6th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clerk having informed the House of the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker, Mr. Deputy Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Minister for the Navy if the cruiser Brisbane has been completed,’ and, if so, what was her cost, and what was the cost of her sister ships the Sydney. and the Melbourne?
– The cruiser Brisbane has been completed, and has been away from Australia for a long time now, doing duty with the rest of the fleet. Only last week I had a letter from her captain reporting favorably upon her behaviour and suitability for the work in hand . Icanot say exactly what her cost was, but I should think not far short of twice that of her sister ships. Costliness is inseparable from the beginnings of an enterprise like shipbuilding. Weshall not be able to construct vessels economically until we have a definite and continuous programme of shipbuilding to work on. That is one of the matters that is occupying the attention of the Government. When one vessel has been completed, others should be commenced to keep in continuous employment the skilled hands at the dockyards. It is wrong, and economically unsound, to have to discharge trained men from time to time for the want of work for them to do. The first requirement of economy is continuous employment for the skilled labour engaged; that is a condition precedent to efficiency and low cost.
The following papers were presented : -
Taxation - Report by the Commonwealth Statistician on Professor Carslaw’s articles concerning the accuracy of the Taxation Formulas.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1917, Nos. 48, 61.
Inscribed Stock Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1917, No. 36.
Public Service Act - Promotion of F. 0. Elliott, Departmentof Trade and Customs.
War Precautions Act - Regulations amended -Statutory Rules 1917, Nos.44, 50.
– I ask the Prime Minister what business is it proposed to take first to-day ?
– The Customs Tariff Validation Bill.
– Is it intended ‘to proceed with the Electoral (War-time) Bill? If so, will it be possible for us to see the measure before it is introduced?
– Whether we shall proceed with the Electoral (War-time) Bill will depend on the frame of mind in which honorable members deal with the Customs Tariff Validation Bill. When the latter has been disposed of, we must either take up the Electoral (War-time) Bill or adjourn for lack of other business.. A clear draft of this Bill has been obtained from the printer, and, when the Minister in charge has had an opportunity to look through it, it will be available to the honorable member for the purpose I mentioned the other day.
– On Thursday last, the honorable member for Wimmera asked, the following questions:^ -
The following answers have now been furnished : -
The total number of men employed in the Pay Corps in the various districts, it may be mentioned, totals 889.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to the fact that in numerous post-offices throughout Australia, as the result of juniors being called upon to handle the allotment pay of soldiers who have gone to the front, the Treasury is being defrauded of considerable sums, and will he take action to protect the Treasury by seeing that these junior officers are not required to deal with such matters ?
– If the honorable member will give notice of his question, I shall have inquiries made. I have not heard anything about the matter to which he has referred.
– -Can the Prime Minister furnish the House with any further information respecting the supply and use of locally-manufactured and imported cornsacks ?
– For all practical purpose all sacks used by farmers. for wheat are imported. The Government has considered the question of supplying the farmers with new sacks for the 1917-18 crop. It has been found that the use of old sacks is attended with very serious inconvenience and much loss. It is therefore desirable, in the interests of the wheat-growers, and the country generally, that new sacks should be used. The Government intend, either through the Wheat Board, or otherwise, to relieve the farmers of payment of the duty in respect of the cornsacks necessary for the 1917- 18 crop, and to take steps which will insure an adequate supply of sacks for that crop.
– In view of the fact that so many bouquets are being thrown to the different industries, I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether wool bales and woolpacks will be placed in the same category as cornsacks, and allowed to come in free’
– I did not say that cornsacks would come in free. What I said was that the farmer, as such, would not have to pay the duty.
– Will ‘the right honorable gentleman pass along to the pastoral industry the same bouquet that he proposes to give, in this respect, to the agricultural industry 1
– I must confess to a certain amount of surprise that such a question should come from such a quarter. I thought that the great pastoralists of this country found their mouth-piece in quite other places. However, all I can say is that if the poor, down-trodden squatter finds himself, like the humble cockey, in difficulties, let him come to the “fountain,” which is “without money and without price,” and we shall take him in, too.
Imprisonment of Private Dixon
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Defence lay on the table of the Library ,the pampers relating to the imprisonment of Private Dixon, who was sentenced to a term .of two years’ imprisonment for some small offence in Egypt?
– If the honorable member will put his question on the noticepaper, I will have the matter looked into and supply him with information in regard to it.
– Some time ago I appealed to the then Minister for the Navy for an increase of wages to be paid to the men in the Navy, because of the high cost of living. Will the present . Minister inform the House whether anything will be done in that direction before the dissolution?
– This is the first I have heard of any such request. If the honorable’ member will give notice of his question, I will look into it.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is intended to proceed this session with the Commerce (Trade Description’s) Bill, which has already been passed by the Senate. It is only a short measure, and I believe that if passed it would protect the people of Australia.
– There will be a fair amount of objection to that Bill from this side of the House.
– There will be no opposition to it from this side.
– I do not remember for the moment what this Bill is.
– The right- honorable member had better not.
– I shall have to examine it. A Bill that will incite no comment at all on either side of the House is to be regarded with grave suspicion.
– Has the Minister for
Home and Territories any further information as to the position of Mr. Wilson, Divisional Returning Officer for Darling Downs ? Is it in accordance with the practice of the Electoral Department to allow a Divisional Returning Officer to continue to hold office when he is so closely associated with a political party as to be able to receive its official indorsement? In view of the judicial nature of the office and the need for the strictest impartiality in its exercise, will the Government, if continued in office, consider the advisableness of so amending the Electoral Act as to prevent a Divisional Returning Officer from being a candidate for any Parliament < within twelve months of his vacating his office?
– The honorable member was good enough to give me a copy of his question. As to the first part of it; I may say that, as Boon as it was thought that Mr. John Wilson might become a candidate at the elections, the Electoral Office communicated with him, and he mentioned his position. Since then he has resigned, and the position has been filled by the appointment of a Mr. Gentle.
– The Government are not going to hang Mr. Wilson? ,
– No.- As soon as certain information reached the Central Office, he was asked a question, and removed all doubt upon the subject. Immediately afterwards, Mr. Gentle, who was, I believe, senior clerk in the Electoral Office. Queensland, was appointed to take his place.
– But this man Wilson is disingenuous in some way or other. I had a reply from him the other day that he was not a candidate.
– I can only say that I inquired at the Electoral Office before coming to the House as to the position, and was informed that, as soon as it was known that he was likely to ‘ stand, inquiries were made, with the result that he was asked to resign, and did resign. My colleague may be perfectly right, but I like to see a document before commenting upon it. As to the second . part of the honorable member’s question, it is not the practice of the Department to allow a Divisional Returning Officer to continue to hold office when he is so closely associated with a political party as to be able to receive its official indorsement. If a man is so closely associated with a political party he ought not to be allowed to remain in such a position. I think it is incumbent upon the holder of such an office, as a matter of honour and loyalty, to disclose his position as early as possible. The office should be above suspicion. As to an amendment of the law, I think there is a good deal in the suggestion made by the honorable member that there should be some statutory provision to the effect indicated by him ; but whether the limitation of the right to stand . ought to be determined by’ the officer’s resignation twelve months before an election, or a shorter period, I am not prepared to say until I have looked further into the facts. .
– Seeing that there are many serious complaints from widows and other relatives of soldiers in regard to the distribution of money from patriotic and other funds, will the Prime Minister asr sure the House that there will be proper organization in connexion with these various funds?
– The honorable member has placed his finger on a very important point. The Premiers’ Conference discussed this matter, and was of opinion that the control of these various funds connected with the war should either be under central control or under some supervision. The representatives at that Conference have remitted the matter to their respective Governments, and I expect shortly to receive replies from all. The’ matter is not without difficulties. I quite agree that there ought not to be, on the part of the Commonwealth or any central authorities, any undue interference, but the public ought to have an assurance that there is no waste through clashing or overlapping, and that the moneys are expended for the purposes for which they were subscribed. That is the policy of the Government.
– A number of cases have arisen in which refunds are demanded by the Pay Office from soldiers returned from overseas, because of overpayments, either alleged or actual, made to them. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence have inquiries made as to whether this hardship to returned soldiers cannot be in some way obviated, and whether the . Pay Office cannot be made more directly responsible for any mistakes of the kind made in the future ?
– I can promise the honorable member that the matter will be taken into consideration.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence make plain to the House whether members of the Australian Imperial Force abroad, in the matter of their treatment, have to seek redress, from the Australian authorities, or whether their only appeal is to the Imperial authorities? Recent letters I have received indicate considerable dissatisfaction. One letter complains about the inadequate supply of food, and of treatment in regard to clothes. I may mention that one particularly gruesome complaint is that when a- soldier dies the blanket in which he is buried is charged against him. This, I am afraid, must have a prejudicial effect on recruiting in Australia.
– If the honorable member will ask a direct question, I shall have it considered, and endeavour to have an answer for him to-morrow.
– Will the Honorary Minister also make inquiries as to the treatment of our boys invalided to India from Mesopotamia in regard to food allowance? Information has been received here to the effect that they are given two meals a day, and any food beyond that they have to pay for themselves.
– I shall endeavour to get the information for the honorable member.
– The question asked by the honorable member for Newcastle was based on information which was sent to me. The soldiers referred to are allowed two meals per day - breakfast and dinner. The Indian ration allowance does not come up to the Australian standard; to get the Australian ration these men are charged 2d. per meal extra for breakfast and dinner. The Indian army ration does not provide a third meal, and the men have to pay for it out of their own pockets. They have to pay also barrack charges. Many of these men are married, and they have an allowance of only1s. per day. The result is that they are financially embarrassed. They ask that immediate action may be taken to minimize the discomforts of their present position.
– I shall ascertain what the facts are, and if they justify me in doing so, I will ask the Minister to favorably consider representations on the subject.
– In order to explain a question I desire to ask the Prime Minister, I should like to refer to a letter I have received from a wheat-growing centre in Victoria, close to South Australia. The writer says that he is a wheat-grower at Pinnaroo, on the Victorian side, and that, although it is 400miles to Melbourne, and only 200 miles to Adelaide, it costs him more to send his product to the nearest centre than it does to send it to Melbourne, owing to the imposition of differential rates over the railways. “Will the Prime Minister submit the matter to the Inter-State Commission for immediate inquiry? If the Prime Minister has any doubt about the constitutionality of such a proceeding, will he take similar action to that he took in the case of cattle crossing the Queensland border ?
– I can hardly be expected to give a carefully-reasoned opinion on a matter of constitutional law on the spur of the moment. But on the face of it this appears to be a question for reference to the Inter-State Commission which, under the Constitution, is specially charged with issues of this kind. I shall look into the matter with a view to referring it to the Commission.
Enlistment of Members of Parliament
– The honorable member for Melbourne, some days ago, asked the following question: -
Will the Assistant Minister for Defence give information to the House setting out the term of military service performed up to date by Privates Fleming and Yates, and Lieutenant Burchell respectively, together with the reasons why only one man has received a commission?
The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The military qualifications of the persons referred to areas follows : -
Private Fleming enlisted6th Ootobcr,1916, went into camp 2nd November, 1916; allotted Army Service Corps. Previous military service - nil.Has trained with Australian’ Imperial Force, excepting when granted leave.
Private Yates enlisted on 30th October; allotted first to Pioneers, thence transferred to Infantry. Previous military service - three years South Australian Infantry Regiment, old organization.
Lieutenant Burchell was appointed to a commission in theRailway Unit on 23rd January, 1917. He served for three years in the Militia Forces, Western Australia, but military qualifications arenot essential for an officer of a railway unit.He was, like the other fifteen officers commissioned to Railway Units, selected on his technical qualifications after consideration for his position in the railways of his State. Ho is particularly suitable as a Liontenant of a Railway Section.
Private Fleming will be eligible on his qualifications for consideration for promotion.
Private Yates will be eligible for attendance at Schools of Instruction to compete for a commission under the same conditions as all other persons allotted to Infantry.
– The honorable member for Melbourne recently asked -
In view of statements made that in New Zealand private soldiers with large families are paid as much as £5 2s. a week, will the Honorary Minister telegraph immediately to the Dominion for the data he was unable to supply me yesterday?
I told the honorable member I should see if it were possible to obtain the desired information from New Zealand, and I am now able to give him the following answer : -
Advice has now been received from the New Zealand Government that the pay of privates in the Now Zealand Expeditionary Forces is as follows : -
Pay- 5s. a day.
Wife - Is. a day.
Each child under 16 years of age (maximum, five children) - 9d. a day.
Widowed mother, partially dependent - Is. ‘ a day.
– Will the Minister for Home and Territories be good enough to supply the House this afternoon with copies of the Bill for the amendment of the Electoral Act?
– I doubt if I willbe able to do so this afternoon. A draft of the Bill has been received, but it requires consideration. I cannot say whether in its present state it will receive < final approval. When the Bill is approved of, a copy will be given to the Leader of the Opposition before the matter comes before the House.
– If the Bill proposes many alterations of the existing law, and honorable members desire an opportunity to consider it, will the PrimeMinister consent to an adjournment of the debate until to-morrow, at least, so that we may have an opportunity’of studying the proposed legislation?
– I do not know what the honorable member would regard as an important amendment, but I: quite understand that he requires time to look through the provisions of the Bill. I instructed the Secretary to notify the honorable member that I was unable to’ let him have a copy of the Bill, as I had intended, but I shall do so at the earliest possible moment, If we are able to proceed with the Bill to-day I take it the honorable member will offer no objection to its reaching the second-reading stage
– I shall have no objection to the Minister making his secondreading speech.
– If when we reach that stage the honorable member would like to adjourn further debate until tomorrow, there will be no objection to that course.
– On Wednesday last the honorable member for Moreton asked me to inquire into -the case of a lad who is doing clerical work for the officers at’ one of the military camps being detained until 1.30, and then having to pay for his own . dinner. It is understood from a letter received from the honorable member that he intended to refer to Royal Park, and not Broadmeadows Camp. “I have now received the following report oh the matter from the commanding officer of Royal Park Camp -
It is not the practice at this camp for soldiers doing clerical duties to work during meal hours. A thorough inquiry has been instituted, and each individual soldier employed as a clerk questioned, but no corroboration of. the statement can be obtained.
– Last week several members waited as a deputation on the Treasurer in regard to wheat scrip. It was pointed out that the value of the surplus scrip for the 1915-16 crop was approximately £8,000,000, and that, after the advance of 2s. 6d. per bushel on the present crop, there would probably be another £8,000,000 worth of scrip, representing, in all, £16,000,000 worth of surplus scrip certificates. At the present time that scrip has only a nebulous value; everybody places his own value upon it, therefore the scrip has not the negotiable value it should have. Will the Government1 take, action to give the scrip a more definite and ascertainable’ value than at present!
– I cannot answer a question of that sort off-hand? In what way can we give a more definite value to the scrip?
– By adopting the same principle as the Imperial authorities have adopted in regard to wheat production in the Old Country.
– I shall inquire into the operation of the British method, and if the honorable member will consider his question postponed until to-morrow afternoon, I shall endeavour to answer it then.
– Is the Prime Minister yet in a position to say what assistance can be afforded the maizegrowers of New South Wales to export their surplus maize to the Old Country?
– The only assistance given to the wheat-grower is through the formation of a pool representative of the four wheat-producing States, and financed by the Commonwealth. In regard to maize, only one State is concerned.
– Victoria is interested.
– Where are we to get freight to shift the maize abroad? We have had to take maize and barley out of ships and put wheat in. We aTe not allowed to send maize away; we must send wheat. That is the difficulty I see. The mere making of arrangements whereby maize could be treated on a similar basis to wheat would be quite simple if it were not for the fact that the British Government will not take maize. They have asked for wheat, but will not take maize. At the same time, however, if there is any way in which we can assist the maize farmers, we shall be very glad to do it.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– A complete statement of the whole matter is being prepared for the honorable member, and to-morrow I will lay it on the table, and move that it be printed.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Whether suitable occupations can be found in the Northern Territory for the Maltese now in Australia ; and, if so, whether he will consider the advisability of transferring them to that area ?
– It is understood that these men can be readily absorbed in the southern portions of Australia. It would have been difficult to place them in the Northern Territory, as the railway construction work there will shortly be completed. I have made special inquiries as to ‘the probability of these men being placed in employment in the southern
States, and I have heard that they can all be taken by one company, or in batches of ten to twenty by a number of other companies.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill has been brought in in pursuance of the announcement made by the Prime Minister in hia policy speech delivered on the 22nd February last, in which he said, “It is our intention to introduce a short Bill to legalize the collection of duties under the present Tariff.” It is a very short measure, and ite object is simply to validate the collection of duties under the various Tariff resolutions submitted to this House since this Parliament assembeld in 1914, and to authorize the continuance of the collections. It covers the Tariff resolutions of the 3rd December, 1914, as well as the amending resolutions by which duties were remitted in consequence of the drought, and subsequently re-imposed. The various Tariff proposals referred to in the Bill relate to the main resolutions submitted on the 3rd December, 1914, and the amending resolutions of the 12th December, 1914, the 9th June, 1915, and the 12th November, 1915. As honorable members will remember, the resolution of the 12th December, 1914, provided for the remission of the duty on wheat, and the resolution of the 9th June, 1915, which was made retrospective to the 22nd February, 1915, provided for the free admission of oats, bran, pollard, hay, chaff, and straw, these fodder duties being subsequently re-imposed by the resolution of the 12th November, 1915. The re-imposition of the duties] had the effect of restoring the Tariff to the form in which it was originally introduced. The vital clause of the Bill is clause 3, which provides -
All Duties of Customs collected (whether before or after the dissolution or expiry of the present House of Representatives), pursuant to the Tariff proposals to which this Act applies, shall be deemed to have been lawfully imposed and collected.
These resolutions have not been adopted, but on the authority of them Customs duties have been collected, and as a result large sums of money have been paid into the Consolidated Revenue. This clause now proposes to validate them. When they are validated the Tariff will remain as it has stood for some time past, until the next Parliament shall see fit to deal with it. The object of the Bill is simply to continue in force over the elections, and until the new Parliament can deal with the Tariff, the resolutions on the strength of which duties have been collected. The Government will continue to collect duties on the authority of those resolutions.
– This Bill will be the Tariff, so far as those duties are concerned ?
– lt will be the authority for the collection of the duties.
– But will it be the Tariff, as the Leader of the Opposition claims ?
– It will be the Tariff that is operating for the time being.
– That is not the point.
– The Tariffs 1908 and 1911 were covered by an Act of Parliament with a schedule attached to it, which, as it stood, was a complete Customs Tariff, but we are now confronted with a new position, in which duties have been collected on the authority of Tariff resolutions submitted to this House. The Court has held that we have the power to collect duties on the strength of such resolutions, and where the duties are increased by a resolution of this House the Government is given authority to collect the increase so imposed. This Bill simply purports to continue the existing Tariff resolutions, so that the Customs authorities will be enabled to collect the duties until the new Parliament can deal with the Tariff in its entirety. They will continue to do just what they have been doing since the imposition of the increased rates.
– If a rate in the old Tariff is higher than that in the Tudor schedule of 1914, will duty continue to be collected at that rate after the Bill has become law?
– The Department will continue its present practice of collecting on the higher rate, which is quite proper. Our desire is to let things stand as they are until Parliament has a chance to deal with the whole subject; we do not wish to re-open the Tariff now. The only other matter to which I need refer is clause 4, which is declaratory. It enacts that in the construction of Tariff proposals certain enumerated items shall be construed as if the words, “ Whether forming part of the complete vehicle or imported separately,” had at the time of the introduction of the Tariff proposals containing the items been contained in each of them.
.- There are some items in “the Tariff which I wish to see altered at the earliest moment possible. When Minister for Trade and Customs I promised deputations that alterations would be made, and I have never gone back on my word.
– Then why did you not propose the alterations while still in office?
– If the other members of the Cabinet to which I belonged will allow me to do so, I will say why I did not propose the alterations.
– When you had power to make them, you did not do it, and now that you have not the power you want to do it.
– I do not know why I should be subjected to these interruptions; I did not interrupt the Minister. However much care may be taken in the preparation of a Tariff, it is sure to contain anomalies. I think that the last Tariff embraced 440 items, some of them containing thirty or forty subdivisions, and it would be impossible for a Department, a Minister, or a Cabinet to propose a Tariff affecting 1,400 or 1,500 separate commodities without creating some anomalies. The astonishing thing is that in two years and four months so few anomalies have been discovered in the Tariff that I introduced. The rectification of anomalies has nothing to do with the fiscal issue. Undoubtedly we must validate the present Tariff before ‘ the prorogation, because under it some £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 was collected in excess of what would have been the collection under the 1908-11 Tariff. Without such validation, the huge corporations which contributed a great part of this money would be able to get it back from the Department, notwithstanding that they have already passed on their taxation to the consumers. To that- I am altogether opposed. We have a right to keep every penny that we have collected, either in the way of Excise or import duties. I take it, however, that under clause 2 we shall have an opportunity to deal in Committee with the items in the Tariff, and I intend to point out now one or two mistakes that ought to be rectified. For instance, when increasing the duty on apparel from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent, if British made, and from 35 per cent, to 45 per cent, if imported from parts of the world other than Great Britain, I allowed the duty on apparel made of fur, the most expensive kind of apparel, to remain unchanged. That was an oversight which I discovered within twenty-four hours of the introduction of the new Tariff schedule, and I spoke of it to the then Treasurer, but he thought that it would provoke too much discussion if an attempt were made to alter it. Another item that needs altering is the duty on picture films, in regard to which I have received large and well-organized deputations from all parts of Australia. It will be understood that the Department cannot, when it intends to impose or increase a duty, make inquiries of the persons concerned about the value per foot, per pound, or per gallon, of the article, which will be affected, because, if it did, the merchants would begin to remove goods from bond, and take other action to protect themselves from increased taxation. There had not previously been a duty on picture films, and we were compelled to take the best information that we could get regarding its value from others than those actually engaged in importing it. If I remember rightly, our information was that picture film is worth about 6d. per foot, and, assuming that to be the average value, we made the duty 25 per cent, on British, and 33 per cent, on foreign film. We imposed a fixed rate to prevent the importation of secondhand film, which might, perhaps, be dumped ito Australia after having been shown elsewhere, at Id. per foot. I have since learned that the average value of picture film is about 4d. per foot, some film, of course, being worth much more, and some being worth less. Consequently, the rates that we imposed are equivalent to a duty of 40 per cent, on British film, and to a duty of 50 per cent, on all other film. This anomaly should be rectified. Another anomaly exists in the timber duties. Australian timbers are being more and more used and sought after every year, and within the last ten or twenty years the veneer or three-ply industry has sprung up in other parts of the world, and during the last three or four years a couple of fac tories have been started here. It is the wood near the butt of a tree that is best figured and most suitable for veneer, though useless for other purposes.
– Particularly blackwood.
– Yes. Fine specimens of veneer are to be seen in some of our banks and other institutions. The usual method of measuring timber is by the super, foot, that is, 1 foot square and 1 inch thick. Veneers, however, are only from 3-16ths to j-inch thick, and by applying the same measurement to them, we get only one-fifth of the duty that we should get from ordinary timber. In the Tariff, item 291m provides a duty oi 7s. 6d. per 100 super, feet on veneers and three-plys. If it had been per 100 square feet, it would have been equivalent to a duty of about 25 per cent.
– To assist the timber industry, you will have to go higher than that.
– At present we are concerned only with the rectifying of obvious mistakes. As it stands, the item to which I have referred, means a duty of about 5 per cent., but if we substituted “ square “ feet for “ super.” feet it would mean a duty of about 25 per cent. I am given to understand that whilst I was temporarily absent from the chamber this afternoon, the Prime Minister announced that the Government proposed not to remit the duty on cornsacks, but to import the cornsacks and pay the duty, and to allow the farmers to have them as if the duty had not been paid. In other words, they are to have them c.i.f.e. That is a round-about way of dealing with the subject. If it is wrong t<t impose a duty on cornsacks we ought at once to remove that duty. Notwithstanding what has been said by the other side as to my attitude towards deputations that waited upon me, while I was Minister for Trade and Customs, in regard to the duty on cornsacks, I have never stated that there should be a duty on them . When a deputation waited on me I always promised to lay their representations before the Cabinet ; I never said that I was either for or against their proposal, for I considered it to be the duty of a Minister not to commit his Government to any course until he had consulted his colleagues on the subject. I urge that the duty of 10 per cent, on cornsacks should be removed. Last year we imported 3,987,000 dozen corn- sacks, of the value of £1,393,000. We cannot establish the local manufacture of cornsacks until the raw material is prepared here. Jute goods in the piece are imported, and certain kinds of sacks are made up in the Commonwealth. That is a substantial reason why the duty of 10 per cent. on jute piece goods should be removed. It is absurd to have the same rate of duty on the raw material as we have on the finished article. Another matter which was raised by the honorable member for Grey soon after the Tariff was introduced was that of an export duty on wine. It is said that we have no right to impose an Excise duty of 6d. per gallon on beer, which is spoken of as the poor man’s drink, while we have no Excise duty on wine, the more expensive article, which is not drunk so largely by the workers. The collection of an Excise duty on the wine itself would involve a good deal of cost. We could achieve our purpose by imposing a duty on the grape spirit used in fortifying wines. Grape spirit cannot be made by the ordinary vigneron; it is made by very few distilleries here, and as all those distillieries are under Customs supervision there would be no difficulty in collecting such an impost. It would also be useful in encouraging the production of a light wine in Australia. It would probably mean the use of a smaller quantity of grape spirit in fortifying wines.
– It is desirable to prevent the undue fortification of wine.
– Quite so. Such an impost as I suggest would be, so to speak, a double-edged weapon. It would enable the Government to collect just as much revenue as they would obtain from an Excise duty on the wine itself, and it would, probably, prevent the undue fortification of wine. That is practically the English system of Excise collection. The authorities will tell the Minister that an Excise duty of 5s. a gallon on the spirits used for fortifying wine would raise a revenue of £100,000 per annum or thereabouts. Our annual production of ‘ wine has been as high as 6,000,000 gallons, but of recent years it has gone down as low as 2,900,000 gallons. Four million gallons would be a fair average, and a duty of 5s. per gallon on the fortifying spirit used, which would be equal to about 6d. per gallon on the wine itself, would realize about £100,000. No Government is entitled to throw away revenue to the extent of £100,000 per annum. I admit that an Excise duty on grape spirit could not be antedated; it could only operate in respect of the spirit used in fortifying wine from this date. I am bringing forward these proposals in no spirit of hostility to the Government. I am pointing out obvious anomalies.
– When did the honorable member discover the wisdom of imposing an Excise duty on grape spirit used in fortifying wines ?
– About three months before I left office. I came to this conclusion as the result of certain information received from the Analysts’ Department. As to the duty on three-ply, the alteration I suggest would rectify an obvious mistake, and increase the protection to a local industry. The remission of the duty on jute piece goods and cornsacks would also rectify an anomaly, while the amendment I have suggested in regard to films would cure an obvious mistake. I hope that the Government will permit these amendments to be made when we come to clause 2. They may say that, in view of certain complications that might arise, we should not amend the Tariff in any way at this stage; but, after the next general election, the Government, no matter what party it represents, will have to decide whether we are to have, so to speak, a onecolumn or a three-column Tariff. They will have, first of all, to decide whether we should have a one-column Tariff, with a surcharge against the produce of those countries with which we are at war to-day. Since the outbreak of war, we have passed a number of measures which are to remain in operation until six months after the expiration of the war. At the end of that time, unless we take action, the produce of enemy countries will enter the Australian market on the same terms as that of countries which are fighting side by side with us to-day. I am absolutely opposed to anything of the kind. I do not care how high we make the surcharge against the produce of enemy countries. Once the war is over, we should not allow such products to come in and enjoy the advantages of our market. It will be necessary for us to have either a onecolumn Tariff plus a surcharge against goods of enemy production, or a threecolumn Tariff. At the present time we have in our Tariff a special column relating to goods the product of the United Kingdom. We shall have to determine whether that column should extend also to goods the produce of the other Dominions. To me the Tariff is largely a question of industrial conditions. It should be our object to try to level up to our own standard the industrial conditions of those countries which compete with us. The industrial conditions of the other Dominions are infinitely nearer our own than are those of the United Kingdom. Some of the Dominions at the present time do not treat us any better, in the matter of Tariff restrictions, than they are treating enemy countries; but, after this war, we should be anxious to get into closer touch with them in relation to business as well as other matters. The second column would relate to the produce of our Allies - that is a question which must also be decided - whilst the third column would relate to the produce of neutrals. I presume that, in any amendment of the Tariff, we shall provide for- a surcharge on the goods of enemy countries. I regret that we have not time at this juncture to deal thoroughly with the whole Tariff. The Minister for Trade and Customs, whoever he may be, when he knows that there has been paid into the Consolidated Revenue a sum of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 over and above what would have been paid in under the 1908-11 Tariff, must be anxious to keep that additional revenue in the Treasury. We do not want it to be possible for that money to go back to the importers or the manufacturers who have paid it by way of Customs and Excise duties. But now that the Tariff is before us, we should rectify at once what are undoubted mistakes. If we were dealing with the Tariff as a whole, with ample time for its consideration, we should be able to compare the findings of the InterState Commission and its recommendations with the duties actually in operation.
– Does the honorable member want us to swallow everything that the Inter-State Commission has recommended ?
– No; I am merely pointing out that if we were dealing thoroughly with the Tariff, we should be able to compare the recommendations of the Inter-State Commission with the duties that were imposed by us before we had an opportunity to secure their reports. It will be said during the campaign, no doubt, that the Tariff has been neglected. I hope we shall- have an opportunity to deal with it as soon as we come back, and to rectify not only the minor anomalies I have mentioned, but many others. In this Bill, the Government propose certain alterations. Under clause 4, for instance, it is proposed to insert a comma in a number of paragraphs of item 359d. It is felt that the Customs Department is not safe in collecting the duties unless the comma is inserted; and, seeing that the Department is asking for that alteration, I ask that the word “ super “ be struck out, and “ square “ inserted in its place.
– It is not a mere question of a comma; it is a matter of substance.
– And if it makes all the difference claimed, I think that the alterations I have suggested might also be made. I ask the Government to give the matter their serious consideration, and to deal with it as early as possible.
.- When, in 1914, the present Tariff was introduced by the honorable member for Yarra, as Minister for Trade and Customs, some duties were reduced. That Tariff was never dealt with or ratified by the House - the duties were never finally fixed by Parliament. I cannot specify the items, but I know that what I have stated is the fact. Although the duties were reduced, the Government, for the protection of the revenue, continued to collect the higher rates, as they were perfectly entitled to do until the schedule was ratified by Parliament. I take it that when the schedule before us is ratified the schedule introduced in 1914 will become’ the Act. Surely that is what the Government meant when they introduced the Tariff?
– The Minister has not said so.
– The present Minister is not the Minister whooriginally introduced the Tariff ; and whether he has said so or not. it is -perfectly clear that the intention of the Government of which the honorable member for Yarra was a member was that the rates specified should, when theschedulewasratifiedbecome the legal duties.Isubmit that when we ratify the Tariff on the present occasion the Department ought not to continue to collect the higher rates on the items for which lower rates are specified in the schedule, for, in my opinion, such a course would be dishonest; and I am voicing the opinion of a considerable number of people in the city who have mentioned the matter to me. I do not propose to ask for any refund of the revenue that has been collected, for the very good reason, as given by the honorable member for Yarra, that the higher duties have already been passed on to the consumer,1 and it would he unreasonable to make a present of the money to the original importers. I suggest that the Minister for Trade and Customs insert an amending clause to meet the circumstances I have described.
.- The sooner we have a truly scientific Protectionist Tariff the better it will be for Australia. It is proposed to dissolve Parliament in about a fortnight’s time, and certainly this moribund Legislature could not deal with the Tariff as it ought to be dealt with. “We ought, however, to have from the Government a promise that if they come back to power - which I sincerely hope they will not - they will undertake to revise the Tariff in a scientific Protectionist direction as soon as possible. I have no doubt that some honorable members may ask why the Labour party, who were in power for about three years, did not amend the Tariff in the way I have suggested, and thus prevent the introduction into this country of about £70,000,000 worth of goods. To my mind, the answer is very easily given. There were in the Labour party at that time certain very influential Tree Traders, including Senator Pearce, the present Prime Minister, the honorable member for Grey, and some others. These gentlemen always cast their influence in favour of the lower duties; and. now that they have left us, f he Official Labour party is more strongly Protectionist than ever.
– The question was never considered by the Labour party.
– Several times endeavours were made to bring forward the question of Protection, and invariably the gentlemen I have named used their influence against that step, with the result that the schedule now before us is in many respects not truly Protectionist. It ought to be plain to everybody that if £70,000,000 worth of goods may be brought into the Commonwealth, the Tariff is not high enough. If we find that duties of 50 per cent, are not sufficient, we ought to make them 100 per cent. We ought to increase the Tariff until such time as Australian manufacturers are protected against cheap labour abroad.
– Make the duties 500 per cent, at once !
– From that interjection I gather that the honorable member for Dampier is not in favour of a Protectionist Tariff. I am quite satisfied that with a Government supported by the honorable member for Parramatta, the honorable member for Angas, Senator Pearce, the honorable member for Dampier and others, headed by the Prime Minister, and the Free Trade importers of Australia need have very little fear of a truly Protectionist policy. The only hope for the Australian people is to elect the Australian Labour party, if their desire is proper Protection. We have only to glance over the world to realize the vast amount of cheap labour awaiting the capitalist. There are India and China, and then there is Japan, where last year 4,300 new companies were formed with introduced capital. We have excluded the German trade, but what is really happening is that Japan is securing it. How can we in Australia maintain our present rates of wages and conditions if our manufacturers have to compete against cheap foreign imports ? And if we do not maintain our present wages and conditions we can never hope to have in Australia that superior race of people we all look forward to.
– Better wages are paid in Canada.
– I do not know about that. My information is that trade unionism in Canada has not progressed at anything like the same rate that it has in Australia. I am quite satisfied that in countries where the trade unions are weak, or where there are no trade unions, the working classes have to work long hours, even if they do get good wages. I have indicated my attitude towards the Tariff. However beautiful the industrial edifice we may try to establish in Australia, and whatever we may hope to do in advancing our progress and civilization, we shall achieve nothing if we subject our primary or secondary industries to the competition of cheap labour abroad, whether that cheap labour be in India, Belgium, Russia, Germany, or anywhere else. We must have a high Tariff, -and I say to even the extreme Socialist, who would hope to establish Free Trade conditions throughout the world with such a community of interests as Bellamy pictured in Looking Backward, that it is impossible to improve our own social conditions unless we have a Customs Tariff which protects the Australian people. It will be impossible for any Government to build up Australia in the way we should unless it is prepared to put before the people a safe Protectionist policy. We may have a preferential Tariff, but we dare not apply it to any outside manufacturer unless he treats his employees as we expect the Australian manufacturer to treat his. Any scheme of trade preference ought to contain a proviso that, in order to enjoy the benefit of the preference, all goods must bear a certificate that they are manufactured under proper working conditions.
– Is not your speech a condemnation of the Government of which you were a member t
– The Labour Government that was has passed away. The new Government that was formed of those who left our party has had an inglorious existence, the only piece of legislation standing to its credit, or discredit, being the obnoxious Daylight Saving Act. If it were not for the fact that Parliament is to be dissolved within a fortnight, I would hope that our party would take the items of the Tariff one by one. and deal with them in a truly Protectionist manner.
– I recognise that we are in a very awkward position owing to the failure of the Labour Government to deal with the Tariff. Collections to the amount of millions of pounds have been made under the existing Tariff, which so far have not the authority of law, and which we could not recover if that Tariff were not ratified. Therefore, we are forced willy-nilly into the position of having to ratify the collection of those duties, because, even if the money could be refunded by the Treasury through the Customs Department, it would not go into the hands of those who had actually paid the duties, but into the hands of intermediaries. Under those circumstances we can do nothing but agree to legalize the past collections. As we are at the close of the Parliament, it is obviously impossible to re-open the whole Tariff question in order to have a complete revision of the schedule. The suggestion has been made that certain anomalies should be rectified and certain discrepancies removed. When we commence to do that the trouble will be to know where to begin and when to finish. I know of many injustices and anomalies that should be rectified, and, if honorable members are allowed to start upon that course, I shall have a number of such proposals to bring forward. For instance, there is in my own electorate a kalsomine industry. The ingredients of kalsomine are so highly taxed that the duty on the imported manufactured article does not nearly compensate for the duty paid by the local manufacturer on the raw material. The Australian manufacturer does not ask for a higher duty on. the imported finished product, but he does ask for a remission of the duties on his raw materials. If he cannot get a remission or reduction of duties on the raw materials, he wants a higher duty on the finished product. No doubt some honorable members will be asking for higher duties on certain articles, and others for remission of duties, especially those duties which interfere with local manufacturers. I should like to have an opportunity of proposing a number of reductions in Tariff items affecting the food and clothing of the people. For example, articles of clothing, such as cotton prints, voiles, muslins, poplins, and other fabrics which are not made in Australia, and will not be made here for the next hundred years, are subject to very high duties, which bear more heavily upon the less wealthy classes of people. If the Government are not prepared to repeal those duties relief could be afforded to a big section of the community by a reduction of them. I am satisfied that such a reduction would not result in a diminution of revenue, but rather in an increase, because of the greater volume of business that would be done in imported goods of that description. If we once re-open the Tariff schedule there are a number of such matters that I shall wish to bring forward, but. I realize that if we attempt to do that Parliament cannot possibly conclude its labours by the end of this week. It would be a folly to attempt to open up the schedule under present conditions, and we had better confine ourselves to legalizing the collection of the duties under the existing Tariff until the new Parliament, to be elected, can deal with the whole matter. I desire particularly to draw the attention of the Minister to the disabilities under which certain importers are labouring. I had hoped that these difficulties could be removed by departmental action, but both the Minister and theComptroller-General have ‘told, me that they have not power under the present Act to do so. Perhaps I can best serve my purpose by reading the following letter from the Link Belt Company, of Sydney, whose case is typical of a number of others: -
I would be obliged if you would call on the Comptroller of Customs or the Minister, whichever you think most desirable, with regard to the following matter : -
Soon after the outbreak of war, we placed certain orders with American firms for the supply of steel shafting at the standard price-list, less a given discount, as high as 66 per cent. These firms, owing to taking up the manufacture of munitions for the Allies, had to neglect our orders to such an extent that orders placed with them as late as March, 1915, have not yet been completed.
The orders are coming forward in small consignments, and are invoiced at prices quoted, but the Customs authorities here will not allow the discount shown, only allowing in some instances a small discount of 25 per cent., on which we have had to pay duty.
We are perfectly well aware that duty is collected on the market price at port of shipment at time shipment takes place, but as the discounts shown on our invoices were the prevailing discounts at time the orders were placed, and which would have been executed promptly only for the preference given to munitions, we are of opinion that the Customs ought to make an exception in cases of this sort.
It simply means this : if we had received our shafting Great Britain would have received less munitions, and by our giving way we are penalized in having to pay extra duties.
We would be greatly obliged if you will kindly place the facts before the proper authorities, in the hope that you will be able to get us some redress.
That letter illustrates conditions which similarly affect a number of importing firms, and honorable members will see the obvious injustice under which they are labouring. The Minister and the ComptrollerGeneral informed me in a letter that they had no power to discriminate in the way suggested. I trust that the present opportunity will be availed of to make provision in the Bill which will enable the Minister for Trade and Customs to rectify such injustices, so that business men may not be unduly penalized. I think honorable members will see clearly that this is obviously a case in which something should be done, because it affects, not only the firm whose letter I have quoted, but also many other firms throughout Australia. I sincerely hope that the Minister will take a note of the matter, and that some effort will be made before the House rises with the object of removing the injustice to which I have referred.
Mr.HANNAN (Fawkner) [4.52].- With many other honorable members, I am profoundly disappointed that nothing has been done in regard to the Tariff. 1 am aware that the reason given for not dealing with the Tariff was that a state of war existed. Just as honorable members of the Labour party who sat behind the Government in the earlier stages of the
Avar, and honorable members of the Liberal party agreed to the postponement of the consideration of the Tariff, so that Parliament and the Government could devote all their attention to war legislation, so did honorable members of the Labour party then sitting behind the present Prime Minister agree to the postponement of the referenda in regard to alterations to the Constitution in order that the Government might be enabled to give their whole attention to the war, and so that unnecessary feeling might not be aroused in the community by submitting to the people, during the progress of the war. questions that might be taken to be in the nature of party politics. As I say, I recognise the reason that has been advanced for not dealing with the Tariff, but Parliament was closed for months while the Prime Minister was in Great Britain. The right honorable gentleman has the idea that unless he ispresent and is on the bridge Parliament cannot go on. But while Parliament remained closed here, our Prime Minister was taking part in the keenest fiscal fight that the Old Country has seen since the days of Cobden. That fight is still proceeding. Many people wonder how it came about that a Prime Minister of a Dominion visiting Great Britain should put every one else in the shade by the prominence given to his utterances, but it is now recognised that he was taken in hand by theNorthcliffe press, which was particularly anxious to stir up the fiscal question, even during a time of war, in order to gain an advantage over the Free Trade party in the Mother . Country. While he was in the Old World, the Prime Minister not only advocated an alteration of the fiscal policy of Great Britain, but he also carried his proposals to the Paris Conference; yet he seems to treat the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth with contempt.
– The honorable member knows one of the reasons why the consideration of the Tariff has been held in abeyance.
– The reason that it is held in abeyance is because certain resolutions were carried at the Paris Conference.
– Not at all.
– The honorable member’s statement is too thin.
Mr.HANNAN. - Probably the honorable member for Dampier has not read what occurred at the Paris Conference.
– Yes, I have done so.
– Resolutions were carried at that Conference relating to a system under which trade between Great Britain and her Allies is to be carried on after the war is over ; but we know that among our Allies are certain countries which Australia could not take into consideration in the matter of giving any particular form of preference, if we are to conserve the interests of our manufacturing industries. If we are to follow on on the lines of the resolutions carried at the Paris Conference, this Parliament will be almost obliged, as a matter of honour, to give preference and special consideration to one or two countries to which we cannot give it and at the same time do justice to ourselves.
– That is not a very creditable statement; in fact, it is a most improper statement. The honorable member should exercise a little better discretion.
– I am speaking of a number of our Allies. I was saying that the Paris Conference was to a certain extent responsible for a postponement of the consideration of our Tariff, and the honorable member for Dampier claimed that I did not know what I was speaking of.
– It is nearly two and a-half years since the Tariff resolutions were introduced.
– Many public men in Great Britain have derided the resolutions adopted at the Paris Conference. They claim that it will be impossible to put them into operation. Statements’ to this effect have appeared in the columns of the press and have been made in the House of Commons; and surely if that liberty is given in the Old Country, we should have the same liberty to express our opinions; but, unfortunately, we seem to have reached a stage in connexion with the war at which public men are not expected to express their opinions. I recognise the reasons given to the House a considerable time ago as to why the Tariff should not be taken into consideration, and I am informed that the same considerations operate to-day. The primary reason given was that we could not give consideration to the Tariff and at the same time devote that attention to war legislation that the circumstances demanded.
– And the honorable member accepted those reasons as sufficient.
– Yes; I accepted the reasons, and I admit that no honorable member of this House has any excuse to offer, because we agreed to the adjournment of Parliament. If we had so chosen, we could have remained sitting’ and dealt with the Tariff exhaustively, leaving all other countries except Great Britain out of consideration in the matter of preference, and treating them all on the same basis. We would simply have been following a policy that was established some years ago. Then, if any alteration to that policy had subsequently to be taken into consideration, it could be dealt with at the conclusion of the war. However, we have neglected to take the Tariff into consideration, and we are in practically the same position as when this Parliament first assembled.
– Many things have happened since then.
– Quite so; and one of the most important things is the fact that while other countries, particularly- Canada and Japan, have progressed by leaps and bounds, our manufacturing industries have practically remained stationary. Apart from the decrease that must follow as the result of the numbers of men who have left our shores to participate in the great world struggle, the output of our factories has been reduced, and many of the men who are still in our midst cannot get- constant employment.
– Strikes and labour conditions are absolutely killing our industries.
– In the building up of our industries strikes are merely incidents. There will always be strikes as long as the honorable member and I are on this earth, and for years afterwards. It is well for the honorable member, and many others in this, community, who are always prepared to condemn the striker and the trade unionist, that in years gone by in the Old World, and in this country, men had sufficient spirit to strike for better conditions.
– They did not have arbitration laws in those days.
– We have arbitration laws here to-day, and we have men approaching the Arbitration Court and wages boards.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member not to pursue that line of debate; it is outside the scope of the Bill.
– The trade union movement in this country, and industrial legislation, which has been secured by the strength of the organizations, and imposes obligations on employers and employees alike, cannot be separated from the consideration of Tariff proposals, but I was led away by the interjection of the honorable member. We have strong trade unions in Australia, and they insist on recognised trade union conditions, which regulate the hours of labour, wages, overtime conditions, and even holiday conditions in some instances. We have also industrial legislation, and men and women in Australia are working under conditions determined by law. Furthermore, no boy or girl can enter a factory for the purpose of accepting certain forms of employment unless he or .she is, according to the different State Acts, 14, 15, or 16 years of age. But that restricted form of legislation does not operate in some countries with which we are competing. In fact in some countries children as young as seven years of age are at work. They are termed half-timers. In many of those countries there is practically no limitation on the hours of labour, men and women being employed for ten and twelve, and even fourteen and fifteen, hours a day. Moreover, the rates of wages paid do not, on the whole, average 50 per cent, of those paid in this country. “We are trying by means of trade unions and industrial legislation to establish standards of conditions superior to those in any other country, but this means a charge on the cost of production. Therefore, when framing a Tariff, we must, in justice to our people, to those employed in our industries, and to those who have capital invested in factories, have regard to these facts. We must remember the difference between our industrial conditions and those of the countries which compete with us.
A few years back a law was passed compelling the employer to insure his employees against accident. That law increases the cost of production, and probably every improvement of working conditions means some further increase. This Parliament, however, is not increasing the protective duties enough to equalize our conditions with those elsewhere. No wonder that our industries do not grow stronger. On the Yarra-bank there is an engineering firm which a few years ago, on receiving an order from the Defence Department for the manufacture of ammunition waggons, extended its premises, but that was probably its first extension in twenty-five years, and many of the engineering firms there are now using plant which they have had for twenty-five or thirty years. This is because, in most cases, they get only repair work, and have no inducement to install up-to-date plant which would enable them to compete with foreign rivals. They are at a disadvantage as compared with similar industries overseas in regard to hours of labour, wages, and other conditions, and until we make their position equal to that of their competitors by imposing sound protective duties, . Australia will not be the self-reliant manufacturing country that we desire it to be.
I am disappointed that we have not dealt with the Tariff this session, though I accept the reasons which were given for not doing so. Had we followed the lines previously adopted, and taken into consideration the differences between the conditions here and those in other parts of the world, continuing the old policy of giving preference to Great Britain and placing all other countries, allies and enemies, on ‘the same footing until the termination of the war, we should have done justice to our own manufactures.’ “We have not done that, and until we frame a Tariff that will do it, our manufacturing industries will not make the advance that we wish them to make.
There is another danger. Under the last Tariff a duty was considerably increased to encourage an industry already in existence, which had to face fairly keen competition from the importers. Parliament naturally expected that the effect of the increase would be the building of new factories and the employment of more hands ; but nothing of the sort occurred. I do not know whether there was an arrangement between the importers and the local firms that were enjoying a monopoly in this industry, but the effect of the increased duty, amounting to 30 per cent., was merely to bring about an equivalent increase in the price of the commodity affected. The local manufacturers, instead of taking advantage of the duty to get trade away from the importers, merely followed the example of the importers and increased their prices 30 per cent. They still have only the same market as they had before the Tariff was altered. The importers have gained nothing from the alteration, because, although the price of their goods has been increased, the increase goes to the Customs, whereas the local manufacturers have gained a clear profit of 25 per cent, or 30 per cent.
– Protection always brings about that result.
– No. In many instances the consumers of this country were forced by the importers to pay high prices for goods which, after the establishment of Australian factories, were sold at reasonable prices. As a rule, competition between manufacturers and importers regulates prices, making them fair and reasonable. But while there may be occasional abuses, it must be evident to the House and to the country that we cannot continue to regulate the hours of labour, and to fix wages and conditions, without altering the Tariff accordingly. In my opinion, the man who advocates industrial legislation, whether «by means of Wages Boards or by arbitration, compulsory industrial insurance, and the placing of other restrictions on Australian manufacturers and workers, and votes for Free Trade, is inconsistent. I deeply regret that because of the war and for other reasons Parliament has not been able to deal fully with, the Tariff. We are not doing justice to ourselves if we do not place our manufactures on a more solid foundation. Until we have a Tariff similar to that of. America, as the result of which that country became probably the chief manufacturing country of the world, we cannot excel in manufacturing.
, - I am glad that it has been generally accepted that on this occasion we should not indulge in an academical discussion as to the relative merits of Free Trade and Protection, but should concentrate attention upon the propositions before us. I do not agree with those who desire to hold a sort of fiscal postmortem on the attitude of preceding Governments towards this most important matter, but I join with those who regret that when we had an opportunity to deal with the Tariff, untrammelled and unfettered by outside considerations, we did not place it on a more satisfactory basis. The responsibility for that must rest with the Government of the day. They could have brought ‘ the matter before Parliament and had it fully discussed.. They chose to do otherwise. Honorable members opposite have divulged to us thefact that they did not take- action because many members of their party were opposed to the principle of Protection, and, therefore, did not desire to deal with the Tariff with a view of increasing that barrier which we are anxious to raise against the unrestricted competition from the outside world.
– I think that they are now all on the honorable member’s side of the House.
– By no means. I do not wish to particularize, and I need hardly remind the honorable member that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie still sits with him in Opposition. His memory will go back to the time when that honorable member was a most ardent Free Trader.
– He has changed.
– I am very glad to hear that he has. I still hope that some honorable members of the Official
Labour party, who have done a good deal to. retard the establishment of industries in Australia, will yet see the light, and Will show in a practical way that they are determined to put this country first. Certain honorable members opposite - and the ex-Treasurer, the honorable member for Capricornia, is one of them - felt impelled to retire from the Government of which they were members because of its failure to do something which they desired. But there was no suggestion that the undue delay in dealing with the Tariff was sufficient to cause the then Minister for Trade and Customs, or the honorable member for Capricornia, to resign from that Administration. This question of Tariff revision, which they assert to-day as all-important, was not, apparently, sufficiently urgent then to warrant them in resigning in order to mark their disapproval of the attitude of the Government.
It. will be well for us in the coming campaign to endeavour to secure from the people of Australia, as we have done so frequently before, an expression of opinion as to the attitude that must be adopted by honorable members with regard to this pressing question. There are men who entered this House as absolute Free Traders.
– Here is one of them.
– There are men who entered this House as absolute Free Traders, but who, I am glad to say, have relinquished that policy.
– I am going to shed my last skin to-day.
– The banana skin, I presume? They have relinquished their old attitude of hostility to Protection. They have at last recognised that while we have Free Trade in labour we may talk about Free Trade in other directions, but directly employers of labour in the various industries are required to pay reasonable wages and to observe certain working hours and provide proper sanitary conditions, then, as pointed out by the honorable member for Fawkner, it is absolutely illogical and quite impossible to deny them that protection from unfair competition outside, which is rendered more necessary because of those requirements.
I do not propose at the present time to deal in detail with the Tariff. I realize how impossible it is to do so, and I recognise also the impotence of private members who are anxious that the Tariff should be made a truly protective one. It is only a Government that can make propositions for an increase of duties. Private members have no power to do so, and we should, therefore, be placed at a distinct disadvantage if we were to attempt now to deal with these matters. The results of the inquiries made by the Inter-State Commission are undoubtedly valuable. They have been most systematically and carefully scrutinized by a competent body of men, who entered upon the work without any hope of reward, believing it to be their duty to try to make the country in which they live the best of all.- They have most carefully taken into consideration every proposal made by the Inter-State Commission. They have obtained from those interested - not only the manufacturers, but the workers in the various industries concerned - all the information available, and they were hopeful that when the Tariff was discussed the results of their labours - and they have worked very hard - would be placed at the disposal of the Parliament.
– They may yet be placed at our disposal.
– I hope so. I do not regard this action as irrevocable. I hope that the next Parliament will set to work with determination, at the earliest moment, to deal with this all-important question of not only securing the home market of Australia for Australians, but affording a proper opportunity for those splendid fellows, who have done so much for us on the other side of the world, to be reabsorbed into our population on their return, and to become producers.
– I am afraid nothing will be done while the war continues.
– As to that, the honorable member knows more than I do ; 1 know nothing of certain propositions which I understand were laid before honorable members. There is no more insistent cry in this country to-day than that our men at the front should be properly provided for when they return. It would cause a shudder throughout the community if it were thought that the men who have done so much for us were simply to be the recipients of charity upon their return to Australia. We have to provide them with the means of doing that which every honest, self-respecting citizen desires-^ -
– We ought to have started on that work long ago. Our arrangements and organization should have been up to date.
– I quite agree with the honorable member. No better means of providing for these men can be found than that which a proper fiscal system offers - a system which will insure not only the maintenance of those industries we already have, but the introduction of a vast number of others. If those who are prepared to invest their capital in industry were afforded some reasonable guarantee of protection, they would readily establish in Australia new industrial enterprises. The success of the efforts that have been made in Australia to place the workers on a better basis than prevails in other countries will be assured if we can only devise a more general system of co-partnership or profitsharing. If our industries can be placed on such a financial basis that the employers will be absolutely secure from improper competition from abroad - and I use the word “ improper “ advisedly - our efforts in that direction will be considerably augmented. What is the use of securing for our people the benefits of higher wages, reasonable hours of labour, and proper working conditions, if, at the same time, we allow the industries in which they are engaged to be crushed out of existence by the importation of goods made under conditions which would horrify us if we could but see them 1 The course hitherto adopted has been entirely illogical, and has greatly retarded our industrial development. It has closed a number of avenues of employment which we should have found most beneficial today.
Some months ago, I had the privilege of bringing before the House. figures showing the disturbance in the balance of trade which had occurred owing to the tremendous importations of various commodities. I am not going to say one word about their country of origin, but I desire again to draw attention to the fact that, our financial stability is on the down grade because of the action of our people in insisting upon having a number of articles for their daily use which are regarded elsewhere as luxuries, and as entirely unnecessary for either the comfort or convenience of mankind. It is a marvel that they should have the courage to do so at this time.
– What are these nonessentials ?
– I shall supply the House with a list. I desire, first of all, however, to direct attention to the drift that is taking place. In 1910, our position might well have been the envy of other countries because of the magnificent way in which we had been able to stem the tide of our imports, and to maintain that steady flow of exports which is so necessary to our financial well-being. In that year, the value of our imports was £58,682,391, and our exports, £69,855,873; so that the balance of trade showed a credit of £11,173,482. But, mark how the drift has set in - how we have gone to the bad - as shown by the following table: -
One would naturally suppose that the existence of war would have led to a reduction in our imports. We find, however, quite the opposite. It will be seen from the figures for 1915-16 that the balance against us for that year, £12,000,000 odd, is just about the amount of the balance in our favour in 1910; in other words, during that five years, we went to the bad to the extent of £24,000,000. We are in the position of a mercantile house, or any other business undertaking, which, as against a profit of £12,000,000 in 1910. shows a loss to a similar amount in 1915-16 ; and all this increase in imports is in spite of the restrictions imposed and of the difficulty in obtaining goods from overseas. In this I have had some personal experience, for I have known goods, absolutely necessary here and unprocurable except in America, to be stuck up on the railroads of the
United States, simply because of the embargo placed by the American Government on any goods intended for export. Notwithstanding the enormous increase in freights and insurance - notwithstanding all the risks and costs incidental to war - in the six months ended 31st December last, we show a balance to the bad of about £3,500,000. No country in the world, any more than could a business, can stand a drift of that kind; and we are really overdrawing our account. Honorable members know well how our engagements abroad are managed and met. If we buy £5,000,000 worth of goods from Great Britain we do not pay for it with 5,000,000 sovereigns, but send home £5,000,000 worth of wheat, wool, or some other product; and directly we disturb the balance to which I have referred - directly we are, say, £12,000,000 to the bad, we have to send sovereigns to that amount. That is where the gold of Australia has been going ; and we have aided the great United States of America in building up an enormous gold reserve which threatens to make it the most powerful nation on the face of the earth. This is owing to our own short-sightedness, and also, I am sorry to say, to the criminal extravagance of our people here. Honorable members have asked me for some indication of what this money has been spent on, and the following table is significant : -
It will be seen that the people of Australia, on apparel and all descriptions of soft goods, have, during six months, increased their importations by about £4,500,000. Surely boots and shoes can be made well enough here without sending abroad for them in increased numbers and at enhanced values ? The greater part of the india-rubber goods in the above table is for motor tyres. Here I should like to say that all the figures I am quoting have been obtained by Mr. H. L. Wilkinson from the Statistical Department, and are vouched for by Mr.
Knibbs. I have spoken of nonessentials and luxuries, and the following table gives in further detail a list of items: -
During Six Months (1st July to 31st December, 1916).
Imports of -
As to the shirts, collars, and so forth, these, it must be remembered, do not represent calico lengths or piece goods, but actually manufactured articles. In primary products - I draw public attention to the fact - we imported in the six months about £468.000 worth of fish, and over £250,000 worth of fruit.
– There were 10,000 tons of fish imported !
– And in a country like this ! Government investigation has shown that this island continent of ours is surrounded by fishing grounds which are not excelled in any part of the world; and yet, for lack of enterprise, and because of prejudice, we import this enormous quantity of fish, while, as a matter of fact, we ought to be large exporters to other parts of the world.
– Most of the fruit was imported in tins, I suppose?
– I dare say. The producers of Australia are crying out that the markets of the world are now closed to them, and it will be remembered that last year it was impossible to deal with the enormous crop of fruits. Yet, during the last six months of the year, our people imported £265,000 worth. Then, surely we can raise enough meat for our own requirements? Yet during the same period, we imported £64,000 worth. These figures are telling enough to need no argument - no emphasizing to show exactly whither we are drifting. This drift, in my opinion, will go on at an accelerated rate, and the momentum will be sufficient, during the bad times that are inevitably coming, to bring us to the verge of national disaster. No one realizes more than I do the magnificent possibilities of Australia, and no one is more proud of the opportunities that this country offers to our people. But we are simply trifling with our destiny if we allow ourselves at such a juncture to be unfaithful to our public duty. We are responsible members of the community privileged to hold its legislative and administrative destinies in our hands; and I fear we are wanting in a proper appreciation of the gravity of our responsibilities. The Prime Minister of Great Britain has presented, not one list, but a succession of lists of prohibited imports, each of which lists is based on experience ; and goods have been shut out from the Old Land, some of them absolutely, and some only to the extent of surety being required for their proper application. These lists in Great Britain comprise nearly every one of the items I have read this afternoon, and mention many more in addition.
– In Britain the manufacture of a large number of articles has been prohibited.
– The people at Home thoroughly realize that they are in a state of war, whereas we here do not, nor do we realize how the war is going to affect us. We are not going to lose territory - I feel sure that we shall win out of the war all right - but we shall lose something else if we are not careful, and that is the high reputation we have hitherto enjoyed for looking after those who have conduced very materially to that reputation. We are going to be crippled, and simply because we have not had sufficient courage to do our duty. I strongly impress upon the Government , the crying necessity there is for immediate and drastic action with regard to this drift. We thoroughly realize that we cannot effectively deal with the Tariff schedule at the present juncture; but the Prime Minister, just as much as Mr. Lloyd George, has the power to meet the situation; and he has already shown that he possesses in no small degree the courage to do that which he believes to be right.. This is not the first time the matter has been brought under the right honorable gentleman’s notice; and I hope that we shall not appeal to him in vain. We believe that he will realize that he owes a great and pressing duty to the people of Australia to protect them, if necessary, from themselves - to at once put a stop to this useless, wicked extravagance in which the people, as well as the Governments, are engaged. From the press one might be led to believe that only Governments and Parliament are extravagant; I do not deny that they are, but surely their extravagance is as nothing compared with the extravagance, evidence of which I have given this afternoon. I trust, therefore, that the Prime Minister will take such steps as will stem the awful tide which is threatening to engulf and destroy the industrial, commercial, and, shall I also say, the civic life? of the whole of this continent.
.- I am glad to follow the honorable member for Grampians, who has certainly saved me the trouble of quoting a large number of figures. I would remind honorable members that there is one State, at least, that is looking after its soldiers, and that is Queensland. At the Premiers’ Conference the Premier of Queensland made certain suggestions, but they were somewhat coldly received, because it was felt by the representatives that the duty of looking after the men ought to be thrown on the Commonwealth Government. Mr. Theodore, one of the representatives of Queensland, assured the Conference that that State had 11,000,000 acres of good agricultural land available for the repatriation of discharged soldiers, and that the
State Government intended to pass a Returned Soldiers’ Settlement Bill. That Bill would provide that the State might advance a maximum sum of £1,500 to each returned soldier to enable him to build a home on the land he has selected, and to assist him in clearing such land, as well as putting in his first crop. In addition to the foregoing practical assistance, the discharged soldier would pay absolutely no rental for his land for the first three years. There is nothing parochial about Queensland. All Australian soldiers are to be treated alike, regardless of the State to which they belong.
– We cannot put them all on the land.
– I know that. We must have secondary industries, and if only a moiety of the money that is being expended nowadays were spent in getting our primary industries established, our secondary industries would have such a home market that they would be independent of the outside world.
– We are not using 10 per cent, of the land upon which payable cultivation could be carried on with the natural rainfall.
– I believe that that is so. It is with feelings of almost degradation that I see this Parliament approach the end of its term without effect having been given to the promise made by Mr. Fisher in regard to the Tariff. I
Know the alleged reasons for delaying the consideration of the Tariff, namely, consideration for one of our Allies. Perhaps I have studied the position of that Ally more than has the present Leader of the Government, and I say that there was an easy way out of the difficulty which presented itself. What would there have been .objectionable in our passing a Tariff that would enable us to compete with the Homeland? And in using the word Homeland I am using the finest word in our language to denominate the four Kingdoms, England. Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, from which nearly all Australians have sprung. We should have a Tariff high enough to protect our own industries, and then we could offer a wide welcome to those in the Homeland who do not care to work in the cruel, unhealthy conditions under which too often the manufactures of Great Britain are carried on. Then we could give preference to the Homeland against every one of the Allies, and Japan would not be a country to mention in fear and trembling. She could come in as an Ally, and she has won the right to be so considered by her protection of our cities, which might have been blown to pieces by the German fleet. The Australia could not have protected a sea line extending from Brisbane to Perth. Japan also convoyed our troopships, and is now searching for the raider which is threatening our transports in the Indian Ocean. Therefore, no word against Japan will leave my lips, but I have both written and spoken more dangerous sentences, if they were so construed, than have ever left the Prime Minister’s lips in all his secret conferences. Charles Edward Russell, in The Uprising of the Many, alludes to Japan as ‘ ‘ the economic revolutionist ‘ ‘ and to the “ startling innovations of a people without commercial . traditions.” Build up our Tariff as we may, we cannot hope to successfully compete against other countries unless the nation is behind its manufacturers. We know that the American Tobacco Combine fought and beat the English Combine; although the latter spent between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000, it went down. To-day, the English Combine is only the nominee of the American Tobacco Trust. There were two companies in Australia which were to compete against the foreign combine, but they woke one day to find their stock controlled by the American Combine. Only one country in the world has been able to beat the American Tobacco Combine, and that is Japan.. I was in that country during the Russo-Japanese War, and, except for an occasional squad of soldiers in the street and nurses in the trains, I saw no sign of war. The Japanese Government decided to oust the American Tobacco Combine, and it offered the Trust a fair valuation for its good- will. The Combine laughed- at the Government. The Japanese people had been taught to smoke cigarettes,- and once the palates of people have become accustomed to a certain brand of tobacco, they have no wish to change. Charles Edward Russell says, in The Uprising of the Many -
Thus in the end Japan served copiously to swell the hard-earned treasures of the American Tobacco Trust, for the Japanese were industrious consumers, and the Trust could charge what it pleased, having the trade by the throat.
The Japanese Government made an offer to the Combine, but was treated with scorn. It then imposed a 50-per cent, duty. Still the Combine laughed. Next year the duty was increased to 100 per cent. Even that did not bother the Combine; but when the duty was raised to 150, and then to 250 per cent., the Combine commenced to take counsel with itself. It was willing to meet the Japanese Government; but the Government was no longer prepared to treat. As Russel] says -
The Japanese Government concluded that it might as well have the goodly profits as let tlie Trust have them, so it went into the tobacco business on its own account. It bought factories and stores, and passed a law establishing itself in a practical monopoly of the tobacco trade, for no makers of cigarettes, cigars, or tobacco were allowed to sell their products until they had been offered to, and declined by, an agent of the Government - a necessary provision, because in Japan cigarette milking is largely a domiciliary trade. Still there might have been left to the American Trust a chance to compete in quality of product, or in some special lines, if it had not been for one thing. The Government put an import duty of 250 per cent, on cigarettes and tobacco. Thereupon the American cigarettes vanished faster than their own smoke, and the defeated American Tobacco Trust was glad to sell to the Government (for what it could get) its business and branch houses.
As a matter of fact, the buildings were sold for a mere song, and the machinery, except such portions as could be removed profitably, was obtained by the Japanese Government at a nominal price. The American Combine thought that by cutting off the Japanese Government’s stock of tobacco they would end this competition; but, instead of that happening, Japan has reached out after the other markets of the far East. According to the Shipping World Tear-Book of 1916, page 1629, the duties on tobacco imported into Japan to-day are as follows: - Cigars, cigarettes, and cut tobacco, 355 per cent, ad valorem.; chewing tobacco, 3s. 5£d. per lb. ; snuff, 7s. 11¼d. per lb : ; other tobacco, 355 per cent, ad valorem. That is the way to fight a combine, to build up trade, and to help your manufacturers along. To-day, splendidly made cigarettes are obtainable in Japan at the rate of 2Jd. per twenty-five. I quote these facts to show how one of the richest, and possibly one of the strongest, combines in the world can be beaten. Under the War Precautions Act, the Government have power to alter every anomaly in our
Tariff. I maintain we can raise the duty wherever necessary ; and I urge that, even in these last days of a moribund Government, it should endeavour to do some good. Nominally, the present Prime Minister is the successor of Mr. Fisher, but every promise that Mr. Fisher made has been broken. If I am in the chamber when the Bill reaches the Committee stage, I shall move a clause to this effect -
Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act, the Government of the day shall be empowered to correct any anomalies and to increase any duties by regulation under the War Precautions Act, or by any other legal process to give Protection to our manufacturers.
The Government would do well to spend more money in the manufacture of munitions in Australia. I advised that course when I came back from Japan some years ago ; and it seems incredible that we should have made so little progress in that direction. Japan, whose people fifty years ago fought with bows, arrows, and spears, can build to-day an ironclad equal to any produced in the world, and turns out cannon better than those of Krupp and Armstrong, and rifles better than those of Mauser. Krupp and Armstrong cannon, when opposed in the RussoJapanese War to ordnance made in Japan, were blown to pieces; and the Mauser rifle, with which the Russian soldier was armed, could not hold its own against the Japanese gun. I have previously reminded the House that, when Japan asked one of our greatest philosophers - Herbert Spencer - what she should do to avoid trouble with other nations, he wrote a letter - possibly the greatest ever penned by man - in which he advised Japan never to sell her coastal shipping rights, or her land, or her manufactures, and never to give mining rights to foreigners, but to make and do everything for herself. He concluded with a request that the contents of the letter should not be made known until he was dead, because he knew he would hardly be forgiven by the white race. Japan nobly fulfilled her promise. Australia can urge upon Japan a policy of reciprocity, for that word acts like a talisman in the East. Australia can say, “ In the name of reciprocity, we offer to you what you offered to the whole world. If any Australian buys land in your country, we shall allow the Japanese to buy eleven times that quantity in Australia; if Japan receives Australian visitors, we will allow eleven times as many
Japanese to visit Australia; but we ask you to remember the advice given to you by Herbert Spencer, and to understand our application of it to Australia.”
The honorable member for Capricornia suggested that any preferential Tariff should contain a clause requiring that imported goods should bear a certificate that they have been manufactured under proper working conditions. I would willingly give preference to such a man as Mr. Ford, the great American manufacturer, one of the world’s greatest industrial organizers, who was told that he could not work a factory of a larger unit than 5,000, yet he has 30,000 at work to-day; that he could not manufacture a motor car at a lower cost than £100, yet he supplied them at £75, and proposes to do better still and supply them at £30; and that he could not pay the high wages that the unions asked, yet he raised the wages of every one in his employ, from the lowest to the highest, so that no woman sweeps the floors at a less wage than £1 per day. We would do well to invite him here and pay him a large salary to organize our railway manufacturing work; the money would be better spent than in paying the salaries of our State Governors. For then we could compete against the world. We know already that in our State workshops locomotives can be turned out cheaper than they can be produced in England, or even in America, according to sample. Evidence of this has been given that cannot be gainsaid by any mechanical engineer.
The Commonwealth Government claim that they can do very little in this direction, but their powers under the War Precautions Act are well known, and I ask them to give consideration to the amendment of which I have given notice. In their dying days I ask them to do some good. I ask them to rectify every anomaly that has been proved to exist in our Tariff. As an honorable member has pointed out, they can forbid the importation of many goods. They claim that they are interfering with the sale of German goods, but they have only to make a few inquiries to ascertain that higher prices than those prevailing at the beginning of the Avar are now being asked for German goods. In my opinion, the price of enemy goods should not be allowed to be raised. It is only by the grace of this country that traders have been permitted to sell the stock of enemy goods that they held before the declaration of war, yet they have been permitted to raise the prices of those goods. Why do not the Government make it a penalty to sell Germanmade products when the purchaser is under the impression that the article has been made in another country ? Many have made purchases of enemy-made goods, and taken them back, but the vendors have refused to accept the return of the articles. I have advised them to write to the Attorney-General upon the point. The honorable member for Bourke has pointed out that the Government can do anything under the War Precautions Act, and if the Government had any sincere desire to take action they could do what we wish them to do in the direction of establishing factories.
I should not willingly give into the hands of a private company the manufacture of munitions of war except in war time. Many of us believe that wars have been “ egged “ on by great owners of munition factories seeking for dividends. The same moneyspinners operate concerns in France, Germany, Russia, and England, under different names, by holding shares or contingent advantages in each. Have honorable members forgotten the great arsenal in Russia, under the name of Snider; how a young girl, not knowing what she was about to do, but acting at the command of a scoundrel German, who had gone away, pressed a button, and blew up the whole works? The manufacture of murderous implements should be solely in the hands of the nation. Our Government are not spending enough money in that way.
As for the State Governments I have nothing but contempt for the action of the Victorian Government, under Sir Alexander Peacock, in dismissing men, cruelly and wickedly, in a time of war, when every one should be employed ; for only by employing the nation can we expect the people to pay the heavy taxes’ that must be laid upon their shoulders, Governments should have one motto only, and that is “ full and flowing sails upon the sea of distress.” Governments should not bring about unemployment. Nothing causes a greater shiver of doubt in our credit system than unemployment. On the day that we see thousands marching in the streets of Melbourne or Sydney, asking for work and crying for food, our credit will be liable to go down. Compare what I have read of the actions of the Queensland Government with what is being done by the State Government of Victoria, and one cannot but have contempt for the Government led by Sir Alexander Peacock.
– Does the honorable member indorse the action of the Queensland Government in regard to the cattle embargo ?
– It was a most glorious conception to keep the price of meat at a fair value all over Australia.
– The Premier of Queensland did not do that.
– That was his object. He wished to fix the price. But the whole question of fixing the price of foodstuffs is most ridiculous as administered. Months ago I asked that little notices should be put up in the post offices to show the people in the localities of those offices the prices fixed for various commodities. My idea was that each notice should bear on it the name of an officer to whom any citizen could complain if he was charged more than the fixed price. What did the Government do? They published it in that fool publication, the Government Gazette. Who but an accountant could understand what appeared in the Government Gazette ? I hope that the Government of Queensland will keep their stock in their State until they compel the Commonwealth Government to fix a price for meat all over Australia. God alone knows Wow many have eaten brutally diseased meat, and become diseased, or how many people have died in the hospitals from hydatids. All this meat is supposed to have been passed at the- abattoirs. Mr. Angliss has his own abattoirs. I suppose the meat was passed at the abattoirs, but luckily there was an inspection at the vessels on which it had to be placed. All honour to the ex-Minister for the Navy for having ordered that no further ox liver should be delivered to the soldiers. But- why do, not the Government do something for the people outside who pay our salaries and pay the Governor-General £200 a week, with an additional £200 a week for the up-keep of his establishments? Do not the Commonwealth Government know that the Peacock Government has only certain areas in which inspection of meat is necessary ?
Outside of those areas meat in a vile condition can be, and is being, supplied. I asked the question the other ‘day whether some of the military camps were outside the regulation areas, hoping to get some good results on behalf of the people, as well as the soldiers, but the question was slid aside. I do not care for those who supply this meat. Even though the contractor who is supplying such meat be worth half-a-million he should be hanged, but the Government have not the pluck to do it.
In regard to the Tariff we have had many a fight in the Caucus. Honorable members know how I was turned down, principally by the Prime Minister, when I attempted to have action taken in regard to the Initiative, Referendum, and Recall, which were promised by Mr. Fisher at two elections. Had our law provided for the principle of the Recall this House would not have dared to carry on in the way it has been conducted. The people outside would have called upon honorable members to face them. They would not have permitted the Tariff to be so long neglected. The great burning questions during the elections will be a Protective Tariff, the Initiative, Referendum, and Recall, and “ Down with the Hughes Government.” If we adopt the Initiative Referendum and Recall, I will ask the people to insist on embedding in the Constitution the right to amend the Tariff with celerity. The Japanese have shown the advantage of altering their Tariff every year if necessary.
Above all, I hope that the citizens will not be left like helots outside, depending on action by a body such as this miserable Parliament is. No matter how retrograde or Conservative a Parliament may be, and no matter how rauch it may go back to follow the example of the distant bad past, if this principle is embodied in the Constitution no Parliament can rob the citizens of their right to vote except by their own votes. If this Government had been able to further fake their majority in the Senate, goodness knows what they would not have done.
It is necessary to declare as enemy aliens those Germans who are getting inventions registered in their name. We need a few more Commissions of inquiry. One has only to look through the list of inventions registered since
January, 1916, to find the names of these enemy aliens. In the interests of our manufacturers I hope that the Government will do something to remove the anomalies in the Tariff, and to impose duties where the Protection is now worse than nothing; and if private enterprise cannot do all these things, then, I say, “ Let the nation do them.”
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– We have the unique experience of being asked to . validate a schedule for the- amendment of the Tariff after it has been in operation for a period of something like two and a quarter years. I should be very loath to indulge in bitter reproaches concerning the delay in either the revision of the Tariff or the introduction of this validating measure, because I realize, as other honorable members must do, that international causes have made it difficult to do justice to our industries by the thorough revision of our fiscal system. For the present situation we must blame the war, which has so greatly interfered with trade conditions throughout the world. I hope that the time may not be far distant when we shall have a Tariff Board, whose business it will be to watch the operation of the Tariff, with a view to discovering anomalies, and to make recommendations to Parliament yearly for the purpose of necessary amendments, so that the Tariff may at all times immediately fit our conditions.
There are two important problems among the many which will have to be dealt with after the war, one concerning finance and the other industrial matters. The honorable member for Grampians has emphasized in terms which are by no means too strong the drift of our external trade to the bad. The matter is of the greatest moment. Finance will be a serious consideration after the war. Our loans at present represent between £130,000,000 and £140,000,000, and there is a vast war expenditure which must subsequently be made good. As the honorable member for Grampians dealt so fully with this subject, I shall content myself with indorsing his remarks as to the urgent need for discriminating prohibition in regard to non-essentials and luxuries. The honorable member pointed out that in 1910 we had a trade credit of upwards of £11,000,000, and in 1911 a trade credit of £2,500,000, but that since then we have been drifting to the bad, and in 1915-16 had a trade debit of upwards of £12,000,000. Increased costs, freights, and insurances have contributed to swell this debit, but the fact remains that it is a very heavy one. I would only add to the excellent remarks of the honorable member for Grampians that in addition to the trade debit of which he spoke we have a further debit of something like £15,000,000 for interest on loans. It has been very properly suggested that, as we cannot have an immediate and radical revision of the Tariff, the next best thing is to try to modify, if we cannot completely remove, our adverse trade balance, and that the Government should issue a discriminating prohibition regarding a number of items which are recognised luxuries and non-essentials, without interfering with industry. I hope this will receive immediate attention. There never was a greater responsibility on any Government than there is on this in regard to trade and finance. Our hope of recovery lies in the expansion of our primary and secondary industries, and the consequent increase of production. This must be our objective, especially in view of the problem of unemployment with which we shall have to deal when the war is over. The encouragement of our industries will be an effort towards its solution. We can encourage industries by increasing the protection given by Customs duties, and by a system of bonuses, which in the past have been employed by Germany to her own great advantage.
I join in the tribute that has been paid to the Inter-State Commission for the monumental work done in connexion with the Tariff. Its reports are an encyclopaedia of valuable information concerning our manufacturing industries. It cannot be said that the members of the Commission have been lavish in their recommendation of duties, but they have supplied us with information which will be of great use when the Tariff comes under revision.
I do not decry the Tariff proposals introduced by the honorable member for Yarra on the 3rd December. 1914, which we are now being asked to validate. I admit that he was faced with difficulties, because he could not overlook revenue considerations, but, nevertheless, the protective incidence of his duties has been effective in many directions. It has caused the expansion of certain industries, and, as a consequence, the employment of a vast number of men and women. It cannot be said, however, that the Tariff schedule is scientific. It is the duty of us all to assist the Government in the revision of the Tariff. The objects of that revision should be three in number. The first should be the expansion of our primary and secondary industries, and the consequent increase of production. The need for that has been, emphasized by the war, which has shown that we should endeavour to be . self-contained, industrially speaking. The second object should be the capture of much of the trade that Germany has hitherto done with Australia, and, by a system of preference, to divert to the United Kingdom what we cannot get for ourselves. Since the war started the Mother Country has not been able to devote attention to the encouragement of its industries and the expansion of its trade, but preparations are being made there to manufacture what have hitherto been the leading lines of Germany’s importation. ,
– The people of the United Kingdom are ready for a radical change.
– Yes, and I am glad to notice that they are giving attention to the manufacture of aniline dyes, and the making of special classes of paper, scientific instruments and apparatus, surgical instruments and appliances, and scientific glassware. Their desire is that when the war ends they may be in a position to make those goods that were’ formerly supplied to them by Germany. We should have a similar object in view in revising our Tariff. Our endeavour should be to make everything that we can locally, and to divert to the Mother Country the trade in such things as it may be impossible for us to make. Our third objective in dealing with this Tariff should be the generous treatment of our Allies.
No one would be justified in suggesting that the existing Tariff is prohibitive; it is, indeed, very modest in character. The Commonwealth’s average rate of duty on dutiable goods in 1912, which was a normal year, was 23.32 per cent. ; in the case of Canada, it was 26.12 per cent.; New Zealand, 33.67 per cent.; United States of America, 40.16 per cent. ; and Germany, 18.38 per cent. The average duty on dutiable goods, excluding stimulants and narcotics, under the Commonwealth Tariff, in 1912, was 21.03; in the case of Canada, it was 23.86; New Zealand, 22.03; and the United States of America, 37.02 per cent. ; whereas under the old Victorian Tariff, which I had the honour of introducing, it was 25 per cent. I had a good deal to do with the preparation of the Commonwealth Tariff of 190S, and the passage of it through the Senate. Modest as it was, I think it clearly demonstrated its usefulness, and that if it be improved upon by the imposition of increased duties it will be of greater benefit, and lead to a_ greater expansion of trade,
I do not intend dealing at very great length with this question, but a little time ago, for quite another purpose, I took out a few very interesting figures, some of which I intend to read, because they are most significant. I desire to compare imports and production between 1908 - the date of the passing of the last Tariff - and 1913, our last normal year, and first to give the adverse side of the picture. The value of our total free and 5 per cent, imports in 190S was £20,970,22S ; in 1913, it amounted to £36,103,841; so that there was an increase of 72 per cent. The value of our imports of manufactured merchandise in 1908 was £44,101,288, and in 1913 it was £72,052,681. That is to say, there was an increase of 63 per cent. The total imports of unmanufactured merchandise in 1908 were valued at £4,507,633, and in 1913 at £6,143,428, or an increase of 36 per cent.
– Our population had in the meantime increased.
– Quite so; but I think that the population increased during that period by only about 13 per cent. Our total imports of merchandise in 1908 were valued at £48,608,921, and in 1913 the value was £78,196,109, representing a 61 per cent, increase. Let us now take the other side of the picture - the production of the Commonwealth’s manufacturing industries. The total output of our manufacturing industries in 1908 was £96,669,282, and in 1913 it was £161,605,920, or an increase of 67 per cent. The value added to raw materials by manufacturing processes in 1908 was £37.268,242, and in 1913 it was £65,197,247, representing an increase of 75 per cent. To put the whole position in a nutshell, if the imports of manufactured goods be compared with the output of local manufactures, it will be found that, while in the aggregate the value of our imports has increased by 63 per cent., the value of local manufactures has increased by 67 per cent., measured by actual values It will be observed that while manufactured imports have increased by £27,951,393, local production has increased by £64,936,638. If the local production be compared with the imports of manufactured goods, which are subject to duties over 5 per cent., and so may be considered to more closely represent a competitive group of imports - the increase represents only 54 per cent. There is a considerable decline noticeable in the figures for 1913, as compared with those for 1912, for special reasons. It should be mentioned that the dutiable goods to which I have referred include such commodities as carpets, piece goods, glass, glassware, &c.
That is a very significant result from what I say was the modest average rate of duty imposed by the Tariff of 1908. It justifies the House and the Government in continuing this national policy by substantially increasing duties for the purpose of giving to Australia the fullest benefit of the various industries which she has established, and with which imports are in immediate competition. A little while ago I mentioned the Tariff amendment brought in by the honorable member for Yarra. I applied for certain information as to its preferential incidence, and received from Mr. Knibbs a valuable and interesting report on the subject -
With reference to the subject of British preference, I have recently made an examination of the; existing Tariff, with a view of comparing its preferential incidence with that of the 1008-11 Tariff. Tlie method adopted was to apply each of these Tariffs to the imports into the Commonwealth during 1913. The results nf this analysis were as follow: - The total imports of merchandise from the United Kingdom during 1913 were valued at £40,948,803.
Under the 1908-11 Tariff, £24,986,308, or 61.01 per cent., of this total would have been favoured by preference equal to an average of 5.14 per cent, of the value of the goods; whereas under the present Tariff, preferential treatment, would be extended to £32,530,448, or 79.42 per cent, of the total, while at the same time the margin of preference would be increased to 6.30 per cent. This means that under the present Tariff the imports from the United Kingdom would have an advantage equal to the remission of duty amounting to £2,050,000, whereas under the 1908-11 Tariff the rebate of duty would have been £1,280,000. ,
Not only has “ preference “ to the United Kingdom been increased by an extension of the principle to goods which did not formerly come within its scope, but, with regard to many items, new duties have been imposed under the general Tariff, or previous rates have been raised, while the rates on similar imports from the United Kingdom have not been altered. Thus many items, which are still free if pro- duced in the United Kingdom, have become dutiable if produced elsewhere.
– The actual operation of the war has given the United Kingdom a very great preference.
– Clearly ; but an anomaly in connexion with our preferential Tariff is “that it extends only to the United Kingdom, and not to the other British Dominions. Mr. Knibbs goes on to say that -
The adverse effect which the extension of preference in favour of the United Kingdom will have on other parts of the Empire may be of interest to you.
On the basis of the imports during 1913, goods from “ British Possessions “ to the value of £491,972 would have been called upon, under the 1908-11 Tariff, to pay a surcharge of duty as compared with the duty to be paid on similar imports if of United Kingdom origin. Under the present Tariff, produce of British Possessions to the value of £3,260,633 would be required to pay a surcharge equal to 9.46 per cent, ad valorem, in excess of duties which would be required on similar goods of United Kingdom origin. Under the 1914 Tariff, jute goods imported from India - £2,153,000 in 1913 - pay a duty of 10 per cent., whereas similar goods manufactured in the United Kingdom are free. Canadian goods to the value of over £750,000 would be similarly affected: the chief lines being agricultural implements, printing paper, motor and other vehicles and parts, fish, rubber goods, and furniture.
This is a very interesting report, as showing the preference resulting from the Tariff that we are now validating.
– In the closing sentence of that report there is a reference to agricultural implements. Do they come from the Mother Country?
– No; from the other Dominions.
– Surely we ought to be able to supply all our own requirements in that regard.
– I should hope so. The third point that I would emphasize has regard to German trade with Australia. I have endeavoured to analyze that trade, with the object of showing, first of all, that we should capture as much of it as we can for ourselves, and that we should divert the rest to the United Kingdom. Our trade imports from Germany in 1913 amounted in value to something like £7,000,000. Honorable members will be somewhat surprised to learn how some of the principal items are made up. Let me take, first of all, the item of “ apparel, other, including minor articles for.” Our imports from the United Kingdom were of the value of £2,406,165, while those from Germany were valued at £978,935. In the case of “ textiles, other,” our imports from the United Kingdom were valued at £2,707,000, and those from Germany at £339,199. I quote these figures with the object of showing that, in so far as we cannot supply our own requirements in respect of some of these items, an opportunity is afforded us to divert to the Mother Country trade that we have been doing with Germany. In brushware our imports from the United Kingdom were valued at £86,014, while those from Germany were valued at £25,524.
Mr.Fenton. - And what were the imports from Japan?
– They were valued at £18,377.
– Our imports from Japan are increasing.
– Japan’s trade with Australia is increasing rapidly. Our imports of Portland cement from the United Kingdom were valued at £61,062, while those from Germany were valued at £159,969 ; cheese, United Kingdom, £1,174, and Germany; £1,446; chinaware and earthenware, United Kingdom, £366,511, and Germany, £117,200; clocks and watches, United Kingdom, £35,808, and Germany, £24,586; drugs and chemicals, tartaric acid and other, United Kingdom, £45,000, and Germany, £25,000; dyes. United Kingdom, £9,843, and Germany, £21,000; fertilizers, United Kingdom, £34,508, and Germany, £51,000; drugs and chemicals, other, United King dom, £678,000, and Germany, £166,000;- electrical materials, not machinery, United Kingdom, £663,769, and Germany, £116,329; fancy goods, United Kingdom, £189,000, and Germany, £138,000; glassware, United Kingdom, £79,000, and Germany, £115,000; hops, United Kingdom, £12,000, and Germany, £16,000; indiarubber manufactures, United Kingdom, £243,000, and Germany, £259,000; pianos, United Kingdom, £49,944, and Germany, £309,224 ; instruments, musical, other, and parts, United Kingdom, £33,353, and Germany, £51,000; instruments, surgical and scientific, United Kingdom, £333,000, and Germany, £114,000; iron and steel, bar, girders, &c, United Kingdom, £1,398,865; Ger7uauy, £406,995; lamps and lampware, United Kingdom, £71,000, and Germany, £52,000; leather. United Kingdom, £67,000, and Germany, £81,000; metal manufactured, barb wire, United Kingdom, £9,000, and Germany, £10,000; metal manufactures, other wire, United Kingdom, £308,000, and Germany, £363,000; wire netting, United Kingdom, £221,000, and Germany, £112,000; metal, manufactures of, other, United Kingdom, £2,400,000, and Germany, £455,000; paper, other, United Kingdom, £457,000, and Germany, £131,000.
– What are the totals?
– Our imports from Germany were something like £7,000,000, and our exports to Germany of wool and other products were something approaching the same sum.
– A good deal of the goods went through Belgium.
– I am talking of the direct trade. As to vehicles, we imported from the United Kingdom, £226,000 worth, and from Germany, £141,000 worth. I think that an examination of the Statistical Register, and the analysis of the imports from Germany, must lead us to the conclusion that there should be no difficulty whatever in either capturing the German trade or diverting it to the Mother Country. This should be one of the main objects, so far as regards the terms of any future Tariff proposals.
– With regard to these figures, is it not a fact that very often many of the articles set down as imports from Great Britain, really originally come from Germany?
– Of course. It is not competent for the Department to definitely state the country of origin; it has simply to take into consideration where the goods immediately come from.
– The country of origin has to be declared in order to get the preference.
– There has been a marked improvement in this connexion since 1908; and something like 65 per cent, of the British importations is the subject of preference. As the Minister says, the country of origin has to be declared in order to secure the preference, so that the figures are now more approximately correct. They are, however, by no means accurate, though they indicate that it is quite competent for us to, at least, do what I have suggested, keeping in view the great objective of capturing the German trade. I do not reproach this or any Government for not introducing the Tariff. I am certainly anxious that there should be a revision at the earliest possible moment, and I trust that moment will be early in the coming session.
– I do not propose to go into figures with regard to the volume of our imports and exports, for these, I think, have been given elaborately by the honorable member for Kooyong and by the honorable member for Grampians, both of whom have covered much of the ground I had intended to touch. I wish, indeed, that those two honorable members could breathe their pearls of wisdom into the ear of the Prime Minister, but, unfortunately, that gentleman is at present not in the House. At all events, I think they would have a difficult task to convert the Prime Minister to their way of thinking. The honorable member for Grampians said that he hoped that, after the elections, there would be an immediate Tariff revision. I am going to assume that after- the elections - though, perish the thought ! - the present Prime Minister and the present Deputy Prime Minister will be returned to. power; and I ask the honorable member for Grampians if he seriously thinks that, under such circumstances, we shall have any immediate Tariff revision. Of course, nobody expects that we shall, for the Prime Minister, as we know, has said that there will be no Tariff revision until the war is over.
– If the then Government do not have a revision, I shall not sit so long behind them as the honorable member did behind the previous Government - I promise him that.
– I think that if a revision of the Tariff is suggested, the Prime Minister will, as he did before, come along with a little tale of woe about some great menace, and the honorable member for Grampians, and those with him, will listen to his every word.
– What about the two years the Labour party were in power?
– It is said, I know, by honorable members now sitting with the Prime Minister that we on this side should not talk, because we did nothing during the two years we were in power. Of course, that statement is not correct, because something was done after the last election. There was a revision of the duties, which were increased, though not so much as I should wish ; and there should have been another revision eighteen months ago. If honorable members opposite ask why the late Government did not do something, I shall tell them why. I believe I. am speaking for the majority on this side now, when I say that at what are referred to as the Caucus meetings, we did bring pressure to bear on the Prime Minister in this regard. ‘ At any rate, I personally many a time brought pressure to bear; and when it became so strong, the Prime Minister, as we all know, called us into a secret conference, and there produced some of his usual menaces, and told us of those hideous things that would happen to Australia if we opened the Tariff question.
– There was plenty of time before that.
– It was very mild pressure that was brought to bear on the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member for Denison, when he was on this side of the House, was, as a rule, fair; and I hope he is not going to lose that good quality. The honorable member is certainly not fair when he says that I, and other honorable members, did not invariably bring as much pressure as we could at our meetings on the Prime Minister in regard to the Tariff.
– The honorable member did his best, but that cannot be said of the ex-Treasurer.
– I repeat that every time the pressure became too strong, the Prime Minister found a way out by declaring, as he did at the secret conference, that something dreadful would happen to Australia.
– Was it not that the Treasurer wanted revenue every time ?
– The Treasurer at that time was the honorable member for Capricornia; and, if every other member of the Cabinet had been as sincere as he in regard to the Tariff, we should have had a revision long ago. I am nob disappointed that there is not to be a revision of the Tariff, because I did not expect that the Tariff would be opened at the present time. I do not wish to be misunderstood when I say that I am not disappointed. I did not think that the Government desired to touch the Tariff, and, consequently, I was prepared; that is what I mean when I say that I am not disappointed. I should have liked a revision of the Tariff before this time, but I did not expect it, and there is less reason to expect it to-day than ever, because those who have gone from the Labour party to the Government side of the House are those who never cared much about the Tariff. Therefore, instead of the party led by the honorable member for Parramatta being stronger in regard to the Protectionist issue, it is weaker because of its association with the honorable members who were formerly connected with the Labour party. For that reason I did not expect anything better than the proposal that has emanated from the Government to-day. It is a pity that this should be so, because both on the floor of the House and in party meetings I have always advocated ‘the highest possible Protection. I represent a constituency that has no secondary industries, but I regard Protection as the only policy for a young country, and the only limitation I would put on the Tariff is that it shall be in every way effective for the fostering of our industries. When we are asked why we, on this side, did nothing in reference to Tariff revision during the two years that Labour was in power, I answer that the Prime Minister at every opportunity brought pressure to bear by mention of some dire menace, and at every turn threw some obstacle in the way of our dealing with the Tariff. So long as he leads the party which is in power, there will never be any revision of the present Tariff.
Recently, a deputation, headed by the honorable member for Grampians, Mr. Mauger, and several others interviewed the Prime Minister, and it is worth while to note the answer which the Prime Minister gave, and to ask why he has done nothing to redeem the promise he made then. The deputation put facts and figures before him to show that thousands of pounds worth of nonessentials was being imported into the country, and the Prime Minister, in reply, said that he was aware of what was taking place, and he agreed that it was disastrous for the Commonwealth. He said -
Coming to the deputation’s case generally, and the advisableness of restoring the trade balance which had been seriously disturbed by an unnecessary and unwholesome expenditure, it would be better that he should state generally the policy of the Government. It was that the Government recognised that the welfare of Australia depended upon the development of its industries. The Government would do all tilings necessary to give the manufacturers of Australia the assurance that that policy would be given effect to. When he spoke of the development of Australian industries, he meant what he said. That was when he recognised that the basis of the prosperity of the nation depended, to a very large extent, upon the control of its own home markets. And the Government would do everything, both by way of the Tariff bonus and the application of science to industry to encourage manufacturers to develop the resources of Australia.
It would be interesting to know his reason why nothing has been done since. What is the use of all these platitudes about what should be done? We have heard them ever since he came back from England. The Prime Minister also said to the deputation -
It was the bounden duty of the country, at all hazards, to encourage and develop the iron and steel industry, upon which the foundation of all industry rested. That was the policy of the Government, awl it would do everything in its power to give effect to it. In conclusion, the Prime Minister promised to bring the deputation’s representations before the Government. As far as the prohibition of luxuries was concerned, the Government had the power. It would be considered by the Government at an early date, with a view to being dealt with almost immediately.
He said that he had power to deal with the importation of non-essentials; he did not mention in what way, but, presumably, under the War Precautions Act. We know he has the power to do that, and that such a power has been used in Great Britain. If it is too late to revise the Tariff before the elections, why has not the Prime Minister kept his promise to exercise the power that he admits he possesses?
– The promise was made only about a fortnight ago.
– He was able to give your State £500,000 per annum in a day or two.
– He gave us only what belonged to us.
– -The Prime Minister can do things quickly enough when he has a particular purpose to serve, and an election is drawing near.
– Are you opposed to what has been done in regard to Queensland sugar?
– I should have to consider the motive which prompted the action.
– But suppose we leave the motive out.
– If the motive had been left out the action would not have been taken at all. Does the honorable member for Darling Downs think that half-a-million pounds would have been given to Queensland sugargrowers and millers if an election were not about to take place?
– Certainly. They ought to have had that money long ago, as every Queensland member admits.
– Order! This discussion is entirely out of order. I ask honorable members to cease interjecting.
– The point of the Prime Minister’s reply to the deputation is that he said he had power to deal with the importation of non-essentials. If he hae that power he must be able to deal with anomalies in the same way, and if we accept the word of the Government that time will not permit of the revision of the Tariff at this juncture, we should _ have a definite statement from them before another day passes as to what they propose to do in regard to the importation of non-essentials, and the rectification of some of the various anomalies that exist in the present Tariff.
Without going into the numerous figures quoted by the honorable member for Kooyong, we have only to look at the fact that there is a trade balance against Australia to the extent of £13,000,000 or £14,000,000, while New Zealand, with a population of a little over one million, has a trade credit balance of £10,000,000. There is not a person in the community but must admit that if the present policy is persisted in it will bring the Commonwealth to bankruptcy before we know where we are.
– I am glad you are beginning to realise it.
– I have always realised it, and I warn the honorable member that the Prime Minister will always raise some obstacle to effective Tariff revision. It is useless for the Government to speak of a “ Win-the-war policy “ when that policy makes no provision for the building up of Australian industries, and thus in one way providing suitable work for the many thousands of men returning from the front. Such a policy is not worthy of the name of “ Winthewar.” Sometimes the Government claim to be the “ Win-the-war party.” Is there one proposal in their programme that should distinguish them as the “ Winthewar party “ any more than the party on this side of the House?
– Order! The honorable member is straying from the subject matter of the Bill.
– My point is that a Government is not entitled to claim a “ Win-the-war “ policy when it makes no recognition of the fact that we are importing £14,000,000 worth of goods more than we are exporting. That is one of the most serious things confronting the Commonwealth.
– You know that industrial development is in our platform.
– I know that it is in the speeches of the Prime Minister. I know that he claims that it is part of his policy, but he does not give effect to it. He told the deputation which waited on him three weeks ago that it was disastrous that all these nonessentials should be coming into Australia; but he does nothing in regard to the matter.
– Because honorable members will not allow him to do so.
– The Government have now a good majority.
– But not in the Senate. Your Leader in the Senate is a Free Trader
– The Government have a good majority in the Senate. They cannot say that there is any obstruction.
– Order !
– The position of Australia to-day is too apparent to need the production of facts and figures. It is regrettable that the Government propose to go to the country, because it will mean that three or four months must elapse before the new Parliament can meet, and during those months we will have unemployment in our midst. This young country, which has always claimed to be Protectionist, is allowing 1,000 carpenters to go to a country which was Free Trade before the war. This is only the beginning. It is deplorable that these men should be forced to leave our shores when they might be found employment if we had something like a proper system of Protection. If this kind of thing is to be allowed to go on, one cannot but feel alarmed for the future of the Commonwealth. I do not know why the Government always put so glaringly before the people their adherence to the White Australia policy. I suppose they have the idea that people doubt them upon the point.
-What has the White Australia policy to do with this Bill?
– It is idle to talk about a White Australia and about keeping the country white so far as its manhood is concerned while we allowthe importation from other countries of goods manufactured by coloured labour. The honorable member knows perfectly well that the products of coloured labourare coming into Australia every day. Take, for example, silks, which are classed amongst non-essentials.
– In tropical parts of Queensland, silks are essential to the community.
– I am not dealing with silks so much from the point of view of their being classed as nonessentials as from the stand-point of recent heavy increases in the value of the importations of these articles. Before the war commenced, we imported, in one year, £800,000 worth of silks. To-day, these goods are coming in at the rate of £2,000,000 worth in the year. There has been a good deal of controversy in regard to motor cars. If further importation of motor cars was stopped, as was suggested by the deputation that waited on the Prime Minister, the bodies, tyres, and other parts could be manufactured here, and give employment in Victoria alone to some thousands of our own workmen. There is no earthly reason why it should not be done.
– Does the honorable member favour the stoppage of the importation of motor cars ?
– In the interests of our own working people, it would be infinitely better to stop the importation of anything that we can manufacture here than to allow our citizens to go out of the country in order to find employment elsewhere. The fact that so many men are leaving our shoresfor the purpose of finding employment in what was a Free Trade country before the war is a matter that is to our discredit.
One great point we must not forget is that during the progress of the war the older countries of the world will be heaping up manufactured goods, and these goods will be dumped on Australia after the war is over if in the meantime we do nothing in the direction of providing an effective impost against them.
The Government say that it is too late to revise the Tariff. The position should never have been allowed to reach this point, but, accepting the statement that it is now too late, seeing that the House is to rise this week, nevertheless I maintain that something should be done in the direction of the stoppage of the importation of non-essentials and the rectification of glaring anomalies in the schedule. These things the House could do before it rises. If we do nothing more than get a definite promise from the Government that the word of the Prime Minister, who says that he has the power to do these things, will be kept in this direction, it will be something done in the interests of the development which we hope to see in Australia; but if we simply close down, and do nothing more than has been proposed by the Government, it will be a sorry thing for this House to perpetrate. I hope that before the Government come to a final decision they will see whether something cannot be done in the direction that I have indicated. It will be nothing more than carrying out the promise which was given definitely by the Prime Minister. Platitudes about science and much that we have heard from the Prime Minister are useless. What the Prime Minister should do now is to put into practice what he says he has power to do. If there is any sincerity in him, let him prove it. There are glaring anomalies, and it is admitted that the importation of nonessentials is the worst thing that can happen to any country. If the Government will reconsider their decision and give effect to the Prime Minister’s promise, I guarantee that every honorable member of the Opposition will stand to them.
– The honorable member voted against the prolongation of the life of Parliament.
– If the life of this Parliament had been prolonged, we would not have had a revision of the Tariff, because the Prime Minister has said - and I believe that the majority on the Government side of the House are with him on the matter - that there will be no revision of the Tariff until the war is over.
– That is not the policy of the Government.
– Then, the Prime Minister must have gone back on his word very recently, but from what I know of him it will take more than the honorable member for Wide Bay to knock him off his perch. I venture to say the honorable member will not shake the Prime Minister or the Minister for the Navy on this question.
– They do not need any shaking.
– Let the honorable member wait till he comes to the obstacle. A definite promise was made to the country through the deputation that waited on the Prime Minister recently. Now is the time for action. Therefore, I hope that the House will not rise until the promise has been redeemed.
.- Complaints in regard to the delay which has occurred in bringing the Tariff before us for consideration are useless. Time will not permit us to go through the Tariff schedule now, and it is incumbent on every honorable member to see that the schedule is passed into law. If we fail to take action in this respect, the Government will have to refund some millions of money, not to the purchasers of goods, but to the importers. In the circumstances honorable members cannot but agree to the schedule, though many of us who are opposed to a Protective Tariff feel it very hard to do so. The schedule has been before us for two and a quarter years, but nothing has been done in regard to it. However, I am prepared to find excuses for the Government. Action on their part had to be withheld because of the war, and now no good can be gained by complaints.
I am surprised at the actions of some honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Capricornia tried to lay ther blame for the failure to deal with the Tariff on different honorable members who now happen to be supporting the Government, and he and the honorable member for Indi, to whose funeral dirge in regard to a Protective Tariff we have just listened, were supporting the Government that gave us the schedule which we are now asked to legalize. I think that we are justified in assuming that when the present Leader of the Opposition, as Minister for Customs, brought down the Tariff, and laid it on the table, he did so with the approval of the Labour party. There may have been some differences of opinion among honorable members of that party; but generally, the schedule must have been approved by the party. For example, the honorable member for Indi says that we should restrict the importation of goods that can be made in Australia, and I have seen the announcements of different organizations that we should prevent certain goods from coming into Australia.
– I did not make that statement.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon, but he did say so. The honorable member for Capricornia said that if a 50 per cent, duty was not enough we should make it 100 per cent. I presume that if a 100 per cent, duty is npt enough, he would make it 500 per cent. We have had a Protective Tariff in this country for a long time.
– A Tariff is not Protective if it does not protect.
– And to be. thoroughly Protective, must it be practically prohibitive?
– I see. That may be the policy of a few honorable members, but I think we may fairly assume that the Tariff, when brought down by the honorable member for Yarra, was one of which the Labour party had approved. Members living in certain industrial areas would like it to be believed, now that an election is at hand, that they have desired something entirely different from what their party brought forward. I agree with those who say that Australia is in a critical position. It, has been shown that New Zealand is prospering, ls that due to a high protective Tariff 1 Is the prosperity of Canada due to a high protective Tariff ?
– The Tariff of Canada is higher than ours.
– The honorable member for Kooyong gave figures which prove that it is on about the same level. For years past Canada has not only manufactured for its own requirements, but has also exported to all parts of the world. The honorable member for Maribyrnong says that we should be protected from the importation of agricultural machinery from Canada. Why does agricultural machinery come here from Canada 1 Is it that the Canadian rates of wages are not as good as Australian rates? They are as good, and in some cases better. Moreover, the Australian workman is equal to, and often better than, the Canadian workman. It is the influence of persons like the honorable member, with their go-slow policy, that has caused trouble in Australia. Had we the co-operative or piecework system amongst our workers, their condition would be a thousandfold better, and instead of exporting only a few leather goods and harvesters, we should be sending our manufactures all over the world. If members would consider the interests of the country first, and seek to introduce the co-operative system amongst our workmen, we could supply our own people with manufactured goods at reasonable prices, and could build- up an export trade as welL. Could we get rid of the influence which has proved so hurtful, and of which the great majority of our workmen would be glad to be relieved, Australian industries would be greatly benefited.
The honorable member for Fawkner spoke of what has been done to improve the conditions of our employees; but have not other countries made similar efforts ? lt is many years since Bismarck started his national insurance scheme. What a wonderful success it was 1 How Germany was able to build up her industries! There, if men were out of work, they were paid, but had to report, and those who would not work were put where they could be compelled to do so.
– In Germany they had an organization to find work.
– Here we have organizations which prevent men from working.
– The honorable member for Fawkner spoke of an Australian industry in which there was a monopoly, which Parliament sought to encourage with a duty of 30 per cent. But, he said, the result was that the importers increased their price by the amount of the duty, and the local manufacturers did the same. Thus the persons employed in the industry gained nothing, there was no increase of employment due to an extension of business, and the consumers had to pay higher prices. Yet he argued that we should increase duties for the benefit of our people. The honorable member for Maribyrnong has, by way of interjection, suggested greater protection for our iron and steel industry.
– It is criminal that we do not use our own raw material.
– A company which, after expending £1,000,000 of capital, started to make steel in Newcastle, has lost something like £160,000 during the past year, although at the present time the price of the material that it is making is 100 per cent, higher than in normal times. When the nation is at war, and every one should be doing his best to increase the output of commodities like steel, this company has been hampered by strike after strike, and, although it should be making profits which would help it to carry on in the future, when prices will have fallen, it has incurred losses. The position of our people will not be improved by increasing duties.
The honorable member for Yarra has spoken of the existence of certain anomalies in the Tariff. I hope that the Government will not allow those anomalies to be considered now. We should deal with the Tariff in its entirety, not piecemeal. The honorable member said that, although the duty on ordinary apparel was increased, apparel made of fur is let in cheaply. That was pointed out to him when he brought down his Tariff schedule. Had I known that the question would be raised to-night, I would have had here figures which were supplied to me at the time, showing the effect of his proposals. The cost of cheap apparel, such as is used by the poorer sections of the community, was increased over 150 per cent., increasing the cost of living accordingly.
I agree with those who say that the Government should restrict certain importations. The revelations recently made by the press concerning the enormous trade with America, and the big debit balance thereby created, should months ago have caused the Minister for Trade and Customs of the day to take action. He was grossly negligent in not bringing the matter before his Cabinet. The extravagance of the people should have been curbed. Enormous sums have been spent on motor cars, petrol, jewellery, gramophones, and picture films, and space has been occupied which might have been used in the export of necessary produce to Great Britain. I hope that, for the sake of the finances of the country, the Government will yet consider this matter, and refuse to permit many of these things to be brought here. The person who needs encouragement in Australia is the primary producer. It is he who keeps the great cities going. Do we tell him that we will give him a minimum price for his wheat, barley, oats, cattle, sheep, or wool? No. He has to take the risks and troubles of life in the back country ; it is only to those who live in the city that Protection is given. What is the result? Nearly half the population of New South Wales lives in Sydney, and nearly half the population of Victoria lives in Melbourne. Those facts show that we should encourage men to leave the cities, instead of encouraging them to remain in them. I hope that the Postmaster-General will give more consideration to the needs of those in the country.
– I am spending more money to do that than has ever before been spent.
– The honorable member told us that he is sympathetic, and I am satisfied that, while doing his duty to the public at large, he will show more consideration to the people in the country than they have received hitherto. During the past ten years the loan expenditure of Australia has been terrific. There must be something wrong when, notwithstanding that, and although 300,000 men are away fighting, artisans are calling for assistance, because they are out of work and starving. This state of things is due to the fact that the man in the country has received too little encouragement, and the man in the city too much. The preventing of capital coming into the country for the development of primary industries, and the spoon-feeding of secondary industries, has caused depression. I hope that the next Parliament will see that consideration is given rather to the man on the land than to the secondary producer in the cities.
.- Before we separate I should like to pay my meed of praise to the principles of Protection, and make a few comments on the Administration generally. We were returned at the last election practically unanimous in the declaration that a high Protectionist Tariff must be imposed for the development of our industries, but we have done nothing in that direction. AH manner of excuses have been made for this inaction, but chiefly the war has been given as the reason why nothing has been done. But between ourselves we have whispered that the real reason why Parliament, has not raised the Tariff is, not the lack of sincerity on the part of members, but that the Japanese Empire would regard it as an unfriendly act. We do not say that in public ; but it is the real reason why nothing has been doi£. That being so, it is evident that whatever the results of this war may be, our powers of self-government are gone. Should it not be a fact that we are being interfered with by outside influences, and still retain our powers of self-government, members have been false to the pledges that they made to the public at the last election.
Without offering any comment, or indulging in any denunciations, I should like to say that I support the principle of Protection for the reason’ that it enables us as a community to build up a variety of industries, to provide a variety of occupations, and to adapt ourselves to all the varied capabilities of human society. It enables us. to become a self -sustained community, and to free ourselves from dependence upon any other community for the means of subsistence. That is one reason why I support the policy of Protection. I care not how that Protection is secured. The Tariff, in my opinion, is largely an obsolete method of achieving this object. We can arrive at it by making use of the financial system, by the control of exchanges, by direct action, and largely by public ownership in one form or other. I do not care what are the methods by which the system is built up - whether it be built up through the instrumentality of the great financial institutions, through the instrumentality of the Tariff, or by State or national ownership. I support that policy which will give a continent like this a variety of industries, and which will enable it to develop the varied capacities of its people.
The honorable member for Dampier said that there was only one side to this Protective policy ; that while it built up and developed the big industries of our cities it left the primary producer unprotected. What ought it to do, and especially at a crisis like that at present existing? This great country is now having its marketflooded with vast imports, coming not from Europe, but other places. Before the war a vast proportion of them came from Germany. To-day the situation is entirely changed. The honorable member failed to mention that while the war has liberated us from the importations of Germany, it has opened up our market to an economic invasion of Asiatic goods. Against that we dare not take any action. A community which is able to sustain itself as Australia has done, and which builds up vast industries in its cities, is helping the primary producer in numerous ways. The man who tills the soil in the country - who goes out back - is able to supply himself with every means of development through the industries of a great city. And the building of these city industries is finding for him a vast home market for his produce. It is freeing him from dependence upon foreign communities for his industry, and to that extent he is being advantaged and protected. At the same time it is finding an outlet - a new scope - for the energies of his sous. If there is any method by which further assistance can be given to the primary industries, which go side by side with the sound policy of Protection and national development, it should be extended to them as well as to the manufacturing industries of our great cities. The honorable member went on to ask, Why is it that great cities like Melbourne and Sydney have been developed? Is it not obvious that every improvement in machinery, every advance made in scientific development - every instrument which enables two men on a farm to do what four did previously - means the employment of fewer men in primary production, and that more must work in the cities to provide for those engaged in the primary industries? Then, too, we have large-scale farming. The small farms in the Western District have gradually extended into large holdings. Two, three, and four 320-acr© holdings in the Wimmera are being worked together, for the reason that large-scale farming pays, just as large-scale manufacturing does. Side by side with this development of largescale farming we have improvements in machinery. Improved machinery means fewer workmen engaged in the primary industries, and more in the manufacturing industries to supply their wants. At the same time, these men in the city industries are finding a market for their produce. The honorable member talked about Canada and other countries. He spoke of the incidence of their taxation, and so forth. What does it matter whether the average of their taxation is higher or lower than our own. To say that the average taxation of other countries is 20, 30, or 40 per cent, higher than our own is not to say that it is more Protective. You may have a 40 or 60 per cent Tariff, and yet it may not protect any.thing. England raises enormous revenues through its Customs House, but it raises them by duties on tea and other commodities that are generally consumed. Goods that are made within its own borders - which can be made by its own people - are free. Its high Tariff is imposed upon things which are largely consumed by the people, so that a big Customs revenue is no criterion as to the values of a Tariff from a Protectionist point of view.
The honorable member for Dampier and others sitting behind the Government, speaking of Australia and its workmen, have said that this would be a fine country if it were not for the men in the Labour movement. Where are all the good men ? Apparently all the good men who were connected with the working classes are either dead or sitting on the Government side of the House.. Canada, we were told, is a fine country. There are no complaining workmen there; they are to be found only in Australia. There are no badly-conducted Labour organizations in other countries. No I.W.W.’s and no “Go-slows.” In every other country workmen are rushing in to make 15s. a day for their bosses, instead of only 14s. 6d. a day. My only answer to these honorable members is that if they want to develop the country, then, according to their own argument, they should deport our workmen and import the workers of other lands, who are so good. If they honestly believe what they say - if they truly believe that industries in this country are injured by the way in which our work-people conduct themselves - that is what they ought to do. Of course, they do not say that the masses of our workpeople are bad. As the honorable member for Wakefield said, it is only the people who lead them with whom fault is to be found. That is nothing new. I carry my memory back over thirty years, and cannot recall any particular period when a working-class leader was ever considered to be any good. Does the honorable member for Wakefield ever remember a decent Labour leader ? I cannot remember honorable members opposite speaking well of any Labour leader. No man in the Labour movement is ever considered decent until he changes his opinions.
– The Official Labour party have driven the good men out of their party.
– A Labour man, in the opinion of my honorable friends, is never any good until he has changed his opinion. I am reminded of something that the Bulletin once wrote of the late John Woods. He used to be spoken of as “ Honest John Woods,” but after his death something was found out about him, and the Bulletin said, “Do not call any man honest until he has been dead a long time.” We heard the same old cry during the great maritime strike. The workmen, we were told, were all right, but they were “lions led by asses.”-
I come now to the particular question to which I desire to direct the attention of the House. It has to do with an Aus tralian product, with the principle of Protection, and the dramatic issues that confront us. When the war broke out an Enemy Trade Marks Bill was passed under which any man in this country who invented or developed anything in respect of which Germans had previously the exclusive rights was entitled to secure for himself, as an Australian, a trade mark. He was entitled to secure that trade mark although it had been held prior to the war by Germans. Under that system two young Australians developed the product known as aspirin. They brought together two raw products - salicylic acid and acetic anhydride. These brought together produced acetic sal. That is the raw product, and when it is purified we have the medicinal qualities of aspirin. For three months these young fellows were endeavouring to get the Government Analyst to examine their product - to test the value of their discovery. They had, in truth, discovered the German method of producing aspirin. After much agitation, the Government Analyst examined their product, with the result that they got a certificate and the trade mark. Certain big interests in this country, however, sought to suppress them and to destroy their exclusive trade mark. Burroughs, Wellcome, and Company, trading in England, were themselves using the word “ Aspirin.” They were not permitted, under our laws, to trade in that commodity, however, because “ Aspirin “ was not a true description of the article they were selling. These young fellows imported the raw materials of acetic sal - salicylic acid and acetic anhydride - upon which there is a duty, whereas acetic sal is allowed to come in free. The producers of aspirin in Australia imported these two constituents, and, bringing them together, produced acetic sal, which is free from all impurities. From it they obtained the medicinal qualities of aspirin. Against that product, however, a big agitation has been built up. The position to-day is that various firms are making accusations against these two young men. They are both Australians. The honorable member for Wentworth referred to them a few days ago. I do not accuse the honorable member of any improper motives.
All that I say is that he has been put up with a brief. He only knows the case as it is presented to him, and he presents it to the House. He says that these men are in some way or other associated with Germans ; that the name of one is Adolph and the name of the other is Wolff. These men simply answer that they are Australians who have discovered a product in respect of which a certificate has been issued to them by the Government Analyst. They have discovered something previously produced by Germans. They pay duty on the raw materials and are also compelled to pay a royalty to the Government on the manufactured article. They are quite prepared to have their credentials and their product examined, and to give a complete answer to the deliberate conspiracy to destroy them and the industry - a conspiracy to enable the wholesale chemists to sell an impure product. Wholesale chemists have been a] lowed from the beginning of this war to sell an impure product. They should have been prosecuted under the Pure Foods Act, but they have been able to use their influence.
– That is a State Act.
– We have power to deal with them under a Commonwealth Statute. This, then, is the position: These men have developed an industry. We tax their raw materials, and we collect royalty on the sale of the commodity they produce. They have to pay a heavy duty upon impure products imported into this country, whereas their raw material should be absolutely free so that they may develop and extend what is really a very important industry. I do not wish to say any more on the present occasion; and what I have said may be regarded as my little bit before the election.
.- We all admit that this is not an occasion on which we can discuss the Tariff at any great length. In my opinion, there is room in this Commonwealth of Australia for a large number of industries, for there is no doubt that we could produce almost anything that can be produced in other parts of the world. All that is required is adequate protection of both primary production and secondary industries. It is rather amusing to hear honorable members opposite, especially the honorable member for Indi, claiming to be ardent believers in the White Australia policy, for when they are really put to the test regarding that policy we find them wanting. They talk about high Protection against importations frum Japan and other countries, and, at the same time, they denounce anybody who attempts to put a stop to the preference given to black-grown sugar from Java. The sugar industry in Queensland has been taxed to pay, not only the duty on Java sugar, but the higher cost of importing the same.
– You have to thank the Labour party for the duty of £6 per ton on sugar !
– The profit made by the so-called Labour Government on the sale of sugar was taken from the sugar-growers of Queensland to pay the duty of £6 per ton on black-grown sugar, while, as we know, it cost from £20 to £22 a ton to import Java sugar, as against £18 paid for the locally-grown article. In this way the Government were able to put £500,000 into the Consolidated Revenue, and the Queensland sugar industry is the only one that, has ever put a penny into that fund. As I say, honorable members opposite profess to be ardent believers in a White Australia, and yet they are doing all they possibly can to thwart the policy by preventing the development of industries on the great eastern seaboard of Queensland, where there are tens of millions of acres of agricultural land as good, and with as generous a rainfall, as any on God’s earth.
– Yet none of it can be bought for under £80 a acre !
– Nonsense ! If the honorable member would do his duty and i ravel, and, at the same time, exercise a little common sense, he would realise that his statement is absolutely incorrect, for areas of it may be bought at £2 an acre. If the sugar industry is to be left to the tender mercies of those who claim to be the friends of a White Australia, then God help it! In this country we produce vast quantities of raw material. The balance of exports over imports in Queensland is about £6^000,000 a year, and I see no reason why the raw material there produced should not be manufactured here, instead of our sending it abroad, and importing it in the manufactured state, at great cost in the way of freight, insurance- and so forth. If honorable members opposite, when in power, had done their duty, great industries might by this time have been established in Australia, and we should not have been troubled with the unemployed problem. Their loudest professions are always made just before the elections. lt is to be regretted that the honorable member for Capricornia, who is so keen on reform when out of office, did nothing for months when he had the opportunity as a Minister. He was in the Cabinet as Treasurer, and yet he never realized then the need of Protection ; but now, when we are on the eve of a general election, he cannot say too much about the virtues of Protection, and what ought to have been done regarding it. For my part, when a man talks in that way, I like to see him show his bona fides when he has the chance, without sheltering himself behind his leader. Members of the Cabinet may say that they are tied hand and foot by their leader, but the latter is responsible to his followers; and if honorable members opposite had had the backbone which they claim to possess, we would have had a proper form of Protection before now. I have no more faith in their professions in regard to Protection than I have in their professions in regard to a White Australia. The honorable member for Bourke is generally pretty outspoken ; and he has said that there never was any attempt, nor any intention on the part of his party, to give any meed of Protection. I can quite understand his position ; but to me it is a good thing for the Commonwealth of Australia that there is a party in- power now, which I am convinced will, before very long, take the serious business of the Tariff in hand, so that, as soon as the war is over, we may devise some protection against this country being made a dumping ground.
– I have heard that tale for sixteen years in this chamber I
– Unfortunately, the honorable member has not made use of the powers he possesses to induce his friends to do something practicable. What has been done in the last two and a half years ? It is true that we have been at war, but there was a great portion of that time during which an excellent opportunity was afforded to revise the Tariff before any great foreign complications could intervene. However, we lost our opportunity, and that through the apathy of our friends opposite. I trust that before long we shall have an opportunity to discuss the fiscal position at adequate length.
.- The speech of the Minister in introducing this measure was, like the measure itself, very short, and from what I heard of it I could not obtain one ray of light in regard to the future fiscal policy of the Government.
– The policy was announced by the Prime Minister in his policy speech; this Bill is merely a validating Bill.
– Of course, we know that in a policy speech a number of generalities are usually put in as a sort of “window dressing,” and honorable members opposite are certainly expert “ window dressers “ on the eve of a general election. I got very few grains of comfort from what the Minister told us to-day; in fact, I am very much more apprehensive in regard to the Tariff than I was in the case of the previous Government. Somehow I always had more hope, from a Protectionist’s stand-point, from the previous Government than I have from the present one. The Prime Minister has taken to himself’ certain honorable members from this side, who, unless, of course, they intend to altogether change their fiscal principles, are life-long opponents of this Protective policy. I do not wish to revive any of the old discussions on the Tariff in this House; but I have a lively recollection of the honorable member for Parramatta assailing some of the best industries we have in this State or in the Commonwealth. On one occasion he submitted an amendment to reduce the duties on harvesters and agricultural machinery, and had he proved successful, which, fortunately, he did not, one’ of the most important industries at the present time in this State would have been non-existent to-day. The honorable member for Kooyong, speaking as an ex-Minister for Customs, said that the Customs statistics of to-day are a great improvement upon those of a few years ago. I shall be glad if that improvement is continued. Unfortunately, to-day w© can gain very little idea from the figures of the Customs Department or of the British Board of Trade of the country of origin of imported goods.
The honorable member quoted a number of figures comparing the importations into Australia from Germany with those from Great Britain. I make bold to say that a very large proportion of the amount credited to Great Britain represented goods which originally came from Germany.
– You will find that the country of origin is recorded when the goods are entered.
– If that is so,, there has been a considerable amendment of the methods of the Customs Department.
– I admit that it is difficult to trace to which countries exports go.
– In the pre-war period, when I wished to find out the exact quantity of Australian goods exported to other countries, particularly Germany, I got better information in regard to goods of Australian origin which finally found their way to Germany from the German Consul in Melbourne than I could obtain from the Customs or Statistical Departments. Germany is very particular in regard to trade statistics, and we might well take & leaf out of her book in that regard, because these statistics have a great deal to do with a country’s trade.
– How could the German Consul get the information except from official sources?
– He obtained it from German official sources. Wool, wheat, and other materials were exported from Australia in British bottoms, and, quite likely, were transhipped in Great Britain to German bottoms. Whenever that occurred, those goods were credited to Australia as the country of origin, instead of Great Britain.
– The honorable member will find that every entry has to show distinctly the country of origin.
– The goods cannot get the advantage of the preference unless the country of origin is shown to be British, and the finishing process has been done in Great Britain.
– Germany is able to tell us more about goods that enter her territory than we can ascertain from other sources, because those goods enter Germany through the United Kingdom, Belgium, and other countries.
– The figures obtained from German sources in regard to exports to and imports from Germany will be found to be more correct than those of the Board of Trade or of our own Department.
– The honorable member is assuming that the German figures are correct and that the others are incorrect.
– I am speaking from experience.
– Had the honorable member an opportunity of testing the accuracy of the German figures ?
– I was informed by a shrewd gentleman that if I desired the best possible statistics in regard to Australian trade with Germany, I should apply to the German Consul, and when I compared the information I obtained from that source with that supplied by the Government Departments, I was inclined to back up his opinion. I have no desire to establish a new Department, but I do think that the statistics in regard to imports and exports should be under the direct control of the Customs Department rather than of the Government Statistician.
– So they are.
– Only to a certain fixtent. The honorable member for Darling Downs may make apologies for departmental statistics, but I know what I am speaking about.
In regard to Tariff issues generally, I admit, with other honorable members, th.it this is not the time to enter upon an academic discussion of the virtues or evils of any particular fiscal system. At the same time, I wish to enter my protest against the method that is evidently intended to be adopted by the Ministry. For instance, the Government intend lo give relief to farmers in respect of cornsacks. That is not to be done by Act oi Parliament or by an amendment of the Tariff. I presume action will be taken under the War Precautions Act.
– The Government can purchase the sacks and sell them to the Department.
– I know that can be done, and the effect will be to relieve the farmer of any Tariff charges. That is not a proper system of giving relief to people, whether primary producers or others. Why should the Government stop at cornsacks ? If it is proved thai the farmers have not received a square deal in regard to the duty on cornsacks, an equally good case can be made out in regard to the duty on the raw material from which certain people are making cornsacks in Australia. Whilst the duty on the finished bag is 15 per cent., on the raw material used for the making up of bags in Australia the Tariff is 10 per cent. If the farmers are to be allowed to get their cornsacks without the payment of the 15 per cent, duty, why not be fair to those who are endeavouring to make those sacks in Australia, and allow them to have their raw material free ? I think the honorable member for Echuca will agree that that is fair.
– Hear, hear !
– Certain men have established an industry, and are giving employment, and to remove the duty from the finished article and continue it on the raw material from which Australian cornsacks are made will be to do a distinct injustice. I hold that an amendment of any proved anomaly, whether in respect of cornsacks or anything else, should be proposed by the Minister in this House. He could even come to the House and say that the Ministry were determined that no other items beyond those, proposed by the Government should be dealt with. He could get such a proposal through the House as easily as he will pass this Bill, and he would be acting in a straightforward, parliamentary fashion. Instead of doing that, under the War Precautions Act concessions are to be given to a certain section of the community. If Parliament tolerates that method, it will be opening the door to abuse.
– The honorable member for Maranoa endeavoured to get squatters included in the proposed benefits.
– He tried, but he was rebuffed. There are other people in this community who are in just as queer straits because of Tariff anomalies as are the fanners in regard to cornsacks, and they are just as much entitled to ask the Prime Minister to redress their grievances by means of the War Precautions Act. T enter my emphatic protest against this method of doling out to particular sections of the community certain advantages which are denied to others who are just as richly deserving of them. The proper, honest, and straightforward method of giving this concession to the farmers would have been through the medium of the Tariff schedule. I ask leave to continue my remarks on the next day of sitting.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I again ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether it is possible for honorable members to get a copy of the Electoral Bill. Every honorable member is anxious to know what the Bill contains,, and if it is rushed upon us at the last moment when there is no other business for the House to do, we shall not be able to adjourn its discussion in order that its provisions may be analyzed. We are tola that it will provide new methods for taking the votes of the men overseas. If there is anything in which honorable members are concerned, it is the voting system. I ask again if it is possible to facilitate the distribution of the Bill ?
.- Some days ago I asked the Minister for the Navy some questions with reference to the special licences given for the local manufacture of articles under two trade names, aspirin and lysol. I do not know whether the Minister is in a position to make any statement to the House to-night, but I wish to emphasize one side of the question which seems to have been overlooked entirely by honorable members and by the Government.
The importance of the matter lies, not in whether one manufactures locally or not, but in whether one manufactures locally under a name which is going to continue to profit Germany after She war. After the war is finished, the German-owned trade name of aspirin will revert to Germany. The German agents for aspirin actually fought and won a case in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, after the war was begun, against an infringement of their sole power to trade under that trade name; so that it does not matter whether we give a licence to this or that Australian manufacturer to manufacture aspirin, the Germans will stop in after the war is over, and under the laws of the country prohibit the local manufacturer from continuing to manufacture the article locally made under the German trade name. Consequently, they will secure the trade good-will of that article which has been kept alive during the war by the very issue of the local licence. That is the real issue I raise in regard to this matter. The Government have recognised it. The Administration that immediately succeeded theFisher Government agreed to prohibit theuse of German trade names and descriptions throughout Australia, as far as it could be achieved, and they have done so except in regard to these two articles, aspirin and lysol.
– The honorable member should confer with the honorable member for Bourke, who advocates the right to manufacture these articles.
– Any honorable member who advocates the right of a local manufacturer to manufacture an article under a German trade name must be oblivious to the fact that he is keeping alive the good-will? of German trade in Australia while we are at war with Germany. I do notcare whether the manufacturers are the most bond fide Australian manufacturers, of proved and undoubted integrity, they are manufacturing an article with a German-owned trade name attached to it.
– The public will not buy aspirin under any other name.
– They buy it under a dozen trade names. I buy it under other names. People go into a chemist’s shop, and ask for aspirin, because it is best advertised. If they cannot get it, they ask what will do just as well, and they get the same drug under another name, and are satisfied. All this nonsense in regard to aspirin is the same as that which was talked in regard to the 4711 eaudecologne business. People had the idea that because an article was called 4711 it was in some way more magnificent than any other particularscent of that description, whereas it is merely the German trade organization that makes the value of an article called by a German trade name. If we manufacture aspirin or any other article under a Germanowned name, we are merely keeping alive the good-will of that Germanowned name in Australia while the war is proceeding, in order that the German manufacturer may step in after the war is over, and be in exactly the position he occupied before the war began. That is what we have to kill. It is legitimate to kill German trade in Australia by preventing the ‘use of German trade names while the war is on. I do not care what man has his ears tickled by what this or that manufacturer has to say. I say it is an insult to our people at the front that, while they are fighting the battles of Australia, we are keeping alive German interests and German trade in this community until the war is over.I ask the Minister for the Navy to look into the question, and give the Blouse some explanation as to why, of all these German trade names, two have been exempted. I understand that the ownership of the trade name lysol is not so clearly established and unattackable as the ownership in the German trade name aspirin. What actually occurred in Sydney, where the right to the use of the name aspirin was tested, will make us realize what is likely to happen to the local manufacturers after the war is over. They will lose their right to the use of the name, and the Germans will simply step in and get the value that has accrued to the name while the war is proceeding. I again protest against this sort of thing, and I shall continue to protest until the principle which was adopted at my suggestion is put into universal application.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 March 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170313_reps_6_81/>.