they were Protectionists, but who voted Free Trade whenever they had the opportunity. Had that not been so, we should at the present time have had a much better Tariff. We have now arrived at a time when long speeches are unnecessary, and we should strictly confine ourselves to the essence of what we desire to say or what we wish to see done. I should like to know from the Chairman, or from the Minister, whether a private member will be at liberty to move any amendment in the way of an addition to these duties?
– That is for the Chairman to say
– I should certainly rule any such amendment out of order.
– Then honorable members are placed in a rather awkward position. I do not remember whether it was the present Speaker or the late Speaker, Sir Frederick Holder, who ruled that such an amendment would be in order.
– It was Sir Frederick Holder.
– I do not know the opinion of the present Speaker, but it is rather anomalous to ask us to discuss this matter if we are not to be allowed to move amendments. I should now like to know from the Minister whether if what he considers a righteous amendment is suggested he will accept it.
– I must, of course, know what the amendment is before I can give an answer.
– Will there be a hard-and-fast rule that no amendment shall be accepted ? I do not suggest that many amendments should be suggested or moved, but there are certainly some which could be adopted with advantage. The honorable member for Kooyong blamed the Government for not bringing down these proposalssooner. But what did honorable membersopposite do when I introduced similar proposals two and a half years ago? The Government at that time would not do anything in the way of Tariff revision, and 1 submitted about 184 items. We could not expect anything else from a Government made up of half Protectionists and half Free Traders - we could never expect a Tariff worthy of the name from such a medley.
– Half the Government supporters are Free Traders !
– I do not think so; they have not said so. There may be Free Traders, but, under the peculiar circumstances, they are hot prepared to carry out their Free Trade ideas.
– They helped! the honorable member through with hisTariff all right.
– Then they are Protectionists. Those who should have helped me did not do so; and if they had been treated on their merits at the last election, they would have been rejected, because they belied the principles on which they were sent here.
– The Protectionists helped the honorable member.
– The Protectionists never did what, the Free Traders did - speak for three hours at a time, like the honorable member for Lang and his colleagues ! I am glad that the Minister has made this revision proposal, for, small though it may be, it is something. I understand that the Government propose this session to deal only with anomalies, and to that extent they are carrying out their pledges; but next session the whole Tariff ought to be dealt with. Honorable members will then be put in their proper place, and will have to go before the country either as Free Traders or Protectionists.
– On both sides?
– This side is all right - it is the honorable members opposite who have to assimilate themselves to the new conditions.
– What will the poor Chairman do?
– I do not know what the “-poor Chairman” will do, but he is having a very easy time now,, and, no doubt, next session, when we are dealing with the Tariff as a whole he will have an equally easy time, because there will be assistance. So much for the honorable member’s statement that if that Ministry had remained in power the anomalies would have. been rectified before now. As a matter of fact, they would never have been touched. We should never have, had a revision of the Tariff from the party now in Opposition.
– We should have had a board considering the matter.
– A very good thing, too. Sir WILLIAM LYNE. - I do not think it would be a good thing. It would be altogether wrong. Very little notice was taken of the large amount of work done by the Tariff Commission, of which the honorable member for Bendigo was chairman. If we had a board with nothing to induce them to carry out either a Protectionist or Free Trade policy, and with no responsibility, we should have no results. We must have a party bias if we are to have Protection or Free Trade, and it must be carried out on party lines. I do not believe in this wishy-washy proposal -to have a board to bury tariffism so that it will not be heard of again. What is wanted is a live man in the Customs Department to deal with the question. I have heard the Leader of the Opposition suggest the appointment of a Tariff board, but I never was, and never will be, in favour of it. The proposal is ridiculous. I see the Age to-day advocates the appointment of a board. Does the Age want to drop its Protectionist views?
– The Age will become a convert to Free Trade yet.
– It looks like it when it advocates the appointment of a board. I do not like to see it. There are a number of items which ought to appear in this amendment of the Tariff, but I shall refer only to one or two of them. I see no proposal to impose a duty on iron and steel. I am sorry, because there certainly should be a duty on them, but I suppose we must wait until next year for it. It is the only way to get over the difficulties which the industry has to face at present. It is an industry which every Australian, whether Free Trader or Protectionist, ought to assist before any other, but we cannot do it unless a proper duty is imposed. I have tried three or four times to have a duty placed on iron and steel, but have failed. That is the only reason why I had to fall back upon the proposal for a bounty brought forward. I never believed in a bounty in comparison with a straight out duty. The honorable member for Kooyong referred to flannelette. Apparently Ee does not know that the late Mr. Kingston, when Minister of Trade and Customs, imposed a duty on flannelette. He was stronger on that question than any man I ever heard, because he thought it was dangerous to use so much flannelette, people imagining when they bought this cheap stuff that it was -flannel, and a great many young people having been injured in consequence.
– Do not you think it ought to be prohibited?
– I think the honorable member is quite right. It ought practically to. be prohibited. I venture to think that a woollen of thin, light texture would be made to fill the gap if a heavy duty were placed on flannelette.
– Have you put -it to a practical test? What they say about making it non-inflammable is all bunkum.
– The Department have prescribed a test, and flannelette which complies with those conditions may, to a certain extent,- be reliable, although it is not wholly so. The only way to stop the bad effects of its use is to impose a good duty on it, or to prohibit it.
– There are several other materials just as bad. Why not prohibit them all?
– They ought- to be stopped if they are as bad, because mothers buy these materials for their little children on account of their cheapness, thinking that they are putting good flannel on the little ones. The honorable member has no conception of the number of infants that have been burnt to death, or have taken colds through the use of flannelette. I hope the Minister will stick to the duty in that case. There is no provision in this Tariff for husking rice in bond. The omission of that is a very serious thing. The millers used to husk in bond, and send the rice out without paying the duty, and receive a good sum of money for it. According to the Tariff as it now stands, that is to be knocked on the head, because the duty causes more to be paid than can be obtained outside. The honorable member for Kooyong referred to the chassis of motor cars. When I brought down the Tariff of 1907-8, I included the chassis as well as the body, and every one who had anything to do with the manufacture of chassis or motor cars was delighted. They were very angry with me when I agreed to take the duty off chassis ; but I did so because I was informed that they could not be made here. I hear that they are now being made in one or two places in Australia, and certainly manufacturers are getting very close to it when they make the fine engines which are now turned out for motor boats. If the chassis cannot be made here, I say, “ Do not impose a duty “ .; but if there is any prospect of making them, and making, them well, most decidedly the duty ought to be imposed. The bodies now made here are better than the imported ones. They are made to suit the country and the climate by people who know what is required. The same thing applies to buggies and other vehicles. I am glad to learn from the honorable member for Dalley that chassis are now being made in New South Wales. We can make .everything of this kind, if we can make it at all, more suitable for the country than can people elsewhere who do not know anything about Australian conditions. That is the secret of the success of the American vehicles and machinery, because there is some similarity between their conditions and ours. Chassis made in France, Germany, England, or elsewhere, cannot be as well adapted to our conditions as those that will be made in Australia. If the Minister has satisfied himself that they can be made here, I hope he will retain the duty on them’. A board to deal with the Tariff will never give satisfaction. The only body that could get valuable information would be the Inter-State commission; but the man above all others who can obtain that information, because he has an army of assistants to help him, is the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– But he will not let us have any of the information he gets.
– I undertake that he will give honorable members everything but confidential information.
– Even the Ministry do not know it.
– The Minister is quite right to keep secret some of the information that has been sent to him. If a Minister of Trade and Customs is bringing down a Tariff, he is not supposed to divulge the fact to the world before he puts it on the table.
– Are we supposed to vote without having the information?
– Once the Tariff has been brought down, the whole of the information is placed on the table, but not before.
– The Minister, in answer to the honorable member for Parkes, .said he would not disclose any of the information. t
– I said I would not disclose anything confidential, nor will I.
– The Minister can get information better than can any one else. A board may sometimes get information, but not the information that the Minister needs and can get. He, and he alone is the proper authority to frame a. Tariff. He has to defend it when he introduces it. If, however, the task is left, to an outside board or commission, whois going to justify it in the House? It will be a case of “ What is everybody’s business is nobody’s business,” and we shall’ never get a Tariff worth twopence. Bismarck, when he brought in his great German Tariff, obtained all the information, necessary, and placed his Tariff on the table, lt has worked wonders; but Bismarck did not arrive at it by appointing a. board to secure him the information.
– I am afraid we have not got a Bismarck here at present.
– It is abouttime we had some one of that calibre. The honorable member for Kooyong referred toreciprocal trade with Canada. I was deputed by the then Ministry to try to arrange a reciprocal Tariff with that country, and, with that object in view, met Sir Wilfrid Laurier in London. iHe gave me a list of what he desired that we should admit free. It comprised all the machinery manufactured in Canada by the MasseyHarris Company, the International Harvester people, and other Canadian firms. These were the articles which Sir Wilfrid* Laurier wanted us to allow to be dumped’ here, to the detriment of our own manufacturers. I submitted my list of what we could admit, but he would have nothing to do with it. The whole kernel of their request was that we should allow their machinery to be admitted free to compete with our own people. It was impossible to get any reciprocal trade’ arrangement under those conditions., and that is what is wrong now. The Government may try as much as they like, but the only reciprocal Tariff they could get with Canada would do a great injury to our manufacturers. I should like to see a reciprocal arrangement with Canada, if possible, but we must not surrender the interests of our own people to Canada, or any other country. I told Sir Wilfrid Laurier that if the Massey-Harris or the International Harvester people liked to come to Australia to manufacture, they would be very welcome ; but they would have to do the work here under our own Tariff, and not in Canada under the Canadian Tariff, sending it here to compete with our own people. We also tried to arrange a reciprocal Tariff with New Zealand. We should have had a really good one in that case if that great man, Mr. Seddon, had lived. I have in my possession at present documents which he signed agreeing to a reciprocal Tariff with Australia. He carried so much weight, that he would have put it through; but his successor, Sir Joseph Ward, would not have it. If the Ministry desire to arrange a reciprocal Tariff with New Zealand I think that they will have but little difficulty in securing one that will give satisfaction. I do not think, however, that it is possible to secure reciprocity with Canada for some time to come. The Canadians produce little that we really require, and we cannot afford to allow them to compete with our local manufacturers. When I was in England I had an opportunity of listening to leading members of both the Commons and the Lords, and I found that, save on some subject of special interest such, for instance, as the Budget, none of them spoke very iong. I heard Mr. Balfour and Mr. Asquith speak in the Commons, and I also heard the leading members of the House of Lords, and not one of them spoke for more than half an hour.
– Does the honorable member intend to connect these remarks with the Tariff?
– I do, by pointing out that I intend to follow that excellent pattern by making at this stage only a short speech. I should not like to set an example in the way of long speeches to the honorable member for Lang and some other honorable members of the Opposition.
– The honorable member does not think it wise for him to speak very long on this question ?
– I do not. The Ministry are to be commended for bringing down even this amendment of the Tariff, because they are doing what the late Government did not, and would not do.
– We were not given a chance.
– The late Government had the chance, but would not, and dared not, avail itself of it. Would the honorable member for Parramatta have been a party to the introduction of a Tariff?
– Not a Protectionist Tariff.
– And we want no other. I trust that next session the whole Tariff question will be brought under review. As the honorable member who preceded me remarked, a Tariff can never be wholly settled ; it must be constantly under review in some form or other.
– The only way to settle it is to wipe it out altogether.
– I know that the honorable member would do that if he had his way. He would bring us to the level of the blackfellow, so that we should pay wages equal to those received by the Fijians or other South Sea Islanders. If Australia is to be progressive - if her people are to learn to manufacture all that we require - we must have Protection. We have the raw material to meet all our requirements, and. every inducement should be offered to the people to make up that raw material. Free Traders say that Protection means increased cost. I join issue with them, and contend that a Protective duty will only increase the price of the article to which it relates. until the local manufacturers get into full swing. That stage having been reached, internal competition soon leads to a reduction in prices.
– But local manufacturers are always asking for more Protection. We could never satisfy them.
– We can; but they have never had full Protection, and there will not be any rest until we are manufacturing practically everything we re~ quire. We have also to overcome local prejudice. So strong was the prejudice against locally produced soap and boots that manufacturers here had to brand them as imported articles at one time, but I hope soon to see that prejudice overcome, and to see Australia manufacturing all that she requires for herself. During the last three years our imports have increased by leaps and bounds. A proportion of that increase may be due to the dearth of labour. Many people have told me that they cannot obtain the labour they require. For instance, the owner of a woollen factory told me yesterday that he could manufacture on a much larger scale if he could obtain more hands. I refer to Mr. Vicars.
– What is the use of putting on a Tariff if the local manufacturer cannot supply orders?
– I understand that the Government desired him to supply material for certain naval clothing, and that he could not meet the full requirements of the Department, because he was unable to obtain the necessary hands.
– Mr. Sparks, of the Parramatta Mills, makes the same statement.
– What Mr. Sparks says on this question is generally fairly correct. The present Leader of the Opposition joined with me, when the Tariff was under consideration, in making a promise that we should see that it was completed by providing for new Protection. I tried to be true to my promise; I wonder whether he thinks he has been true to his ? That promise, at all events, ought to be fulfilled. If the manufacturers are to be advantaged by Protection, the workers should receive a proportionate share of the benefit so conferred. The bulk of the Labour party gave me their assistance in passing the Tariff, and they gave it to me ,on the strength of the promise to which I have just referred. They desired that the workers should receive a share of the benefits’ that were being conferred on their employers.
– We also want the consumers to be protected.
– The honorable member is quite correct; the consumers were also to be protected. No time should be lost in providing for new Protection. If we .have not the power to pass the necessary legislation, ‘ we should take steps to obtain it, and not. deal with the referendum as the last was treated.
– Unfortunately, a number of manufacturers fought us on the rc fs rem d ci
– No doubt. Any man whose pocket is affected by a proposal will resist it.
– That means that manufacturers do not want to give good wages.
– That is not so. A Sydney manufacturer, in a large way of business, recently told me that he should be glad if wages were fixed all round. He said that he had to pay the standard rates, but he found that others in competition with him were not doing so. He would be glad to see every one compelled to pay good wages, so that all concerned would be placed on an equal footing. My feeling is that next session we shall have a revision of the whole Tariff. That is what I have been promised. Let us have it, and let us go to the country with an undivided front. If the Ministry have the good sense with which I credit them, they will not allow next session to close without dealing with the Tariff. Let us see who are the straightout Free Traders and who are the Protectionists in this House. We do not want a board, for it would only be a means of relieving Ministers of their responsibility and sink everything that was submitted to it. Indeed, I feel we shall soon be governed altogether by boards. Boards are being appointed here and there, and I certainly do not like, the system. Men must stand up and fight for their principles, but many are prepared to sneak out of their responsibilities if they can do so by appointing a board. The question of Protection vitally affects the interests of Australia, and we should never rest until we have in operation a complete system of Protection, coupled willi the policy of new Protection. I would ask the honorable member for Bendigo, who was Chairman of the Tariff Commission, and who, in that capacity, worked very hard, whether the recommendations of his Commission received all the consideration they .ought to have had, and which they would have received had it not been that honorable members stepped in. The position would be the same if a board of trade were appointed. The recommendations of a board or committee must stand the test of debate in this House, and, whilst in many cases I was able to assist the honorable member ‘for’ Bendigo as chairman of the Tariff Commission, the Committee would not listen to many of the proposals which that
Commission made. I intend to be true to my promise not to speak long at this stage, but I hope later on, when we come to deal with certain items, to go further into detail.
.- I regret that the honorable member for Hume has seen fit to make remarks that appear to reflect on a number of members of the Opposition. I would remind him of the obvious fact that the Opposition has not a monopoly of the Free Traders in this House. There are quite a large number of Free Traders among the Labour party, and I think, therefore, that the honorable member ought to recognise that if a reasonable case for a revision of the Tariff is made out, there are on both sides of the House plenty of honorable members able and willing to support such a revision, or to deal with special items, if a case is made out for their review. I do not know that there is any distinct group of members who, as suggested by the honorable member for Hume, wish to rip up the whole Tariff, after such a complete revision and classification as that to which it was subjected while the honorable member for Hume was in office. It is obvious, however, that in a great industrial country like Australia, where we have fluctuating changes, a Tariff must be dealt with according to the demands and requirements of the time, as well as in accordance with the weight of evidence and in the interests of the public. The honorable member seemed to be of _the opinion that the Minister of Trade and Customs should be the principal authority to deal with proposals for Tariff changes or modifications. The Minister of Trade and Customs has the responsibility of launching Tariff proposals, but to require him to enter into minute and complicated inquiries in regard to Tariff matters would be to impose an almost superhuman task. He is entitled to the best assistance of competent experts. I must express my appreciation of the difficulties which must have been encountered, even in the preparation of the small instalment of Tariff reform now under consideration. The Minister could not be expected to find time for the semi-judicial work required to determine the technical alterations needed1 in a Tariff, and the amendments necessary to secure the direct and indirect results which must be kept in view, and can be attained only by the constant modification of our industrial and commercial systems. The Minister, sitting in his office and surrounded by officials, h:is not the opportunity for investigating the causes which de termine industrial development. Parliament, in considering Tariff proposals, must have regard, not merely to individual interests, but also to great economic causes and influences. I regret that the Minister has not been able to submit comprehensive proposals. Notwithstanding the shortness of the time that has elapsed since the last revision of the Tariff, there have been great changes in our commercial system, demanding, in many cases, fresh inquiry, and the reconsideration of duties. I do not refer to small changes, but to serious evolutionary movements. They are reflected in the statistics relating to out importations. The honorable member for Kooyong dealt with: the increase of importations for the year 1909-10 as compared with previous years. I have a return showing the value of importations into the Commonwealth from oversea countries for the nine months ended 30th September, in a series of years, the figures being in accordance with the unrevised returns of the Central Customs Department. Leaving out of consideration the value of gold, silver, and bronze specie imported, the importations, of all merchandise for the nine months ended 30th September, 1908, were valued at £36,207, 122; for the same period of
I9°9> at £35>955>392 ; for the same period of 1910, at £42,510,000; and for the same period of 191 1, at £48,133,665. The figures for 191 1, as compared with those for 1910, show an increase of £5,500,000. These figures are so startling, and the increases are so regular, that they demand consideration. Further evidence of the increases is supplied by the Customs revenue for 1909-10, which was £9,500,000 ; while that for 1910-11 was £10,500,000, and that for 1911-12 is estimated at £11,154,000. It has been said that these increases are due, for the most part, to the great prosperity of the country, and the larger purchasing power of the people. I have made an examination of the imports, and I find that the importations for the first nine months of this year of articles of luxury were valued, in the case of beer and ale, at £50,000; champagne, at £50,000; spirits, such as brandy, whisky, and gin, at £210,140 - there was a falling off in the importation of rum ; confectionery, at £110.559 i unmanufactured tobacco, at £109,000; and manufactured tobacco, at £15,000. The increase in connexion with tobacco was about 30 per cent, in each case. This makes a total increase in imports of luxuries equal to about. £544,699. The increases in connexion with common articles, such as soft-goods, haberdashery, dress mantles, &c.-
– Surely those may be articles of luxury.
– But it is hard to differentiate. During the nine months ended September last, the increase under that head was £769,000. In metals and machinery, the increase in the value of importations was £533,000, 01 26 per cent. The increase in the importation of manufactures of metals, free, was £160,000, or 10 per cent., and of dutiable metals, £337,000, or 30 per cent. The increase in the importation of tools of trade, some of which are free, amounted to £130,000 ; earthenware, china, pottery, tiles, and so forth, £185,560; timber, £779:537 i boots and shoes, £10,000; cords and twine, £97,284.
– Will the honorable member be able to show the dividends paid during the nine months by the companies manufacturing these goods?
– I am now merely trying to classify these goods into luxuries and necessities, and showing that the increased importation is not all owing to the increased purchasing power of the people, which is, no doubt, expended upon articles of luxury-
– I hope the honorable member will be able to complete the analogy, and prove that these imports are stifling local industries.
– If the honorable member will permit, me. I shall proceed to make my statement of the case. I am trying to point out the deep undercurrent of forces, in order to justify my argument that the Minister ought to have submitted a more comprehensive statement, and not merely have asked for a few small, isolated alterations here and there, yielding, possibly, to the greatest clamour; to the neglect, it may be, of industries not so clamorous, but equally entitled to fair consideration. There has been a general increase in importation not only in the big items I have mentioned, but in ale and beer, animals, apparel and soft goods, boots and shoes, brushware, cement, clocks and watches, cocoa and chocolate, confectionery, cordage, and twines, drugs and chemicals, earthenware and china, fish of all kinds, furniture, hats and caps, agricultural implements, iron and steel bars, girders, galvanized-iron plate and sheet, jams . and jellies, jewellery, lamps and lampware, tobacco, and so forth. This list shows that the increase in imports is not owing merely to the general increase in the prosperity of the country, but must be owing to some other additional, supplementary cause ; and it was the duty of the Minister to submit to the House a more comprehensive and more reliable statement to justify even the limited revision to which he has invited our attention. Speaking generally, I find that, although his proposals number about 124 or 125, only about 30 involve what may be called substantial economic changes ; that is, duties imposed for the purpose of excluding imports, or in favour of protected industries, and duties taken off for a, similar purpose. But even with regard to these, I think that a more business-like statement ought to have been submitted, showing for what general reasons or particular reasons those increases are necessary in favour or for the benefit of protected industries. I am aware that, in addition to the admitted increased prosperity and increased purchasing power of the country, another cause has been suggested to account for the fact that Australian manufacturers have not been in a position to cope with the demands which have resulted in increased imports. It has been said that many of the Australian manufacturers have not been able to keep their factories going full-handed, for the simple reason that they have found it impossible to obtain the necessary skilled labour. I observe that when a recent deputation waited on the Minister, he said that the increase in the imports was due to the want of labour.
– I was quoting what the manufacturers had said.
– The Minister said that the manufacturers had attributed the increase of imports to the scarcity of labour, and had emphasized the higher cost of production everywhere. That is a very important phase, which I think ought to be taken into consideration in connexion with any proposed revision of the Tariff, whether that revision be great, or of a less ambitious character. If it be true, as the Minister was informed, that the increase in imports is due to the scarcity of labour, then Parliament and the country ought to know the fact. We ought to be placed in possession of reliable information in reference to this suggestion.
– It was the Chairman of the Liberal party, Mr. McNeilage, who made the statement.
– The Minister has said that the statement was made by the manufacturers. In any case, we are entitled to know whether it is the principal cause, or merely a subordinate or. accessory cause. I have no doubt that, whoever made the statement, made it for solid reasons; and if that be so, Parliament ought to be placed in a position, if possible, to rectify the grievance. Personally, I believe there is a great deal in the statement. I have seen assertions of a similar character made in the public press, namely, that a number of our mills, at present in the enjoyment of protective duties, are not able to secure the necessary hands. When I was on my way to England in the Orvieto, I met a woollen manufacturer, who was going Home to endeavour to secure the services of a number of expert employes whom he could not secure in Australia under the present working conditions. The honorable member for Hume, in his concluding remarks, very properly made reference to a similar complaint he had heard. It, therefore, appears that scarcity of labour may be the reason why Australian manufacturers are not able to cope with the demands of the public, and why there is a tendency to increased imports. Under such circumstances, the Commonwealth Government ought to facilitate inquiries, and facilitate action in order to encourage the introduction of skilled labour, which may be utilized in our present factories, and in the establishment of other industries. A third cause for the increased importations is suggested in the complaint of manufacturers that, even when they are able to obtain the very best labour required, they are not able to compete with imports for a variety of reasons, amongst which is the fact that importers have been able to get finished articles turned but at low sweating rates of wages in England and on the Continent. There is also the important fact that within the last few years, since the revision of the Tariff, there has been, in all the States of Australia, an upward tendency in wages in nearly all the protected industries. This tendency, together with improved conditions in the shape of reduced hours, must have told most materially on the output and prospects of a number of our industries. Under the circumstances, the Minister of Trade and Customs, before he submitted even this limited scheme, ought to have taken steps to investigate these various suggested explanations for the increased imports during the last three years. It is utterly impossible for the Minister to have launched any such complete investigation as I have indicated. I have had experience of one Tariff Commission, and I know the recondite and complicated character of such an inquiry. I know how troublesome such an investigation is - how many are the conflicting issues and interests involved, even in an apparently simple proposal. In proposing a duty on one item it may be found that we are touching the raw material of some industry - that the finished article of one industry is the raw material of another. It is necessary to trace line after line, and item after item in order to ascertain the true correlation; and no Minister would be justified in responding to an appeal through the post, or through a deputation, on the part of one manufacturer, or even a group of manufacturers, for increased duties, without making inquiry into the possibility of imposing burdens and difficulties on other manufacturers. No Minister of Customs, with the burden of parliamentary and Ministerial responsibility on him, can be expected to enter into an investigation of the far-reaching ramifications of Tariff proposals of the kind to which I refer. This, I think, constitutes the strongest argument in favour of having a periodical Tariff commission to deal with these questions as they become acute, or, in default of such a commission, a standing board. I do not know that the work would be sufficient to absorb the whole time of any such body ; but the duty of investigating industrial questions, identified with, and forming part of, commercial questions, might be vested in a Government board responsible to Parliament and to the country. Such a board might be expected to deal with these questions from the stand-point of national policy, giving voice not merely to their own individual views, but to the tendencies of a nationally recognised policy in the direction of protection of native industries, coupled with a fair remuneration to the workers for the labour which they contribute towards their success. The tendency in all countries which have Tariffs such as we have, so complicated, far-reaching, and powerful in their influences upon trade and commerce, has been in the direction of the adoption of such a Tariff board. It might be that the work of a Tariff board should be added to the work of the Inter- State Commission, a tribunal which is recognised in our Constitution as one which will have to be created in course of time. The time has arrived when it is the duty of any Government in office to consider the advisability of launching upon its career of usefulness the Inter-State Commission, which might deal not only with the special duties imposed on it by the Constitution, but also these supplementary duties in the way of Tariff and industrial questions, which are so intimately blended that they can hardly be separated. I do not propose in these observations, which may be regarded as preliminary to the consideration of details, to enter into a minute analysis of the whole of the proposals before us. That mav fairly be reserved for detailed consideration later on, but it is only wise and judicious to remind honorable members of their general effects. I have been asked by honorable members what the general tendency of the proposals is, and have made an analysis of some of them. I shall not go into details, but merely give the headings to show the principal items upon which increased duties are proposed. First on the list stands preserved fruits and vegetables, in respect to which the duties are to be increased to the same rates as those on pickles and sauces. Then, we find the small item “ Woven coat hangers and labels,” the duty on which is to be increased from 30 and 25 per cent, to 40 and 35 per cent, respectively. That certainly seems a small and insignificant item for a Tariff alteration, and I do not know on whose request or . suggestion the proposal has been made, but it may prove a tax upon raw material, and even upon some of the complete finished articles. This illustrates the advisability of inquiry. Apparel and attire is a big item, but I see no very serious change in that group, except a minor one relating to braids. It will be noticed that all the demands made by deputations and circulars for a special duty on mantles and women’s clothing, which are said to be dumped into the Commonwealth at the end of London seasons, have not been complied with by the Minister. Probably he found the problem almost insoluble. If he turns to the report of the Tariff Commission, of which I had the honour to be a member, he will see that some attempt at a solution was made in the shape of a differential duty, as we recommended a higher rate of duty on garments consisting of wool than upon garments not containing wool. With reference to the item of braids, they, as well as trimmings, constitute a raw material in a large number of garments which are made up iri Australia, and representations have already been made to me on behalf of the makers of Aus- tralian garments, competing with imported mantles and clothing, that whilst they have had no increase of duty to enable them to compete with the heavy importations of London stocks, they are, on the contrary, being burdened by braids being taken from tha free list and made dutiable at, I think, 25 per cent. I would suggest to the Minister that, even’ with his knowledge and opportunties, he might well have argued to himself in this way : “ I find it difficult to make up my mind to recommend an increased duty on the made-up garments; but, at any rate, I shall try to reduce the duties on the raw material in favour of the local manufacturers.” The Minister has not granted the manufacturers an increased Protection on the finished article, but, on the contrary, has imposed a duty on braids, which, I am told, are an essential part of many, ladies’ garments. It is said that they will be classed as trimmings, and made dutiable.’
– Only those over an inch in width.
– I feel disposed to review any previous opinion I formed about trimmings and braids. When on the Tariff Commission, I was led to believe that many of them ought to bear duty, because they were ornamental, but I have since been disposed to come to the conclusion that some garments worn by ladies cannot be properly turned out without having some decorative or ornamental material to make them attractive and saleable. Consequently, if a braid or trimming be necessary to make a garment wearable and give it popularity, that braid or trimming ought to be regarded as a raw material, and ought not to be taxed. Even in the simplest form of garments some form of ornamentation or beautification is necessary, particularly when they are to be worn by ladies. If the Minister cannot grant increased duties on apparel and attire, he ought not to burden the manufacturers, who are fighting hard against these imports, by requiring them to pay a heavy duty on braids and trimmings. It cannot be said that either braids or trimmings can be made in Australia, or that anybody has attempted to do so. On the contrary, these duties can only be put on for revenue purposes. In view of the expansion of the Tariff and its extraordinary revenue-producing powers, we should be prepared to strike off the duties upon raw materials that are used in connexion with articles of utility, even when those materials merely add to the ornamentation or bea unification of the garments. Natural birds and wings can hardly be said to come within my definition of mere ornamentation for the purpose of adding to attractiveness, because, probably, they would go beyond the meaning and usefulness of braid and trimming. There may, therefore, be some justification for the proposed increase of duty in their case.
– It is a sentimental duty.
– It may be; but I prefer to test it upon other grounds. If it is sentimental, the importation of the article can be prohibited altogether. It may be said that these more flashy ornamentations in the shape of birds and wings may well be made to pay a high duty, if people insist on wearing them. I wish to draw particular attention to the item of flannelette. It is sometimes considered popular to suggest that flannelette should be either penalized by a high duty, or altogether excluded. The question was investigated by the Tariff Commission, and, therefore, is not new to me, or, I apprehend, to the bulk of honorable members. It was a vexed question for a long time, but, eventually, the whole Commission was united in a recommendation regarding it. We found that, although flannelette was liable to take fire in certain cases, when brought into proximity to a live flame, the same argument might apply to a number of other inflammable articles. In addition, flannelette is the raw material of a large number of industries. Since this duty was imposed, my attention has been drawn to the fact that flannelette is used by a number of manufacturers in Melbourne, who employ hundreds and thousands of women and children to turn out women and children’s garments. They say that flannelette is the piece goods out of which the garments are made. The Tariff Commission were told the same all over Australia, and this is the recommendation signed by all of its members, Protectionists and Free Traders alike -
The chief reasons which induced your Commissioners to recommend the reduction of the duty on flannelette from 15 per cent. to 5 per cent. were : -
The great irritation to importers caused by the opening up of cases containing flannelette and other cotton goods.
The suitability of flannelette as a material for wearing apparel, especially in the tropical portions of the Commonwealth.
The fact that no special import duty is placed on kerosene, methylated spirits, celluloid, or firearms, because of the danger attached to the careless use of such commodities.
That recommendation was signed by all the members of the Commission. I do not think that the arguments so summarized have been dealt with by the Minister ; and they are certainly not met by the proposal to distinguish between’ non-inflammable and inflammable flannelette. From what I have heard, it will be absolutely impossible to draw any distinction between the two kinds of fabrics. The importers of this flannelette are Australian manufacturers, who have to fight the importers of made-up flannelette garments. But whilst such garments are to continue to be imported at the same rate as before, these duties are imposed in respect of the raw material of the Australian manufacturers, who are offered the consolation that, if they can prove that any flannelette imported by them is noninflammable, they shall obtain it free of duty. Such a burden of test cannot be complied with by any manufacturer.
– Why suppose that flannelette cannot be made here ?
– Its manufacture has not yet been started.
– Cotton goods are being made in Queensland; why can we not make cotton piece-goods?
– No one has yetventured to plank down the dollars to start such an industry. Apparently, it is thought that the risk is too great. No manufacturer is asking for this duty ; and it is not to be imposed for protective purposes. It is proposed purely for the sentimental purpose of excluding flannelette on the ground that it is dangerous. An argument so founded would apply to other inflammable articles, including matches, which are introduced into households; and whilst the Minister’s ‘ intentions may be praiseworthy, we must consider the material interests of these manufacturers and their employes, as well as those of the consumer. The consumer in this case will immediately resort to the use of imported flannelette garments. What, then, is to become of the local manufacturer? To say the least of it, this proposal, while it may be praiseworthy, is not well-considered from a general stand-point. There are other items with which I shall not deal at present. The timber duties, for instance, have already been dealt with by the honorable member for Kooyong. I should like, however, to refer briefly to talking machines, which, under the old Tariff, were free, but which it is now proposed to make’ dutiable at furniture rates where they exceed the value of£5.
– Because’ they are, with their cabinets, articles of furniture.
– I do not know why they should be taxed as furniture, because they are enclosed in cabinets. They are of no use as furniture, and can hardly be said to be ornamental. If the duty has been imposed for revenue purposes, I would point out that no case has been made out for it, because we do not need any increase of revenue from the Tariff. With, reference to the duty on motors and parts, I agree with the arguments of the honorable member for Kooyong.
– The honorable member does not maintain that we cannot make the chassis here?
– I understand that the term “ chassis “ includes the motorpower - that is to say, the cylinders, and the small engines under the car. Most of those engines are of special manufacture, and many of them are associated with patents. Their manufacture in America, England, and on the Continent, has been developed to a very high state of perfection, and probably the whole test of the value of these machines is their durability and reliability. The time may come when the Commonwealth may be able to manufacture these highly-advanced and powerful little engines; but I know of no attempt yet to start their manufacture here. The Tariff Commission took evidence in all the States with reference to the taxibility of chassis ; and whilst we were strongly urged to impose a duty on motor cars generally, and also a duty on the framework, if admitted separately, we were not advised to impose a duty on the motive power. The report of the Protectionist section of the Commission sets forth, at page 380, that -
A Western Australian carriage builder was of opinion that a substantial duty should be imposed on motor-cars except “ chassis.” The association represented by this witness submitted that if the parts of motor-cars were admitted free motor-cars could easily be built in Western Australia and Australia generally.
That was the evidence of Mr. Cockburn, as given in question 38,545. Then, again, Mr. Millane -
A Melbourne agent for motor vehicles, desired that the chasse of motor waggons should be free. The body work could be dutiable at vehicle rates as it could be made in Australia. <Q.785So-i.)
A Sydney witness requested that a composite duty of £20 and 15 per cent, ad valorem be placed on motor cars, exclusive of the machinery parts. These witnesses from three different States agreed that the machinery parts should be admitted free, and said that the carriage portion of the cars could be put together in the various carriage factories in Australia. I do not think that any industry is better established in Australia than is that of carriagemaking generally. With the development of the use of motor cars, however, there has been a diminution in the output of that industry. Motor cars and waggons have largely superseded ordinary vehicles and waggons; but of late years the manufacturers of carriages have been getting into the habit of importing the under-gear of the motor cars, and making the carriage portion in Australia. This has led to a large and a growing trade, and it is far better to protect and develop that distinct expansion than to put a duty upon the machinery parts of motor cars, in the vague and visionary hope of the manufacture of the chassis or motor parts in Australia. There is no immediate prospect of their local manufacture. I wish now to refer briefly to the fact that the duty on pianos, as recommended by the Protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, differs to some extent from the duty now proposed. In our summary, as reported at page 605 of our report, the Protectionst section of the Commission recommended that on grand and semi-grand pianos there should be a duty of £15 or 30 per cent., which ever proved the higher duty, and that in the case of upright pianos there should be a duty of £5 or 30 per cent. The material point of difference between our recommendations and the Ministerial scheme now before us is that, whereas we proposed a fixed duty of £5 or 30 per cent, in respect of the cheaper class of instrument, the Government propose a duty of £j each or 35 per cent. I do not express any final view on this matter. I am willing to hear further discussion on this question, because there seems to be a difference of opinion; but I feel that we are entitled to the benefit of a lot more information, quite apart from trade secrets, that ought to be in the possession of the Minister. No one wants to hear trade secrets. As chairman of the Tariff Commission, I refused to receive any trade secret which I could not use on the floor of the House. Of what value would it have been for a member of the Commission to receive, under the bondi of confidence, information as to trade profits or operations that could not be used in this House or on the public platform? I realize, however, the difficulty of the Minister.
He has received confidential information from a lot of manufacturers, and we cannot expect him to break his wordBut while that information may be useful to him, it is valueless to us. Some honorable members may be prepared to accept these proposals without question, but most of us wish to know the ground for them. Information regarding the operation of the Tariff should be submitted to Parliament, not by a Minister, but by a public tribunal, such as a Tariff board, which would gain it by the examination of witnesses in open day. If the manufacturers will not give such information, they must suffer. They cannot expect to get rates of duty increased unless they prove their case for increased Protection fairly and squarely. Although I am a strong Protectionist, I decline to be influenced by statements made under the seal of secrecy. The Protectionist cause is strong enough to demand evidence open to public investigation and discussion.
– - I shall not occupy much time in discussing this matter, but its importance makes it necessary that we “ should express our opinion upon the proposals put forward. The honorable member for Kooyong has joined with the Leader of the Opposition in stating his dissatisfaction with the proposed revision of the Tariff, and, judging by remarks which have fallen from the honorable member for Hume, and others, and the statements that have appeared in the Protectionist press, particularly of Victoria, the amended schedule does not give satisfaction to Protectionists. As a member of the Fusion party, I agreed to the rectification of anomalies, but I am greatly dissatisfied with what is now proposed. It is grossly wrong that this amended schedule should be introduced at the end of the session, accompanied by the threat that, if we do not pass it within two or three days, there must be another session after Christmas. I agree with the honorable member for Bendigo that Parliament should have the fullest information regarding the operation of the Tariff. As a member of the Tariff Commission, of which he was chairman, I know that he always refused information which could not be used on the floor of the House. How can honorable members be guided by statements made in confidence to the Minister, of which they know nothing ?
– I do not think that any information would secure the support of some honorable members.
– Perhaps not. As a member of the Tariff Commission, I took part in the examination of witnesses, and was one of the four who signed the report in opposition to its Protectionist wing. Although the statements of the Minister might not influence me, I would give attention to reliable information from men engaged in industrial occupations. I desire that our industries shall flourish. Although a Free Trader, I have no wish that any established industry shall suffer.- But I am not prepared to vote for alterations of duty which, while made in the interest of some industries, may prejudicially affect other industries giving employment to a large number of persons. That will be the result of some of the proposals before us. The Minister, in bringing in the schedule, supplied us with only very meagre information regarding it. According to one of the newspapers, the alterations proposed are to make clear the intention of Parliament, to insure uniformity in classification, and to put an end to the difficulties which arise from the present classification. No doubt the improvement of the classification may be necessary in the interests of administration, but alterations of duties have effects which sometimes only an expert can estimate. The Minister should have informed the House how the proposed re-classification will affect the revenue.
– I shall be able to give information regarding every item.
– The honorable gentleman pointed out that, in one or two instances, alterations of duties have been made to give more Protection.
– Hear, hear !
– During the referenda campaign, the honorable gentleman and every member of his party declared that if the proposals of the Government were not accepted by the people, so that the workers, as well as the manufacturers, could benefit by increased duties, they would not increase the Protection given to any industry. Unless they could deal with industrial conditions generally, they pledged themselves not to increase the rates of duty. That pledge is now being broken. I ask the Minister if duties have been raised in the interests of revenue. If so, there is no justification for the increase, because the Customs return last year was about £13,000,000, and next year will probably be ,£14,000,000 - most of the money coming from the pockets of the poorer classes.
The honorable member for Kooyong says that we are being given only a homoeopathic dose of Protection, but the adoption of the schedule will increase our taxation by between £250,000 and £500,000. As to the revenue to be derived from the alteration of the Tariff, the Minister was absolutely silent. In my opinion, neither the Ministry nor the Caucus wished to revise the Tariff, but they were pushed to do it by the press of Victoria, which has referred to the Minister in this connexion as “ perfidious Tudor.”
– That was written by one of the “ muck-rakers “ of Melbourne after this Tariff had been passed by the Cabinet. It was written in a rotten, daily “rag” here.
– Why, the Minister himself has told us that he was the only member of the Cabinet who had the slightest information on the subject.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– I think it will appear from the speech of the Minister that he said that outside one or two confidential officers he was the only one in possession of this information.
– Just so.
– Are we to take it that the proposed revision of the Tariff met with the approval .of the Cabinet without the information supplied to the Minister by ‘a hundred or so of manufacturers? We might understand the Prime Minister agreeing in the way suggested by the Minister of Trade and Customs, but even that would be strange. When the Prime Minister attended the Coronation in London he was bursting with Imperialism. Those of us who had the opportunity to see him when the walked down the stately aisles of Westminster Abbey could see the Imperialism oozing out of him.
– What has all this to do with the Tariff?
– I shall tell the honorable member. One of the first things, apparently, that the Prime Minister did on his return a few months later was to give his consent in Cabinet* to a Tariff which bears most heavily against British goods. Nearly all the biggest items, such as electroliers, gasoliers, vinegar, and so forth, on which the duties have been increased, are imported from the Old Country. That is . a nice Imperialistic spirit’ to show. How ever, I have no desire to go into details beyond those necessary to illustrate the position I hope to place before the Committee. The Minister, in the course of his speech, said -
We have found that when manufacturers ask for protection the first thing they say is that they have competitors who pay low rates of wages in other parts of the world. The circulars we have sent out have been confidential. Besides myself no member of the Ministry has seen the replies, and only one or two of the officers of the Department. When one of these manufacturers spoke of certain low wages being paid by his competitors, I asked him for his authority, and he told me “ John Burns, London, to John Norton, Sydney.” We asked him for more definite authority, and although he had said that lhat wage wilh which he was competing was 4d. to 6d. an hour, he could give us nothing more definite than that.
That is no new position for the manufacturers to take up.
– I turned down that application.
– I do not know what the Minister did in regard to it.
– I mentioned that as an illustration of the fact that I do not take notice of all applications.
– I should like to know whether the Minister cross-examined these manufacturers on the statements they submitted. Did he send his trusted officers to make inquiries as to the volume of trade, wages paid, and so forth, in order to test the accuracy of the statements? I doubt very much whether any steps of the kind were taken. We had manufacturer after manufacturer before the Tariff Commission assuring us that if a certain rate of duty were not imposed they would have to close their factories in consequence of the competition from countries where low wages were paid. But time after time, when cross-examined in the light of balancesheets and other documents, these witnesses crumpled up.
– The balance-sheet in the case of one such manufacturer showed a profit of 20 per cent.
– Yes. We are entitled to know whether the Minister accepted the statements of the manufacturers, or whether he made any further investigations. No manufacturer I have come across ever had enough protection. At least one manufacturer was content, at the time of the passing of the last Tariff, to establish an industry on a 25 per cent, duty, and now he is asking for a higher rate. Those in the strawboard industry were content with a duty of is. per cwt., but in 1907 they asked for, and obtained, a duty of is. 6d., and now they are demanding a duty of 2s. This is the history of Protection in Canada, America, and all the world over - those who enjoy protective duties are never satisfied. If they are given 20 per cent, they ask for 40 per cent, a few years later. Before we can accept the position as stated by the Minister, we ought to be satisfied that the honorable gentleman has made the fullest investigations. Is the Minister prepared to answer the question I asked a moment ago? If not, I can only conclude that he has made no such investigations. A short time ago the honorable gentleman and his colleague were very anxious, not for the interests of the manufacturers, but for the interests of the workmen ; but now, without any new Protection stipulations, they are championing the cause of the manufacturers, particularly in Victoria, and willing to give them a further opportunity for taking the life-blood of the people who have to pay the duties.
– Will Sydney manufacturers not also benefit?
– It appears to me that any twopenny-halfpenny little industry here, employing two or three persons, has only to get the ear of the Minister in order to have Protection extended to it. The Minister of Trade and Customs, in the course of his speech, said -
The first item of importance is item 54. It relates to preserved fruits and vegetables, and places them at precisely the same rates of duly as pickles, sauces, and chutneys. In Iq06 there were over ^27,000 worth imported, and in 1910 the value of the imports had increased to ^50,000, and if there is one country in the world where we ought to grow our own fruits for preserving it is Australia.
I quite agree with the Minister in that. We ought to grow our own fruits for preserving -
Regarding the preserved fruits, Queensland is affected, inasmuch as imports are brought from some of the Eastern countries, while the Queensland pineapples are going to ‘ waste.
Has the Minister made any special inquiries so far as Queensland is concerned? Pineapple is grown in Queensland in winter and in summer. In summer the fruit is not preserved, because there is an excellent market for it fresh, and in the winter the fruit is not so suitable for preserving, because it is “ woody.” Honorable members will agree with me that during last winter Queensland pineapples were hawked about Melbourne streets at 2d. and 3d. a-piece. In 1906, the Queensland factories produced 2,366,589 lbs., nearly the whole of which was scheduled as jams, with no preserved fruit. In 1910, the factories produced 4,626,846 lbs., of which 3,732,351 lbs. was preserved fruit. Does that look like a languishing industry which needs more protection ? It appears to me to represent one of the flourishing industries of Australia under the present Tariff. The Minister of Trade and Customs also pointed out that electroliers, gasoliers, and chandeliers stand at 20 per cent., and said -
This is another item where the finished article is under a lower duty than the raw material.
I think the Minister was slightly ip error when he said that, because much of the raw material, such as brass, bronze, case tubing, and so forth, came in free under the old Tariff as minor articles.
– They came in under item
– I think the Minister will find that I am correct. When the Tariff was last before us, the item of gas meters- caused much debate, and out of consideration for the various gas companies of Australia the duty was left at 5 per cent, and free, lt is now proposed, however, to make gas meters subject to a duty of 20 and 15 per cent. The value of the imports of electroliers - which, under the old Tariff, were 20 per cent., and under the proposed Tariff 30 and 25 per cent. - was £29,925 in 1910, and of that £=6,000 odd represented British manufacture. The importation of gas meters in 1910 was valued at £35,631, and the whole came from Great Britain. It appears from these, and other items, that the Minister is going out of his way to press hardly on the products of the manufacturers of the Old Country. We ought not to deal with them in this harsh fashion. We ought to do our utmost to give the manufacturers of Great Britain an opportunity to get their products into the Australian market at the lowest possible rate, consistent with raising the revenue necessary to carry on the Government of the country. In view of all that Great Britain has done for us in the past we ought not to go out of our way to impose a duty which strikes absolutely at products of British manufacture. It is unpatriotic, and absolutely opposed to that Imperialistic spirit, which not only men on this side of the House share, but which many honorable members opposite have professed to believe in.
– Who will pay the increased duty?
– The people of Australia pay it.
– Then it is no handicap to the British manufacturer.
– The people of Australia have to pay the increased price, but it is a handicap to the British manufacturer, because, when duty has to be paid on the imports, it is money out of pocket straight away. But, as we all know, the duty on the articles is added on to the price of the article, and then passed on to the consumer. The alterations in regard to the oil duties, so far as I can gather, appear to be of a technical character. The Minister said, “ We understand that the South Australian oil industry has suffered, and we are altering the duty so as to give greater protection to an established industry.” The House is entitled to a more definite statement, because a full inquiry was made into the matter by the Tariff Commission, and as the result of the report of the Protectionist section an increased duty was placed on oil, to protect the South Australian industry. It is a splendid industry, and the oil produced there is absolutely the best in the world. All I know is that, although the representatives of the South Australian oil industry told the Tariff Commission that if the duty was imposed the price of oil would not be raised. I am now charged 3s. for the oil for which I used to pay 2s. 6d. a bottle some years ago. In the circumstances the South Australian industry is doing remarkably well. I hope when we deal with the item the Minister will be prepared with definite information on the subject. Vinegar is now dutiable at 6d. per gallon when the produce of grain, malt, or fruit juice, and 2s. per gallon when produced from other material. The ^Minister stated that the analyst found it impossible to discriminate between the two classes, and instead of imposing a sixpenny rate on the one kind, and a 2s. rate on the other, he proposes to have an all round duty of is. per gallon. The honorable member for Capricornia, when a member of the Tariff Commission, made a strong report on vinegars distilled from wood and other materials, and, in consequence, the high duty of 2s. per gallon was imposed. In levelling the duty up from 6d. in the one case, and down from 2s. in the other, the Minister is really striking at the malt vinegar that comes from the Old Country. Practically the whole of the vinegar produced from malt, and imported into Australia, comes from Great Britain. In 1910 only 50 gallons of acetate vinegar was imported into Australia, but of malt vinegar 284,240 gallons, valued at £32,275, was imported, being nearly all British. The increase of duty from 6d. to is. per gallon, on the value of the vinegar imported in 1910, brings the duty up to 42 per cent. We ought to offer an inducement for pure vinegar to come in, and do everything to keep out the inferior stuff.
– You cannot find out which is which.
– If we cannot find out which is bad and which is good, we ought to give a substantial preference to the vinegar from the Old Country, because we know it is produced from malt, by leaving the duty on it at 6d. per gallon. According to yesterday’s newspaper, Messrs. R. W. Thurlow and Company, of Brisbane, who are large manufacturers of vinegar, state that they made no request for increased protection, and considered the old duty quite adequate.
– I do not think there was a request from any manufacturer for an increased duty on vinegar.
– Then, why has the Minister put it on?
– I have not put it on. I have amalgamated the two rates. This is a correction of the rates in. the old Tariff, to which the honorable member was supposed to agree.
– The duty has been raised 100 per cent, on pure vinegar which we ought to use, and decreased 100 per cent, on the inferior vinegar. I am glad to find the Minister thinks he ought to do something for the butter industry, and the deserving people who are engaged in it. He proposes to help them by allowing New Zealand pine used for butter boxes to come in free. I hope that will be the effect of his proposal. Has he satisfied himself that the re-arrangement of duties will make butter boxes cheaper?
– I cannot guarantee that. I cannot guarantee that the producers will not be robbed in between.
– I think the Minister has endeavoured to do his best in the matter, but some prominent men engaged in the business inform me that his proposal would not have the desired effect. On the other hand, I have been advised by the manager of the Coastal Fanners Cooperative Company, in Sydney, which controls about 80 per cent. of the butter business of New South Wales, that, after making inquiries, they have come to the conclusion that the amendment will mean a reduction of about three-eighths of a penny on each butter box. However, the position does not appear to be clear, and I understand the Minister is prepared to make a necessary alteration in regard to the sizes specified in the schedule.
– Why not benefit other industries as well as butter?
– I was about to refer to this matter as one of the anomalies. While very properly trying to benefit the butter industry j the Minister is adversely affecting, according to statements made to me, the people engaged in the fruit, rabbit, and other industries. The parts of the white pine which are not suitable for butter boxes are used to make boxes for those industries, and the alteration of duty will make their boxes cost them more than they do now:
– We have plenty of Australian timber suitable for fruitcases, and quite as cheap as New Zealand white pine.
– All I say is that we -should be perfectly clear as to the effect of the Minister’s proposal. So many statements have been made about it, that I admit I do not know how it will work out in regard to butter boxes, but if the statements which I have received are correct, it appears probable that the people engaged in the fruit, rabbit, and other industries will be considerably handicapped. While rejoicing that something is being done for the butter industry, in which my constituency is especially interested, I am’not so parochial as to desire other industries in other parts of Australia to be damaged in consequence. We ought to endeavour to insure that all those people who are making their living out of the products of the land, and so adding to the wealth of Australia, are given the opportunity to carry on their business under the best possible conditions.
– How will the alteration operate against the fruit growers?
– According to the information supplied to me, the refuse of the logs, after the butter box timber is taken out, is used to make rabbit crates, fruit cases, and so on, and the reduction of the duty on the portion used for butter boxes will mean an increased rate on the portion left over.
– We make 2,000,000 cases every year out of our own local hardwood.
– I hope the Tasmanian apple industry will increase so rapidly that it will soon need 10,000,000 cases per year. I wish now to refer to the proposed increased duty on strawboard. Prior to 1907 there was a duty of1s. per cwt, on strawboard, but in that year the duty was increased to is. 6d. per cwt., and it is now proposed to make it 2s. per cwt. in the case of imports from foreign countries, and is. 6d. per cwt. on imports from the United Kingdom. The proposed preference is of a rather farcical character, because I understand that no strawboard under the item proposed to be amended comes from the Old Country. The whole of it is practically imported from Holland. The average value of the imports made in 1910 was 6s. 3d. per cwt., so that this duty will work out at over 30 per cent., which is a fairly high rate. The value of the strawboard imported, as shown in the Customs returns, suggests that practically nearly all the finer qualities are being imported, and that only the poorer classes are made here.
– That is not so. The finer qualities come in under another item.
– The honorable member is referring to millboard, which is quite a different article.
– No; pasteboard, cardboard, and leatherboard are the finer qualities.
– I hope that the Minister will make special inquiries, and give us definite information on the subject. The evidence given before the Tariff Commission will bear out my statement that there is practically a trust or combine controlling the strawboard-making industry in Australia. I was always under the impression that the very name of a trust or combine stank in the nostrils of honorable members opposite, and that it was one of their chief ambitions to prevent combines carrying on operations with a view of fleecing the people of Australia. It is perfectly clear, however, from the evidence submitted to the Tariff Commission, that an honorable understanding or combine then existed amongst those engaged in the industry, and we know that it exists to-day. The Australian Paper Mills Company Limited and Messrs. Sands and McDougall Limited carry on the industry in Victoria. We find that last year there were 216 hands employed in the paper, straw, and millboard . factories in Victoria, as compared with 183 employed in 1906, so that it cannot be said that the industry is languishing. We find from the published reports that the net profit earned by the Australian Paper Mills Company Limited of Victoria in 1910 was, without depreciation, equal to 14.18 per cent, on capital. The directors stated inter alia that they had satisfaction in reporting sales greater than last year (1909), and that the various mills were fairly well employed. They concluded their report with the statement that : “ The directors consider the prospects good, and that the business is increasing.” In view of this statement, I think that we are entitled to fuller information before we agree to this increase of duty. We all know that strawboard is used by various industries which employ a large number of hands. I have before me a document showing that the users of strawboard throughout Australia employ about 5,000 hands, and that these will all be, more or less, prejudicially affected by the imposition of the duty. Strawboard is used by manufacturers of boxes, by printers and bookbinders, portmanteaumakers, and picture-framing works, and the number of hands engaged in the strawboard trade is small compared with the 5,000 employed in those industries. A strong case ought to be made out for the imposition of this duty when we know that it will mean an increase in the price of strawboard, and that already one or two families in Australia have grown rich by the manufacture of this article in the Commonwealth. The industry ‘of strawboard making is one to which a member of the Labour party recently made very strong references. Senator Rae, speaking in another place, on 23rd November, 1910, said -
One of the principal articles of our faith is to secure protection, not only for the manufacturer, but for the employ^ and the consumer.
That is quite right.
If we get the indorsement of the people at the proposed referendum we shall compel protected manufacturers and producers to share their protection with their employes, and give some guarantee that they will not extort unfair prices from the consumer. Until we have some assurance that that blissful state of equilibrium, can be brought about, we are pledged not to give further protection through the Tariff, and I consider that we shall be going widely beyond the scope of a measure for the rectifica- tion of anomalies if we increase to such anenormous extent, the duties on these strawboards. I am credibly informed that it will strike a. tremendous blow at the manufacture of boxesout of this material, and we know that - the finished product of one industry is the raw material of another. It appears to me that, the admissions of the Honorary Minister that these mills are working full time, that they areproducing all that they can possibly produce,, and that it is intended to start another mill,, are evidence that the industry already enjoys a sufficient measure of protection. For my part,, it will receive no further protection until thepublic are assured that the employes in it are: going to get a fair deal, and that the consumers, are not to be fleeced.
That was a very proper position to take up,, and I hope that it will be supported by this Committee, unless the Minister bringsforward very strong reasons for the imposition of the duty.
– Those who opposed our referenda proposals said that they were not in favour of the consumer receiving protection.
– -Long before the last referenda were even thought of, I said in. this House that if Protection were granted to manufacturers we should take care that a proper proportion of the benefits so conferred was derived by the employes. Another ‘member of the Labour party in the Senate - Senator McDougall - said, on thesame occasion -
I shall not support the proposed duly for two reasons. In the first place the imposition of that duty would hurt a number of my fellow workers. I have a letter in my possession from, the Secretary of the Factory Employes Union, in which he affirms that the proposed duty would prevent those employed in the industry from obtaining the better wages which they wilt presently get under existing conditions. Theemployers in the industry are willing that a Wages Board should be established in connexion, with it. The other reason why I will not votefor the Government proposal is that I object to giving high duties to any industry which, will not treat its employes fairly. Before we are asked to grant an increased measure of protection to this industry, we should know the conditions under which its employes labour.
Mi. Tudor. - No proposal iri regard to strawboard was brought forward last year.
– I invite the honorable member to look up Hansard, where he will find reported, at pages 6573-4, the passages. I have quoted. I hope that the Minister will give us the information for which. Senator McDougall asked.
– I shall be glad to give all information; but I think the honorablemember is in error in saying that an item relating to strawboard was dealt with last year.
– On the same occasion, and in regard to the same proposal, Senator Barker said-
I cannot support the Government proposal. I believe in the new Protection pure and simple. The less that is said about the condition of those who work in these mills the better. They are not getting fair wages, nor do they labour under reasonable conditions. I shall vote against extending increased protection to our paper mills until they give their employes better treatment. To my own knowledge, they have refused to pay them a fair remuneration. They also opposed the establishment’ of a Wages Board in connexion with the industry, and when ‘ the Wages Board Bill was before the Legislative Council of Victoria they petitioned it not to grant their employes a fair measure of justice.
Senator Stewart. Perhaps they cannot afford to pay fair wages.
Senator BARKER. But they can afford to pay good dividends. As a party the Labour party desire to give effect to the new Protection, which seeks to extend protection alike to the employ^ and the consumer as well as to the manufacturer. But here we aTe asked to grant an increased measure of protection to manufacturers without any regard to their treatment of their employes. 1 will not vote for increased protection fo any industry in which sweating occurs.
That is the position in regard to the industry in respect of which we are asked to impose this higher duty.
Sitting suspended from 6 30 to 8 p.m.
– I wish now to deal with the proposed increase of the duty on pianos. Under the old rates, the amount of ?81,822 was received in 1910, but under the new rates, if the same number of pianos be imported, the revenue will be ?115,205, an increase of ?33>383- The piano-making industry, I understand, pays good wages, produces a first-class instrument, and is in a flourishing condition. There are two factories, one in Sydney, and the other in the constituency of the Minister.
– That has not influenced me.
– I do not suggest that it has.
– If the Free Traders had their way, there would be no establishments of the kind in Australia.
– Because they believe in Free Trade.
- Mr. Beale’s factory in Sydney was established and flourished under lower duties than those now asked for. To show that the increase of duty is neces- sary, the Minister should give us evidence that the piano-making industry is languishing. As a matter of fact, we know that it is flourishing, and that both factories are doing remarkably well. Mr. Beale’s manager, giving evidence before the Tariff Commission, of which the honorable member for Capricornia and myself were members, spoke of the flourishing condition of the business, and admitted that the public pays the duties on pianos, an admission not usually made by Protectionists. On the last occasion when the Tariff was under consideration, Mr. Wertheim, the proprietor of the Melbourne factory, told us that 25 per cent, ad valorem was the highest rate he would ask for; but now that he has established his industry, he tells us that, without the increased duty proposed by the Minister of Trade and Customs, it will suffer. He desires protection against the competition, not of Free Trade countries, but of Germany, the. most highly-protected country in the world, whence pianos manufactured by employes receiving low wages are sent to Australia. In a circular which he has addressed to every member of the House, Mr. Wertheim says -
Apart from other considerations, wages in almost every Department have increased considerably; those of cabinetmakers’ polishers are fixed by the Furniture Trades Wages Board, the minimum being ?3 weekly of 48 hours. Compare this with 26s. for the weekly average earnings by piece work for similar labour in Germany for 60 hours weekly, and you will readily understand that in wages alone the .Australian manufacturer has to pay more than double as much as Germany, and, in fact, European manufacturers.
The average cost at the port of shipment in Europe of fully 10,000 pianos (out of 14,000) exported to Australia annually, is less per piano than we have to pay in wages alone per instrument.
Material, such as timber, has to be stocked by us in very large quantities for seasoning purposes. A large amount of capital remains locked up, and loss of interest annually is very considerable. Almost the whole of the timber is Australian, and we have induced the Victorian Forestry Department to cultivate such limbers, which we are, so far, forced to import, and thus hope in later years to be independent of foreign supplies. In fact, we have to rely entirely upon our own resources.
– Without the Labour party and its legislation the wages of Australia would be as low as those of Germany.
– Nothing of the sort. The honorable member and others of his party claim for it everything good that has ever been done in Australia; but most of the great Liberal reforms were effected before the party was heard of. As the Minister has given us no information regarding the probable effect of. the new schedule I have made a rough calculation, which I have embodied in a table.
– What is the value of it?
– It summarizes the probable effect of the principal changes of duties, showing the amount which they will return if the importation remains at what it was last year.
– The importation will .be decreased by the increase of local manufacture.
– Some time must elapse before the local manufacturers can overtake the demand ; but, of course, honorable members are at liberty to make such deductions as they may think fit. The table which I have prepared is as follows : -
There is a large number of other items on which increased duties have been imposed.
– If the table read by the honorable member is any good, there is nothing in his contention that these duties have been protective.
– I contend, on the Minister’s own statement, that a large number of the duties are of a protective character, and, that being so, they are in opposition to the policy to which a part of the party to which he belongs is pledged.
– They are taking Protection in homoeopathic doses !
– The Minister may describe this is a “ homoeopathic dose, ‘ ‘ but it is more than I am prepared to swallow. I am attempting to show that increased duties, representing between £250,000 and £500,000, are being placed on the people of Australia, without justification, by means of this “ homoeopathic dose.” It is for the Minister and others who are in possession of information to show whether or not I am correct. Item 26 ib includes caseine and dextrine. Caseine, which is made from milk, is already being manufactured here, and, therefore, there can be no necessity for a duty.
– The duty is to encourage a new industry !
– But the industry is already in existence. Lextrine, which was formerly free, is now called upon, with caseine, to pay a duty of 25 and 20 per cent. I suppose that honorable members, in common with myself, have received a circular dealing with this item.
– No circular has been sent to me.
– Then I shall, hand mine to the honorable gentleman, because, with his lack of information, it may help him to alter his mind. Dextrine is used in a large number of trades ; and, according to the circular, which certainly requires answering, those trades will be very seriously affected by the proposed duty. Throughout Australia at the present time there is a widespread desire to promote sanitation; and this ought to be encouraged as much as possible. In the warmer parts of Australia, particularly in the north, sanitation is receiving the most earnest and careful attention of the authorities; and yet we find it proposed to place a duty on formaline, flypapers, fly-wire for doors, and so forth. Only yesterday I returned from a part of Australia where the flies were almost unbearable.
– There are “ no flies “ on the honorable member.
– I hope not’; but I notice that there are a good many “ flies “ at present buzzing about the lobby ; and I always try to avoid them. This system of lobbying is most objectionable; and it would be a good thing if Mr. Speaker, or whoever can exercise authority, would refuse to allow those persons to fill the corridors and the hall in their desire to interview honor-able members. Let those peculiarly interested in the Tariff send any statements they choose in writing, but this lobbying, which has been the cause of so much corruption in the American Congress, ought to be stopped in Australia, where we hope to keep our politics clean.
– The honorable member thinks that we ought to enjoy a dignified isolation !
– I think that, when we are discussing the Tariff, we should be isolated to such an extent as to be free from persistent lobbyists. In my opinion, Tariff legislation throughout the years has been largely influenced by our environment. If the honorable member for Batman had been here when the Tariff was previously discussed, he would have seen the influence resulting from our meeting in Melbourne; and he would realize that many of our decisions have been arrived at, not for the benefit of the people generally, but for the benefit of those who happened to reside where Parliament meets. Under the Pure Foods Acts of Australia people are compelled to take every precaution, and yet we find that in connexion with vinegar, wrapping paper-
– The duty on wrapping paper is not altered.
– The question of the duty on paper is one that I propose to discuss when we reach the item.
– The honorable member cannot point out to me an item in which the duty is altered in regard to wrapping paper.
– I know rhat wrapping paper is made free ; but the paper which is the off-cut of the newspapers, and which is used by butchers and others, will be much more expensive than hitherto.
– Why should this paper be imported as news printing paper, and be used for another purpose?
– That was what the Minister said when he’ introduced the proposed revision of the Tariff ; and if he has the courage of his convictions he will propose a duty on news paper. While this revision may, perhaps, remove some anomalies, it will create new ones; and to some of these I have already referred. There are, for instance, strawboard, dextrine, and fruit boxes. According to evidence, into which I have been looking during the dinner hour, fruit boxes will certainly be made more expensive to the growers. However, that does not appear to be of much moment to the Minister, from whom the primary producers have never had much sympathy.
– There are no fruitgrowers in Collingwood, or, possibly, the Minister would listen.
– And probably with as sympathetic an ear as he listened to the piano manufacturers.
– Is it suggested that pianos are being made in Collingwood ?
– The Minister told us so himself.
– I did not. I said pianos are made in Richmond.
– That is the Minister’s own constituency. We are asked to increase duties on secret information, which even the Minister’s colleagues do not share, and which, apparently, honorable members on either . side are to know nothing of. The people of Australia do not appear to have realized yet the change which has come over the system of responsible government since the present Ministry took office. What is happening now is only on a par with what happened in regard to the Land Tax Bill, the Commonwealth Bank Bill, the Australian Notes Bill, and other measure. The most meagre information was given about them, and when information was asked for, and criticism tendered by this side of the House, no information was given, and no criticism was answered. We are now asked to impose new taxation on thepeople without the necessary information being provided by the Minister. If there is one thing more than another about which we should have all the information available, it is a proposition to impose extra taxation on the people. I am sure that all honorable members, no matter what their fiscal views are, do not wish blindly to follow what is said by the Minister, without having proper information to guide them. This is not the only side of the House which is divided in its fiscal views. There are men on the other side in a similar position to my own.
– Very few.
– Only last week, the Attorney- General stated that, in many instances, they had voted for too high duties in the old Tariff. The honorable member for Maranoa, the honorable member for Barrier, and others on that side, are just as strong in their fiscal views as are some of us on this side.
– The honorable member for Maranoa announced his conversion to Protection.
– The honorable member for Maranoa fell in connexion with the duty on bananas , but I was not aware that he had done so in regard to any other duty. What I have been saying in regard to the Minister, and the lack of information possessed by members on both sides, shows the absolute necessity for the establishment of a board, whether it is called an Inter-State Commission, a board of trade, or anything else, to deal with Tariff matters.
– No. It is a sneaking way to get out of responsibility.
– The honorable member for Hume said this afternoon that the Minister in charge of the Tariff ought to take all the responsibility and’ obtain all the information required before he submits a schedule to the House. No Minister occupying the position now held by the honorable member for Yarra, with all his administrative and other duties, can possibly have the time, even if he has the opportunity, to investigate all these Tariff matters sufficiently to come to the House prepared with the fullest information about them. The honorable member for Hume takes the position that the Minister ought to be the only man in the House in possession of information regarding all the items ; but it was a matter of disgusted comment among honorable members that, when the honorable member for Hume was in charge of his Tariff, he was absolutely unable, time after time, to give any information concerning the items, and was not even able to carry from the officer behind the Speaker’s chair, the information which was given him to communicate to members. The honorable member, therefore, should be the last to take the stand that he took this afternoon. Honorable members have acknowledged, on the floor of the House, the services rendered by the Tariff Commission in the inquiries they made; but the trouble with that body was that it comprised four Protectionists, and four Free Traders. After the fullest investigations had been made, both sides agreed in regard to a large number of items, but the Protectionists then brought in reports of their own in many cases, and the Free Traders did the same. When the Tariff was being considered, the honorable member for Hume time after time quoted the reports of the Protectionist wing of the Commission as being the reports of the Commission itself; and I was at pains to point out the error he was making. The division of opinion that occurred on that body will always obtain in connexion with any Tariff Commission composed in that way. I am satisfied that no political Commission of the sort will give the House the information which it ought to have before it deals with Tariff matters. In this matter, affecting the vital interests of Australia, and particularly the pockets of the poorer classes, we ought to be prepared, in establishing a board, to secure the best men available, pay them salaries which will remunerate them for their labours, and put them in the position of judges, so that they may be able to inquire in the fullest possible way from time to time into the condition of Australian industries. We should then have their reports laid on the table of the House, and if we had in them the confidence that we should have, I am sure that if a fair and honest case were made out for the revision of duties by the House in connexion with different industries, honorable members on both sides would be prepared immediately to do what was right. On the other hand, in the case of the Tariff Commission to which I have referred, honorable members with Protectionist proclivities took the reports of the Protectionist section, and honorable members with Free Trade proclivities took the reports of the Free Trade section, and the result was that,’ the Protectionists being in the majority in the House, in nearly every instance the report of the Protectionist wing was adopted. I trust that the Minister will seriously consider the advisability of appointing a Tariff board, so that Parliament may have available the fullest and most reliable information regarding Australian industries, and so be in a position to deal with them on fair lines, instead of being asked to consider a Tariff schedule on secret information, in the way which the Minister now proposes.
.-! purpose to speak briefly, although this question is second in importance only to that of the great question of labour in Austra lia. At the same time, I recognise the difficulty facing any Government which brings in a Tariff schedule at the end of a session. The honorable member for Illawarra said the increase in the piano duties was proposed in order to give Protection against one of the most highly-protected countries in the world. Why not? He is surely aware of the statement made in a book published by the Tariff Reform League of Great Britain - a body representing a movement which is gaining great weight, and would be much more powerful than it is to-day if it were only freed from the trammels and stigma of Conservatism - to the effect that Germany and other European countries send into England 600 pianos for every piano which England sends to Germany. Every honorable member will agree that the average Briton, if given equal conditions, will more than hold his own with the German, although Germany stands head and shoulders above most other countries in the secondary education which she gives to her artisans. At page 184 of the bocjk to which I have referred, it is stated in regard to the year 1907 -
It will be seen from these figures that for every piano we were able to send to Germany in 1907 Germany was able to send us 600. . . . During the last seventeen years no fewer than twelve important piano and organ manufactories have been closed up in London alone.
This shows that, without a Tariff, England cannot possibly compete with Germany, even though in most German trades to-day the wages are higher than in England, and have even been increased within the last fourteen years, whereas, unfortunately, wages in England have been decreased. I must compliment the Government on proposing a fixed duty on pianos. My regret is that it will be the lowest fixed duty imposed on pianos by any Protectionist country in the world. In Germany, the charge is made by weight, going up £1 os. 4d. per cwt. That is an instance of a highlyprotected country, with a thoroughly uptodate Tariff, thinking it necessary to impose a fixed duty. The United States of America charges 45 per cent, ad valorem, and Russia from£10 to £17 per piano; France imposes a duty of from £2 to £3, but in addition charges so much per kilo, making the duty as high as £12 10S. In Spain the duty is from £10 to £13; in Portugal, £11; in Sweden, from £8 to £n. It is stated that England will lose the whole of her piano-making firms, with the exception of a. few very high-class makers, unless protective duties are imposed. Protection is absolutely necessary to a country. I am a Protectionist to the extent of prohibition. The women and girls who made match-boxes in the city of London at 2jd. per gross, finding their own paste, were sweated, yet in Japan it was found possible to make match-boxes, fill them with matches, and export them for less than id. per gross ! In those circumstances of what use would a protective duty of even 100 per cent, be? So acute are the Japanese, that some years ago in New South Wales, their matches were being sold under the name of “trade union matches.” I think that it was while the honorable member for Hume held office as Minister of Trade and Customs that I drew attention to the trouble, with the result that it was ended. The position in regard to these matches shows how necessary it is to look forward to the imposition of duties, not of 10 or 15 per cent., but of hundreds per cent. Japan has the most up-to-date Tariff in the world, and no country is making more rapid improvement. Finding that the tobacco industry, if nationalized, would be regarded as a good security for a loan, which she was obliged to raise in Europe in consequence of the war with Russia, she took action to deal with the American tobacco combine, which had taught the Japanese to smoke cigarettes. The Japanese Government made an offer to the combine which, feeling secure in its millions, however, simply scoffed at the proposal. A further offer was likewise laughed to scorn, but Japan steadily increased her Tariff, entered into competition with the combine, and finally succeeded in ousting it. While this competition was in progress Senator Findley and I paid a visit to Japan, and were told by the UnderSecretory of Foreign Affairs that the utmost difficulty was experienced in inducing the Japanese to acquire a liking for the Governmentmade cigarettes, notwithstanding that only the best tobacco was used. About 1905 the Japanese further increased their Tariff on cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco to 150 per cent., and the combine, finding that the position was becoming serious, more especially as under the Constitution any article acquired for a Government monopoly could be admitted free of duty, commenced to consider Japan’s offer, but the Japanese took up a determined stand. In the following year the Tariff was raised to 250 per cent., and it now stands at 355 per cent. Thus cigars, f.o.b., coming into Japan, for the combine, and valued at £10 per 1,000, had to pay a duty of £35 per 1,000, plus landing and other charges, whereas those required for the Government could be introduced at a cost of £10 per 1,000, plus only landing and other charges. The combine found themselves unable tocontend against such a position, and finally the Japanese Government got the whole of their machinery, which could not be removed, and all their warehouses, for practically a song. The combine, regarding Japan as only a little bit of the world’ssurface, thought that they were done with, it, but they have now to fight the Japanese national tobacco monopoly from Vladivostock to Bombay. The Japanese Government is able to undersell them owing; to its cheap labour, and whilst I do not care to see white labour go under, I say all honour to Japan, since, by nationalizing the tobacco industry, she alone has been able to fight the tobacco combine of the United States of America. Two big companies doing business in Australia endeavoured to fight that combine, but woke upone morning, so to speak, to find that the majority of their shares had been purchased in the interests of the trust. With the exception of Messrs. Snider and Abraham, and Dudgeon and Arnell, all the tobacco manufacturers in Australia are now controlled by the American combine. I must admit that the combine are treating their employes here very well, and when I had the privilege of visiting their works some time ago, I told their representatives that the better they treated their employes the more generosity they would be likely to receive from the Commonwealth when we were wise enough to nationalize the industry. I have here a list of trades in respect of which England is absolutely losing her business, and as the son of an English woman, with the rich red blood rushing from my heart, and giving thought to my brain, I strongly resent the inability of Great Britain to get fair play in regard to these trades. In regard to boots and shoes, carpets, cement, cotton, coal, and fruit, England is rapidly losing her trade. The glasstrade has been almost wiped out of Great Britain) and even Scottish granite ,is finding it hard to compete with that from abroad. The Old Country is also losing her trade in gloves, hats, and straw bonnets, hops, hosiery, iron and steel, jewellery, lace, musical instruments, pianos, pottery, silk, sugar refining, tanning, tin plates, and umbrellas and woollens. Who that has visited the hop fields of Kent will not deplore the fact that the rich lands of that county, which are unequalled in Europe for the production of hops, are gradually going out of cultivation? I recognise that neither Free Trade nor Protection has removed poverty from the world ; but I have never seen in a protected country the misery, poverty, and wretchedness that I have witnessed in England. I have seen workers there trying to rear their children in mere lanes 3 or 4 feet wide, on which two-story houses abut. On the other hand, I have seen in Protectionist Germany sights that make me wish that the controlling powers of the large cities of England were equal to the controlling power of the city of Berlin. I did not see a single slum in that great city of 3,000,000 . people, and I should say that while London has improved 10 per cent., Paris has improved 20 per cent, and Berlin 50 per cent. Where £1,000,000 is expended on improvement schemes in London, £10,000,000 is expended in Berlin, and the improvement in the health of the people in the last-named city certainly justifies the expenditure. We shall never be able to adequately express our appreciation of the hospitality that was extended to the members of this Parliament who visited London on the occasion of the Coronation celebrations. As members of that delegation, we were permitted to visit ship-building yards, and other places that would not otherwise have been open to us, but the only healthy bodies of workers that my trained medical eye could detect were those employed at Port Sunlight, and at Cadbury’s, where the hours of the men have been reduced to forty-eight per week, and those of the females to fortyfive hours per week. The death rate at Port Sunlight has been reduced to half that of a district but 300 yards away, by the erection of splendid buildings under healthy conditions, by Messrs. Lever Brothers. Messrs. Huntley and Palmer, biscuit manufacturers, Cadbury’s, and Fry’s, have also erected comfortable quarters for their employe’s. While Germany is trying to build up a race of big men and women, England has found it necessary to reduce the measurements required on the part of men for en rolment in the Army. While in England, I met an Australian lady who has taken the platform there in advocacy of Protection, and gave her some photographs of the American tobacco works here, and of Messrs. Snider and Abraham’s factory. She displayed these, and the people there were astonished to hear of the wages paid in the industry in Australia. When the Tariff was last before us, I took up a strong position in regard to women’s and children’s dress goods; but the Committee, as the result of false information, given principally by Mr. Harold Sparks, came to the conclusion that such goods were made in Australia. As a matter of fact, they are not. I refer more particularly to the finer materials known as women’s dress goods, which I do not think we shall be able to manufacture here for another half a century. I am sure it is not the desire of the House that a sex tax should be imposed ; yet something like £500,000 per annum is collected in respect of these goods, and the impost is really a sex tax upon the women folk of our continent. Considering the voting power of our women folk, it would go hard with some candidates seeking their suffrages if they were only cognisant of the real effect of this tax. Perhaps the most important deputation that was ever received by a Minister waited on the honorable member for Kooyong in this building, when he held office as Minister of Trade and Customs, and made representations to him in regard to this very item. They went away, I am sorry to say, with the reverse of goodwill towards him. If, as a strong Minister, he had said that he would give them justice, they would have remembered him for all time. The present Minister of Trade and Customs is a Protectionist of Protectionists ; but, unfortunately, he is trammelled by the position in which he finds himself. I regret the small modicum of Protection that we are securing under this Bill, but recognise that we could not expect to deal with the Tariff as a whole at practically the end of the session. The appointment of a commission or board, however, would lead only to further delay. There never was a commission that did not lead to delay ; and I am reminded of the words of a cynical German philosopher that, if the Almighty had placed the making of the world in the hands of a commission, it would never have been made. The appointment of a board of three men to deal with Tariff questions would have much the same result. Surely we should not be afraid to face the work ourselves. I hope that some day we shall have in force the principle of the referendum, with the initiative. The people will then be independent of Ministry and Opposition alike, and will be able to demand, by the initiative, what is required. When that state of affairs, is reached, we shall have a Protective Tariff worthy of the name. I wish to ask the Minister to give some attention to the dumping of dress-goods in Australia. Our season, fortunately or unfortunately, follows that in the Home land. Goods that are manufactured in England in large quantities lose their value at the end of a season and are dumped in Australia. For instance, ladies’ overcoats, which might bring- £5 5s. at the beginning of a season, are sold for £2 2s. towards the close of it ; but, rather than sell them for less locally, business firms sell them for export to Australia. It was said that a mistress who had paid, in the height of the season, £5 5s. for a fashionable lady’s overcoat, might object to see her servant wearing an equally good coat which she had purchased later in the season for 10s. These made up overcoats are not shoddy, but of splendid material. They were bought at 5s.11d. each, and the landing charges, duty, and freight brought the price up to 8s. 11d. A deputation which waited on the Minister laid before him the sworn statement that similar coats could not be made under our Wages Board system for less than 21s. each. Did the public benefit by the importation? No. We traced the destination of some of the coats, and found that one was sold at 35s. in Prahran, arid another elsewhere for two guineas. I wish to see Protection given to the manufacturer and to the employé whose hours should be limited, and whose wages should be increased, while the public should get its goods at the lowest prices possible. This is schedule B of the Customs Tariff, No. 7, of 1908, rebate for home consumption -
Number of the item in schedule A 123.
Piece goods of any material when used in the manufacture of rubber waterproof cloth.
Rebate up to and including nth December, 1907, three-fourths of the duty paid.
I hope that the Minister will be able to induce his colleagues to give some relief to the manufacturers who suffer from the dumping to which I have alluded. We have tailors who can make garments fit for any prince, king, or emperor, and outfitters who can make clothes fit for any woman, be she as beautiful as Juno, or wise as
Minerva. I would, therefore, like to see the prohibition of the importation of garments. I hope that if we cannot get an alteration of the duty on dress goods this session relief may be given to the manufacturers of women’s and children’s outer garments in some way. In some of the American States there is a super-Customs tax to prevent dumping. In the dear old Home land, they suffer from dumping even more than we do here. The honorable member for Illawarra spoke of the low wages in Germany. I am sure that he, like the rest of us, desires that every man in this community should have good wages, and be permitted to enjoy a high standard of living. I should like in this connexion to read a comparison of German and English wages in the weaving trade, which has been supplied to me by a keen student of statistics. What I am about to read is part of the official report of the Yorkshire Textile Workers Deputation, which made a comparison of wages, factory conditions, rent, taxes, and cost of living. With a magistrate as chairman, it was sent to Germany, and chose two communities as like as possible to the woollen districts of Yorkshire -
The following table shows the prices paid for weavingby five of the best firms in the heavy woollen district, side by side with the prices paid (1) in the factories near Berlin; (2) the mills of Cottbus; and (3) the mills of Forst : -
When the best prices of the heavy woollen district are compared with the rates paid in Forst, the “ Batley “ of Germany - and both places are making the same varieties of cloth - we find that a range of thirteen pieces which would yield £611s.1½d. to one of our local weavers would put £7 9s.10d. into the pocket of the weaver in Forst.
This little analysis shows at a glance that in the “ Batley “ of Germany, where cloth ranging from is. to 5s. per yard is being made, and nearly 11,000 operatives ate engaged in the industry, the weavers are paid twelve and a half per cent, more for the work they do than the weavers receive in the best factories in the Yorkshire woollen district.
No man has fought the Age newspaper more than I have done during the past twenty-one years, and I am prepared to fight it still, but for its advocacy of Protection I must pay it my meed of praise. I have to thank it for the fiscal views which I hold, and have no cause to regret. My recent visit to the Old Country confirmed the impression of thirty years ago, and established me in my convictions. Next to the land system, Free Trade is doing more to debase the United Kingdom, through injury to her manufactories and workers, than anything else. Germany has one of the most paternal Governments in the w».–ld, and her educational facilities have prodiced the strongest, most enlightened, and up-to-date body of workers that the world knows today. She has 3,250,000 educated workers, who are unequalled elsewhere. They are trying to hold the nations apart, although the war parties in Germany and England are snarling at each other. I love mv native Australia as much as any man could love his native land, and I wish to see a protective policy established so strong that we shall be able to face the world. I do not think that that would remove poverty. The only way to do that would be te nationalize industries, when we are wise enough and educated enough to take them over. The manufacturers to-day see that it is to their advantage to work amicably with their employes. Whereas formerly they opposed the establishment of Wages Boards, they how desire them, because they are thus better able, with the assistance, of their employes, to obtain Tariff protection. I am proud to say that I have given many a vote for the creation of Wages Boards. The late member for Gippsland, by a -stroke of statesmanship, insisted that a Wages Board should be appointed on the vote of one House. For three years that provision stood to his credit on the statute<book of Victoria, and helped much to benefit the workers. Some of the Wages Boards are absurd, their operations being confined to the cities, so that men on one side of the street may be receiving one rate of wages, while those on the other are being sweated to the utmost. The neighbouring States, legislating later, have made Wages Boards applicable to the whole of their territory. I hope that we shall pass such . legislation that all men, whether in town or in country, will receive decent wages. The workers are in the worst position in Queensland at present. In giving Protection to the employer, I hope that it will be insisted that every employ^ shall get his due share of the profit of his industry, and that the public shall not be robbed . by any combine, domestic or foreign.
– This is the third Tariff which has been dealt with by this Parliament, and it seems likely, at this rate, that in the future Tariff revision will be an annual event. The sooner the Tariff is placed under some better auspices, even if it should result in our having it as an annual, the better it will be for Australia. A Tariff is now submitted to the House without the slightest information as to what its effect is to be, or as to whether it will achieve the object which is written broadly over the preface. The Minister has information concerning some of the items, but he will not disclose it; he asks us to take what he says on trust, and to believe that he is doing his best in the interests of Australia as a whole, and the interests of the Tariff in particular. That would be all very well if we did not know that the Minister himself is acting within very severe limitations, and is bound hand-and-foot by certain statements of his confreres and of the party in general. I .was very much struck with the remarks of the last speaker. We have heard him talk before of his desire to have a huge Tariff wall built around Australia; but, somehow or other, he seems to be singularly unfortunate in his illustrations. He has quoted from a book with a glaring red cover, which he declares to contain the opinions of Tariff reformers at Home,
– It is published by the Tariff Reform League, Victoria-street, Westminster.
– There are other people writing books at Home which tell a very different story. There I shall leave this matter, for I am not to be drawn into such details on the present occasion.
– Would the honorable member mind naming some of those other books?
– I am referring not so much to any particular book, but to scores of pamphlets and other publications written by those who are opposing” Tariff reform in Great Britain. Ohe of these books is written by a member of Parliament named Robertson, and it is a singularly able production, diametrically opposed to the policy advocated in that quoted from by the honorable member for Melbourne. We have been referred to Germany ; and we remember that a little while ago a delegation of working men in Great Britain visited that country especially to investigate such matters, and they returned with a very different tale.
– I quoted from the report of the delegation of workmen.
– That was only one section of the delegation. Of course, my honorable friend, with that capacity for fairness and impartiality which we know him to possess, quoted so much, and left us to quote the rest.
If I believed in a Protection of 100 per cent., or in total prohibition, as the honorable member for Melbourne does, I should try to get some better illustrations than those he has furnished to-night. For instance, he has told us that in Japan, where labour can, I believe, be employed for is. per day, the Tariff has been raised to 350 per cent, against workmen in America, who are paid ten times as much in wages. What does the honorable member expect us to infer from that? He says that he desires a high Tariff wall to preserve our wages rates.
– There is no Labour party in Japan !
– No; but there is a party who believe in nationalization. Why should a Labour party be required, when the very Government itself is socialistic? With all the advantages of Socialism, and a 350 per cent, duty, Japan cannot compete against the private enterprise of America. Woe is nationalization ! Woe also is Protection, at least, in Japan ! Before the honorable member set out to champion Australian Protection, he ought to have selected better examples. He showed, if anything, that 300 per cent, duties and nationalization do not solve the social problem. In Japan there is not only nationalization of tobacco, but nationalization of matches, salt, and several other products; and yet the Japanese are working under such social conditions to-day that we declare we must keep them out of Australia at all hazards.
– The Japanese do not live on salt and tobacco - why do they not nationalize food?
– I do not know. I suppose it is a sort of perversity. Somehow or other, people always nationalize something which the honorable member doesnot wish them to nationalize.
– The honorable member will get nationalization as soon as we have the power.
– Will tobacco be nationalized ?
Mr. Frazer._ Yes.
– And shipping,. I suppose?
– Very likely.
– And sugar, I suppose ?
– And what else? Iron and coal, I suppose. I am delighted to have these admissions of what the Government are going to do.
– Those three will be a nice beginning, will they not?
– I think they will, indeed. And they mean ^25,000,000 to begin with.
– Of course, the honorable member intends to connect these remarks with the Tariff?
– I should better connect them with the note issue of the Government; that, I think, would be a much more sensible way.
– I must ask the honorable member to confine himself to the question before the Chair; his remarks are out of order.
– I think we are out of order. We are now enabled, on the authority of a responsible Minister, to saythat the Government propose—
– To keep our pledge to nationalize monopolies.
– We are enabled to say that the Government propose to nationalize sugar, tobacco, and shipping ; and these, with several other proposals, will occupy the Commonwealth for some time to come. I only hope that when we donationalize these industries-
– I must ask the honorable member to confine himself to thequestion.
– I am replying to the honorable member for Melbourne. I hope that the result will give better economic conditions than those which obtainin Japan, where tobacco has been national*,ized, and yet the people cannot stand up» against the private enterprise of the world:
With nationalization and 350 per cent, duties, the wages are still is. a day in Japan.
– In France, the nationalization of tobacco enables the Government to pay £12,000,000 towards the upkeep of the navy.
– I do not think that that fact helps the Minister very much.
– It certainly does not alter the fact.
– It does not alter the fact, for instance, that where a nationalized and highly-protected industry is making a profit of £12,000,000 in a European country, the workmen there are still paid what we should consider sweating wages. Whether we are referred to Japan, where other methods and modes of civilization than our own obtain, and the social ideal is different from our own, or to that country which is supposed to have achieved the highest distinction in all the arts which spell civilization, those economic ideals work .out disastrously to the working men. The highest ideals of economic and social life are yet to seek in those countries where nationalization is in full blast, and where protective duties are at the highest possible pitch.
– What is the honorable member’s opinion of the Tariff?
– That reminds me. I should like to know what has come over the spirit of the dream of honorable members opposite.
We have been told, time and again, that not a single farthing of Protection should be given to any manufacturer in Australia until the workmen have substantial and safe guarantees. If there has been anything made clear during the last twelve or eighteen months by my honorable friends opposite, it is that they would not give any further Protection to an employer until the new Protection was insured.
– Name one Protectionist who has said that.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and the Minister himself. The Minister has told deputations before to-day that no more Protection would be given until the new Protection could be guaranteed. There are, let us say, a score of Protectionist duties in the schedule submitted to us. I do not know exactly how many there are. I cannot find out. There are lots of people guessing what the effect of the Tariff will be; but nobody can tell us, and certainly the Minister least of all ; but I suppose the x twenty I refer to will have some protective incidence. I suppose such duties, for instance, as those on vinegar, strawboard, and timber, are intended to have it. Has anything been done, in relation to those duties, to guarantee the new Protection? I say to the Labour party, remember that, when you put the duties through on harvesters, I told you very plainly that I believed you were cheating the workman out of his fair share of the added duties. I was jeered at by the Prime Minister, amongst others, for my pains ; but it is admitted now that it was all a mistake, although you were warned before as to what would happen. Is any precaution being taken with regard to the homoeopathic dose of Protection, as it has been called, which you are now doling out? Is the workman to get even a Utile snippet of it? What guarantees have we that the new Protection principle is going to apply to any of these matters? You have said plainly that you cannot give new Protection at the present time, as you are utterly powerless to do it. This is what the Acting Prime Minister said on behalf of the Government when summing up the results of the referenda, after taking quite a week to think over the matter, so as to make a reasoned statement -
All our attempts to carry out the rest of our programme must prove abortive. We cannot give effect to the new Protection. We cannot insure to every worker a fair and reasonable wage.
– What is the matter with that?
– It is a confession that the Labour party cannot guarantee to any of the workers in these industries a fair and reasonable wage. I put that alongside the other statements which have been made from time to time, that, until they could guarantee fair and reasonable wages to the workers, honorable members would not confer any further Protectionist benefits on the employers of those workers.
– Only some members of the party said that.
– I shall vote for Protection every time it is put forward, and then fight for the new Protection.
– Then we are clearly to understand that the L;bour party are going to protect the employers, whether the workmen can be protected or not?
– Yes, certainly I am ; and 1 will fight for the worker afterwards.
– There is the statement made on behalf of the Government that, in present circumstances, they are unable to give effect to the new Protection. They are now proposing to give effect to the old. They cannot insure to every workman a fair and reasonable wage. They, propose, therefore, to give further profits to the employer.
– We are going to take the nsk
– I only want to understand the position, and, above all, I want the people outside to understand it.
– Hear, hear ! That will help us in our referenda, and help us to stop you from blocking the new Protection.
– I do not think it will help the honorable member. If these duties go through without those guarantees, and in spite of the alleged inability of the Government to help the worker, if they perpetrate anything like that which they did in connexion with the harvesters, let them blame themselves, and blame no one else.
– The Leader of the Opposition behind you is feeling uncomfortable.
– I do not think he is. The Leader of the Opposition proposed to go about this matter in a workmanlike fashion.
– As he did in the case of the harvesters.
– The Leader of the Opposition believed, when he put the harvester duties through, that he could enforce the new Protection, which he provided for. The Government are providing in this schedule for no new Protection.
– He helped to block us getting the power.
M’r. JOSEPH COOK.- He attempted to give the new Protection. The Labour party are not attempting it.
– He even wrote a memorandum about it; but that is about as far as he got.
– He did write a memorandum; and had he succeeded at the last election, there would have been in existence at this moment a tribunal which could have guaranteed the new Protection. My honorable friends are in power; but they have done nothing. They propose nothing, except to give further profit to themanufacturer, declaring, with the same breath, that they cannot guarantee that theworkman will get any ot it.
– Then, accordingto you, the Inter-State Commission could get above the Constitution. It would bevery clever if it could.
– The InterState Commission could not get beyond the Constitution. It is a part of the Constitution, and as proposed to be set up by the previous Government, would have been in a position to-day to help the workers of Australia. The result of throwing that proposal overboard is that the Labour party cannot help the workers.
– You blocked us with the referenda.
– We did not. We simply tried to induce the people of this country to throw overboard a proposal which would have absolutely destroyed Federation, setting up a centralized control, and ultimately making it impossible for the workers of Australia ever to get justice from adequate, safe, and impartial tribunals. We still say that our proposal is the only workable one, and will yet hold the field. What is the use of talking about the mere adjustment of wages? Have we not just heard a speech from the honorable member for Melbourne, who always talks frankly, very often more out of his heart than his head - I say that in no opprobrious sense. He has told the Committee,, and many more on the Government side believe what he says, although it is not politic just now to say it, “ We shall do no good ; we cannot guarantee these people their fair share of the good things that are going until we have nationalized these industries.”’ That is frank. The honorable member does not say that the Government can do much good for the workers by new Protection. Nothing but nationalization will do for him.
– What is wrong with Free Trade? Have you buried it? That was your panacea in the last Tariff.
– I am not on Free Trade at this moment. I am on the question of treating these workers fairly and with justice. I am on the question of keeping faith with them, and fulfilling a compact by reason of which the Government: are where they are to-day.
If there was one thing more thananother that the Labour party told the workers at the last election, it was that care would be taken to see that they obtained their fair share of anything of this kind that was going. The Labour party said they would take care that the manufacturers did not get protective duties to help them pile up profits, unless the workers obtained their .fair share in wages. The Government are now fairly and squarely up against the position that has caused all the trouble and all the difference of opinion. What was the trouble with my honorable friend behind me? He tried to help the workers, but the Constitution was against him. The Labour party said, “ Out you go. We cannot be bothered with a man like you. We must do this kind of thing, if you do not.” How are they doing it ? Surely the honorable member for Ballarat is no longer responsible in this matter ? Honorable members opposite are on the box-seats now. They are ruling the Commonwealth.
– They are all drivers. . That is what is Wrong with the coach.
– They are driving all right. It is full-speed ahead with them. Such trifles as justice to the workmen must not stop their gala coach. I am asking them to put on the brake, and pull up and consider the poor fellow _ outside that wants to get in and have a ride, and they will not permit him. They say, “ We have no time for you, old man. It is your employer we want to look after and placate. We cannot help you, you must come some other time. We are now busy handing out all the good things we have in the coach to your employer.” When the workman looks up at the side, and asks where he comes in, the Government say to him, “ We cannot give to every worker a fair and reasonable wage. We cannot give effect to the new Protection.” So they sail along, never minding him, giving the employer more of the old Protection, or, at least, so it is said. I do not pretend quite to understand the schedule, but I suppose we shall hear more about it later on. If the people outside are content to have this thing done, all right. It is a matter between the party opposite and their constituents ; but they ought to have the common honesty to tell the people, “ What we told you at the last election we would do, we find we are powerless to carry out, and, therefore, we hope you will absolve us from giving you what we promised, because we cannot do it; but we do not think we ought to prevent your employers from having some more profits per medium of the Tariff which we are putting through.”
– That sounds like Free Trade.
– The honorable member says that the imposition of duties which will benefit the employer without guaranteeing any benefit to the worker suggests Free Trade.
– I was referring to the use of the word “ profits “ by the honorable member.
– I suppose that the honorable member hopes that, as the result of these duties, there will be some additional profits.
– I am not hoping for increased prices to the consumer.
– Has the honorable member any guarantee that prices-, will not be increased ?
– Unfortunately I have not.
– And my honorable friend does not propose to take ally step to prevent that increase.
– Yes, I ‘ would nationalize distribution.
– Is not this talk about new Protection on the part of the Labour party a mere farce? One by one they say they want, not new Protection, but the nationalization of industries.
– I spoke of thenationalization of distribution ; that would not touch manufacturers.
– I have yet tolearn how we could have complete nationalization of all distribution without nationalizing all production of Australia.
– If the honorablemember reads my speech on the subject, he will learn how it can be done.
– I listened tothe honorable member for two hours, and it is little short of cruelty to ask me to read his speech. I wish now to refer to a speech made on this side of the House about twoyears ago by the present Minister of Trade and Customs, in which he, in conjunction’ with the honorable member for Hume, declared that there were about 185 Tariff items which demanded immediate attention. What has become of them? ‘ They could not wait when he was in Opposition twoyears ago; but now that he is in office, receiving, I suppose, about £2,000 a year for attending to these very matters, he putsaside the whole of those items with the exception of about twenty.
– Perhaps he is still watching the Tariff.
– And at this rate he will be watching it until Doomsday, especially if he remains in office. It seems to me that Tariff revision is only an urgent matter when the Ministry are out of office. When they are in office, they think it sufficient to bring down a schedule containing two or three items. Their attitude reminds one of the story of the man who, while sleighing, was pursued by wolves, and, one by one, threw overboard the little ones who were with him. More is promised, I presume; but when, and in what circumstances? Whilst there is still no means of giving effect to the new Protection policy, the Government have been warned by one of their staunch supporters, the honorable member for Hume, that they must expect a complete revision of the Tariff next session. He says, “ I have been promised it next session.” I do not know when the promise was made. Did the Minister give the honorable member any promise?
– I have not said to the honorable member in private anything that I have not said in public by way of answers to questions in this House.
– Then the honorable member for Hume must have made an inaccurate1 statement. The Minister has not told the House that he proposes a complete revision of the Tariff next session.
– I have not. It is for next session to determine what is to be done next session.
-Quite so. Meantime the Ministry may find’ something that will help them in this matter of the new Protection. The combined intellect of my honorable friends opposite should surely enable them to suggest some remedy, although it is difficult to see how they can get behind the unqualified statement of the Attorney-General, who has, perhaps, the cutest brains of any honorable member on the Government side of the House, that it is impossible to give the new Protection - that it is impossible to guarantee better wages to the workers by means of these increased duties. We have, therefore, the spectacle of the Ministry throwing a little sop to a few manufacturers - a sort of make-believe, this session - and the honorable member for Hume, in his anxiety to support these gentlemen, who will not give him what he wants - said he relies on some promise which has been made that there will be a complete revision of the Tariff next session. I have not much to say at this stage concerning the schedule, since we shall have to deal with it in detail later on ; but I think that we ought to consider the whole surroundings. If Ministers make promises to the people, it is the duty of the Opposition to see that some attempt is made to give effect to those promises.
– Even although those promises are against the Opposition policy ?
– Most certainly. It is the duty of the Opposition to see that the Government keep faith with the country. At the last general election the honorable member for Cook ridiculed our scheme to provide for new Protection. He told the electors that the Labour party would give them something better; that it would give them some guarantee that the workers would share in the benefits of whatever duties were imposed. He declared that a former Government had broken faith with him so far as the last Tariff revision was concerned.
– And the honorable member’s present leader did break faith with me.
– Is the honorable member keeping faith with his electors in this regard?
– I shall keep faith with them.
– The honorable member said he would guarantee that the workers should share equitably, if not equally, in the benefits of any further duties that were imposed. We now have it from the mouth of a leading member of his party that that is impossible; but that does not deter him from going on with the conferment of these further privileges on the manufacturers of Australia. This schedule is a further proof of the absolute necessity of removing the Tariff, so far as its genesis and the need for investigation go, from the political arena. The Tariff to-day is being made the shuttle-cock of party. That ought not to” be. I take it that the fiscal policy of Australia is settled for the time on the Protectionist side.
– That is an admission.
– An admission that has been made on this side for some years.
– Will the honorable member stand by these protective items?
– I do not know enough about a lot of them to be able either to stand by or to leave them. Is the honorable member going to stand by them?
– By those which are protective in their incidence.
– Does he know what are protective items and what are not ? I frankly tell the honorable member that he does not. The Tariff is so ripped up and manipulated that only a Philadelphia lawyer could unravel it.’
Take, for instance, the item of fruit cases, in which I am interested. I am told by a maker of those cases that the manufacturers will pass on the duty by increasing the price to. the extent of Jd. per case. The Minister tells me across the table, however, that wood -for fruit cases is not to be dutiable.
– I have never made any such statement.
– I appeal to the honorable member for Franklin to bear out my statement, that the Minister, in introducing this Tariff schedule, distinctly told me, in answer to an interjection, that the wood used in making fruit cases would not be made dutiable ‘by’ this Tariff. The statement is, I think, on record.
– I have not read the Hansard report of my own speech.
– The honorable member will find that my statement is correct. I shall- look up the reference later on, and, if necessary, will make a personal explanation.
Mr.McWilliams. - I understood the Minister -to say exactly the reverse.
– I have just been shown a copy of Hansard, in which there is reported a statement by the Minister which is exactly the -reverse of what I said it was. From that statement it would appear that such timber is . to be dutiable ; -but there is another reference to the matter which I hope to look up.
– The honorable member said, “ Theduty is to be placed on fruit cases, v and I replied, “Yes.”
– The honorable member’s reply . was -
Certainly, if they are imported practically made up ; ‘but case’s made here with our own timber will be in a different position.
There is another passage somewhere which I -think bears out my statement.
-Moloney. - The honorable member should -withdraw his statement.
– I shall withdraw it. ‘The honorable member has not known me not to withdraw a statement which has ‘been proved to he wrong. There can be no quibbling in this matter.If the
Minister is right, I have . a substantial grievance, because there is in Australia no more hardly-pressed industry than that of fruit-growing. If our orchar.dists have to pay a halfpenny more for their cases, it will be a grinding imposition on them.
The honorable member for Hume is . much opposed (to the establishment of . a . board to make investigations regarding Tariff operations. The reason . is not far to seek. Those who were here when the last Tariff was under discussion know that it used to be a joke to ask for information, because the honorable member who was in charge of it knew nothing, and had to look round for the then member for Bourke, Mr. Hume Cook, to send him behind the chair to consult an official. If the carpet -has not been renewed since, it must be very much out of repair between the Minister’s seat and the place set apart for strangers behind the chair. There never was a more pitiable spectacle than he presented. All the information that honorable members got was dribbled to them from the officials. The honorable member sees no need for informing Parliament. The Tariff question will never be settled until inquiries have been exhausted into the operation of . duties by men who by their training and ability are better able to deal with these matters . than we are. None of us understands all the bearings of . the schedule, and not even a Minister can say exactly what its protective incidence is. He knows what his experts have told him, but they are not acquainted with all the ramifications of industries in Australia. If they were, they would be foolish to remain in the Government -service at the pal.try salaries paid . to -them. The subject is one to be investigated by ^experts, who will devote their whole time : to it, and give us the advantage of their discoveries.
– Look at all the circulars we have received containing information.
– I have alocker full of such information, which it would take a week to read.
– Did the honorable member receive a circular about the new Protection?
– I have not . seen one. I hope that the honorable member will not forget his solemn declaration that he would not vote for a duty . of . any kind until new Protection had been established. Indeed, he declared that unless new Protection were given, he would make o.ne to reduce duties.
– I am for the reduction of the duty on white pine. Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- I shall be glad to have the honorable member’s assistance to remove the duty from fruit cases. He has always had a warm corner in his heart for the butter makers. The Minister tells us that he had many replies to the circulars which he sent to various manufacturers.
– Over one hundred.
– Have duties been given or increased in every instance?
– Have duties, been imposed for the protection of industries in regard to which replies were not sent?
– In some cases.
– Did any employers reply that they needed more protection ?
– Did they all do so? I take it that a manufacturer would not reply unless he thought that he needed protection ?
– They consider that they need protection. The one hundred replies did not relate to- one hundred separate industries.
– Of a hundred people who have sent in returns, expecting increases of duty, only about fifteen are having duties increased. The other eightyfive are receiving no consideration. That is not very much satisfaction to those men who have disclosed the whole of their business secrets to the Minister. They will not be very pleased to know that 15 per cent, have been considered qualified for increased duties, while they have been left out.
– The honorable member is sorry ‘that the fifteen should be considered.
– The Minister sent Out that circular with the wish to lead the manufacturers to believe that if they could show that they wanted further duties they would’ get them. But it seems that only fifteen out of a hundred who sent in returns are to be favoured.
– Perhaps the others were not paying their workmen decent wages.
– I do not know; the Minister has not told us anything about that. 1 1 think he ought to tell us something. I do not say that he ought to tell us what the individual cases are. He ought not to give’ us any information which was supplied to him secretly, and under a bond, lt would be a breach of faith if he did. But he ought to tell us broadly and generally why he has found that only fifteen out of the whole hundred are worthy of increased duties. Are they making good profits at present ? Are they paying good wages, or are they paying bad ones? Are the 15 per cent, paying better wages and earning less than the 85 per cent, rejected ? The Minister could tell the House that. At least, he could tell us that these fifteen who are getting these duties are paying good wages, and are practically working their establishments under new Protection principles. In other words, it is upon the Minister to tell the House in a general way why “ some are taken and the others left.” There would be no breaking of secrets in that procedure. But at present we have no information at all given to the Committee by the Minister, even after he has been able to go into all the ramifications of the business of these men who consider themselves entitled to higher duties.
We are told that importations are increasing, but we are not told that the Minister, in setting out to deal with this Tariff, found out to what causes the increases are due. For instance, he should have analysed the Tariff to find out how much of the increased importations was due to prosperous times. In the next place, he should have told the Committee how much is due to shortness of labour. In my own State, the Labour Government appointed a Commissioner to inquire into that matter, and he reports that we want 3,500 artisans. If so many are required in New South Wales, it is fair to assume that not fewer than 3,000 are required in Victoria. I suppose that that would represent a shortness of about 10,000 artisans in the whole of Australia. Does not that fact in itself almost account for these increased importations? If not, is it not up to the Minister to show the House why not ? Ought he not to tell us how much is due to shortness of artisan labour in the rest of the industries of Australia ? Then, again, while he is at it, he might very well investigate how far the importations arise from the labour troubles which are disturbing Australia at the present time, and which are leading people who would otherwise manufacture here to import instead. When he had made all these inquiries, and made all these allowances, he might tell us how much of the importations was. due to a defective Tariff. Under all these’ heads, there should have been an explanation from the Minister. But we have had an explanation as to none of them. He has not even told us that the duties which he is proposing to impose are for the purpose of protecting industries. In my opinion, the 5 or 10 per cent, which he is holding out here and there will have no material effect, upon the imports which are coming in at the present time. In my judgment, it will further increase the revenue, if it does anything at all, and we shall find that the revenue derived from it will be very much larger than the estimate which has been given to the Committee by the honorable member for Illawarra. These are matters which we ought to have had some information about from the Minister. We should have been told how these importations are coming in, and the causes from which they arisen - whether . they arise from good times, from shortness of labour, from la hour troubles, from a defective Tariff, or from all these things in combination. We should have been told how and to what extent each is a factor. Another thing that we want to know in setting out an this Tariff Question is what kind of industries we are protecting. T heard of one the other day which is going to receive protection from the Minister.It was the case of a man who is,I think, working with half-a-dozen others, including girls. in making up thread. The thread on which they work is imported into Australia, and all that these people are doing is to tie itup in skeins, dye it in colour and sell it. That is an industry which this Government is seriously going to protect to the extent of 25per rent.
-Is that industry established in theRichmond electorate?
-It is in Victoria, butI do not know in what electorate it happens to be.
Mr.Riley. -In South Melbourne.
-I thought we were going to get through this Tariff to-night.
– There are some other items in my list, but I can deal with them in Committee. I have made a few general observations on the subject, believing it to be my duty to make them, as I did before when my honorable friends proposed a Tariff without consideration, and without due care that the people that they specially represent here get their share of the benefits. Here is another opportunity for them to safeguard the interests of the. employes in these indus tries. But there is not a word about the new Protection here. The Government say plainly that they cannot give it to the employes. But they proceed merrily along with a desire to confer further important protection upon the manufacturers of Australia. I hope that we shall deal with these items in Committee on their merits, trying to understand them as best we may ; but we shall do it without knowledge, and we shall do it without understanding the bearing of these items upon other items in the Tariff. We shall do it further with a serious handicap, except there be first of all expert inquiry into all the ramifications of the industries, the wages paid, the extent of the industries, and the extent to which Protection is desired. All these things should be considered and finally presented to the House in the shape of a reasoned report with evidence added. With that knowledge, we shall be able to pursue the policv of the countrv as it has heen decided upon bv the electors, to give effect to what the country has said, namely, that there must be in Australia for the present, a protective polirv. with due regard to the interests of the workers, consumers, and allconcerned.
Bill returned from the Senate, without amendment.
Mr. SPEAKER annmmred the rereint of a message from the Senate, intim.atinar that it had concurred in the resolution of the House of Representatives in regard to the arnuisition of a site for Commonwealth offices in London.
Mr. SPEAKER announred the rereint of the following message from His Excellency the Governor-General : -
Tn accordance with section 58 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth nf Australia the Governor-General returns to the House of Representatives a proposed law intituled “ An Act relating to compensation to seamen for injuries suffered in the course of their employment.” and known as the “ Seamen’s Compensation Act rqn,” which has been presented to htm for itie King’s assent, and transmits herewith the following amendment, which he recommends to be made in the said proposed law : -
Amendment recommended. - Page 7, clause 13, line i,- omit “ or “ insert “ of.”
– I move -
That the message be taken into consideration forthwith.
I would point out to honorable members that the error which we desire to. remedy arose out of an error in a previous Act. The amendment is purely a verbal one.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Estimates- Temporary Naval College. - Compulsory Training. - Immigration. - Manoeuvre Area, Liverpool. - Northern Territory. - Replies to Questions. - Rifle Range, Toowoomba. - Military Pensions, Pay, and Allowances.
In Conthtittee of Supply:
– I move -
That a sum not exceeding£561,826 be granted to His’ Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending 30th June, 1912.
This amount represents one month’s Supply, and is intended to enable the salaries of certain public servants to be paid before we proceed with the consideration of the Appropriation Bill. All the items’ are based on the Estimates- of last year.
.-I think that the proposal of the Ministry, is absolutely unprecedented. I do not believe that; in the history of this, or any other Parliament,- the House which is supposed to control public expenditure has been asked to’ gra’ht Supply for six moftfhs of the financial year, without first having received the Estirriates for that year.
– Honorable members have received them.
– Yes; but we have had absolutely no opportunity of discussing them. We have been shown them;, and evidently our duty is supposed to end there. I think we might as well close up the Parliament and allow my honorable friends opposite to deal jvith the finances of this country” in secret. The’ procedure’ which has been adopted on the present occasion is not in keeping with the dignity of this Chamber.
– There are indications of the holiday season which is approaching.
– Those indications do not absolve us from our responsibility. Until I entered this Chamber, I entertained the idea that the control of the public finances was one of the most important duties de volving upon a. member of Parliament. I admit that past Governments have been accustomed to obtain two or three months’ Supply before proceeding with the consideration of the Estimates-in-Chief. But this year we are asked to vote six months’ Supply before we have been afforded an opportunity of debating those Estimates. The Prime Minister has told us, with a smile, that the approaching holiday season justifies us in rushing the Estimates through the House at the close of the session. I do not think that it does. We have to authorize an expenditure of £10,000,000 or so on the EstimatesinChief, and the public expect us to authorize it only after the most careful scrutiny. As it is, we shall probably be asked to give only half a night to the consideration of the Estimates.
– With three-fourths of the members asleep.
– With all the members asleep, with the exception of the one who is addressing the Chair.
– Then, let us come back in January.
– The honorable member’s threat does not appal me so much as it does honorable members upon his own side of the chamber, who, on no account, will consent to come back after Christmas. My own view of this matter is that, instead of having an all-night sitting at the end of the week to consider the Estimates, we should consider them to-night, when we are reasonably fresh.
– Is the honorable member speaking for himself or for the Opposition ?
– I am speaking for myself, just as the honorable member speaks for himself occasionally when he is intent upon the dissemination of socialistic propaganda.
– If the honorable member is serious, we are willing to deal with the Estimates to-hight.
– then I will put the position to the Prime Minister. The Estimates represent an expenditure of , £10,006,000 or £11,000,000 of somebody else’s money. Not one of us will be one penny the poorer if that public expenditure be muddled. But what about the people who have to foot the bill ? It Would be far better to consider the Estimates to-night than to rush them through the House in an hour or two at the close of the week, when honorable members are exhausted. Would the Prime Minister think it snowed an undue desire to deal with our financial responsibilities in a fitting spirit if we were to discuss the Supply Bill in the light of the Estimates-in-Chief ? We are told that this is the ordinary month’s Supply, but it is merely giving the Government tenure for that period with no assurance that we may not be called upon to pass another Supply Bill next month, if some prophecies as to the session continuing after Christmas are realized. It is unprecedented to ask for six months’ Supply, especially in a Government and a party who declared that they were going to put the finances of the country in order. If the Prime Minister will assure me that he will afford ample time for the consideration of the Estimates I shall be satisfied.
-There is no intention to rush the Estimates through.
– Not with all-night sittings ?
– I cannot bind myself to definite’ hours.
– It is only fair to ask whether the Prime Minister intends to force the Estimates through without discussion by a process of physical exhaustion, because, if we’ are to be kept up all night, we shall naturally neglect our duty, since members of Parliament never will stay out of bed to discuss matters of mere public importance. At this stage of the session, when all are anxious to get away, the Prime Minister may rely that there will be no unduly protracted discussion. I have no desire except to retain in the hands of Parliament the scrutiny of the country’s finances, a power Which, up to now, has been the chief pride of Parliamentary institutions. I make this request, not in” the interests of myself or of the Opposition, but in the interests of the taxpayers.
I realize that there are many items in this Billwhich it is somewhat difficult to understand, and honorable members who are more in the confidence of the Administration than I, may, perhaps, assist me.
– We are not yet dealing with the Bill, but merely considering the preliminary motion.
– We have a motion before us, but, with all due deference to you, Mr. Chairman, I think you will find it very difficult to know what is in the Bill. Perhaps the best way to deal with it, as the Prime Minister has forced us into the position, would be to let the preliminarymotion go, and then, when the Billis brought on, try to find out what the various items mean. All through the Bill we see a monotonous procession of “ salaries “ and “ contingencies,” in subdivision after subdivision.
– However much hilarity honorable members may indulge in, this matter is one of the most serious that can occupy the attention of Parliament. We are in the last month of the calendar year, with no Estimates considered. It is proposed to rise, I presume, next week, and it simply means that, as on the last occasion, the Estimates covering £20,000,000 odd, are to be put through without due consideration. In plain English, it means that the country is now exercising no control over its finances.
– You have just as much liberty now as you have on the Estimates.
– We cannot criticise the Departments or the items as we can on the Estimates. How do we know what is wrapped up in the mysterious things called “ contingencies,” in which the honorable member’s own Department abounds? I protest against the Estimates being postponed every time till the concluding hours of the session. I know what the honorable member for Gippsland is going to do.
– Yes; I am looking up the history of the Fusion Government in regard to the Estimates.
– The honorable member would rather have a dig at the Fusion than consider seriously the problem of the control of the country’s finances.
– It is so easy to have a dig at the Fusion !
– It is easy to sneer at the Fusion in this House; but the moment we are on a field where we can get a fair fight, honorable members opposite find it is not so easy. Every time that we have got them outside lately, they have not sneered at it. They cannot afford to sneer at it on the public platform.
– The honorable member is not fair. He is barring the Liverpool Plains election.
– I cannot bar Liverpool Plains. One thing my honorable friend and his confreres can still do is to set various public works going in different parts of an electorate, and swamp it for the time being. That is what they would do here if they had the same control of public works as they had at Liverpool Plains.
– That is not true.
– It is absolutely true, and it accounted for the plurality of the honorable member’s party there. It is time that the country woke up to the fact that its finances are each year getting less and less under the control of this Parliament.’
– Why do you not try to stop it this time, if you think it ought to be stopped? Debate the Estimates when they come on, and never mind Christmas. You are the Opposition.
– Shall we be kept here all night? Does the honorable member call it debating the Estimates to keep us here for thirty-five hours at a stretch? We are threatened now with a late sitting to-morrow night to deal with the Tariff. When honorable members sit here from 10 o’clock in the morning till past midnight, they are not able to debate matters properly.
– We should not do it. We ought to go right on.
– Would the honorable member mind getting the Prime Minister into reasonable ways, and ask him if he will be kind enough to condescend to allow the Opposition to discuss the Estimates reasonably and properly? It is of no use for us to say anything. All we get is a gibe and a jeer. It is sport to honorable members sitting behind the Government to pour ridicule upon any request made by the Opposition. We are asking now that the Estimates, covering £20,500,000, shall be discussed reasonably, and we get in reply a howl as from a pack from honorable members behind the Government.
– The honorable gentleman’s party put the “ gag “ on honorable members on this side when they were in Opposition.
– I say that the Government should put the “ gag “ on honorable members now in Opposition the moment they treat them as honorable members on the other side treated our Government. When honorable members opposite find a member on this side speaking for ten hours, or for five or six hours, I hope they will put the “ gag “ on.
– The honorable gentleman is romancing.
– The honorable member” must know that I am not romancing. He must know that the honorable member for Gwydir spoke for ten hours.
– No, he did not.
– Then he spoke for nine and a-half hours. He must know that the honorable member for Darling spoke for five hours.
– Honorable members of the Opposition put the “gag” on the present Prime Minister when he was Leader of the Opposition after he had spoken for only one minute on the motion for the adjournment of the House.
– I do not remember it.
– It was on the night on which the third reading of the Bill dealing with the Financial Agreement was carried. If the honorable gentleman does not remember it I do.
– I want to say to my honorable friend that I’ am not here apologizing for what we did. It is the present Government party that insisted upon the “ gag “ going into our Standing Orders.
– With the honorable gentleman’s present leader.
– Yes, but the Leader of the Labour party told him that if he did not introduce the “gag” he would not support him. I want to say, also, that standing orders for the application of the closure are a recognised part of parliamentary machinery in nearly every civilized country we know of.
– They ought to have been applied to honorable members opposite the other night.
– This Government had not the pluck to apply them. They are too much afraid of their miserable skins outside to do it. They make political capital out of the “ gag,” whilst the Labour Government in New South Wales puts it on nearly every night. They suit their policy to the circumstances and to the time.
– But look at the people they have to deal with in New South Wales.
– What about the people we have to deal with? For two days we had to listen to the honorable member for Gwydir. I say that if ever the application of the “ gag “ was justified it was in the honorable member’s case. I wish to make a protest against the way in which these Estimates are slipping from the control of Parliament. ,£20,000,000 will be voted by this House without proper consideration being given to the Estimates. If ever there was a time when the Estimates required consideration it is upon this occasion, when the increases proposed are abnormal on every side, when new Departments are being created, and new expenditure of many kinds is being proposed.
– Especially in connexion with defence.
– In connexion with defence and many other matters besides. The first item for the Prime Minister’s Department has nothing to do with the question of defence. I am sure that the honorable member for Maribyrnong will have something to say about some of the items’ appearing in the Estimates.
– To which item is the honorable member specially referring?
– I do not mind telling the honorable member that when these precious Estimates come on for consideration I shall want to know the reason for the new motor car - whether it is to be an importation from France or a good old British car. I may want to know, also, when a motor car is going to be ordered for the Opposition. I think it is time we had a look in in connexion with some of these proposals.
– We had to get a new motor car a week ago for clearing the mailboxes, and I do not suppose any Minister will ever use it.
– That was in accordance with the report of the Postal Commission.
– Before I resume my seat, I should like to make a personal explanation. I find that the Minister of Trade and Customs was right in connexion with the matter of the timber for fruit cases. I very much regret that he was right - I do not mean as between the honorable gentleman and myself - but as to the fact. I believe it is a fact that the Wood from which fruit cases are at present made is to be made dutiable. I understand that the duty is to be passed on in the shape of an extra charge of½d. per case to the fruit-growers of New South Wales. This will be a clear tax upon men who are not receiving the benefit of any duty, andwhose industry is as hard pressed as any in the Commonwealth. However, this is one of the benefits they are to derive from the Tariff, but this is not the time to say any more about it. Once more I express the hope that, as suggested by the honorable member for Hunter, we shall be given time to consider the Estimates properly and fully, especially in view of the fact that our expenditure is leaping up by abnormal jumps to a point at which we shall have very soon to call a halt. I hope that when the Fusion party come face to face with my honorable friends opposite at the next election we shall be able to win without a resort to those tricks and devices.
.-I take this opportunity to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister the question of the establishment of the temporary Naval College. We are given to understand that sites at Geelong and other places have been inspected quite recently. I submitted to the Minister of Defence a site, at the mouth of the Shoalhaven River, in New South Wales, and 1 believe that Captain Chambers has ‘been sent to inspect it. We are informed that the site at Geelong has been fully inspected, and that the Minister of Defence has given that particular site very favorable consideration. This is a matter of national importance, and I am glad to find that the Government, in the first instance, decided from the national point of view to establish the permanent Naval College on Federal territory. It appears that if the Geelong site for the temporary College is selected, a sum of £23,000 will have to be spent upon the buildings there to fit them for the purpose. It appears to me that if this sum has to be spent, and there is right alongside the proposed site for the permanent building a site which is quite as suitable for a temporary college as the site at Geelong, the Minister of Defence ought to give the matter very serious consideration. I think it is advisable that, in providing temporary accommodation, the money should be spent in such a position that, other things being equal, the improvements could, without difficulty, be removed to the permanent site for . the Naval College.
– A - Are there any buildings at the site to which the honorable member refers?
– Yes; there is a very fine building, which I believe would be quite as suitable as, from the descriptions I have heard, the building at Geelong. The site to which I refer is situated within a few miles of the proposed permanent site for the College. I hope that before any definite action is taken the position I have placed before the Minister will be fully considered.
– I desire once more to bring under the notice of the Minister of Defence the unsatisfactory manner in which the system of compulsory training is being carried out in my electorate. It will be remembered that it was promised that, as far as possible, the requirements of the different districts should be met. It happens in connexion with the Hunter that the boys are asked to walk a considerable distance to the place of drill. Both the parents and the lads are dissatisfied, for good reason. In regard to the lads at Largs, I have a promise that the Department will try to make alterations at the beginning of the year, but during the last fortnight I have been informed that the boys are compelled to go by lonely farm roads to Hinton, which is some miles away. No provision has been made for drilling them in their own areas, although there is a considerable population. If the Government cannot see their way to get a sufficient number of instructors to drill the lads near their own places, they ought to exempt them. They will make the system unpopular if they do not attend to this matter at once. The parents will not be satisfied if the lads have to give up their time and walk some miles to the place of drill. The same thing applies to the boys at Miller’s Forest, which, too, is a farming district. They are compelled to go to Raymond Terrace to drill. The parents are taking exception to this action, and endeavouring to get it rectified. The Minister ought to take the matter into serious, consideration. It is a subject with which he cannot afford to play. He will find in the near future that the people will be up in arms against the system if proper facilities for drilling are not .provided within a reasonable distance of the boys’ homes. I express the hope, for the .third .time, that the matter will receive better consideration than it has received. Otherwise I shall be reluctantly compelled to take a course in the interests of those whom I represent.
.- These Estimates have to be passed in order to meet the expenses of administration. It is not an occasion, I suppose, when long criticisms should be made, but I desire to draw attention to one or two matters which I think .cannot be emphasized too often.
– We have not got to the Estimates yet.
– I would remind the honorable member we are not dealing with the Bill, but with a proposed resolution.
– I think that the Com.mittee are entitled to some information re specting the question :of inducing immigrants to come here. In my opinion, the time has long since passed when we should have had from the .Government a definite pronouncement on this important matter. Under the Constitution we are supposed to undertake this branch of public policy. The Agents -General are doing the best they tan for their States in advertising the resources of the Commonwealth ; but a dead-lock has been reached. In London desirable immigrants by the thousands are ready to come to this continent, but no attempt is being made to provide ships to bring them here. It looks as though a good deal of paltering is taking place. I commend the Government for the admirable arrangement which they have made for the purchase of a site in London on which to erect public offices for the Commonwealth. But whilst it is proposed to spend £600,000 or £700,000 in providing a permanent and very desirable advertisement for the Commonwealth, the Government are making no attempt to do that which is even more essential to its prosperity, and that is to provide .the ships necessary to bring out the thousands of persons in England who are awaiting transport.
– What about establishing a Commonwealth line of steamers?
– This is npt the time to discuss abstract matters, but the time to discuss a policy which is absolutely essential to the future safety of the Commonwealth. We have no time to discuss whether the immigrants should come in Commonwealth steamers or in privately-owned steamers. What we have a right to know is the policy which is to be pursued . in order to meet this pressing demand in the Old Country.
– What does the honorable member propose?
– I hold that since we have the necessary power in the Constitution, and this nation is urgently in need of a desirable class of immigrants to build up the defence force and develop our re-, sources, the duty devolves upon the Government of providing the necessary shipping accommodation.
– We should be interfering with State rights if we did.
– No; it is our duty to provide the accommodation. I think that the House has been extremely patient in waiting so long for a definite pronouncement from the Government. We have a High Commissioner in London to carry out responsible duties, and to-day we have approved of a proposition which will involve an expenditure of £600,000 or £700,000, but the very purpose for which that enormous expenditure is to be incurred is absolutely neglected by the Government. I feel sure that they are fully alive to the need of providing shipping accommodation. At the same time, I think that they are afraid to move because the outside organizations which control their policy will not allow them to go in for a bigger scheme of introducing a desirable class of immigrants.
– That is not true.
– That is the only construction which I can put upon their inaction. There never will be a more favorable time for the Government to undertake the important duty of assisting desirable persons to come to Australia. Money has been flowing freely into the Treasury, and a large surplus was shown in the last Budget statement. We have had magnificent seasons and abundant prosperity. Although everything has been favorable to the carrying out of a vigorous scheme of immigration, yet the Government have done nothing. Why ? Simply because they have been afraid that the outside organizations which control their policy will not allow them to carry Out what they believe to be necessary in the interests of the Commonwealth. The time has arrived when we ought to have from the Government a statement of their policy in respect of the Northern Territory. We shall have a further opportunity to discuss that question ; but the enormous responsibility of settling the Territory can only be effectively met by laying upon a firm foundation a national policy in regard to it. There must be special legislation, and a special policy in respect of the Northern Territory. I rose particularly, however, to draw attention to the fact that the consideration of the important question of immigration is being put off by the Government from month to month. The people will show, by their votes at the next general election, that they do not indorse this systematic delay and this constant shirking of a most pressing responsibility.
.- I rise to complain of the replies that I have received to questions appertaining to important phases of administration. I recently put to the Minister of Home Affairs a question regarding applications that were
being invited from officers prepared to take charge of the Clerical and General Divisions of the Postmaster-General’s Department. The replies I received were most evasive, and gave no information whatever. I inquired what duties these men would discharge, what position they would occupy, and with what section of the administration they were to be associated. When an honorable member puts a question to a Minister, he expects to receive a direct, and not a deceptive, answer. It is time that we should demand replies in keeping with the questions put to Ministers. Some little time ago I addressed a series of questions to the Postmaster-General regarding the cost of the re-adjustment of certain aerial cables in the metropolitan area of Sydney. The reply was in part a denial that any readjustment had taken place; in regard to another phase of the question there was a partial admission; and in reply to yet another a full admission was made. Foreign matter, however, was introduced that had nothing to do with the question raised. I was informed that cables were being laid underground in the district referred to, and it was also admitted that some of the serial cables had been lowered. I wanted to show that, owing to the fault of some one, many miles of serial cables had been so . erected in the metropolitan area of Sydney that they were chafing and wearing out at every pole. The fact that they were suggested imperfect work for which some one was to blame, and so far as I could judge by watching the men at work the re-adjustment cost nearly as much as the re-erection of these cables would have cost. I put a question to the Minister with a view of ascertaining whether public money was being wasted, owing to inefficiency on the part of some official, but the reply simply evaded my question. If we are to have some semblance of correct government, and if honorable members are to be given an opportunity to learn what they have a right to know as to how public money is. being expended, direct replies to honest questions must be given. We need direct replies, rather than what I may call the professional answers to questions which seem to be part and parcel of every Department. Scarcely any question is replied to in a straightforward and honest manner. I complain of the manner in which replies are made to questions put, not only by myself, but by other honorable members. Time and again honorable members have had to repeat or reconstruct questions in order to try to gain information desired. I do not blame the Minister.
– Why not make these complaints “ upstairs “ ?
Mr.WEBSTER. - The honorable member knows nothing about “upstairs.” He is one of those who attempt to prejudge the actions of others of which they know nothing. I have the courage to say here what I want to say, and that is more than the honorable member has.
– But not the courage to vote in accordance with what the honorable member says.
– I have more courage than the honorable member displayed in connexion with the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Bill when he was sitting on this side of the House. The word “ courage “ is not to be found in his vocabulary.
– I should respect the honorable member’s speech if he followed it up by action.
– And I should have respected speeches made by the honorable member on equally important occasions, if he had voted in accordance with those speeches. My duty in this House is to be guided, not by what the honorable member for Parkes may think, but according to my own -conscience. I want none of his advice. I repeat that we cannot discharge our duties as we ought to discharge them unless we obtain the information for which we ask.
– I desire to ask the M/inister of Home Affairs whether he has yet been able to acquire from the State Government a site for a rifle range at Toowoomba ? The Minister, I know, has been negotiating with the State authorities for some time.
– I - I think that negotiations are Teaching a satisfactory conclusion ; but I shall tell the honorable member to-morrow morning how the matter stands.
– Then, I shall address a question to the Minister to-morrow morning.
.- The honorable member for Wimmera complained of the inaction of the Government in regard to immigration, but the man who advocates the wholesale bringing of immigrants into Australia is an enemy of the people.
– No one advocates that.
– Persons in charge of the Sydney wharfs have told me that, because of the want of accommodation in the hotels and boarding-houses of the city, immigrants have to leave their furniture and boxes on the wharves for weeks. Sometimes husbands and wives are forced to take rooms in different parts of the city.
– The honorable member assumes that all who come here will stay in the cities. Is there no room for them in the country?
– Why does not the honorable member set them the example by going to the country himself? The overcrowding which is now taking place is causing the increase of rents, which, in some cases, are 50 per cent, higher than they should be. While this may advantage those who are crying out for immigrants, it is a hardship to the workers.
– Does the honorable member contend that we have enough people in Australia ?
– We are absorbing immigrants as quickly as we can, and more are coming here now than ever came before.
– More people have come within the last twelve months than came in the previous ten years.
– To-morrow honorable members, under the influence of the Age, will contend that more Protection is needed to give employment to our people ; yet, at the same time, they say that the manufacturers cannot get sufficient hands.
– That is so.
– We are told that we need population to defend the country ; but I am prepared to do my share towards . its defence, and others will do likewise. If more accommodation for passengers to Australia is needed, let us start a line of Government steamers. We pay£170,000 a year to the Orient Company for the carriage of the mails, and the provision of so many thousand feet of cold storage spare. The building of a fleet of our own would save what we spend in subsidies. If, as the honorable member for Illawarra has stated, the Government proposes to spend£23,000 on a temporary institution for the Naval College, the proposal is absurd.
– There is no justification for the statement.
– How much is it proposed to spend?
– It is not proposed to spend a penny yet.
– It has been reported thai £23,000 will have to be spent on the proposed site.
– No decision has been arrived at.
– I am prepared to vote against any such lavish expenditure on a temporary site.
– It may be a good business proposition.
– Not at all. The Government could make arrangements with the University of Sydney, or with the University of Melbourne for the accommodation of students pending the getting ready of a temporary college.
.- I agree with the honorable member for South Sydney that it would be absurd to spend ?23,000 on a temporary Naval College. The Naval College should be placed in the best site available. But although Captain Chambers has been appointed to travel through Australia to report on the best site he can find, we have been told by the Melbourne newspapers that, having seen Geelong, he intends to recommend the site there. I do not know how the press got that information ; but if the statement is true, it is a farce to ask that officer to make visits of inspection to other places. We should put as many Commonwealth establishments as we can in the Federal Territory, but defence is a matter of such great importance that the national interest must be the first thing considered. Honorable members opposite trifle with the subject. They are afraid to say openly that they are against expenditure on defence, but they do not give defence proposals the whole-hearted support which they should receive. The Government’s action in this matter should be closely watched.
– I have a word or two to say affecting the Department of Home Affairs. It relates to that hardy annual) the Liverpool manoeuvre area. This matter has not moved in the slightest degree since I became a member of this Parliament. The honorable member for Parramatta says “ Hear, hear “ to that ; but I may remind him that the matter did not move while he was Minister of Defence.
– It did.
– How is it, then., that the manoeuvre area is not the property of the Commonwealth Government at the present time?
– Let the honorable member ask. his own Minister.
– I have donn so. If one asks the Commonwealth Minister, he says that the New South Wales Government is responsible for the delay ; and if one asks the Premier of New South Wales, he lays the responsibility upon the Commonwealth.
– If we had been in office, the matter would have gone through long ago.
– At all events. I know that the question is not progressing at present. On the 29th November, Mr. Downes, a member of the New South Wiles Parliament, asked the following question of the Premier -
I desire to ask the Premier whether any progress has been made during the recent visits oi Federal Ministers to Sydney with regard to further military resumptions near Liverpool.
Mr. McGowen, in reply, said ;
The visit of the Minister for Home Affairs was made with the object, amongst other things, of consulting with me regarding a large area of land at Liverpool which the Federal authorities wish to acquire as a military manoeuvring ground. The matter is practically undecided, because the Government have come to the conclusion that until the Federal Government can show some consideration to our proposals, it is not wise to do everything they may ask. Whilst we were willing, in the first instance, to convey to the Federal Government all the Crown lands surrounding Liverpool as a military manoeuvring ground, we desired that the Federal Government should pay us interest at the rate of 4J per cent, on the capital value. Afterwards, the Federal Government asked for a larger area to be acquired by the Government, and until we can get some other questions with regard to the interest payable upon the value of the transferred properties, and one or two other matters, settled, we are not likely to arrive at any definite decision. We think that the whole question should be settled in a give-and-take manner between the State and Federal Governments.
I think that the 4$ per cent, mentioned in the report is incorrect.
– I - It should be 3f .
– I believe that Mr: McGowen said 3! per cent. If this question is not settled, owing to the action of the New South Wales Government, I want to know why the Federal Government have not enforced the provision of the Constitution which gives them power to resume land for defence purposes.
– What is the land wanted for at all ?
– If my honorable friend owned a piece of land in the middle of a military manoeuvre area, I am sure that he would want the Commonwealth Government to recompense him. There are 16,000 acres of privately-owned land in the middle of the Liverpool manoeuvre area. The people who own it are being squeezed between the State and Federal Governments, and receive no recompense whatever. They are paying taxes on their land, and it is of no use to them. People ought to get justice, whether they are rich or poor.
– The same thing is being done in other States.
– If wrongs are being done all over the world, that is no reason why we should not right one when it is brought under our notice. If the Federal Government do not want to manoeuvre troops at this place, they do not want the land ; but they ought not to use the land without recompensing the owners. It is useless to say that, the land is of no consequence to the Federal Government. If that be so, why were the owners informed four years ago that the land would be resumed? If the question is not advanced towards settlement before the general Estimates come up for consideration, I beg to give notice now that I shall take steps to force the matter forward in another way, because I consider that the Government are not dealing fairly with it. If honorable members opposite who laugh are not earnest in reference to defence matters, let them stand up manfully and say so. I believe that a strong defence policy for this country is the correct policy, and I am here to back it up. If, however, we do not do the work well, we are simply wasting money. If the New South Wales Government do not intend to take the proper steps to enable the Federal Government to resume this area, the Minister of Home Affairs ought to take action under the Constitution. This has been done in many cases, and it ought to be done in this.
.- I am not sure that it is a matter of such urgency as the honorable member for Nepean has represented, that the Federal Government should resume this land for a manoeuvre area. I happen to know the country very well, having manoeuvred troops over it for a good many years in succession. In my opinion, it is not a very suitable place for manoeuvring purposes. Moreover, as a military man, I am rather opposed to the idea of having any fixed area over which to manoeuvre troops. The effect of manoeuvring men over the same area year after year is that officers, such as myself, come to know the country intimately. Then it becomes merely a question of the officers who are taking part in a tactical scheme in opposing forces trying to get possession of commanding .positions. The matter resolves itself into a scramble for these positions. The officers know exactly what is going to happen. I have taken part in many schemes over this area, and, in common with all the other officers, I was perfectly well aware that if we obtained certain positions we should have the enemy beaten.
– Is it not a fact that the worst thing that happens is that the troops are bitten by mosquitoes?
– The mosquitoes are pretty bad; but we could put up with that evil if we were learning anything.
– In this State, the troops have been manoeuvred over a different area each year during the last few years.
– I approve of that, in preference to having any fixed place for manoeuvring. I think that when the troops are brought together at Easter, or any other time, the best thing is to have a, march-or trek. It would be very much more instructive to divide the Force into two sections, letting them go into camp 50 miles apart. Then they could march and meet as opposing Forces. The different arms of the service would have to travel with their baggage and paraphernalia, and the march ‘would be of some practical use. It would be the sort of work that would have to be done in war time. The men would be gaining practical experience. If we are unable to do what is required in peace-time, how can we accomplish it in war-time? To my mind the site of the manoeuvre area at Liverpool is not an urgent matter. I should like to know what has become of the motions which appeared upon the businesspaper in favour of granting pensions to the officers and men of our Defence Force, and in respect of military pay and allowances. I thought that the Government would have made some move in connexion with these matters, but I find that they have done absolutely nothing. Our forces to-day are underpaid, as compared with persons who are employed in civil vocations. The cost of jiving has increased, wages have risen at least 50 per cent., and, consequently, those who are employed in our Permanent Military Forces are entitled to have their pay increased proportionately. Our Permanent
Forces must be efficient at all costs. The force which is to be raised under our compulsory training system will naturally look to our Permanent Forces as an example, and the latter must be rendered effective. But we cannot secure that efficiency unless we get sufficient remuneration to make the service attractive. One of the greatest essentials to efficiency is long service. But at the present time we are not getting long service. If men can find any way of bettering themselves they leave the service. Moreover, the best material does not offer to join the service.
– We do not want men to make a profession of soldiering.
– The honorable member is talking nonsense. We have in the Permanent Forces men who must enter it when they are young, and who should remain there. But under existing conditions these men are turned out at a. certain age, and have nothing to look forward to. To urge that we do not want men to make a profession of soldiering is absolutely ridiculous. Our Permanent Forces must make a profession of it, if they are to be successful. But these forces are not receiving the encouragement which they should receive, and, consequently, they cannot become an example to the great force which we propose to raise under our compulsory training system.
.- The honorable member for Wilmot appears to be very anxious about the selection of a site for the temporary Naval College, and, in this connexion, he referred to an article which was published in the Age the other day. But he must know that many of the statements which appear in the press - and especially statements relating to this Government - are inspired. If he can spare the time I will be pleased to accompany him to Geelong, and to show hint over the proposed site for the Naval College. I understand that Captain Chambers has recommended the Geelong site. I feel confident that it is the best site, and I trust that the Government will adopt that officer’s recommendation.
.- I should not have risen but for the statements of the honorable member for Nepean in regard to the manoeuvre area at Liverpool. Upon this question I have no desire to cross swords with the honorable member for North Sydney, who declares that the area is unsuitable for the purpose for which it was selected. But General Gordon, and all the other military experts in New South Wales, recommended that area.
– Does it not appeal to the honorable member, as a layman, ‘that if our troops traversed new ground every year better results would be obtained?
– I do not pretend to possess expert knowledge, but I know that General Gordon, and all the military experts in New South Wales, have recommended the Liverpool area as the best site available for the manoeuvring of troops. Some time ago, when I filled the office of Home Affairs, I accompanied the Minister of Defence and General Gordon over a great portion of that area with a view to securing its acquisition at the earliest possible moment. I have every sympathy with the honorable member for Nepean, who I know has a large number of constituents who are being badly treated in connexion with this matter. When I was Minister of Home Affairs I brought this question up to the stage of completion. Unfortunately, the Government of which I was a member were compelled to leave office just at that time, and I have never been able to understand what has since blocked the acquisition of the area. But the statement which has been read by the honorable member for Nepean has explained the position. It shows that the Government of New South Wales have determined not to permit the Commonwealth to acquire the site for military purposes until the whole question of transferred properties has been settled. The Wade Government did not take up that attitude. On the contrary, they assisted me in every possible way. I cannot understand the Labour Government of New South Wales entertaining such a paltry view of a question of national importance. It is they, ° and they alone, who are blocking the settlement of it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended, and resolution adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means covering resolution of Supply reported and adopted.
That Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented and read a first and second time, and reported without amendment.
That this Bill be now read a third time.
Is . there any objection to going on with further business to-night?
.- It is rather a pity that the Prime Minister should have waited until the Bill was practically through before making the suggestion that we should have an all-night sitting. If we are to remain’ here there are a number of matters dealt with in the Bill I should like to discuss - but, perhaps, the Prime Minister is not serious in his suggestion. The next business on the notice-paper is the Tariff; and if we are to sit all night, it would be better to discuss matters which may be reviewed, than duties which will be finally settled. I take it from the remarks of the Government Whip, the interjections of Ministers, and the statement of the Opposition Whip, that the Prime Minister has given a solemn promise not to take the Tariff tonight. I regard that as satisfactory. I also understand that we shall not be asked to sit late, when the press will have ceased to report the proceedings in this chamber, and proper criticism cannot be given to measures of importance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time. -
– I made a promise that the Supply Bill would be the only business taken to-night. Is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition prepared to go on with anything else? We might go on with the Inscribed Stock Bill, for instance.
– I am much too tired to go on with anything.
– What is the value of your undertaking? Is no reliance to be placed on your word at all ?
– I said I would go no further than the Supply Bill, and, if the honorable member objects, I move -
That the Bouse do now adjourn.
Honorable members will be asked to sit later to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.2 a.m. (Wednesday.)
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 December 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1911/19111212_reps_4_63/>.