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.
– As probably not 10 per cent. of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth understand the intricacies of the present method of assessment, will the Treasurer suggest to the Conference now sitting in Melbourne, that it might consider the drawing up of a form which would enable ordinary persons to understand the methods of the Department?
– I shall have much pleasure in doing so.
– I wish to know from the Minister for Home and Territories if the Commonwealth Electoral (War Time) Bill is yet ready?
– I have received a draft from the printer, which I hope to be able to hand to the honorable member within ten minutes or so, when I have looked over it.
– Will the Prime Minister lay on the table to-morrow all the papers concerning the manufacture locally of an article sold under the trade name of “ aspirin “?
– The honorable member refers to the licence to manufacture aspirin. I shall procure the papers, and laythem on the table.
– The Assistant Minister for Defence has promised to lay on the table a statement dealing with the arsenal at Canberra. I ask the honorable gentleman if the papers are yet ready?
– A report has been prepared, which gives a statement of the position right up to date. Future action is under the consideration of the Government. I shall lay the paper on the table.
The following papers were presented : -
Arsenal - Proposed Federal - Memorandum re establishment of and site for, &c.
Ordered to be printed.
Audit Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1017, No. 45.
Public Service Act - Promotions of C. B. Cantwell and H. A. Birrell, Department of Trade and Customs.
Revision - Duty on Teeth.
– Does the Minister for Trade and Customs propose to wait until the war is over before he revises the Customs Tariff?
– No member of the House is better informed concerning this matter than the honorable member, be-‘ cause he was a member of a Government for a long time, and knows the reasons why the Tariff cannot be dealt with at this juncture.
– Will the honorable gentleman in the early future take into “consideration the duty on certain artificiallymade teeth, which is higher than that on that valuable mineral platinum 1 There is an English firm which will have to close its Australian business if the 40,000 teeth which it has in bond are charged at the present rate.
– I have received a deputation on the subject, and have had letters concerning it from various members. When the time is opportune,: I shall take the matter into consideration.
– The honorable member for Newcastle asked if I would lay on the table of the Library the papers concerning the case of Private Dixon. I have obtained those papers, and will give them to the Clerk, so that they may be available to honorable members.
– The honorable member for Newcastle asked a question concerning the Indian ration allowance.. A report has just reached’ the Department,andis at the present time under consideration. It is hoped that a reply may be available to the honorable member to-morrow.
– I wish to know from the Treasurer if it has been definitely decided to make an additional payment on account of the 1915-16 wheat pool. If so, what sum per bushel is to be advanced, and on what date will such payment be made?
– At the request of the Australian Wheat Board, the Treasury has agreed to make the necessary financial arrangements to enable a further payment of ls. per bushel, less rail freight and handling charges, to be made to the wheat-growers in the “ old pool,” making a total payment of 4s. per bushel, less rail freight and handling charges. This will involve making a temporary advance to the Wheat Board of a considerable amount in addition to the funds from sales coming to hand; but the whole amount advanced will, it is believed, be liquidated by the Wheat Board in a very few months. Itis expected that this payment of ls. per bushel, less rail freight and handling charges, will bemade available about the end of April.
– In view of the fact that the 1915-16 Wheat Pool is, to all intents and purposes, out of debt, will the Treasurer be good enough to review his decision and allow the farmers a further advance of at least ls. per bushel at their railway stations?
– I cannot promise to do anything more without consulting the Wheat Board. The proposal that has been made is a very liberal one, and the farmers have to thank the Government for it.
– They have been standing out of their money for a long time.
– The Wheat Board has not, received the money, because the wheat has not teen shipped. It is only through the Government coming to its rescue that the Board has been able to do what I have just announced.
– The Prime Minister made the statement yesterday that it was the intention of the Government not to charge the duty on cornsacks to the farmers. I ask him now whether it would not be a better course to do as I suggested last week, namely, to wipe out the duty altogether, instead of adopting the circuitous method proposed.
– No doubt it would be better to do so. There are many things that could be done in that way if the House would agree, but once the portals of the Tariff are opened, where are we going to stop ? How can we draw the line between cornsacks and woolpacks? The honorable member for Maranoa has already made the suggestion that the duty on woolpacks should be remitted.
– Will the Prime Minister also allow the raw material for the manufacture of cornsacks and bran bags to come in free, in order to place the manufacturers here on the same footing as the farmers?
– Certainly they will be placed on the same footing, but I have ascertained that for all practical purposes no cornsacks are made in Australia. Sacks are made here, but not sacks for holding wheat.
– Chaff bags and bran bags are made here.
– I am talking of cornsacks. To the extent that they are made in Australia the raw material will be free of duty, just as the cornsacks are free of duty to the farmer.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence a question with regard to the food supply at the Seymour Camp, and in order to make my position quite clear, I will read a very brief extract from a letter from a gentleman who writes in regard to his son and several other lads in the Seymour Camp, as follows: -
My son has just left Liverpool with a host of other Granville boys, and they are now in Seymour Camp, and every boy writes home complaining of the rotten food. My son says there will be a riot if the food does not improve.
I understand that the soldiers in this camp are provided with meat which was purchased from the Queensland Government eighteen months ago, and has been in cold storage ever since. That is one of the gravest causes of complaint.
– I can promise the honorable member that I will make inquiries into the matter, but I think that the allegation that the meat has been eighteen months in cold storage is not correct. The meat was obtained from the Queensland
Government, and killed under thesupervision of Commonwealth inspectors. Every piece of meat sent, not only to this camp, tout also to the Old Country, on behalf of the Commonwealth is most carefully inspected. I do not think that there is any country in the world in which there is more careful inspection of meat. I would be glad if honorable members, in all such cases as this, would specify the particulars, because the difficulty in connexion with general complaints is to get down to bed-rock. Honorable members would facilitate the work of investigation if they could specify, names and dates as far as possible.
– May I say, by way of personal explanation-
-Order! The honorable member can make a personal explanation at a later stage.
– Has the Minister for the Navy the information he promised to secure in regard to the alleged short rationing of the men in the Signal Corps stationed at Cheviot Hill ?
– The honorable member asked the question the other day, and I have had the matter investigated. The reply is as follows : -
Members of the Signal Corps at the Port War Signal Station, Cheviot Hill, are granted twenty-one days’ leave per annum, the same as all other persons on mobilization duties. This station is somewhat isolated, but steps are being taken to insure that the men will be changed to other positions more frequently.
The statement that no additional rations have been issued to the number of men employed over sixteen is not correct, as rations are issued for every man employed at the station in accordance with the ration scale. Fresh meat is supplied every day, except that a twodays’ supply is issued on Saturday. The allowance is 11/2 lbs. per man per day, l1/4 lbs. of bread is supplied to each man daily. Dry stores are supplied twice a week, the quantities being for each man: -
Butter, 5 ozs. per week.
Sugar, 2 ozs. a day.
Flour, 2 ozs. a day.
Raisins, 1 oz. a day.
Pepper, one-sixteenth ounce a day.
Tea, one-third ounce a day.
Salt, one-half ounce a day.
Coffee, one-third ounce a day.
Mustard, one-sixteenth ounce a day.
Potatoes, 1 lb. a day.
Vegetables (mixed), supplied twice a week, 8 ozs. for each man.
Bill presented by Mr. Glynn, and read a first time.
– In order to stimulate production, and provide food supplies for Great Britain during the war, will the Government consider the question of adopting the Imperial policy of guaranteeing the farmer a minimum price for his wheat for, say, two harvests ?
–The honorable member is aware that the Governments of the four wheat-producing States, together with the Commonwealth Government, have agreed to guarantee to the farmer a minimum price for the 1917-18 crop. If the honorable member now asks me whether we are prepared to do the same in respect of the 1918-19 crop, I must say at once that I am unable to give that assurance. In the first place, the arrangement is one in which the State Governments jointly and severally take the liability of the amount, each for its own State, while the Commonwealth finances and, as it were, indorses their bill. Until the Wheat Board, as well as the State and Commonwealth Governments, have had an opportunity of considering the question of the 1918-19 crop, and what prospects, if any, there are of marketing that crop, Ithink it would be premature for us to speak of what the Commonwealth can do. In respect of the coming crop, however, every farmer in the Commonwealth has the positive assurance that he has a guaranteed price of 3s. per bushel f.a.q. at the station. The Wheat Board has made a recommendation, and I hope the States will agree to it, to substitute for that a guaranteed price of 4s. per bushel f.o.b. The Commonwealth Government approve of that recommendation.
– Has the Minister for the Navy any information to give the House regarding the request for an increase of pay to the non-commissioned officers and men of His Majesty’s Australian Navy in consequence of the increased cost of living ?
– I regret to say that I have no information to offer. The matter has not come before me in any way since I have been in the Navy Office.
– As the large number of troops now at Fremantle. will, in all probability, be on the high seas on the date of the Federal elections, I wish to ask the Minister for Home and Territories whether it is intended to allow those men facilities to record their votes before leaving Australia?
– Everything will be done to enable them to take advantage of the absent-voting provisions of the Act. They may take advantage of those provisions and vote before they leave. I do not think it likely that they will arrive at their port of destination before the date of polling, but, if they do, they may take advantage of the provisions of the Bill which I introduced a few moments ago. Provision will be made, if possible, for voting on the vessels themselves.
AUSTRALIANS IN NEW ZEALAND.
– Is thePrime Minister aware that Australians in New Zealand who are unfit for military service have been denied the right to return to their homes in this country? By way of illustration, I would mention the case of a man who has two sons at the front. A third son, who had been working in New Zealand for six years, was turned down as medically unfit for service, but he is not allowed to leave for Australia.
– Owing to the passport difficulty ?
– That isso.
– I was not aware of that. If the honorable member will supply me with the particulars of the case to which he refers, so that I may deal with. it. I shall make such representations to the New Zealand Government as will enable Australian citizens who are above the military age or medically unfit to pass freely between the Commonwealth and NewZealand.
ENEMY TRADE MARKS.
– In a letter from the Prime Minister’s Department, which I have recently seen, it is said, in reference to enemy trade names, that -
I have to inform you that at the present time “- “ is a suspended trade mark, and therefore no person other than a person in whose favor it is suspended can use the mark in Australia
I desire to ask the right honorable gentleman whether it is the policy of the Government to continue to issue to favoured persons the right to use German trade names in Australia, or whether the embargo against the use . of German trade names in the Commonwealth is to be universally applied ?
– Just how this matter stands now I am unable, on the spur of the moment, to inform the honorable member, but I shall have inquiries made, and will furnish him with an answer from my Department to-morrow.
DESTRUCTION OF RABBITS.
– It is stated that the fly pest, more particularly in New South Wales, has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of sheep. It is considered that the destruction of bird life, as the result of feeding upon poisoned rabbits, has contributed to that pest. I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of this fact, as well as the scarcity and the high price of meat, he will bring under the immediate consideration of the State Premiers the advisableness of prohibiting the poisoning of rabbits?
– I have already done so. I was not aware of the far-reaching consequences of rabbit poisoning on bird life; but, owing to the fact that we have completed with the Imperial Government a contract for the supply of rabbits for the British Forces, we have requested the various State Departments to actively co-operate with us in prohibiting the poisoning of rabbits where facilities for freezing exist. Since rabbits now are no longer, as it were, a pest to be got rid of at all hazards, but a means of affording employment to large numbers of people, and a source of wealth to the community, this has already been done.
– When the acquisition of the last clip was brought about, I take it that probably one-third of the previous clip had been sold. The new clip will be coming in from the north in a few months’ time. Can the Prime Minister give the House any information as to when it is likely that the sales or appraisements of the present clip will be completed, and if it is proposed to. enter into negotiations in connexion with the new clip which will be shorn in Queensland in the course of a few months) Further, has he been able tri arrive at any decision in regard to the allowance of interest on such clips as will not have been sold, say, by the 1st April, tb» interest to be a first charge on the profits of all surPlus wools sold in the Old Country.
– In hunting parlance, I might fairly call this question a “ rascal “ ; and, if I get over it, I think I shall do pretty well, considering the difficulty of the matter, and the fact that I did not hear quite the whole of what the honorable member said. The subject is most complex ; and the assistance that my honorable friend, the member for Maranoa, gave me yesterday- in regard to wool packs, will help me very much. Perhaps I might be permitted to furnish the House with what information is at my disposal in regard to the transaction generally. This will, at any rate, clear up some of the points raised by the honorable member for Wannon, particularly as to what interest may be expected, and, consequently, what probabilities there are of a writing-off or setting-off, as against a later appraisement, in the amount of the settlement. As this matter is of great importance, I make no apology for setting out. the position in detail. At the close of last year, negotiations were concluded with the Imperial Government whereby the balance of the clip was sold at the flatrate of 15Jd. per lb. of greasy wool. The necessary machinery has been installed, and put into working order. At’ first, the Work of appraising the wool was slow, but, now that appraisers have had experience with the operations, excellent progress is being made. The payments regularly follow the appraisements, and a deduction of 10 per cent, is retained by the Commonwealth Government to cover any contingencies that may arise through overvaluation of wool by the experts. In other words, 90 per cent, of the appraised value is paid at the close of each appraisement, and the adjustment will be made’ at the close of the final appraisement on the 30th June next. The point to. which I wish to direct the honorable member’s attention is that the money represented by the 10 per cent, deduction is invested with the Bank of England,- and is earning interest for the whole of the time, and the proceeds will be added to the wool-growers? account,”’ and form part of the final ‘distribution. In addition to the interest earned on the 10 per. cent..1 deduction, a considerable sum of moneywill be returned on earnings from exchange as between London and Australia; The Central Wool Committee have also recommended that the manufacture of wool tops for export shall be controlled by the Commonwealth Government during the war period. This has. been confirmed, and agreements have been . prepared for the proper performance of the extension of contracts for wool tops for Japan. The price obtained . for the wool tops is that fixed by the Imperial Government, so that the buying and selling prices are controlled by the Government. Substantial monetary guarantees have been lodged for the due performance of these contracts by the manufacturer. As to profits arising from these contracts, all documents and accounts will be investigated and audited by an independent accountant, and approved by the Central Wool Committee ; and of the net profits 50 per cent, will be paid to the Commonwealth Government, and the remaining 50 per cent, will be retained by the manufacturing company. It will be seen that it is proposed to divide the profits. It is probable that if this wool scheme be extended to cover next season’s wool, in addition to the clip now in hand, sufficient money will be recovered by the Commonwealth Government to equal the amount paid as bounties for the encouragement and establishment of the wool tops industry in Australia since its inception. There is this to be said, that the amount of the clip that is not required for Imperial military purposes will be sold to manufacturers in Britain, and the difference between the flat rate of 15 Jd. plus freight and insurance, and the price obtained, will be divided between the growers and the British Government. The grower, therefore, whether he hae his wool appraised early or late, is to look, first of all, to the fact that the 10 per cent, deduction is earning interest, then that he is making money out of the exchange, which he never did before, that he is getting the highest price he ever got in his life, and that he is going to- get a still higher price, or half of the profit of all wool sold for other than military purposes; and, lastly, the community is to be congratulated on the fact that the wool top industry is to be kept going here, the export rates, being maintained, and we maintaining our manufacturing interest.
– Has anything yet been done, or has the Prime Minister considered whether anything can be done, to prohibit the use of the Union Jack or the Australian flag for trade advertising purposes?
– I am not an authority on heraldry or anything of the sort, but I do not think that those flags should be used for such a purpose, and the practice ought not to be allowed. Perhaps the honorable member will supply me with information as to the particular instances he has’ in his mind, so that we may examine the circumstances, and, if necessary, stop the practice.
– The honorable member for Brisbane asked me yesterday to make it 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? In reply I have to say that Australian soldiers abroad seek redress, in the first instance, from their own Australian officers, who are bound by the Defence Act. They can then appeal to General Birdwood, an Imperial officer, who, with the approval of the Imperial authorities, was appointed by the Australian Government as the General Officer Commanding Australian Troops. The honorable member for Brisbane also referred to some other circumstances which, he said, indicated considerable dissatisfaction among the troops, and these will be inquired into, and the honorable member advised later. The honorable member has sent me a letter in which several complaints are made in a very vague way. For instance, there is one letter containing an allegation that, when a soldier dies the blanket in which he is buried is charged against him. I shall make inquiries concerning the general allegations, but, as I earlier said to the honorable member for Echuca, it would be much better if honorable members would specify time and place, and so on, so that we may at once get to bedrock.
– Has the
Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to the fact that an organization calling itself “ The National Federation,” is taking steps to oppose, at the general election, the honorable member for Ballarat and the honorable member for Corio, who are at present on active service ? If so, does the Prime Minister, who, I understand, is the founder of the organization, approve of such action ?
– First of all, I have the honorable member’s word, and that, of course, impresses me very greatly. Secondly, I have his assurance that the gentlemen named are on active service; and, as to this, we shall see what we shall see. For the rest, it is a political and electioneering question, and I shall hot answer it.
– The Treasurer waa asked a question recently in regard to widows who are in receipt of old-age pensions. Immediately they become recipients of a war pension the old-age pension ceases. I understand that the Treasurer gave a sympathetic hearing to the representations made to him, and I ask him if any steps have been taken to alter the practice in this matter?
– The payment of old-age pensions is governed by the law which provides that the old-age pension shall be of such amount that the whole income of the pensioner shall not exceed £1 2s. Gd. per week. I will bear in mind the honorable member’s representations, and give the matter careful consideration during recess.
– Information has reached me that the Bodington estate, at Wentworth Falls, New South Wales, was purchased for £11,000, the money being supplied by the Australia Day’ Fund. As the correct valuation of the estate is reported to he only £4,300, will the Prime Minister have inquiries made into this matter in order to prevent Red Cross funds being dissipated unjustly?
– This question comes in the same category as that asked by the honorable member for Maribyrnong yesterday. I said then that the Commonwealth has no direct jurisdiction over Red Cross funds, hut I quite agree that there should be some general supervision of them. I am not aware whether the facts are as the honorable gentleman has stated. For the policy of the Government I refer the honorable member to my answer to the honorable member for Maribyrnong. We are endeavouring to arrive at an understanding with the States as to the control of these funds.
– I am informed by a mother whose son has been wounded in France that her money has been stopped ever since news of his injury was received for the alleged reason that his pay ha’d been overdrawn to the amount of £35, due to field punishments and fines in March, 1916. The soldier has written to his mother to say that he never receives her letters, although she writes every mail. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence inquire into this case, as the mother is busy in speaking of her injustice, and the case is calculated to interfere with recruiting ?
– If the honorable member will supply me with particulars of the case I will make inquiries.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - ‘
The number of cigarettes imported is not recorded, nor are the figures in respect of those locally manufactured yet available. The weights of the cigarettes imported and manufactured are respectively as follows: - (a.)160,880 lbs.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, owing to the growers’ inability to export maize, and thus being confined to a narrowed market that cannot absorb their product or yield a price that will pay the cost of production, the Prime Minister will confer with the Governments of the maize-growing States with a view to the formation of a maize “ pool “ to protect the growers?
– I have already indicated, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Cowper, why a maize pool on the lines of the wheat pool is not possible. The Government, however, is considering a suggestion to protect the interests of maize-growers by fixing a minimum price for maize.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Bill is still under consideration.
– Then the Bill was not ready when you said it was.
– It was ready in the Treasury, but it must go before Cabinet, as the honorable member must be aware.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the fact that the price of Australian butter in London has been fixed at 215s. per cwt., the Australian price will be fixed at London parity, viz., 190s.?
– As the current butter export season is almost at an end, and practically the whole production of the Commonwealth will be absorbed in providing for autumn and winter requirements of the Commonwealth, no purpose would be served by increasing prices of butter to Australian consumers from 149s. 4d. per cwt. (ls. 4d. per lb.), as at present, to 190s. per cwt. (ls. 8d. per lb.).
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I wish to mention one or two of the facts of substance that this measure is intended to cover. Its object is to provide for the men at the front an opportunity to vote. Our soldiers are fighting for that freedom without which our Constitution, political institutions, methods of election and the like would be futile and vain. They have, in the most efficacious manner, recognised their supreme duty to their country, and by their deeds at Gallipoli, in France, and in every theatre of war in which Australians have been present, have won for their native country a prestige of achievement which it is for others to emulate as well as to praise. The Ministry consider that, however difficult it may be to obtain a proper method of voting, it would be a great pity if these men were not given an opportunity - subject, of course, to military necessities, as to which we are in communication with the Imperial Government - to discharge one of the highest functions of citizenship, by voting for candidates for the next Commonwealth. Parliament. Provision was made for the voting of the men at the front on the Compulsory Military Service Referendum. The Bill is intended to apply to the members of our Forces, who are defined in clause 5 to be the members of the Commonwealth Naval or Military Forces, of the Army Medical Corps, and of the Nursing Service.
– Does not the Minister think that the men employed on the vessels which carry the troops should be given an opportunity to vote?
– And the munition workers too?
– The Bill covers all who belong to the Forces, and are at the front, or have returned home. If they are qualified in other respects, the fact thatthey have discharged in the most efficacious way their obligations to the Commonwealth, and to the Empire, will give them the right to vote, even though they may not be enrolled. I think a question was asked early in the dayby the honorable member for Nepean concerning the men employed on the transports.
– Does not the Bill cover those on a ship of war?
– A transport is not a vessel of war, and, by international law, is not subject to the ordinary contingencies of war. It would be very hard to make provision for the voting of munition workers, who may be grouped in two classes. There are, first, those who went Home at the invitation of the Imperial Government, sent through this Government, and who may, therefore, be regarded as associated with our Military Forces, their names appearing on lists. It would be possible, though not convenient, to take the votes of these persona, because, instead of being in one or two places, they are so scattered about ‘that it would be very difficult to provide machinery whereby their votes could be properly registered. In proportion to the number of men at the front, the number of Australian munition workers in Great Britain is small.
– There are about 1,000 munition workers.
– Yes, but they are so scattered that it would be practically impossible to record their votes, and, therefore, provision has not been made for doing so. Those employed on the transports were allowed to vote on the compulsory military service proposal, but, speaking from memory, I do not think that more than 370 of them took advantage of the opportunity provided. They would have to vote under the Bill and law, after the issue of the writ, and either before leaving port or on arrival, which would be after the polling day. It would be very difficult to provide properly for the voting of these men. Their names are not on official lists, most of them will be at sea when the vote is taken, and, in any case, their votes could not be easily allocated to particular districts.
– Are not some hundreds of Australians employed at Messrs. Vickers’ factory?
– There are some there, but I do not know how many. I saw some of them myself. In addition to the munition workers who have gone Home on the special invitation of the Imperial Government, there are others who have gone Home on their own account, for whose voting we could not make any provision, because we do not know their names, nor do we know their qualifications. The voting will be, not according to electoral divisions, but according to military lists. Ordinary Australians who are now visiting Great Britain, or are elsewhere absent from the Commonwealth, will not be able to vote, and these munition workers will be in the same position.
– Their names are known to the Defence Department.
– Their names are not on any official list. As for the voting at the front, it would be impossible to follow the methods in vogue in the Commonwealth requiring the men to vote according to the electoral divisions from which they went away. In the Commonwealth there will be six Senate ballotpapers, one for each State, and seventyfive ballot-papers for the divisions returning members to the House of Representatives. The men at the front, however, are not grouped according to their States, and it would be practically impossible to provide the machinery that would enable them to vote according to State and electoral divisions. What is proposed, therefore, is that their votes shall be recorded according to their place of residence as entered on the military or naval lists, or, where, through some oversight, their place of residence has not been recorded, according to the place of residence of their next of kin.
– Suppose the next of kin resides abroad?
– In the casualty lists, one often sees England, Ireland, or Scotland mentioned as the place of residence of the person concerned. Will such persons be able to vote?
– No. It would be impossible to provide for those cases. The Canadians have adopted this system of voting, and many more Canadians have given as the place of residence of their next of kin somewhere in the Old Country.
– What is done in those cases ?
– Our Bill practically adopts the Canadian system. . As the ordinary electoral method cannot be followed, it is ‘proposed to allow our men abroad to vote for definite groups, that is, for Ministerialists, or for Opposition ists, as they choose. The Prime Minister will determine, within five days of the polling, which of the candidates are to be identified as Ministerialists, and the honorable member for Yarra will determine which of them are to be identified as supporters of the Official Labour party.
– What about the poor Independents ?
– They are provided for as well as we can provide for them. I do not think it would be well to provide for too many party divisions. There are so many degrees of independence that the task of distinguishing between them would present psychological difficulties beyond even the ingenuity of the electoral officials.
– It was very difficult to find a name for the party to which the honorable member now belongs.
– That is because it stands for so many things which are beneficial to the State that to pick out any of them as a name by which to call it would be invidious. As regards the Independents, those men who do not wish to vote according to the party ticket may select three names for the Senate.
– I presume that the names of the candidates, and the parties to which they belong, will be cabled abroad.
– Yes. To-day several cables have been sent to the Old Country to say what is contemplated, and what is likely to follow. A man will be able to vote for the Senate by putting a cross after “ Ministerialists “ or after “ Oppositionists.” The names of the candidates will not appear on the ballotpapers, but lists will be prepared and circulated giving all information.
– Will not the names of the candidates be followed by a descriptive title, so that it may be known whether they are Ministerialists or Oppositionists ?
– Lists will be printed and circulated giving that information, but the names of the candidates will not appear on the ballot-papers. Every candidate will be identified, so far as that may be possible.
– Are you following the Canadian legislation in this matter ?
– Yes. The names of candidates will be associated with the party for which they stand, but I cannot promise to have every candidate labelled “Ministerialist” or “Oppositionist.”
– Those certified to by the Prime Minister, or by me, will be labelled according to their party on the lists that will be circulated ?
– It is the grouped candidates who will be certified to. I do not think that it is necessary for every man who stands to be certified to. Out of 300 or 400 candidates it would be hard to say whether every man belonged to a different party or not. But it will be done so far as it can be done. The identification of a group is all that is necessary, and the men will learn from the printed lists circulated among them the divisions for which the candidates are standing.
– I think that they will look for the names on the ballot-paper, as they have been accustomed to doing. This proposes a limitation.
– Undoubtedly it does, but it is brought about by exceptional circumstances. To secure an absolutely perfect system would be impossible. Canada has adopted this system, and I believe that New Zealand is about to adopt it. In Canada the candidates are grouped as Opposition and Ministerial.
– What objection could the Government have to using the term Official Labour party, instead of Opposition!
– If our friends opposite think they should be designated as the Official Labour party, there is really no reason why the term should not be used, but there is nothing invidious in calling honorable members led by the honorable member for Yarra the Opposition. Furthermore, the designation of Opposition will cover any variation of humour and opinion inside or outside the chamber. Goodness knows, there are enough such variations in Parliament. If .honorable members opposite are for the time being designated as members of the Official Labour party, the significance of the term may be varied from moment to moment. I think, on the whole, it would be better to accept the suggestion made in the Bill under which the various parties are to be grouped. Of course, the voting will be absent voting, and as was the case in regard to the recent referendum, the votes will be sent to London to be counted, except that in the case of the men stationed in German New Guinea their votes will be sent to Rabaul. The head of our Forces in London is Brigadier-General Anderson, and he will be the Commonwealth Electoral Officer in London. There will be another Commonwealth Electoral Officer at Rabaul. The count will be made in the presence of scrutineers appointed by each party- that is, the Ministerialists and the Opposition. Provision is made in clause 17, paragraph (c) that the scrutineers shall be an equal number, nominated by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition respectively. This should be a guarantee that the voting will be above suspicion.
– What is the meaning of the phrase, “ their allocation to respective divisions and States,” in that paragraph?
– The voting being by groups, men’s votes being assigned to divisions as indicated by residence entered on military lists, and the divisions not being set out in the ballotpapers, the allocation to the various divisions will be made at the time of the scrutiny by the electoral officers. They .-will se© from the military lists where each man’s residence is, and they will declare that his vote is to be attached to the division of the State according to those lists. That is the only convenient way in which the allocation of the votes’ can be done. Some of the men will not be enrolled, and it will be impossible to get them to declare the district for which they would care to vote. Furthermore, experience shows that many men who are enrolled cannot say at a particular time the divisions for which they are enrolled. Therefore, seeing that we are not following the present electoral roll, but are enabling every man at the front over twenty-one years of age to vote, the provisions of our electoral law have had to be somewhat altered in order to meet the circumstances’. Part III. of the Bill deals with the disqualification of certain persons. Clause 10 provides - “ Every naturalized British subject who was born in an enemy country shall be disqualified from voting at elections.” This is a time when we should take every precaution against danger, and it has been decided that those who were born in any country with which Britain is at present at war shall be debarred from voting at an election so long as this measure is in force. No questions are to be asked. It is simply a matter of disqualification for the time being. We may have our differences of opinion upon this point, but on the whole, seeing that the Empire is at war, and that the war has reached such a critical stage, there is some justification for saying that the ordinary electoral rights of the persons covered by this part of the Bill must give way to a reasonable degree of caution as to the possible effect of their votes at an election. Exemptions are provided in clause 10, sub-clause 4. This clause provides that the following persons shall be exempt: -
Any person who belongs to a family which has discharged its duties by sending some member of it to the front will be regarded as one who can exercise his right to vote. It is also thought that Christian Syrians, who are devoted to the British Empire, should be permitted to vote. At the recent referendum, provision was made by which the parents who had a son at the front could vote ; but this Bill extends that privilege to the parent, wife, brother, or sister of a person who is or has been a member of the Forces.
– Will that provision apply to persons inside Australia, or only to those overseas?
– All the men at the front are entitled to vote. The parent, wife, sister, or brother of any one who has discharged his duty in this crisis of the Empire by becoming a member of the Forces is not disqualified by the Bill. The only disqualification is that of a person who was born in enemy territory, but there is a slight modification in the proviso to sub-clause 2 of Clause 10, which reads -
Provided that a person claiming to vote, who was a natural-born citizen or subject of France, Italy, or Denmark, and who arrived in Australia, and was naturalized before the date upon which the territory in which he was born became part of Germany or Austria (as the case may be) shall not be deemed to have been born in an enemy country, if he produces to the presiding officer a certificate in the prescribed form, which has not been revoked.
A person covered by this proviso can obtain a certificate by applying to the Electoral Officer, and submitting reasonable evidence to show that he is entitled to one. All these matters will be provided for by regulation. The effect of the provisois that if a man was born in SchleswigHolstein, or in that part of Poland which, after he came out to Australia, became part of Austria, he is not to be regarded as having been born in enemy territory.
– Would a man who would be entitled to vote abroad be likewise entitled to vote in Australia?
– Any member of the Forces who has returned from abroad can vote, whether he is on the roll or not. “Member of the Forces” includes more than actual combatants.
– If a soldier returns within two weeks of the issue of the writ, and his name is not on the roll, can he vote ?
– In such a case, the soldier can get a certificate saying that he is entitled to vote, and he can present it at any polling place and vote. All the details are not set out in the Bill. They must be covered by regulations.
– Where would a soldier who has just returned vote - at his present residence, or in the division where he resided prior to his departure?
– I suppose that, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the names on the military lists would coincide with the divisions in which soldiers who were enrolled prior to their departure stand enrolled upon the electoral lists; but in any case, the man who has just returned, and is not enrolled, can vote in accordance with his residence as it appears on the military list. Practically in all cases the division in which he was entitled to enroll as an elector would be indicated as his residence on the military list. Returned soldiers who are enrolled would vote for the division in respect of which they are enrolled. It will be necessary to take the military lists as a guide; but, as I have said, in nearly every case the places of residence as given on the military list will coincide with the electoral divisions for which the men are enrolled. The only other provision in the Bill to which reference need be made covers the case of a candidate for the Senate who may die after the date of nomination. Provision is made by which the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition can nominate some one, as their parties may determine, to take the placeof the deceased candidate on the list.
– Is there any specified date within which that may be done?
– It may be done right up to the day before polling. There is no other point to which I need draw attention at this stage. The Bill merely provides the machinery to enable men to vote atthe front, and while it is not, perhaps, as perfect in all respects as would be possible in ordinary circumstances, it is the best that can be brought forward under the conditions described.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Tudor) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 13th March (vide page 11312), on motion by Mr. Groom -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– When the debate on this Bill was adjourned last night, I was discussing the method by which the Prime Minister proposes to confer certain benefits upon users of cornsacks, and particularly the farmers of Australia. I wish to emphasize my objections to that method, which, in my opinion, is very questionable. A far more wholesome and legitimate course would have been to submit an amendment of the schedule to this Bill. The Government might have embodied it in a small list of amendments, and have said, “ We require these amendments to be made, but are not prepared to go any further at this stage with the revision of the Tariff.” Had they done so, the Bill would have passed just as speedily as it will do in the existing circumstances. We are giving the Prime Minister unlimited power under the War Precautions Act to make regulations dealing, amongst other things, with the Tariff. If at any time an influential deputation points out some serious Tariff anomaly, and can sufficiently impress the Prime Minister, he may bring its representations before the Cabinet, and, provided that he can convince his colleagues of the wisdom of granting the request of the deputation, he may, by Order in Council or by means of a regulation under the War Precautions Act, do what the deputation asks. In this piecemeal way the Government can withdraw nearly all the benefits that the Tariff gives through the Customs House.
I am not objecting to this proposal in regard to cornsacks merely because it is a concession to be granted to the farmers. In the existing conditions, I think that the remission of the duty on cornsacks would be unanimously agreed to by the House ; but it is the method by which this concession is to be granted to which I take exception. Such a system opens the door to abuses, and will reflect no credit on the Parliament or the Administration which sanctions it. We already have a long list of concessions and innovations, made by way of regulation, in regard to various industries. As the result of a deputation which waited on the Prime Minister, and which consisted principally of the sugargrowers and the sugar-millers, the Cabinet quite recently came to a certain decision with regard to the sugar industry. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which is one of the biggest combines in Australia to-day, and is in a position to make bigger profits than ever before, must be included amongst the sugar-millers.
– The decision of the Cabinet does not alter the agreement.
– The honorable member is aware that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company owns at least halfadozen sugar mills in Queensland, and controls the industry in New South Wales.
– How is that to be got rid of?
– There is only one way to get rid of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and of any other company which is manipulating things in its own interest and against the public, and that is for the Commonwealth Government to take absolute control of the industry. The decision at which the Cabinet has arrived in regard to the sugar industry will mean the doling out of money already in the public purse. It is a most unwise one. At the behest of a deputation, the Treasurer is told by a majority of his colleagues to dip his hands into the public Treasury and to hand out to a section of the community a very large sum of money.
– The honorable member has been reading the Age. It is not so.
– It is so. It is quite likely that, in respect of the current financial year, the. Commonwealth, as the result of this decision in regard to the sugar industry, will lose nearly £1,000,000. The arrangement is to continue during the war, and for the season following the close of the war; so that.it is quite possible that the taxpayers will have to hand out £2,000,000. That such a thing should be done by regulation - without the consent of Parliament-
– I should like to ask the honorable member-
– Speeches in this House are seriously prolonged by interjections from the honorable member.
– I do not like misstatements.
– I am here as a representative of the taxpayers to protest against the immoral methods adopted by the Government in doling out to certain sections of the community hundreds of thousands of pounds. If there is one thing which the honorable member for Lang, in common with a number of other honorable members, has voiced in this House, it is the feeling that this country should not be governed by regulations. We like to see everything placed in black and white by the’ Parliament itself.
The Government, having a majority in this House, could have submitted and have carried in connexion with this Bill a proposal to remit the duty on cornsacks. That would have been much better than their devious methods for making this concession to the farmers. The British Government to-day have practically full control of the Indian jute mills. They have assumed that control for the reason thatthey require millions of sand bags in connexion with their military operations, end it is from those jute mills that we obtain our bags and the material for making bags. We are still a long way from the1917-18 harvest, and I contend that the question of remitting the duty on cornsacks might well have been allowed to stand over until after the general elections. There would have been ample time, after the elections, to make provision for the 1917-18 harvest. Why has this concession to the farmers been announced just before a general election? The reason is obvious. I leave it to the people to say for themselves whether these tactics should be adopted merely for the sake of securing a political advantage.
– Would the honorable member vote to remit the duty on cornsacks ?
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to see how I shall vote, and when that opportunity arrives I hope he will be found on the side of those whom he professes to represent.
Concerning the question of Protection, much has been said, and the Labour party has been blamed for its failure to deal with the Tariff. The last general election took place on 5th September, 1914, and on 3rd December, 1914, the present Tariff schedule was laid on the table of the House by the then Minister for Trade and Customs, Mr. Tudor. At that time no honorable member was conversant with the terms of the schedule. Only afew officials of the Customs Department were familiar with them. As we all know, the Tariff schedules must, of necessity, be framed in the greatest secrecy. It would be wrong to the country to do otherwise, so that with the pxception of a few Customs officials and the then Minister for Trade and Customs no one in Australia knew what sort of a schedule would be submitted. We were hopeful, however, that when we were afforded an opportunity to consider it, the Protectionists in this House would be able to frame a schedule that would be in consonance with the opinions of the advanced Protectionists of the Commonwealth.
– Why did not the Labour Government tackle the Tariff?
– As I have said, the Tariff schedule was laid on the table of the House on 3rd December, 1914, three months after our return. It has been declared that the only excuse we have for our failure to deal with the Tariff is in respect of the period subsequent to a certain announcement by the Prime Minister after he returned from Great Britain. If it was only then that the difficulty arose, there must have been a number of Rip Van Winkles in the Parliament. As a matter of fact, the Tariff schedule was no sooner laid on the table of the House than the great bulk of the members of this Parliament knew that there was a menace ahead of us in connexion with it. The honorable member for Wide Bay was not then a member of this Parliament, but if he will take the trouble to look up Hansard he will find that I had something to say about this question long before he was returned. If there were one reason more than another for the journey which the Prime Minister made to the other side of the world, it was that he should do something in this regard. That, so far as I was concerned, at all events, was the main reason why he undertook that mission. Unfortunately, things in that regard are still unsatisfactory. If we are not to do anything for the industries of our country merely because there happens to be a certain difficulty in the way, then we are recreant to the promises we made and to the principles we espoused when before the electors. In October, 1914, shortly after the elections, I suggested to the then Prime Minister a means by which this country could be placed, in a far better position than she is now to meet the times coming after the war. Our organization is almost nil. Wo organization can be complete in this direction without a proper Tariff schedule. I see no reason why even before we go to the electors we should not encourage our industries without giving offence to any nation, allied or neutral. We ought to have one common Tariff, without preference to anybody, and absolute prohibition of all articles which we can produce and manufacture here for our own use. Would such a Tariff give offence to any country, seeing that we should treat Great Britain just as we treated her Allies and enemies? It is absolutely essential, in the present state of Australian industries and the labour market, and in the interests of the whole of the people, that drastic measures should be adopted.
– Have we not sufficient Protection by the sweeping of commerce from the seas at the present time ? Is that not prohibition ?
– No doubt the honorable member regards that as sufficient protection; but to do so is to live in a fool’s paradise. Please God, the time will soon come when the seas will once more be free to the commerce of the world !
– What is the use of commerce if we shut our ports 1
– That, of course, is the Free Trader’s idea. The honorable member would open our ports wide, and allow the products of all countries to come in, no matter what the remuneration or the conditions of labour may be in those countries.
– Would you have ships come here in ballast and go away full ?
– The honorable member may, if he choose, argue in that way before his constituents; but if he advances such propositions to the workingmen electors of Lang, I shall expect to see his seat occupied by some one else after the 5th May. If honorable members knew the uphill task which we in the Labour party had to face on behalf of Protection during the past seven years, they would give us credit for the distinct advance in that direction that there has been. At Maryborough, in 1913, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, for the first time in the history of the Labour party, made the policy of Protection one of the chief planks in the platform ; and that was only as the result of continued agitation against great odds. In 1914, that declaration of policy was repeated; and then we had a kind of Tariff schedule laid on the table,
– An apology for a Tariff.
– It may be called so; and I can assure the House that it was great work to get even that mongrel schedule. In the present state of the party, there are not more than two members who might be called Free Traders, and even they have recanted. One of them, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, has assented unreservedly, and to-day he is undoubtedly Protectionist.
– What about the honorable member for Maranoa?
– Only last night lie shed his last vestige of Free Trade lean,ings, and is now also a full-blown Protectionist.
The honorable member for Dampier, in the course of his remarks, endeavoured to make us believe that the primary producer receives no benefit from the policy of Protection.- I do not know whether that honorable member represents many producers, but I do not think he would find any number of his constituents to accept such a doctrine. We are all agreed, I think, that our cities are too large, containing, as they do, about one half of our total population ; and for this, the better wages, and other attractions of city life, are held responsible. T am a country boy myself, and, if I had my choice, I should go “back to the country, for I regard the life as the freest, best, and healthiest. I remember, however, that when I finished my apprenticeship, and was thinking of getting married, I found that my employer offered me no more than 35s. per week - having the idea of taking two boys on in my place; and this, of course, forced me to find better terms elsewhere. Similar conditions met the budding journeyman, whether he was a blacksmith, a wheelwright, or a printer, though at the present time, with our Wages Boards, things are a little better. This accounts largely for the continual flocking of the sons of farmers and other country residents to the city. At the same time, the honorable member for Dampier surely does not suggest that every son of a farmer should follow his father’s occupation ? Boys are fitted for varying careers, and I feel certain that, if I were to go to the Newport railway shops, an agricultural implement factory, or any other place of business of the kind, I could find a great show of hands by those who had originally come from the country. The man who grows wheat, barley, maize, oats, or any other crop, is no more a producer than is the working man at Sunshine or any other place where agricultural implements and other machinery are turned out. The workman in the factory is as much a producer as the man on the land, and, thanks to our mechanical inventors, two men can now do the work on a farm where twelve were necessary thirty or forty years ago. Further, what better customers has the man on the land than are furnished in those engaged in the factories in our populous centres ? There men and women earn good wages, and are able to buy produce freely, and this interdependence renders it folly to say that the farmer reaps no benefit from Protection. Even with the limited Protection we now have, the man on the land enjoys very tangible advantages, and he would be much better off if the Protection were increased. But there are other ways by which the industries of the country can be assisted. Without divulging any secrets, I may say that, at a certain gathering of parliamentarians, when we were told that we would have to be very careful how we handled the Tariff, the question was asked whether that applied to every effort that might be made in other ways to help the producer or manufacturer - whether there were not other ways in which assistance could be given; we were then told that assistance could be given in the shape of bonuses and by other means, but nothing has been done. By way of illustration of how help may be rendered to the development of industries, and thus provide employment, I may say that in the Old Country considerable attention has been given by experts to the treatment of coal. The coal of Australia is just like the coalobtained elsewhere, and in it th’ere are quite a number of elements which are of considerable commercial value, but which, unfortunately, are lost under present conditions. The test of the gas supplied by the gas companies, both in England and here, has hitherto been that of illuminating quality. But that test is now not so necessary, in view of the introduction of the incandescent mantle; and in Great Britain an Act has been passed altering the test to that of calorific or heat value. This means that, without in any way interfering with the quality of the gas supplied, much less coal is required, and certain important elements of the coal are saved. One of these elements or products is known as benzol, which, I understand, is equivalent to benzine, gasolene, or petrol, and it is used for the propulsion of vehicles. One gas company in London has, by means of this alteration, used 65,000 tons less of coal in two months than under the old system. The Government have power to take what action they please under the War Precautions Act, and I understand that engineers connected with our gas companies are prepared to make a similar change if they are permitted to do so. In view of the high price of petrol, it would be well to do something in this direction, and it is said that the Defence Department is making some efforts, though, I am afraid, only in a tiddly-winking sort of way. There are many other means by which the Government could lend their aid towards the creation of new industries and increased avenues of employment in various directions. For instance, it seems a scandal that we have to import one ounce of cement when we have mountains of the very best necessary material in this country. Yet we are importing cement to the value of £270,000 per annum.
– The slowing down policy of the. men makes the extension of local manufacture impossible.
– I am glad the honorable member made that interjection. The honorable member for Dampier spoke of how the slowing down policy was crippling the steel industry in New South Wales. In refutation of that statement, we have the sworn testimony of on© of the largest employers of labour in this country. I refer to Mr. Delprat, the general manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. He was questioned in regard to the adaptability of Australian workmen in connexion with the establishment of steel works, and he said, on oath, “ We do require a few men who are experts at the trade, but, generally, the ordinary intelligent working man such as we find in Australia can do the work, and I say of the Australian that lie is one of the best and most adaptable workmen in the world.” The man who used those words is one of our biggest captains of industry, and he. speaks from a wealth of experience. I would refer the honorable member for Echuca to the testimony also of the Council of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria. The gentlemen who comprise that council are graziers and farmers, and, according to a paragraph in the Age this morning, the council had had certain work carried out by contract, and some by day labour. Asphalting was done under the contract system for ls. Sd. per square yard, and by day labour for ls. 3d. per square yard. That is the experience and testimony of some of the most conservative men in the community. We contend that, with proper guidance by the employer or overseer, day labour beats contract every time. Evidence in support of that view is overwhelming. Recent experience in the Old Country has provided another proof of the efficiency of Australian workmen. I have indisputable testimony that Australian fitters and others who went to England to engage in war work are carrying out in seven hours certain operations in connexion with the manufacture of guns that used to occupy the English workmen eleven hours. Yet these are the men who, honorable members allege, are slowing down. Men who come to Australia from America acknowledge that the pace of the Australian workman is too hot for them. Far be it from us in Australia to do as they are doing in certain parts of America, where men are being killed outright at their occupations. According to the finding of a medical commission which investigated industrial conditions in the United States of America, these are the four stages of ill-health through which the workmen pass: - First, fatigue; secondly, colds; thirdly, tuberculosis; and finally, death. At thirty-five and forty years of age, men are too old and broken in health to be further employed by the large employers of labour.
The Prime Minister ridiculed my proposal for the establishment of steel works in Australia. We are in this lamentable position, that, if anything went wrong with some of the steel plates of the vessels that defend our shores, we have not in the Commonwealth mills that can roll out a plate. We talk about the setting up of workshops of our own for naval repairs, but we have not a mill capable of rolling a steel plate. I admit that, at Newcastle and Lithgow, steel rails are being produced, but that is only one small department of steel work. The steel industry must be extended, and Tariff or no Tariff, if private enterprise will not develop the valuable iron ore deposits of Australia, the Commonwealth ‘Government should proceed to do so. If the recommendation of the Public Works Committee had been adopted, the Government would be to-day manufacturing all its own cement, and would have been saving £2 or £2 per ton.
Here is another important point : The honorable member for Lang stated that we are protected to a certain extent by reason of the seas not being free, because those foreign vessels which brought large quantities of goods to Australia are not coming to our ports to-day. That is true. But, although the competition of Germany has been shut out, goods are entering the Commonwealth from another country. During the war, there have been established certain new industries, but their outlook is by no means assured, and when the war is over they will be again left to the tender mercy of the importer. What encouragement are we giving the chemists and other experts to engage in research so that we may manufacture in Australia articles which were previously imported from abroad 1 Some people have done well in new industries since th© outbreak of war, with but very little encouragement from the Government and this Parliament. We cannot continue this policy of procrastination. We must not be afraid of obstacles or other circumstances which we know exist. It is the bounden duty of this. Parliament to stand by the people who are ‘ establishing new industries to see that their enterprises are not brought to a standstill as soon as the war is over, and the old channels of trade reopened. Every other country that is at war has made preparations for post-war trade; Australia is only starting to do so. For over twelve months we have had’ in existence a Bureau of Science that was supposed to render a great deal of assistance to the industries of this country : but, beyond issuing a few glowing reports in flowery language, nothing has been done. Parliament should set itself the task of mobilizing the best intellect of the country. Our chemists and mechanics ought to be mobilized, and the Commonwealth ought to establish a staff of chemists to conduct research work for the assistance of industry. Germany has thousands of chemists engaged in assisting every industry - not only chemists who are giving assistance to the workmen at the benches and at the lathes, but experts who are engaged in the laboratories in research work. Before Germany was able to turn out an aniline dye fit for the markets of the world, chemists were investigating for twenty-six years. The result was that, before the war, .Germany had practically a monopoly of the dye trade of the world. What investigations are we carrying out? With the raw material for many industries at our feet, our chemists are doing nothing, and they are receiving no encouragement from the Bureau of Science, the Government, or Parliament. One of the first steps that should have been taken when war broke out was the organization of our chemists, and the setting of them at work in investigating means for establishing and improving our industries.
We hear a good deal of talk to-day about the importation of luxuries. I shall read to the House a few paragraphs from an article on “ Industry and Finance “ in the December number of The Bound Table. In the first portion of the article dealing with “ The higher direction of British industry,” the writer says -
If those who “ have more than they want for the ordinary needs of life squander their surplus on forms of expenditure unproductive and wasteful in , themselves, they do a double injury to the nation. They reduce pro tanto the wealth available for spending on productive efforts, and they demoralize that part of the population whose lives are spent purely in ministering to the useless pleasures of the rich.
That form of wastefulness is in evidence in Australia, and the Government ought to take steps to prevent luxuries being imported. I do not like the idea of the Prime Minister taking action through the medium of regulations under the War Precautions Act, By a few words in this Bill, he could achieve all that we desire for the time being. The Bound Table article deals with the relations between employer and employee, and also the assistance rendered by the banking institutions to industry. Although Australian banks have assisted industries to a certain extent, that assistance has not been given to anything like the degree that is necessary. One reason why Germany was able to penetrate the markets of the whole world was that her commercial agents were always preceded by the assistance of the banking institutions. We must go further in that direction, and the banks must be prepared to risk something, not only for their own interests, but also for the interests of the nation. The writer continues - and these remarks have a distinct and pressing application to Australian circumstances -
A third defect is the lack of co-ordination between industry and research. The work of research, much neglected in this country, can no longer be carried out in a haphazard and unmethodical way. Modern industry is founded on natural science, and its application to the material world. There may be n, time far distant when we shall have found out nil that we can about nature. But to-day that is far away. To-day we are in an age of incessant scientific discovery, and the increased production of wealth and our power of competition depends on the application of all this knowledge, both in small and great things, to industry. Wherever wo look, whether it is in the VaSt development of electricity, not only for the ordinary purposes of lighting and power, but in the refining and production of metals or products such as nitrate from air, or the development of chemistry and its universal application to industry and agriculture, or to the vast economics possible in the proper utilization of our coal resources,- or whether we consider the development of the internal combustion engine, everywhere we. see grunt progress. If we are to live in competition with other nations, we must keep ourselves abreast of them, not only- in actual knowledge, but in its practicable application to industry.
The recent report of the Committee nf the Privy Council for scientific and industrial research contains ample evidence both of the lack of research and the need for it.
I anticipated better results from the creation of the Bureau of Science. Unfor- tunately, up to the present, the results are nil.
– They are all amateurs.
– The men who control the Bureau include a number of University professors and professional men, and they can pen a good letter, and use flowery language, but, so far as actual assistance to industry goes, the results of their activities are practically nil. During the absence of the Prime Minister in England, a number of us waited as a deputation on the Acting Prime Minister, and said that we did not consider that the Bureau of Science was doing enough for Australian industries. The Acting Prime Minister said that something more would be done. Promises were plentiful, but there has been no performance. Looking at Australian conditions, not only during the continuance of this awful conflict, but also in the period to follow the declaration of peace, one cannot regard the prospect as other than gloomy. We have wonderful advantages, and a country that contains everything necessary to make our people happy and prosperous, and full of employment and industry; yet, with 300,000 men absent from Australia, there are thousands of men unemployed throughout the Commonwealth. This is a disgrace to us as a people, and we shall be reproached by all other parts of the civilized world if, after the war, this country, still almost virgin of industries, is crowded with unemployed. Are our soldiers, when they return, to swell the army of the unemployed ? God forbid ! We must bestir ourselves. We can do something. The Tariff should not pass beyond the consideration of this Chamber until the definite promise has been made by the Government that in this hour of the nation’s need something shall be done to encourage industry, and to find employment for our people. To-day the products of foreign countries are flowing in through our ports, and finding their way to the shelves of the emporiums with which our people do business. Particularly in the drapers’shops are foreign goods to be met, and one of the main difficulties of my women-folk is to ascertain the countries of origin of the stock offered to them. Some persons, through not being careful enough in their investigations, have brought home poods made with the blood and sweat of littlechildren, who live in compounds, herded together like sheep and receive only a few pence a day. I hope that the Government will rise from itslethargy, and do something for Australia.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It would have been amusing, had it not. been so grotesque, to hear yesterday afternoon the remarks which fell from the lips of several honorable members who spoke from the other side of the chamber; the bid for the high Protectionist vote and for the support of a certain wellknown newspaper was so palpable that it could not escape notice. Something of the same sort occurred just before the last election, and the price that was paid for support by a certain section of candidates was that they pledged themselves to high protective duties. That promise had a marvellous effect, so far as Victoria was concerned. The party which offered what seemed to be wanted was returned with an overwhelming majority. It had such strength in both branches of the Legislature that it could do anything it liked, and was, therefore, under the obligation to fulfil the pledge by which it secured election. Therefore, shortly after the new Parliament met, an amending Tariff schedule was introduced, which increased the rates of duty on a large number of items. Those who think that the salvation of the country depends on a high Tariff were inclined to sling their hats into the air as if the millennium of prosperity was about to dawn. The amending schedule that I speak of, though it has not received the ratification of Parliament, has been in operation ever since it was introduced. Has it had the effect of benefiting local industries ? It is the Tariff which was introduced by those who are now clamouring for higher protective duties. According to the honorable member for Maribyrnong, high duties will multiply the number of industries existing in our midst. All of us, I suppose, would be inclined to support anything that we thought would do that. But what are the facts 1 I shall mention industries which have been injured by the operation of the present Tariff schedule. In the vicinity of Geelong is a large sawmilling establishment which, under the old Tariff, was a prosperous concern. Work was given there to a large number of persons, who were engaged in operating a valuable plant for sawing up logs imported from abroad. At that time timber in the rough was admitted free, but the new Tariff imposed an ad valorem duty of 5 per cent., with the result that logs are not now imported. The plant that I speak of is lying idle, and the men who used to operate it have been thrown out of employment.
– Why cannotthey cut up Australian logs instead of importing Japanese logs ?
– There are certain classes of timber which we must import.
– What are they ? We have every kind of timber in Australia.
– The Queensland
Pine Company has had to shut down its mills. I received a notice to that effect yesterday. There is plenty of timber, but no market for it.
– That is another illustration of the way in which the Australian labour conditions make it impossible for industries to carry on.
– People will not build.
– They are not allowed to do so.
– Under the old Tariff the raw material used by soap makers was free. Ground-nut and soya bean oilis still admitted free from the United Kingdom, but under the Tariff schedule is dutiable at the rate of 3d. per gallon, if imported from other countries. As this oil does not come -from the United Kingdom, the whole importation has to pay duty. The man who clamours for high duties on everything has no conception of the real meaning of Protection. The soap making industry has been further interfered with by the duty of1d. per gallon on whale oil. If whale oil came from the United Kingdom, it could be imported free, but none of it comes from there, and consequently all of it has to pay duty amounting to £1 per ton. This has actually led to the closing down of some departments of soap production. Is it in the interests of the country that duties should be imposed which injure industries? Some honorable members seem to think that we should be satisfied whatever duties may be imposed, so long as they are high. They are not prepared to give serious consideration to the scientific adjustment of duties, forgetting that the finished product of one manufacture is the raw material of another.
A Tariff should not be dealt with in the rough and ready fashion usually adopted.
– Does the honorable member say that the Inter-State Commission dealt with the Tariff in a rough and ready manner ?
– No. The referring of the Tariff to the Inter-State Commission was a step in the right direction, but I am afraid that the Commission’s recommendations will not be seriously regarded when the House comes to deal with the Tariff.
– I think that they will be followed very closely.
– I hope so. It was stated yesterday that the balance of trade is altogether on the wrong side, so far as this year’s business is concerned, our imports exceeding our exports by more than £12,000,000. We are not justified in accepting those figures without considering the surrounding circumstances. We have had seasons of unparalleled prosperity, and if we could have realized the full value of our wheat and wool, instead of being to the bad,we would probably have been £12,000,000 or £20,000,000 to the good.
– We seem to be to the bad because the large sums borrowed at Home come to us in the shape of goods.
– And we cannot export our produce, which would offset the importations.
– That is so. Some persons say that importation should be prohibited. But what would be the result of that ? The vessels that came here would have to come in ballast, and consequently the produce that we sent away would have to pay higher rates of freight than are charged now. Some advocate the policy of not trading with other people. But we must trade with other people. The true principle should be to produce what we can produce to the best advantage, and supply it to other people, receiving in return what they can produce to so much better advantage. In that way there will be mutualgains to both parties to the trading. There is an agitation on foot at the present time to prohibit the importation of motor cars, which are now coming from America, whereas formerly they came from France, Great Britain, and other countries, as well as America. The motor car is no longer a luxury. We will need to depend on better means of transport if we hope to develop central Australia, and motor cars will be of great assistance in that respect, not the light vehicles that one sees about the city streets, but cars designed for the practical average work of the inland producers. If we prohibit the importation of these vehicles we make it more difficult for our producers to succeed. The honorable member for Maribyrnong considers it a shame that we are not able to produce steel plates, but is it not known to every one that the steel works we have already in Australia were held up by the recent coal strike? Steel works depend on a steady supply of coal, but those who “rule the roost” in the coal mines, not the miners themselves, but those who beguile the miners, and are paid handsomely to provoke strikes, have created a feeling of unrest in the minds of the actual workers, so that on the slightest provocation it is a case of “ down tools.” It is said that we are not holding our own as against Canada, and the statement is perfectly true. I had the privilege and pleasure of passing through Canada recently, and I was simply astonished when visiting the hives of industries there and comparing them with the condition of things in Australia. No Tariff will be high enough to enable us to cope with the labour conditions here, because the very fact of having a high Tariff in operation is used as justification for still further labour demands.
– How is it that Mr. Ford, in America, is able to Day £1 a day to all his employees, and yet turn out the cheapest motor car on the market ?
– Mr. Ford employs his men on piece-work, and he does not care if a man earns £2 a day; he is only too pleased to pay it. Tn Australia the labour unions have set their faces against speeding up, and no Tariff will enable our industries to meet that condition of things.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that there is no piecework in the labour ranks?
– The labour unions have expressed their repugnance to piecework over and over again, and they treat a man who goes in .for piece-work as a blackleg.
– Except in the case of the Australian Workers Union.
– The members of the Australian Workers Union work on piecework, and because they are paid so much per head for the sheep they shear they do good work, and make good money. The honorable member for Maribyrnong tells us that the sons of farmers are to be found in the ranks of the unions.
– Some of them are tie strongest labourites.
– Our prosperity depends upon our rural production, and upon the man on the land.
– Where would he be without the machine that is being made in the city factory ?
– The fact that the farmers’ sons are deserting them and going to the cities shows the fallacy of a high Protective policy ; because it induces men to leave the work that they would legitimately take up as sons of farmers. The rates of pay, the hours of labour, and the conditions of city life which attract men away from rural pursuits induce them to desert the very thing that should make for our national prosperity. Surely it would be more rational for us to so frame a Tariff that the inducement would be for men to go on the land rather than come to the cities. I agree that our industries are stagnant, but I would have my friends look to something else than the Tariff for their ‘salvation. I know that if my friends come into power after the elections, they will be no more in earnest in the matter than they have been during the past couple of years.
– A Tariff will never guarantee that a workman will give twenty shillings’ worth of work for twenty shillings sterling.
– The fact of the matter is that we are building up industrial conditions that will render it absolutely impossible for Australia to manufacture anything for export. Canada is manufacturing for export. In Australia wo have better natural conditions than Canada possesses, and we should be able to manufacture for export, but we cannot do it under the artificial conditions that have been created. A high Tariff is made the basis of an argument for increased pay. It increases the cost of living, and that increase is made the ground of a demand for increased pay. So we are going up the ladder, higher and higher, and our conditions will finally be so artificial here that workers will not be able to live in Australia. The ‘ appeal of the thousand carpenters to be allowed to go abroad, and work in other lands, because they cannot find employment here is a beautiful example of the condition to which the Labour party have brought Australia. They were going to make Australia a paradise for the working man, but to-day we find that working men are being driven from our shores.
– Where is the honorable member on the fiscal question?
– I seek to show that the Tariff for which the honorable member is clamouring will work for our undoing, and not our uplifting. The honorable member for Maribyrnong told us that the Council of Agriculture had employed certain men to do some work, and that they had done it for so much less than a similar portion cost under contract conditions. If that be true, the Council of Agriculture, of which the honorable member is a member, was not safeguarding the interests of those they represent when they made the contract. Let me quote a higher authority than this Council of Agriculture, Mr. Justice Heydon, of New South Wales, who recently heard a case in connexion with the electricaltrades, and made the statement that under piece-work the men did twenty times as much work as was done under the daylabour system.
– That means that a shilling’s worth of work is done under the day-labour system for each £1 earned.
– Let us take a commonsense example. Formerly bricklayers were prepared to lay so many hundred bricks a day. It was the recognised trade standard, and men worked cheerfully, recognising that they were doing an honest day’s work for their pay. What has happened lately? Now 400 bricks a day constitutes the union standard.
– They have got down to 300 bricks a day in the Northern Territory.
– It is impossible for us to make this country prosperous under a high Protective Tariff. A Protective duty is helpful only if it is applied wisely and properly, but this mad rush forhigher and higher and still higher duties, with the simple intention of basing on them claims for still more artificial labour conditions, is killing our Australian indus tries, undermining that sense of sellrespect that should animate the workers of any community, and is more and more teaching people to look to the Government for sustenance.
– Not a stamper is to be heard near Ballarat to-day, although it was once a bedlam.
– Quite so. Of what use is a protective policy to the mining industry? And yet the miners keep on making demands for improved labour conditions and shorter hours, the result being that every doubtful proposition is closed down, and they lose employment. This principle, which has been adopted in regard to the mining industry, has been applied also to other industries. I venture to suggest that, no matter how wisely conceived our Tariff may be - no matter how nearly it may be in consonance with protective ideals - it must in itself absolutely fail unless it is based on common-sense conditions.
– What is the honorable member’s proposal in regard to the Tariff ?
– My proposal is that the people of Australia should shut down upon those men who are seeking to deceive them by asserting that they can build up prosperity merely by the imposition of increased duties.
– Then the honorable member is opposed to increased duties ?
– In some cases it might be possible under our protective policy to increase duties with advantage ; but a start must be made at the very base. A beginning must be made with the raw material, which, if it cannot be produced here, should be allowed to come in free. Then, as it spreads out into the various ramifications Of trade, we should give a protective duty to such of our industries as should be protected under our policy. But it is absurd to ruthlessly submit a Tariff, as this was submitted by the honorable member for Yarra, and to claim that it is a truly protective one, andsuch as will assist the industries of this land. I am astonished that the Age should have been satisfied with this schedule. Judging by its leading article to-day, I do not think it is.
– Better judges of Protection than the honorable member is consider it is protective in its incidence.
– I do not know that the honorable member has ever protected any one.
We are working together for the best interests of this country, and there is imposed on every candidate at the forthcoming elections the obligation of putting these facts fairly and squarely before the people. They should be told that the prosperity for which we are all working can be attained only by the exercise of that reason and judgment with whichGod has endowed some of us. Many of my honorable friends opposite have that judgment, but because of the force of circumstances surrounding them - the compelling influence of the junta, by which they are controlled, as well as the influence of the great newspaper which is capable of settling certain elections - they are bound to advocate a policy that is contrary to their own sense of justice and right.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY (Darwin) [5.401. - It is sad that we should be constantly called upon in this House to listen to men with big rent rolls and interest incomes, gained without toil, denouncing the workers of Australia. I challenge any honorable member to show where a working man, after working six days a week, living economically, and rearing and educating his family, has been able in fifty years to save enough to keep him in his old age.
– I know of many, and so does the honorable mem-
– The honorable member cannot name one.
– I can name a few.
– I am sure that the honorable member cannot point to one.
– There are hundreds of rich men in Australia who were once workingmen, and the nuclei of whose fortunes were saved out of their wages.
– They have become rich, not out of savings from their wages, but because they created industries, by their genius and intellect, and employed others to work for them. .
– Study the lives of contractors in Sydney who were at one time workmen.
– I know of them; On the other hand, I know of economical Scotchmen who have been here for forty years, and have reared large families, but who, if it we’re not for the help of their children, could not live today. They are careful men, living moderately, as I do. I do not waste anything. That is why I want taxation on expenditures instead of on incomes.
Instead of always abusing the workers it would be better for honorable members to devise some twentieth century method of securing for them bettereconomic conditions. We hear the workingmen spoken of as “ slow-downers.” Where should we be if it were not for them ? We should be well on our way to the destitute asylum. A few months ago the coal miners refused to hew coal, and there was a universal execration of them. People who were in the habit of denouncing workingmen began to discover that, after all, the workingman is very useful. Why should those to whom every day is a day of sunshine and hope be always abusing the poor workingman. Seventeen years ago, when I was in Tasmania putting men on the rolls, for the first Federal election, I met a man in the early morning going to his work. He looked sick and sad, and in reply to my inquiry,said that he was very bad. “Then why go to work?” said I. His answer was, “ I must; if I do not work my family will starve.” I mention this in order to show how hopeless is the position of such men. The honorable member for Echuca has lived, so to speak, in a cave for the greater part of his life. He has been in the world, but has not understood it. He has lived in the back blocks, and wealth has been poured into his pockets. Managing to secure a little monopoly, he became independent, and to-day he denounces the poor workingman. He has had a lot to say this afternoon about the Age. Years ago, when I travelled with him on the same train, if the Age criticised him a little he trembled like Alexander’s butler when the sun shone.
– Is this a pre-, election speech ?
– I am not delivering a speech; I am only making a few Christian observations. The Age cannot help me in my electorate, but I do not hesitate to say that this country would have been a sheep walk but for the efforts of that newspaper in the years gone by. The “ boodleiers “ had possession of the country; the bankers and the squatters owned it. It was the Age which years ago broke up the land monopoly; it put the spur into the men who went into Parliament to fight under the late Sir Graham Berry. The Age is one of the great journals of the world that has courage. I do not say this because it is a supporter of our policy; as a matter of fact it is a Liberal newspaper, and not a supporter of the Labour party.
I shall not blame the honorable member for Echuca for the stand that he takes up. The trouble is that to all intents and purposes there is no national sentiment in Australia. People in Australia talk like foreigners. They curse the Germans, but it cannot be denied that the Germans are patriotic. Travelling on the mail steamers “between Victoria and Western Australia, one hears wealthy people cursing Australia - denouncing thecountry that gave them their wealth. I have sat at the same table with such people, and have heard them curse Australia as they left it. Quite recently I have been hunting round for a copy of the Australian National Anthem. I found that no one had. heard of such a thing. To-day I obtained from Cole’s Book Arcade a copy of the “ Australian National Song.” I do not know whether it is the Australian National Anthem. One never hears any one singing such an anthem here. And yet they tell me I am a foreigner! When I was in Tasmania recently quite a number of the boys said that they wanted to be represented by natives who understood Australia, and not by foreigners. I am not a foreigner, but an Australian. I got my bit, such as it is, here, and I am an Australian taxpayer. It would be well for Australia if we were to cultivate a truly Australian sentiment, and sing Australian songs. What could be grander than these lines from the “ Australian National Song “ - words by Arthur H. Adams, music by Theodore Tourrier -
Vast the heritagewe hold,
League on endless league unrolled.
Splashed with bud and wattle gold,
God’s domain, Australia!
Great our opportunity.
Greater must our courage be;
For our race we hold in fee
God’s domain, Australia!
– What about the Tariff?
– This is the Tariff- this means Australian sentiment, without which we cannot have an Australian Tariff. The song goes on -
Sons of those who won the sea,
Of Imperial blood are we;
Ours the country of the free,
God’s domain, God’s domain, Australia !
Freedom for our onward stride!
Wide our continent, and wide
Are the faith and hopes that guide
God’s domain, Australia!
Though begirt with guardian seas,
Not in careless, slothful ease,
Shall we shield thy liberties,
God’s domain, Australia!
Loyal scions of our race,
Ready chance and change to face,
We snail die, but ne’er disgrace
God’s domain, God’s domain, Australia !
The men who went to Gallipoli, Pozieres, and the French frontier have proved to the world that there is an Australia. How are we to have Australian industries unless we have a Tariff? The Herald has told us lately, in a series of letters, that in Japan people are paid 5d. a day, and live in compounds, with 21/2d. for their tucker and 21/2d. for their clothes. How can Australians defend themselves against the products of such labour if we do not have Protection? How can Australia become rich if she is only a primary producer? If a man has a forest, and sells raw timber, he gets very little for it; but if, by genius and skill, he transforms the timber into baskets, chairs, and other necessaries for the people, he will make a fortune. Yet it is said that we ought to have Free Trade. The Tariff ought to be revised at once. Why have we not revised it? Because we could not.
– Why not?
– We should have “ burst up our own little circus” if we had. I say that the Labour party ought never to have allowed a Free Trader into it.
– The Labour party was returned on a Protectionist policy.
– We thought we were, but you cannot change human nature. Every honorable member knows why we did not revise the Tariff.
– Let us know the reason.
– I shall not give any reason, because honorable members know.
– We do not know.
– You do not know officially.
– Look at those behind you !
– They know, and everybody else knows. They know there was a dominating influence in our party. How I have battled in that Caucus I
– There was one righteous man there I
– Even he failed to get salvation 1 Are we to wait until after the war to revise the Tariff? Are we going to allow -this country to be filled with the dumpings of all the world? That is what it will come to. In all the warring countries there is the best and most up-to-date scientific machinery; in fact, when the war is over, Great Britain will be one of the first industrial countries of the earth. America is already so, Japan is already so, and Germany and Austria will be. If we have the courage now to frame a real, one-column Tariff - and I do not say we have not tried or that there are not honorable members opposite who fed in the same way - we shall be in a position, after the war, to say to all lie nations of the earth, “Reciprocity.” We Shall have something to sell - we shall have a valuable market to exchange. But if, after the war, wo start to impose a Tariff, there will be so many divisions, so many columns, and so many preferences that our little industries will not be able to compete with ‘those of other countries. In the little State of ‘Tasmania, nearly all the factories had virtually to close in fiscally fighting only the mainland; and that was simply because the Tasmanian manufacturers were financially Weak, as compared with those of the other States. Great Britain was the greatest Protection- ‘ ist nation on the earth for years, until she had built up her great industries,, and had millions of money invested. Then, when she had built up her mighty industries, and was able to manufacture . for the world, she started to become gradually Free Trade. She sold kil the world goods; but soon the world outside began to use Protection against her .; and when the war broke- out, she was no longer the greatest manufacturing power in the world. It was America that held! that position, and yet America has been built up by Protection, as it was Pro’tection that built up Germany and made that country rich. For two ‘years and a half Germany has been financing the war out of the money, credits, and wealth she gathered from the world by means of Protection. France was another Protectionist country, and is in a similar position, Britain was supposed to be a Free Trade country. Free trade, on account of her wonderful banking system, was better fox Britain than Protection, in the sense that we desire it. Britain was a creditor country, and the banker of the world. London was the chief exchange city of the world for years. More exchange was written in sterling there than in all the other money denominations of the world prior to the war; but, at present, more is written in dollars. When the war is over, if Britain enters into a nonsensical trade war, she will never be the financial centre of the world again; if she does not, the financial centre of the world must go back to her. Why?
– Not through Protection !
– No ; it does not need Protection. It will be through her wonderful organization of ‘ banking, and .of acceptance houses. Just think of iti In 1907, Britain was operating the finances of the world on £120,000,000 in gold. The United States had nearly £400,000,000 in gold, and yet many of her banks closed their doors. Why ? Because she had no great organization like Britain. Why is it that America can never become the financial centre of the world ? Because there is no speculation going on in America, except in American securities,. On the other hand, you may go to Britain and speculate in any securities, almost those of Mars. That is because Britain has her bill houses, her acceptance houses, and her foreign exchanges. A Chinese merchant has tea, and a business man in Australia requires tea. The business man goes to his banker in Australia, and the banker financee him. The Chinese merchant does not know the business man, but he knows the acceptance house in London, and through it he sends the goods, the acceptance house becoming responsible to him for the money of the Australian. This organization is lacking in every country except Great Britain. I could easily see there were no financial men at the Paris Conference - no men who had the slightest idea of finance- when the representatives talked about having a trade war. If Great Britain has a trade war, then she will go through a neutral country to other countries, and those other countries will reach her in the same way. You cannot stop trade. Why did London become the great financial centre?
– Because Britain has her Navy to protect her.
– It is because the business men of London stand out pre-eminently in the eyes of the world. When Thomas Edison was being entertained by the merchants of Berlin, he was asked who stood highest in his opinion in the world as business men, and he declared that Englishmen did. The financial organization in England has, moreover, made money cheap. The banker in Australia can lend all his money at high rates, whereas the London men cannot. One of the reasons why I battled for years for a Commonwealth Bank and a note issue was that every time the rate of interest rose in London, Australian bankers sent millions there on call loan, and left Australian producers and traders without the necessary money to finance their obligations. What will be our position if we allow ourselves, as the Age says this morning, to go to the bad at the rate of £27,000,000 a year? I ask honorable members to get out of their minds any prejudice they have against the Age, and to pay earnest attention to the figuresas disclosed in the following table: -
In addition to this taxation, a sum of approximately £4,000,000 per annum, or about 16s. 9d. per head of population, is raised by means of general rates levied by municipal governing bodies, thus making for the current year 1916-17 a total taxation of, say, £40,750,000, or about £8 7s. 7d. per head of population ? How are we going to find employment for our own people without imposing high duties? 1 have heard the honorable member for Maribyrnong, and also the honorable member for Indi, battle in the Caucus for high Protective duties, and these ought to be imposed at once.
– Is there time to do that during the present crisis?
– We in this party are not handcuffed now, and may speak.
– You never were.
– We shall soon have to do away with the system of one leader speaking for everybody in the ‘ party. Everybody must speak’ for himself.
– Are you only now finding that out?
– Did I not kick up enough “ music “ about it before I left office? The withdrawal by the war of 300,000 men from the productive industries of Australia means a loss of £38,000,000 worth of products every year. Every time we withdraw a certain number of men from productive industries we must throw out of work the men who handle their products. It is a tremendous mistake to think that men can be withdrawn from the farms without serious consequences to the rest of the community. There are farms in my electorate from which all the boys have gone, and the old gentlemen and the daughters are trying to do the work.
– And you will see farms from which no men have gone. I know of a farmer with eight sons, not one of whom has enlisted.
– Those men cannot be on the Labour side. I am talking of the Christians I visit. The lessening of production by £38,000,000 must result in the throwing of men out of work. When travelling as an insurance agent, I found, to my sorrow, that only about sixty-five men in a hundred could pass the doctor. Will the 35 per cent. who failed to pass the insurance doctor be more successful with the military doctor?
– In some cases the military rejections represent 50 per cent.
– I was a careful man, and I had not time to argue with a man unless there was a chance of getting his cheque. I looked at his pocket, and then I looked at his eyes, and always knew how his internal arrangements were. The honorable member for Yarra has spoken as Leader of the Opposition, but, speaking for myself, I say that we on this side should not rest until we get a Tariff that will make this country independent of the world. If we desire to deal with other countries, we should give Great Britain the preference, and other countries reciprocity, but an Australian Tariff we must have. There is nothing that Australia cannot produce. It. has every sort of climate. Those who are not healthy and happy can go to Tasmania, which is a healthy, hopeful country, and those who do not like Tasmania can come to Melbourne to get into the wind storms.
My impression’ is that the war will not last long. I express that view because of what I have read in letters written to people in America by relatives in Germany, and, published in the press. I honestly believe that for months past Germany has been in a hopeless state of collapse.
– Perhaps those letters, like some which appear in our press, contain lies.
– That is not so.
– You say we should amend the Tariff now.
– I do.
– It is impossible.
– I do not think it is impossible. Some honorable member suggested that the Government should prevent the importation of motor cars.
– I advocate that.
– I have read that some American scientist has discovered that alcohol, or “ stagger- juice,” can be utilized for motor cars instead of petrol. If that discovery proves to be a success, motor cars will be so cheap that the Government will not be doing right in’ depriving the people living in the Australian interior of the opportunity to meet each other. The old buggy and pair are of no use nowadays.
– What about boggy ground in wet weather?
– A pair of horses would cost as much to feed as would pay for the petrol for a motor car. I have read that motor cars are sold in America to the trade at £49 each. The utilization of motor cars enabled the French to drive the Germans across the Marne. If the French command had not been able to transport troops from Paris to the Marne in a few hours the Germans would have been in Paris.
I wish to read what Professor Anderson, of Harvard University, wrote in regard to the labour question. My experience is that if you meet and talk with men they will always meet you on reasonable conditions. There were strikes enough on the trans-Australian’ railway, and the men complained to me about their tucker-shops. Their complaint was just, and I immediately ordered the officials to put the tucker-shops in repair, and conduct them departmentally. They charged up the £600 worth of repairs to the cost of the first week’s running of the establishment, in the same way as £60,000 was charged up for the expenses in connexion with the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank. I have been reading in the press constantly that the tuckershops lost £600 in a short period, and in the same way it was said that the Commonwealth Bank had lost £60,000 in the first year. If the men at the head of the railway had been good business men, they could have operated the tucker-shops at a good profit by charging 25s. per week. I know ladies who are doing well in Melbourne by charging only 18s . per week.
My name will live in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank when many are dead and forgotten. The Tariff is part and parcel of the industrial life of Australia. This is what Professor Anderson says -
The question of industrial warfare and the great losses entailed by strikes and lockouts is indeed fundamental. Employers are often lacking in apprehension of the right relation between employer and employee. If the employers were to consider the employees from the view-point of their requirements as human beings - that is, men under the obligation in general to continue the work of the country through their children, who require to be wellborn, well-reared, and well-educated - they might find themselves in agreement with the demands of the employees as to the living wage.
There were, doubtless, few instances among the numberless strikes which totalled appalling losses in which the employees demanded more wages than would afford them even limited opportunity to advance the true well-being of their children and families- a well-being essential to the country’s future.
Do honorable members deny that? -
Modern industry rests on the law of supply and demand, and, therefore, proceeds on the wrong assumption, namely, that the necessary labour and men and women should be paid for onthe basis of the same law of supply and demand that determines for the product of labour.
That is the cause of all the trouble in Australia between the working men and their bosses -
The dominating public opinion of the Commonwealth is at last becoming enlightened as to the fundamental wrong of putting human labour and the material products of labour in the same classification as articles of barter and sale. This issuegoes deeper and broader than we can realize. We know its complexity, but it must be solved. Strikes may be stated as the recurring protest by producers of the country’s wealth against the results to them of the various methods of distributing the product which modern civilization has developed to so high a degree. These methods of division include all businesssteps, from transportation to banking. I am profoundly confident that the workers’ hopes lie in the success of justice. - The rights of the producers of wealth must, as a matter of course, come before the claims of those who, controlling the distribution of the product in its multiform equations, not only fixtheir own salaries in the form of profits, commissions, and foes, but purpose to continue to fix the wages of the industrial producers by individual contracts. If the employers gave more attention to what is necessary for the decent living of the employees, there would be more happiness and less trouble.
Harvard was founded in the early colonial days of America, and has always been known as the home of the”boodleier ‘ ‘ ; yet its Professor of Economics had the courage to state his opinions in the words I have read. If the employers did not always take the stand that, because they have the management of business affairs, they should not condescend to meet their men, but discussed differences withtheir employees, there would be hardly any strikes. How many strikes were there while I was in charge of the transcontinental railway? During the thirteen months before I became Minister there were sixty-one strikes. Yet howmany concessions did I grant? Very fewI allowed the men to hear the other side, and, generally, they were satisfiedwhen they had done so. That is the way in which men should be treated. They should not be abused and condemnedby those who have plenty of money, because they will not do this or that. A working man with a family growing up seesno hope for them. God help him, say I.
– The interest bill to be paid thisyear on the indebtedness of the Commonwealth, the States, and the municipal bodies of Australia is £26,900,000, and the Commonwealth will have to find £12,050,400 for interest and soldiers’ pensions this year before meeting any of the ordinary expenses of government. Is it any wonder that we find in Holy Writ that the wicked fleeth where no man dares to follow ? Men have come into this House pledged to the hilt to a Protective Tariff, yet Australia is the dumping ground for the foreign producer. A tariff should be arranged scientifically so that the protection should be based on the difference between the high cost of Australian labour that gives the Australian working man the chance of bringing up his family in decency, and not under conditions of hunger and starvation and the cost of cheap labour outside. To claim that the cost of transportation is sufficient defence is useless. It is no defence nowadays. The Government should realize what a mighty country we have walled in, as it is, by great oceans, but it can only grow when its people have a love for it. We do not hear Australians singing Australian songs. The children in our schools do not sing about Australia as American children sing The Star Spangled Banner. An American may be abusive of many things, but he never abuses his country. He may curse labour. He always praises the nation, though he may curse Gompers, who, by the way, is an Englishman. It is wonderful how these Englishmen go to all parts of the earth and run it. We need an economic declaration of independence. We want to see this country develop and begreat like ancient Greece, this countrywhich has produced the Torrens Land Actand the secret ballot. There has not been such secrecy lately, but that does no matter. There is hope. The Lord has said, “ The wicked shall not prosper.” ] wish to call the attention of Australian! to their own music.Here isanother Australian song -
In our ensign we’ve united
Britain’s crosses glorious three,
Southern star cross mystic seven
For Australia Felixsee!
There mercy, wisdom, justice, hope,
Faith, peace, and love appear.
Then raise our star cross ensign grand,
For King and Empire cheer.
– How does the honorable member propose to connect this song with the question before the Chair ?
– I propose to connect it with Australian protection. The song proceeds -
Should trumpet sound the wild alarm
Or fierce war round our strand of peace,
At duty’s call, up brothers all,
Guard well our land of “ Golden Fleece.’
Hope leads ! We arm, for honour, love,
For home, and country dear.
So raise our star cross ensign grand,
For King and Empire cheer.
Rise, ye gallant Austral-Britons,
Beneath our star cross flag stand fast.
Our kin of old were brave and bold,
They feared not foe nor stormy blast.
We’re southern sons of northern sires,
And hold their freedom here.
So raise our star cross ensign grand,
For King and Empire cheer.
Can any one find anything grander in a foreign country than this great invocation ?-
Creator, Lord of sea and land,
Direct us with a father’s hand,
Protect from danger and from loss
Thy children ‘neath the Southern Cross. .
Oh! grant us strength thro’ life’s hard fight.
To help the weak, maintain the right.
Give justice, mercy, wisdom clear,
And faith by Thy star cross to steer.
If Ministers were true Australians, and had the spirit of Australia in them; if they loved the hills, the valleys and rivers, the inexhaustible lands and mines, and the people of this great country, these would be the songs that they would be singing..
.- I do not wish to waste the time of the House as it is being wasted. The attitude taken up by honorable members of the Opposition in regard to the Tariff is quite untenable, and no one knows it better than they do. ‘ They know very well that the delicate balance of the nations is such that any untoward event or presumptive action on the part of any Ally at this juncture might have very far-reaching effects. Therefore, all this talk about the necessity for an immediate revision of the Tariff is so much hot air. For one thing, time will not permit of an immediate revision of the Tariff, but, altogether apart from that point, the circumstances are such that any attempt to touch the Tariff just now would be most unwise. Honorable members opposite know this full well, hence it is only right that the country or, at any rate, those who read Hansard should know that all the talk that is now being put up in the House is merely an electioneering placard. The grandiloquent language of honorable members, and the spread-eagleism of the honorable member for Darwin, will not get us any further forward in Australian affairs. If honorable members were really honest in their protestations they would fall into line with what has been done on this side of the House, and would get their representations heard in the proper quarter. By actual contact with those on the other side of the world they would know just what it is possible for us to do at the present time. We know that we cannot act independently. The talk of some honorable members reminds, me of the attitude of the children of rich parents who, being secure in their positions for the time being, by reason of parental provision, can be impudent to all the world. These arrogant fools - I do not know that I should use those words, but certainly some honorable members are behaving as if we were not a country that is absolutely dependent on the strength of our paternal protector. It is our paternal protector who has made it possible for us to go as far as we have gone and to be as independent as we are, and no. one knows better than honorable members opposite the extent to which they have exhausted all the possibilities of the liberties which we enjoy in this country. When they talk about flouting the advice which has been given from the highest sources, and about erecting a high Tariff barricade, they are simply courting disaster. When they reflect upon the actions of a Government which has recently gone out of office they are obviously reflecting upon some members of their own party. They know that perfectly well the Leader of the Opposition was largely responsible for the conduct of the Hughes Government. He was Minister for Trade and Customs in the first two Labour Governments that held office during the currency of the war, and no one knows better than he does the difficulties that stand in the way of interfering with the Tariff. I do not know that the honorable member for Yarra has been urging the revision of the Tariff at this particular time, but his followers have been urging it, and, therefore, they are reflecting on their own leader, or else the honorable member has lost the wisdom that he displayed on this side of the House by the change that has taken place. The only way in which we can get any satisfaction on Tariff matters - and all but those who are wilfully blind can see it - is by participatingin the Empire Conference that is now about to take place. If the view is accepted - which is unescapable - that we are simply part of an Empire which is now struggling - perhaps to its death - the only hope we have of getting any terms for Australia is by participating in the Conference, realizing the exact situation, and doing what is best for all parties in the struggle. We cannot stand alone. If we could wewould be ungrateful, and to stand alone would be outrageous conduct on our part in view of our past history. But it is useless to say that we can stand alone. We cannot do so. If honorable members who have been elected to this House do not realize the situation it is a reflection, not only upon them, but also upon the community. No one knows better than honorable members how utterly dependent we are on the success of the Empire in the gigantic struggle that is now in progress, and all that we can gain is what may be obtained by participating in the negotiationsthat are now in progress at Home. But all this has been made impossible by honorable members opposite. I would go so far as to say that even now if they would nominate a representative he should be sent Home with the delegates already chosen. However, that matter is not under discussion now.. They have not been satisfied to take a constitutional course. They have not been satisfied to sink party differences and take a hand as true Australians in doing the only thing that it is now possible for us to do. They have neglected the constitutional method. They have spurned it; and yet they have the presumption to charge the Government in this House with not attending to the Tariff. They charge the Government with having failed to do what they know very well we dare not do.
– That is just the sort of remark I should expect from the honorable member. He has no sense of responsibility, no feeling of gratitude to the country which has made him possible, and afforded him an opportunity to utter all his follies. He should thank God for the opportunities he has enjoyed in thiscountry. He should be thankful that he has been permitted to go on the rampage and talk at large, as he has done. A man who says, as the honorable member does, that we are at liberty to do what we please, in regard to the Tariff just now, in my opinion is not right in his thinking functions. It must be obvious to any man who can think consecutively that we are dependent on the rest of the Empire. We have flung ourselves into this war; we are, in fact, one of the Allies who have struck a deadly blow at the German Empire. We have been able to do that, for the most part, only because of the might of Great Britain, assisted by those other noble peoples who have spilled their blood in rivers so that the little nations of the earth may have a freedom such as we have so longenjoyed. In these circumstances, it is absurd for any honorable member to stand up here and assert that we are at liberty to do anything we please, regardless of whether or not it may hamper the operations of Great Britain or alienate the sympathy of the Allies, to say nothing of prejudicing our own country. Such a contention is not only absurd, but treacherous.
– I am not surprised at the utterances of the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. Ever since he has been in this House I have not known him to take up any different attitude. Such a view as that expressed by him comes ill from the representative of a constituency where manufacturing is being carried on at the cost of the rest of Australia.
Mr.Carr. - I am considering our future, not our present, position.
– If the particular industry to which I have referred, and which is being carried on in the honorable member’s constituency, were shut down, we should have a wild howl from him. Various industries have been stopped in my electorate, but I am not howling about the matter.
There are several phases of the Tariff issue which must be considered.No question has provoked more debate, or led to more protracted sittings in this House than has that of the Tariff. Prior to my coming here, some ten years ago, one of the longest sittings in parliamentary history took place in connexion with the Tariff then under consideration. This was due to the fact that a majority of the members recognised that industries were essential to Australia if we were to have a civilization of which we might be proud. All over the world it is realized that a non-manufacturing nation cannot hope to reach that high state of civilization which should be the object of every country. In purely agricultural countries the people - I am speaking now, not of the owners of the land, but of those employed upon it - seem to be always in a very low state.
– They are of a very much higher type than are some of the factory hands.
– I was speaking of their position from a financial standpoint. I have not a word to say against the rural population of this or any other country. It is a well-known fact, however, that purely agricultural countries, and there are several in Central Europe, are the poorest, whilst the manufacturing nations are the wealthiest. When the first Federal Tariff was under consideration the parties in this House were fairly evenly divided. The Protectionists, however, won over a few Free Traders who favoured the collection of certain taxation through the medium of the Customs House, and so succeeded in passing a sort of Tariff which had to be accepted. In 1907-8 the Tariff issue was again brought forward, and a great fight was put up. The duties imposed for the protection and encouragement of certain iron industries were retained on that occasion by the votes of two Free Traders - Mr. Wilks, who then represented Dalley, and the present Prime Minister. They entered this House as Free Traders, and rarely gave any but a Free Trade vote ; but on that occasion they saved the iron industry of the Commonwealth. Since then almost the whole of the Free Traders in Parliament have shed, or have pretended to shed, their Free Trade skins. I use the word ‘ ‘ pretended “ advisedly. We have in this House, I believe, quite a number of Free Traders, and in some parts of Australia Free Trade may be regarded as the right policy for Australia to adopt. Unfortunately there has been a great division of opinion in regard to the particular form of Protection that should be selected. The question at issue has been whether we should adhere to the old form of Protection, under which only those who invest in industry are protected, or whether we should adopt New Protection under which the consumers and the workers are also protected. This diversity of opinion has prevented Australia from securing a higher Tariff than she enjoys to-day. New Protection is one of the planks in the Labour platform, and I believe it approaches more closely to the desires of the Free Traders than does the policy of the old Protection. The only argument that the Free Trader can advance against Protection is that the imposition of a duty on any commodity makes that commodity dearer to the consumer. If by a rational scheme of Protection we can protect both the consumer and the producer, I fail to see why Free Traders should take exception to it. The principle of the New Protection is now generally conceded. Some four years ago the Labour party, then in power, were condemned all over’ Australia for their failure to revise the Tariff. Higher duties had been imposed on a number of new commodities, but the Tariff in existence was, after all, of a patchwork character. At that time I had to defend the policy of the New Protection which had been adopted by our party. We repeatedly told the Protectionists of Australia that we would not bring in a comprehensive Tariff until we had the power to protect the consumer and the worker, as well as the manufacturer.
– We remember your famous statement on that subject when before the electors.
– I am leading up to that matter. I have never departed from the stand I then took up. I was the only one to keep in step at that time ; the rest of the army was out of step. I defended our Government, which remained in office from 1910 till 1913. The present leader of our party was then Minister for Trade and Customs, and was condemned by the Protectionists for his failure to bring in a Tariff imposing higher duties. As a responsible Minister he had to take that condemnation; if he did not like it, he ought to have resigned. Towards the end of the life of that Parliament Mr. Fisher, to my surprise, announced that he intended to throw over our ideas as to the New Protection, and that if, as the result of the then approaching election, we were returned to power, he would . bring forward a new Tariff providing for the old form of Protection, taking the chance of some future opportunity presenting itself to protect the consumer.
– That was only provided that the Labour party’s proposals for the amendment of the Constitution were defeated.
– That was a proviso to which I objected. The Fisher Government did not come back with a majority in the new Parliament. The Conservatives had a majority of one, and we enjoyed ourselves very much.
Since the passing of the 1908 Tariff no effort has been made to bring in such a schedule as would establish the true form of Protection. ‘ There are many reasons for this, and I propose to put one or two before the House. The present Parliament came into existence after the outbreak of war, and both parties avowedly supported Protection, despite the fact that both had a leavening of Free Traders. At the last general election the Labour party came back with a majority, but with the exception of a little bit of patchwork, which was good so far as it went, nothing has been done to establish a truly Protective Tariff. The amendments brought in by our present leader, who was then Minister for Trade and Customs, provided for certain increases, but the Tariff was full of anomalies in the sense that in many cases the duties imposed were not sufficiently Protective. At the close of this Parliament we are in practically the same position that we occupied in 1908. I shall not quote figures, but we know that the Tariff of 1908, to a large extent, built up industries in Australia, with the result that in 1910-11 our exports were considerably in excess of our imports. Since that time we have so gone to the bad that today our exports are about £12,000,000 less in value than our imports. There is not an honorable member, not a thinking man or woman in Australia, whether Free Trader or Protectionist, but realizes that this cannot go on. We have to consider coolly and calmly what can be done to break down that wall which stands in the way of our doing what we know we ought to do from an industrial standpoint. This is a serious question for every honorable member, no matter what constituency he represents. Even the honorable member for Parkes, who is no doubt of the same opinion he was years ago, must admit there is something wrong when our imports far exceed our exports, and we are not producing gold to pay for the difference.
– We are accumulating millions of pounds’ worth of produce, which the lack of shipping does not enable us to include in our exports.
– The rats and mice are eating that produce in my constituency. I do not wish to frighten those whomay have their money invested in the produce, but if things are half as bad as I have been told, they are very bad indeed.
– The honorable member will admit that if there had been unlimited shipping, and unlimited freedom to export, our exports would have been quite as large, if not larger, than our imports?
– That, of course,is a good Free-Trade argument.
– It is a matter of fact.
– It simply depends on the addition table.
– The honorable member for Parkes knows that a ton of wheat is not of equal value with a ton of manufactured articles. Of course, it is the argument of Free Traders that if we do not import goods we cannot send away our raw material - that if ships are brought here in ballast, the fact only addss to the cost of sending away our produce. Irrespective of the fact that there are millions of pounds’ worth of wheat and other commodities that cannot be exported because of the peculiar position in which wefind ourselves to-day, it must be admitted that our exports have not increased in the same ratio that our imports have. If wecan import tons of commodities, we ought to be able to export produce of equal value, for it is the value, and not the tonnage, that has to be considered. However, what is our position to-day ? We. aretold that there are certain things we cannot do because of the present situation. That is said by the present Government, and was said by the preceding Government, and the Government before that. There is something in the air that prevents our moving. The interests of Australia are now intermixed with those of the Empire as never before. We aretold that, in pre-war times, we wereleft by the Mother Land to carry out our own free will in regardto our Tariff arrangements; but the position today is quite different. Indeed, the position, so far as the outside public is concerned, is surrounded with mystery.I believe, however, that the Protectionistassociations and Protectionist newspapers- are just as conversant with the situation as we are ourselves. When, some three weeks ago, the Protectionist associations, of Australia waited on the Prime Minister on the question of the reopening of the Tariff, I told one of the delegates that I could not understand why I was not allowed to discuss the matter, while he and his friends and the Protectionist press, who knew just as much as we do about the situation, were allowed to say what they liked. I cannot think that these newspapers and organizations are ignorant of the difference between the situation before the war and the situation now; and yet they are allowed to publicly condemn this Parliament, and every honorable member here, for not doing certain things that they deem desirable. There are nien in gaol to-day for doing much less than these associations and newspapers have done during the last few weeks. Are we to understand that one section of the community may discuss such matters, while another section, which happens to consist of members of Parliament, have their mouths closed? If so, it does not appeal to me as a fair position in any respect.
I believe that the Protectionist associations and the Protectionist press are quite justified in the stand they have taken, but their weakness is that they opposed the referendum in the year before last. At that time the Labour party - of course, this was before the rift - had decided to take a referendum on certain questions, an affirmative reply to which would have enabled this Parliament to protect the manufacturer, the consumer, and worker alike. We remember, however, the intrigue that took place ; how the State Governments promised the present Prime Minister, then the Leader of the Labour party, to concede to the Commonwealth Parliament certain powers which would render the referendum unnecessary. Unfortunately, that offer was accepted; and we know now how it was honoured . Now we are told that there is no need for action, because the Government possess all the requisite power under the War Precautions Act. It is true that the High Court has said that that is so, but, in my opinion as a layman, it is bad law.
– You have that opinion because you are a layman !
– Exactly; but I claim to have formed an opinion from my experience of the Court during the time I have been a member of this Parliament. When the referendum was proposed, we were told that it was a most inopportune time - that we ought not to have the turmoil and strife of such a contest while we were at war. Further, some cant was indulged in, and we were implored to think about our boys at the front, and not to divide the people at such a time. That is the sort of stuff we were asked to listen to. The position was just as serious at the front, and even more serious, in 1915, than it is to-day; and then, as now, we had these objections raised. The truth is that the Protectionist associations of Australia did not wish to give this Parliament power to fix prices and wages conditions, but preferred the old form of Protection; and, unfortunately, the Free Traders helped them to gain their point. Newspapers are allowed to change their minds every three months or three days, but if a politician, after due consideration, arrives at the conclusion that he was not right in the past, he is hounded down from one constituency to another. The Protectionist leaders and newspapers said, in 1915, that the time was too serious for the submission of the Constitution Alteration Bills to a referendum, because it would rend the people asunder. I ask whether that referendum would have rent the people asunder as much as did the referendum on conscription.
– Are there any honorable members on your side, in addition to° yourself , who bother about the New Protection nowadays?
– The New Protection is on the Labour platform, and it must be fought for.- If the Labour party returns from the elections with a majority, the New Protection issue will be submitted to the people very soon, and we shall not be sold next time as we were on the last, occasion.
– That is a threat.
– The honorable member will recollect that, three years ago, when the Liberals brought about a double dissolution in the hope of wiping out the Labour party in the Senate, they were just as sanguine as they are now. They may not be quite as sanguine next week after William Holman has been wiped out in New South Wales. Honorable members should not be too positive about being returned; their fate is to be settled by their masters.
I believe that the Protectionist press is correct in the stand it is taking now. Australia is the only country in the world that has unemployed, and if there is any difficulty in deciding what shall be done by the different nations engaged in this fight in the matter of commercial arrangements, I remind the British people that Australia is in a different situation from any other portion of the Empire; and if it be necessary for them to make arrangements with our Allies as to future commercial relations, they should leave Australia out of any such arrangements, and make an agreement that relates only to the trade of Great Britain. Britain today is one vast ‘hive of industry, because a great portion of its population is engaged in producing munitions of war. A similar state of affairs obtains in the countries of the other combatants. In Australia the position is different. We have not had the opportunity to engage in the production of munitions, and we have not the industrial establishments for the purpose. Moreover, we shall never have them if some specious reason is always advanced as to why we should not make our Tariff effective. I wish to read an extract from to-night’s Herald Messages of similar import have been published frequently. I do not know whether that is done for the purpose of taunting Australians, or to incite them to gird up their loins and to make them” realize how foolish they have been in the past. The paragraph reads -
It is announced by the Imperial Munitions Board that an extensive shipbuilding industry is to be established in Canada for the British. Government. Contracts have been let for vessels to cost £5,000,000. The plans include steel ships of a substantial tonnage. New yards are likely to be started, and ships being built for Norwegian interests are to be taken over.
– There are no labour troubles there.
– The wages in Canada are as good as those in Australia. But if honorable members wish to avoid labour troubles by underpaying men, let us hope there always will be labour troubles. Wages and living conditions are as good in Canada as in Australia, and yet the Dominion can build ships for Great Britain. This talk about wages being too high, and labour troubles too frequent, is all clap-trap.
– When I was in Canada, navvies received 2 dollars a day for ten hours work, and carpenters and painters, 1 dollar 65 cents.
– I do not believe any workmen can do more work in a week, working ten hours per day, than if they work eight hours per day. When, a few years ago, artisans were imported from Great Britain and America and set to work alongside our men the Australian pace nearly killed them. In time they became accustomed to the pace at which the Australian works for eight hours per day, but at first they could not hold their own. I believe that the honorable member for Henty was satisfied, after a visit abroad, that as much work is done in eight hours in Australia as in ten hours in America.
– Then tell us why we do not get industries established here?
– Because we have not had sufficient Protective duties.
– Is that the only reason?
– It is the principal one. I believe that the industrial magnates of Australia are just as willing as those of other countries to extend their establishments if they receive enough fiscal encouragement. The reason we have not more industries is not thatwages are too high, but that the duties are too low, and we lack organization.
– Can you tell us the relative duties of Australia and Canada?
– The honorable member for Kooyong has already placed the figures in Hansard, but, speaking from memory, I think the Canadian duty would average about per cent. more than the Australian.
– Do you think that an allround increase of 71/2 percent. in our Tariff would be sufficient?
– One cannot say off-hand what a 71/2 per cent. increase would mean. There may be a 10 per cent. duty on certain commodities for revenue purposes only, and no more duty is necessary, but there may be other duties of 35 per cent ad valorem, which should be increased to 100 per cent. if they are to be thoroughly Protective. I know that the industrial men of Australia are just as greedy as any other capitalists, and if a high Tariff is imposed without protection for the consumer they will take advantage of it. The men working in the industry, too, will get all they can, but I shall not blame them for that while the employer makes all the interest he can on the money he has invested. What is good for the master is good for Andrew.
When we see Canada getting enormous contracts from Great Britain, and have regard to the fact that the Dominion has been manufacturing munitions during the war, we must see that Australia will go by the board unless it takes some steps to protect itself. Men are returning from the front, and a large proportion of them will not be too eager to resume occupations in which they were engaged before they left Australia. The war will unfit many of them for their former trades. Of course, all the warring countries will be in the same position, but the others are industrially prepared and Australia is not.
– Agreed that the necessary Tariff protection is a contributory factor, what are the other main deterrents to getting industries on a good footing ?
– Some say that distance is a deterrent. I do not know whether that is so or not, but I do know that the principal deterrent to an increase in our industrial activities is the insufficiency of the Tariff duties. The men who have invested their money in industrial establishments are not likely to increase their productivity unless they can feel assured that they will get a full opportunity of making good. They are not likely to substitute new machinery for old until they are assured of a return on the money invested. I admit tha.t a Tariff a thousand times higher than the present will be useless if we attempt to manufacture with the old order of machinery. But before up-to-date machinery can be installed we must give men who invest their money some security of tenure. I know that by a sudden increase of duties there will be a possibility of a peculiar situation being created; but surely there is enough common sense in Australia to devise some legislative machinery that will give security to the manufacturer and to the consumers during the transition from the present order of things to the new. I suggest, in order to prevent the inflation of prices when the increased duty is imposed, that if it is known that other countries are rushing material into Australia in order to sell before the higher duty operates, the Go vernment should be given power to prevent that material being landed. If we are not likely to manufacture locally for a number of years sufficient of a commodity that is in much demand, and there is a likelihood of some body gaining enormously by an increase in the duty, we might make provision either that the duty should be increased by degrees, or that it shall come into operation, by proclamation, as soon as there is’ a reasonable guarantee that the interests of the consumers are safeguarded. It is useless to say that some arrangement cannot be devised that will meet all requirements. An idea has been created in the minds of many people that we have no right to discuss the Tariff, but I say, again, that Australia is in a different position from the rest of the Empire. Other countries are prepared for manufacturing; Australia is not, and something must be done immediately, otherwise Australia will be made a scapegoat.
– What inducement is there to create industries with the labour troubles we have?
– Our labour troubles are brought about by- the underpayment of the workers.
– Is there not a tendency for the men to want the employer to take all the risk while they get all the profit ?
– Gulliver may have visited a country where such a state of things prevailed, but that does not happen in Australia. Here the employer has always got his pound of flesh, and, under our present system, will continue to do so. Honorable members have spoken about the Australian rates of wages being as good as those of Canada, but, according to the Labour Gazette, a publication of the Department of Labour of the Dominion of Canada, stone-cutters there get 65 cents, or 32Jd. per hour for an eighthours’ day; bricklayers, 70 cents, or 2s. lid. per hour; masons the same; tilelayers 75 cents; and carpenters 50 cents, or 2s. Id. per hour, or over 16s. per day.
– The cost of living is higher in Canada than in Australia. When I was there, in September last, I was charged lOd. when I asked for jam for my breakfast.
– Honorable members are always shifting their ground. When the workers of Australia are paid as well as the workers of Canada there will be no Labour troubles here, and what Canada has done Australia should be able to do. Canada pays high wages, and yet manufactures for export. Why cannot we do the same ? We ‘have been fooled in the past, and no doubt every one is somewhat to blame. Now that we are on the eve of an election we are told that we must not breathe a word about the Tariff question. If, for international reasons, Great Britain is compelled to make concessions to her Allies, Australia cannot be expected to do the same. If she does, she will get the worst of the deal - not being prepared for competition on such terms. While we have our duties to the Empire, we have also our responsibilities to the people who sent us here, and we must not forget their needs.
.- I should have liked to see the Tariff revised before the election, because the people were told when last we faced the music that this Parliament would revise the Tariff. Many Victorian and some New South Wales members were strongly in favour of Tariff revision. But the circumstances arising out of the war have prevented Tariff reform, and I am surprised that some of those who sit behind the Ministry now should taunt the members of this party with’ having done nothing for the two and a half years during which they were in power. An industry which I should like to see get a fair show is the steel industry and allied industries. I believe that the workmen engaged in those industries in Australia have among them some of the most experienced men at their trade in the world, and every one who has the interest of the country at heart feels that something should be done to establish the manufacture of steel and iron in this country.
The honorable member for .Maribyrnong has referred to me as a converted Free Trader. He said last night that I have shed my last Free Trade skin. My fiscal creed is this : I believe in voting for what I think best for Australia. I believe that Protection - not Protection run mad - is necessary for many of our big industries. When the last Tariff was under discussion, however, the honorable member for Wimmera was almost crying in his anxiety to have the duty on dried fruits increased. He spoke of the great industry that was flourishing at Mildura and Renmark, and said that Australia should make all the dried fruits that she consumed. Having heard his plea for the protection of the dried fruit industry, I voted for the duty that the Government then proposed. But I find in going through the files of the Age that since the war began dried fruits have risen in price, not £1 per ton, but many pounds per ton, although for the last two years the crops ha/ve been better than ever before. The consumer has not benefited in the least by the duty on dried fruits. What do we gain by exchanging a fat importer for a fat manufacturer? When I see one or the other sitting behind a fat cigar driving a motor car, I cannot notice any difference.
– What about the good fat pastoralist?
– The grazing industry is a primary industry. Protection does nothing for the pastoralist. We, in the Maranoa district, pay through the nose for everything that we drink, everything that we wear, and everything that we use. Protection ‘has made the dried fruit industry a monopoly in Australia. No one who is not within the combine can sell his fruit.
– Yet the surplus is dumped into other countries for whatever it will fetch.
– Yes, while the Australian consumer pays through the nose.
– If the fruit had been sent abroad those connected with the industry would have got pounds per ton more for it.
– It was impossible to send it abroad for want of space on cargo steamers. The honorable member knows that, because he is always crying out about the Wheat Pool and asking when the wheat will be got away. Why is not something done for the doll’s eye industry ? What has been the effect of the duty on oatmeal, a food which is used in every poor man’s household ? The crop of oats in Australia this year was abnormal, yet oatmeal has increased in price by £2 -per ton.
– What is the oat crop in the Maranoa district like?
– We live on the natural grasses there. God has favoured us with a good grass country, on which we grow good meat for the people of the cities.
The more I look into Protection the deeper I get into the mud. I would like to have back the good old days of this Parliament when we first discussed Tariff matters. I remember then how Protectionist members used to. inveigh against the rich importers. But how does the. working man or other consumer benefit by doing away with the rich importer and creating another brand of rich man, the wealthy manufacturer ? If Protection is to benefit industries in this young country, I am going to give all the reasonable Protection that any Government chooses to propose, because I believe in starting industries and in giving them some chance of succeeding. I believealso in making people use Australian goods. Goods manufactured in Australia are equal to any that are produced in other parts of the world. About three years ago, when I was in a shop in South Melbourne purchasing a pair of boots for 17s. 6d., two working men entered the establishment. They described the boots they wished to purchase, and the attendant in the shop brought along some of Marshall’s boots, good enough for the King to wear. But they said, “ We want something better than that. Have you no imported boots?” He said, “Yes; but they are very expensive.” And what did he do but put some of Marshall’s boots into a box labelled Bostock, and bring them along; but these men said they were not the right shape, and they left the shop. Victorians are rampant Protectionists, and these Victorians wanted to buy imported boots at 30s. a pair, while I, as a Free Trader, was satisfied with the Australian article at 17s. 6d. a pair. On another occasion I went into a shop in Swanston-street to purchase a pair of boots. I asked for Australianmade boots, and they tried to palm off on me an imported pair, but I would not take them, although I am a Free Trader. It just shows what thoroughbred Protectionists will do.
The iron industry is a great industry, and we have all the raw material here’, millions of tons of iron ore merely awaiting the efforts of the miner to dig it out. If we give a measure of protection to that industry, and those which are allied to it, I believe that Australia will become a rich and prosperous exporting and manufacturing nation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
In this Act “ Tariff proposals “ means the proposed duties of Customs introduced into the House of Representatives on the following dates, namely : - 3rd December, 1914. - (Relating to the -Tariff on goods other than those imported from and the produce or manufacture of the Union of South Africa). 3rd December, 1914. - (Relating to the Tariff on goods imported from and the produce or manufacture of the Union of South Africa). 12th December, 1914. 9th June, 1915. 12th November, 1915.
.- I informed honorable members yesterday that it was my desire to move some amendments to the Bill. I am afraid that if we pass this clause the proposals referred to will have been agreed to, and it will be impossible to amend them: Therefore, I am anxious to know whether this is the right place for moving any amendment.
– The next clause is the validating provision. This is merely a definition clause.
– This is the clause covering the Tariff proposals of 3rd December,. 1914, and I propose to move an amendment to item 129 of the Tariff proposals submitted on that date. This item deals with jute piece goods for the manufacture of cornsacks, which. I think, should be free of duty, no matter from what country they are imported. As honorable members know, they come solely from India, but I propose to move that they be free. I propose to take the same step in regard to item 134 dealing with cornsacks but I do not wish it to be said that I sought to remove the duty on cornsacks, and place the local manufacture at a disadvantage by retaining the duty on its raw material. I move -
That item 129 of the schedule submitted on 3rd December, 1914, as follows : - “ Hessians and brattice cloth; jute piece Roods; bookbinders’ cloth; bunting - ad val, free, and 10 per cent.” be amended by leaving out the words “ 10 per cent.” and inserting in lieu thereof, the word “ free.”
My object is to make the general Tariff on these goods free.
– On a point of order, I submit that the amendment is not relative to clause 2, which simply defines what resolutions are to be validated by clause 3. The honorable member has moved an amendment of an item in the Tariff proposals, but that is not relevant to the clause before the Committee.
– I do not see any other portion of the Bill where I can move an amendment. I am anxiousthat the collections of duties should be validated as is proposed in clause 3, and I cannot see that clause 4, dealing with the construction of certain items of Tariff proposals, presents any opportunity for moving in the direction I desire. If I am assured that I cannot move any amendment on this clause, I shall have to move that the ruling be dissented from.
– This is a Bill for an Act to validate the collections of duties of Customs under Tariff proposals. Therefore, any amendment such as that suggested by the honorable member is necessarily precluded. I contend that it is not in order to submit an amendment of the nature moved by the honorable member to a Bill which merely proposes to validate the collection of certain duties.
– The amendment cannot come under clause 2, and so far as I can see from a very cursory glance at the Bill, it cannot be accepted on any clause. I rule, therefore, that the amendment is out of order.
– I am sorry; but I must move that the ruling be dissented from. The Government surely did not draw the Bill in such a way that they could say, “ We were prepared to consider any amendments, but the Chairman ruled them out of order.” The words “ Tariff proposals,” in clause 2, certainly refer to this proposals which were laid on the table on the 3rd December, 1914.
– The clause simply provides that for the purpose of this measure, “Tariff proposals” means the proposed duties of customs introduced into the House of Representatives on a certain date. The honorable member seeks to amend a schedule that was before the Committee of Ways and Means some time ago.
– I move-
That the ruling be dissented from.
.- I second the motion. The Assistant Minister is apparently carrying out a win, tie, or wrangle policy, which is only in accord with the actions of the Ministry in regard to another place.
– I maintain that the ruling of the Chairman is sound. The purpose of this Bill is primarily to validate duties whichare being collected under a resolution of the House, and not by the authority of an Act of Parliament. It is undesirable, for reasons which have already been explained elsewhere - reasons of an international character - to reopen the Tariff at the present time; we cannot do it owing to the war. ThisBill will enable us legally to retain the revenues that have been collected’ during the past three years under resolution laid before the Committee of Ways and Means. It will also legalize the collection of these duties until such time as a new Parliament shall have been elected and can deal with the whole question of the Tariff. ‘ If you, sir, had decided that any item could be amended, I should have claimed the right to propose reductions in a number of items occurring in the schedule before that which the honorable member for Yarra desired to amend. I should, for instance, have proposed to make certain amendments in division 5, which deals with textiles. As it is, I submit, sir, that, having regard to the title of the Bill, which is to validate the collections, your ruling is correct.
– I wish it to be clearly understood by the Committee that it is not the intention of the Government to accept any amendment whatsoever. Those of which we have given notice are not designed to raise or lower duties, but merely to validate the duties already imposed.
– If words mean anything, then I submit that, under clause 2, we have power to move an amendment in any part of the schedule.
– That would be both unpatriotic and dangerous.
– Bunkum ! It would be better if the honorable member had a little more patriotism for the country in which he lives so well.
– The honorable member is only making an election speech. That is quite patent.
– I would sooner be what I am than a “W.W.D.”- a “Willy Watt ditto.” I hope that the Temporary Chairman’s ruling will be disagreed with, and that we shall be allowed to move amendments. I regret now that I did not submit an amendment on the motion for the second reading of the Bill that I had intended to move, namely -
That the Bill be referred back to the Government, with instructions from this House to draft a schedule rectifying Tariff anomalies in the present schedule, and to provide for effective Protection to those industries which are capable of supplying Australia’s requirements, with provision to add to the schedule from time to time all industries which may hereafter be established to supply Australian requirements; and also to place an embargo upon the importation of luxuries.
– Order ! The honorable member is not discussing the question immediately before the Chair, which is that my ruling be disagreed with.
– There is not a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– I ask the honorable member for Maribyrnong how he proposes to connect the amendment which he was reading when interrupted with the motion before the Chair ?
– It is so well worded that I thought it well to have it recorded in Hansard. I was endeavouring to controvert the arguments of the honorable member for Lang, and I point out that the first three lines of clause 2 are so worded as to allow any amendment to be moved in the schedule to the Bill.
– Look at the title to the Bill.
– Sometimes the title of a Bill is amended, so that the title of a Bill does not always govern the discussion on the measure itself. We have in the honorable member for Yarra’s amendment a proposition to do by legal, Wholesome, and legitimate means, what will otherwise be done by devious and illegitimate means.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. Our proposal is not an illegitimate one.
– I hold that it is. By regulation or Order in Council, the Government are going practically to hand over to a section of the community a big sum of money. Such a question should be decided by Parliament, and not by a Government controlled by Free Traders. I hope that the Committtee will disagree with your ruling, sir. The whole question really hinges on whether or not corn- sacks are to be allowed to come in free. Is the remission of the duty on cornsacks to be done in a legitimate way, or in the illegitimate way proposed by the Government?
.- It seems to me that the discussion must be governed by the title of the Bill. This is a Bill for an Act to provide for the validation of certain duties that have been collected since 1914 on the authority of resolution laid before the Committee of Ways and Means. If the amendment be allowed, and is carried, the whole of the duties collected since that resolution was laid on the table will have to be refunded to the importers. That is the position we shall have to face. The question is whether we are prepared to go on as originally arranged, or whether, as appears to be the case, there shall be an attempt to make political capital out of the position.
Question - That the ruling be dissented from- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- In all my political life, I cannot remember an instance of a Government declaring their intention not to accept any amendment whatever in a measure introduced by them.
– This is only a Bill to validate something that has been done.
– I never remember a validating Bill, either in the State Parliament or this Commonwealth Parliament, as to which the Government stated definitely that no amendment of any kind would be accepted.
– There was the Military Service Referendum Bill.
– That instance was not in my mind; and, in any case, two wrongs do not make a right. I protest against an action that is, however, absolutely in keeping with other actions of a Government fully determined, it would appear, to “ win, tie, or wrangle,” every time. It seems that nothing can be safe in this country so long as the present Government is in power; and this is only another infamy added to many more committed by them. It is preposterous that a Ministry, without a majority in another place, should take such a stand, and absolutely put aside a definite promise made by Mr. Andrew Fisher, when Prime Minister, that the Tariff should be dealt with in the first session of this Parliament. Meeting after meeting of Parliament has been held, and any attempt to deal with the Tariff has been blocked by the Free Traders in Caucus, and in the House. It is simply ridiculous to tell us, in mysterious tones, that we would “Tremble if we only knew all”; and I regard it as an insult to a great nation who has been our faithful ally, and carried out every pledge she has made. In a book on Japan that I published, and in my speeches in this House, I have said that which enables me to now speak freely; and nothing that could be said now could be stronger than what I have written and spoken. I resent the idea that the Tariff should be delayed on a pretext so frivolous, and that I should be prevented from submitting a proposal that would permit the Government, under the War Precautions Act, or some other legal process, to remove Tariff anomalies and assist manufacturers whose businesses are dying, and whose employees are being thrown out of work.
– The Government which the honorable member supported were in power over two years, and did nothing.
– I admit that; and I feel absolutely degraded to-night by the fact.- The sinuous gentleman who is controlling and leading this House now will lead his supporters into the same quagmire as that into which he led me and the Executive Committee about ten years ago, when the Watson Government wasin power; and after he has made use of his supporters, he will throw them aside like squeezed oranges.
– Who will do that?
– The gentleman who is your “boss” when you ought to be leader - who has got you so ringnosed, that you have to follow him. I do not blame the Minister in charge of the Bill; he is only obeying the behests of his leader.
– I am carrying out the Government policy.
– Honorable members on both sides agree that the past collection of duties must be validated.
– I know that the honorable member, with all his legal’ knowledge, will take any point to advantage his Government. The Government, when introducing the Bill, should have had the fairness to say that they would not allow a word or a comma to be altered. If I had known of their intention I would have opposed and entered a protest on the first reading. If the Government will not accept amendments in this Chamber, I hope there may be a majority in another place which will compel them to do so. It would be better for the Government to allow amendments to be moved, and then vote them down, than to use their majority to silence the minority. I shall divide the Committee on this issue, for I would sooner go down with the minority than passively accept the dictation of the Government in this matter.
Clause agreed to.
– In calling for a quorum. I wish to draw attention to the inaccuracy of the sand-glass. Standing order 33 reads -
If any member shall take notice, or if the Chairman of Committees, on notice being taken by any member, shall report to the Speaker that a quorum of members is not present, the Speaker, standing up in his place, shall count the House: and, if a quorum be not present within two minutes, he shall adjourn the House till the next sitting day.
By my stop-watch I checked the glass, and I found that it runs for from three minutes to three minutes ten seconds. I call for a quorum, and I offer you, Mr. Acting Chairman, my watch with which to check the sand-glass. [Quorum formed.]
Clause 3 -
AllDuties 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.
Amendments (by Mr. Jensen) agreed to-
That after “ Customs,” in line 1. the words “ demanded or “ be inserted.
That after “ and “ in line C. the words “ lawfully demanded or “ be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 -
In the construction of the Tariff Proposals the items enumerated hereunder shall be construed as if the words “whether forming part of a complete vehicle or imported separately” had, at the time of the introduction of the Tariff proposals containing those items, been contained in each of those items after the words respectively specified, namely: -
In Item 359 (d) (1), after the word “Alcohol”;
In Item 359 (d) (2), after the word “ Alcohol”;
In Item 359 (d) (3), after the word “ Mudguards “ ; and
In Item 359 (d) (4), after the words “ (but not including Rubber Tyres)”.
.- I move -
That in line 1, after “Proposals,” the following words be inserted: -
In Item 129, in the column General Tariff, the words “ ten per cent.” are struck out, and the word “ free “ is inserted.
The effect of the amendment will be to admit free the raw material for the manufacture of cornsacks. If the amendment is agreed to I shall subsequently move a similar amendment in respect of item 134 ; also that in item 291m the word “ super “ be struck out, and “square” inserted in lieu thereof, and that item 320c2 be made free.
– The honorable member is proposing to reduce a duty.
– Yes. Jute piece goods cannot be produced in Australia. They come from India. If this were a protective item jute goods would not be on the free list in regard to the United Kingdom. If the Government will vote against my proposal openly, I shall be ready to accept my defeat, bub I do not wish to be defeated on the ruling of the Temporary Chairman. It seems to me that if the Government wishes to prevent amendments such as I have moved, its best course is to withdraw clause 4. As items are specified therein, I take it that any member can move to amend the clause by specifying other items.
– I take the same objection to this amendment as I took to the previous amendment. The Bill was introduced to validate something that the Government has done. We have made certain collections of duty which need validating. The amendment goes beyond the order of leave. If effect were given to it, there would be no authority to collect a duty that is being collected.
– That difficulty could be got over by introducing the words “ and on and after a certain date.”
– The Bill has been introduced to validate the collection of certain duties and to legalize the action of the Customs Department. It seems to me that the amendment is contrary to its purposes, and therefore I rule it out of order.
.- The Committee understands that one object of the Bill is to validate the collection of certain duties, but does it not also practically adopt the Tariff schedule introduced in 1914, which has never yet been considered ?
– Because of the approaching prorogation and dissolution, the Bill is necessary to authorize and validate the collection of duties. Millions of pounds of revenue have been collected under the schedule introduced in 1914,’ and the money has been spent on purposes of government. It is therefore necessary to validate the collections that have been made up to the present. We need also authority for future collections, and the Bill authorizes the continuance of collecting. It validates the collection of all revenue that has been received up to date, and authorizes and validates the continuance of collections in accordance with the Tariff proposals, introduced on the dates mentioned. As the honorable member for Henty has pointed out, in some instances where duties are remitted by these proposals, they are being collected under the authority of the Customs Tariff Act 1908-11.
– My point is that, in addition to validating the collection of certain duties, the Bill practically adopts in globo Tariff proposals which we have not had an opportunity to discuss.
– The honorable member is right in saying that we have not had an opportunity to discuss these proposals in detail. The Bill continues their effect until Parliament can deal with them in the future. By means of it we reach practically the same end as would be gained if the life of the present Parliament had been prolonged. When the next Parliament meets, it will have as free a hand to deal with the proposals as this Parliament has.
– Is the clause in order in providing for the alteration of certain items 1 It seems to me that my amendment having been ruled out of order as beyond the order of leave, the clause also should be ruled out of order.
– Clause 4 does not alter or amend anything in the Tariff ; it is merely a validating clause, it having been the practice of the Department to do what this clause authorizes. The clause is part and parcel of the scheme of validation. It does not introduce any new procedure.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I understand that the effect of the clause will be to validate the collection of duties which is now taking place, and I rule that the clause is in order.
.- It is with regret that I move -
That the ruling of the Temporary Chairman be dissented from.
I was prevented from moving to amend an item of the Tariff on the ground that the amendment went beyond the order of leave. I think that the clause, in providing for the amendment of certain items, also goes beyond the order of leave. Had the Government had the courage to say, “ We intend to prevent you from moving any amendment of the Tariff schedule,” it would have adopted a straightforward attitude, but it is now sheltering behind the ruling of the Temporary Chairman. I spoke last week of my intention to move this amendment. By a side wind the Government is hand ing back £139,000 obtained from the duty on cornsacks, a duty that I have never favoured. Now we have an opportunity to wipe out that duty. Ministers also propose to hand back to the sugar farmers £500,000 that they have made by selling sugar to the people.
– That is not true.
– I ask that the remark be withdrawn.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Will the honorable member for Wide Bay withdraw his remark?
– I withdraw it, and say that the statement is inaccurate.
– Are the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra relevant to his motion of dissent?
– My reference to the action of the Government in regard to the sugar-growers was merely incidental.
– It is very easy to make an inaccurate statement.
– The Government Whip should have better sense than to interject.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member is entitled to be heard in silence. I ask honorable members on both sides to cease interjecting.
– If the Government would come down and vote openly on the item, no exception could be taken to their action; but I take exception to their claiming the right to move amendments to the Tariff in this clause while I am prevented from doing so. I always understood that every private member was entitled to the same opportunities as the Government possessed; but, in this case, a private member is debarred from doing what the Government have done.
– On a point of order, the honorable member for Yarra is reflecting on the conduct of the Chairman. He is endeavouring to point out that the Chairman is preventing private members from moving what the Government are permitted to move. I point out that the Chairman has ruled that certain amendments cannot be accepted because they are not in order, and that that was the necessary distinction before the Chairman when he gave his ruling.
– I ask the honorable member for Yarra to confine his remarks to his motion.
– I understand that the ruling is that the amendment that I moved cannot be moved on clause 4.- I have moved that the ruling be dissented from, and I am pointing out reasons for so doing. The Government have not come forward with a straightforward proposal to deal with the duty on cornsacks. We imported £1,400,000 worth of cornsacks last year, and the farmers will not have to pay a 10 per cent, duty on that amount. That is the position. Either the Wheat Board will have to refund 10 per cent, on £1,400,000 out of the farmers’ profits, or the money will come out of Consolidated Revenue. I maintain that there is a straightforward method of dealing with the matter.
– It has no application to the past.
– I am well aware that it will apply to future harvests only, and if an amendment were moved to the Tariff to the effect that, on and after to-day, the cornsacks should be admitted free, the same object would be gained. I have no desire to reflect on the Temporary Chairman. My sole object is to protect the right of honorable members to move amendments similar to those that the Government have already moved to the schedule in clause 4.
– The honorable member claims the same right to move any amendment similar to those which the Government have moved. I have pointed out to the Leader of the Opposition - and be, having been Minister for Trade and Customs, knows it as well as any honorable member in this House - that this clause is merely declaring to be valid what has been the accepted practice of the Customs Department, and upon which revenue has been collected.
– Then there is no need for the amendments proposed by the Government.
– We are simply validating the practice of the Department; but the honorable member rises and pretends that the amendment to this clause that he proposes is in harmony with the clause, when he knows that it is intended to reduce the duty. The clause simply validates the practice of the Department, and all this talk about dissent from the Chairman’s ruling, and about the Chairman depriving honorable members of their rights and privileges, is so much moonshine. I am surprised at the Leader of the Opposition using such arguments.
– I would take the word of the honorable member for Yarra in regard to the Tariff before that of any other man in Australia.
– That may be so; but the honorable member for Yarra knows that what I am saying is correct. He knows that the clause merely validates the existing practice of the Department, and that his amendment is not a validating proposal, but is simply a proposal to alter the rate of duty.
.- If it is possible for the Committee to validate what has been the practice of the Customs Department, surely it is possible for us to invalidate anything ?
– This is not an invalidating Bill ; it is a validating Bill.
– This is a Bill to validate certain collections of duties, and for other purposes. What are those other purposes? Another purpose is the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition to make jute piece-goods free, instead of charging 10 per cent., on them. I contend that the Leader of the Opposition is just as entitled to move an amendment to say what the construction of the Tariff shall be, as the Minister for Trade and Customs is to propose what the construction of the Tariff shall be in regard to four items of the Tariff: We wish to add to the four items, and I submit that we should be permitted to do so. No doubt honorable members will vote to support the Chairman; but they will not deceive the general public in regard to the conduct of Ministers, namely, bringing down a Bill to which amendments cannot be moved.
.- I would not have risen, except for what I believe was, on the part of the honorable member for Yarra, a wilful and deliberate mis-statement.
– On a point of order, the honorable member’s statement is distinctly offensive, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Does the honorable member for Yarra regard the statement as offensive?
– I do. The honorable member cannot claim that I deliberately and wilfully misrepresented anything.
– If I am permitted to conclude my statement, I will withdraw itafterwards.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw his statement unreservedly.
– I do so. The honorable member for Yarra, under the disguise of disagreeing with your ruling, has made a statement that is absolutely incorrect, and he knows it. He was the only Minister of theFisher Government who knew what was to be the duty on cornsacks. Until he unloosed the Tariff in this Chamber, no one else knew what the duty was to be. Yet now the honorable member says that he does not believe in that duty, and he is seeking to have it removed. I remember the facts, and the sequence of events well. When the honorable member brought into the Chamber a proposal to impose a duty of 10 per cent. on cornsacks, honorable members who were then sitting in Opposition, took a certain course of action, the object of which would have been to remove that duty.
– That is not correct.
– The statement is absolutely correct. The honorable members for Indi and Werriwa, and certain other country members, intended to vote with the Opposition at the time; but Mr. Fisher came in and said to the then Leader of the Opposition, “ This proposal is a dirty flank attack, intended to interfere with a Government which is charged with the conduct of the war.” Consequently, the course of procedure that the Opposition proposed to take was not pursued ; but several honorable members who represented country constituencies waited, by appointment, on the honorable member for Yarra in his Ministerial room, and pressed every phase of the cornsack question on him. They asked for the removal of the duty, but the Minister was adamant; he would not budge an inch. Yet to-day he has the hypocrisy to come forward and pretend that he would like to see the duty on cornsacks removed. It is merely a belated election dodge that will nob deceive any one. When the honorable member says that he is in favour of the removal of the duty, he knows very well that he would not yield or budge an inch when he was asked to remove the duty.
– I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the motion before the Chair.
– I expected I might be pulled up long ago. However, the facts are out now, and that is all I desired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Wannon says that I was the only member of the Fisher Government who knew of the Tariff proposals before they were submitted to Parliament - that I alone knew what was to be the duty on cornsacks.
Mr.Rodgers. - The duties in the schedule are the honorable member’s own product.
– While we may fight our political battles as hard as we can, I am confident that neither the honorable member nor any other honorable member of the House desires to do anything that is unfair. Let me say that every member of the Fisher Government went through every item in the Tariff schedule. The present Minister for Trade and Customs, who was a member of that Administration, will bear out my statement” that some items were included in that schedule with which I did not agree. What I brought down to the House, therefore, was the product of the Government. Once I laid it on the table of the House I was responsible for it, and I accepted the responsibility just as I have always been prepared to accept my responsibility as a Minister. The honorable member for Wannon said, further, that on the question of the duty on cornsacks I remained adamant to the appeals of every deputation that waited upon me when I held office as Minister for Trade and Customs. As I said a night or two ago, when I held office as a Minister I never told a deputation that I would agree to its proposals; I invariably said that I would submit the proposals put before me to the Cabinet. It was not possible for me, or any other individual Minister, to frame the Tariff schedule. The Ministry as a whole framed our policy, and I make this statement so that honorable members may not be under any misaprehension as to how the Tariff was framed, or in regard to the answers I furnished as a Minister toany deputation which waited upon me.
– I respectfully protest against the ruling of the Temporary Chairman. The title of the Bill is couched in the widest possible terms. This is “A Bill for an Act to provide for the validation of collections of duties of Customs under Tariff proposals, and for other purposes.” Nothing could be wider than the closing words of that title, and I am satisfied that when the result of this division reaches the public they will take the view that we have not received fair play. Since you ruled, sir, that no amendment could be made to any of the preceding clauses, I submit that you should take up the same position in respect to this clause, and rule out of order any amendment, whether it be moved by a Minister or a private member. I hold that your ruling is quitewrong, and I think you will regret it.
Question - That the ruling of the Temporary Chairman be dissented from - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: -
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.
If the Government will accept this proposed new clause it will get them out of a very difficult position. It will enable them to remove any anomaly in the Tariff, and every one knows that the present schedule contains hundreds, if not thousands, of anomalies. Further, it will permit them to increase the duties on any article manufactured in Australia. That is surely a very necessary power at the present moment. It. will, likewise, give to private enterprises chances to carry on manufactures, some of which are now dying. The records show that we have fewer manufactories now than we had at the outbreak of the war. That should not be. In view of what the war has brought about, the consumption of Australianmade products should be greater than ever.
– Would the honorable member give the Government power to do what Parliament ought to do?
– This would give the Government power to remove anomalies that should have been remedied two years ago. I am not wedded to the wording of the clause as I have proposed it; and if any honorable member, legal or otherwise, thinks that the reference to the War Precautions Act should be omitted, or any other amendment should be made, I shall be only too glad to accept the suggestion.
– Surely your leader does not approve of this proposal ?
– I do not bother about my leader. The clause would give the Government power to deal with the matter of drugs with German names; and it is a fact that, in New South Wales, enemy aliens, who had their patents cancelled, have been granted new patents. The clause would cover the interregnum which always follows a dissolution, and would enable the Government of the day to perform aduty that honorable members have carelessly and callously neglected. It is a mere verbal quibble to regard our prolonged sitting as one session, and I am sure that any average man, or any member of the House, does not regard it in that light. It is a mere technicality, that is used to cover the pledge given by Mr. Fisher. If I am beaten in Committee, I shall repeat the proposal in the House, if the rules of Parliament permit.
– Does the honorable member think it would be safe to give this Government all the power he proposes?
– If there was only on© honest man, two honest men, three honest men, or four honest men - and I believe there are four - in the Government, they would check even their leader if he took unfair advantage of the clause, and, further, the shadow of the coming elections would keep them within bounds. Then, again, there are honorable members opposite who are not too sure that they can support all that the Government have done since it was formed, after the huckstering and bickering about the apportionment of the portfolios. There are men who call themselves Liberals, and, perhaps, others who do not decorate themselves with the name, who can be relied on to assist the four honest men I have mentioned, if the Government seek to do any injustice in their dying days.
– I am afraid » I shall have to use the same argument in relation to this amendment as I used in relation to other amendments. The Bill is one to validate something that has been done, namely, the collection of certain duties. Here is an amendment which goesquite beyond the validation of the duties, and proposes to give the Government power to increase duties. This, as I say, is quite outside the title of the Bill, and, further, it would place a wonderful power in the hands of any Government, and leave them to do practically what they liked with the Tariff. The Government have a certain power now, inasmuch as they may meet in Cabinet, and, at any time, place on the table a Tariff resolution to at once take effect. That power the clause only seeks to give in another way.
.- I cordially sympathise with both the mover of the proposed new clause and the Minister. The latter gentleman is very naturally anxious to have the Committee assume that he is one of the four righteous persons to whom the honorable member referred in his eulogistic speech, and he is, therefore, prepared to believe that the Government could properly exercise the tremendous powers proposed.
– I am willing to delete the proposal in regard to increasing duties.
– Then all we have is a suggestion to the Government that they may, by Order in Council, reduce any duties. For the first time I have seen some disagreement between the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Melbourne, inasmuch as the latter would give power to reduce duties. This, I take it, is a well-considered motion, submitted after consultation with the party opposite, for I am quite certain the honorable member for Melbourne would not launch a proposal of such importance without a solid backing behind him. I am also sure that the honorable member would not so change the apparent purpose of the motion without the complete acquiescence, not only of his party, but of his leader. I hope that the motion will not be ruled out of order, but that we may have a vote on it as it stands, or as the honorable member for Melbourne is prepared to see it amended. I should like to see the members of the Opposition voting with the honorable member for Melbourne to put this enormous power in the hands of a Government he so implicitly trusts.
– I would not, with the crowd over there !
– Here we have a “ rift in the lute “ at once, even before we get to a division. There seems to be a split in the party - a split between the honorable member for Melbourne and his nominal leader. As I said before, I think honorable members should have a chance of expressing their utmost confidence in the Government, or of being consistent in the policy they have so recently adopted.
– I wish to tender my “ meed of praise “ to the honorable member for Melbourne for having displayed such confidence in the Government, especially after the hard and bitter criticism of the Prime Minister from honorable members opposite. This shows the big heart of the honorable member for Melbourne, and that he, in his innermost soul, has every confidence in the Prime Minister, and is willing to trust him. This confidence will go on record for all time; and it is to be regretted that it is not in order to take a division on this important motion. The honorable member for Melbourne is to be commended, and I shall certainly, throughout the length and breadth of my electorate, emphasize the fact that,when it came to a critical point, he had such confidence in the Government as to trust them to deal with the Tariff as they choose. Why do the honorable member’s colleagues desert him? They have immediately held a party meeting, and did not even wait until they got upstairs before holding it. They might have waited until they got to the party room before bringing pressure to bear on the honorable member, and I appeal to that honorable gentleman not to allow pressure to be exerted on him in the House. Why should he be compelled to withdraw such a proposal ? It was the honorable member for Indi, I think, who brought the pressure to bear, for he rushed and brought his leader in, and now we find the honorable member for Melbourne deserted because he has shown his confidence in the man whom his colleagues have so bitterly criticised.
– Accepting the suggestion of the Minister and the honorable member for Wentworth, I should like to alter my amendment to read -
Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act, the Government of the day shall be empowered to correct any anomalies by regulation under the War Precautions Act, or by any other legal process, to give Protection to our manufactures.
– The amendment as first submitted by the honorable member was clearly out of order, and in its amended form I must still rule it, out of order, on the ground that it is irrelevant to the Bill, and inconsistent with the title.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Mr. Jensen) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
.- I should like to draw attention to an injustice which an honorable member has suffered through his inability to move an amendment which appeared to me to be pertinent to the measure.
– The honorable member cannot in the House discuss anything that took place in Committee.
– May I not speak on the report stage of the Bill?
– The thought has been in the minds of a number of honorable members that perhaps the present Government is so entirely worthy of the confidence, not only of the House, but also of the country, that it should be permitted to have special powers for the declaration by executive act of increased duties. It might possibly be held by a person who has not closely studied the Standing Orders that this Bill, being merely a Customs duties validation measure, cannot be amended in the direction I have indicated; but I suggest that any doubt as to the legality of an amendment such as has been in the minds of some honorable members fails on the ground that any validating Bill can validate to any extent, and with any exceptions the House may care to name. We might have a Bill providing for validation with certain specific exemptions. In the case Ihave in mind an honorable member with chivalrous instincts sought to place on record his appreciation of the trustworthiness of the Government.
– You are taking advantage of me because I have a bad foot.
– If the honorable member will not accept my assistance, I will say no more.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– Under standing order No. 70, no opposed business may be taken after 11 p.m. without the leave of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that leave be granted to proceed with other business ?
– No. The Government would not allow me to move an amendment to-night. If the Government had been fair to me, I would have been fair to them.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- If the Prime Minister is unable to be present at the interview to-morrow between a deputation from the Rockhampton Chamber of Commerce and the Wool Committee in reference to Rockhampton being made a wool appraisement centre, will the Treasurer arrange for some responsible Minister to attend and hear the discussion? The deputation has come 1,500 miles for the purpose.
.- I should like the Treasurer to inform the House what the Government propose in regard to the business for to-morrow. Will the Excise Duties Validation Bill be dealt with first, and be followed by the Electoral Bill? Will any honorable member be permitted to move an amendment in Committee on the Electoral Bill, or will the same procedure as was adopted to-night be followed, and the Minister in charge object to any amendments at all being moved? If that policy is to be followed, we shall know where we are.
– In the absence of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, I desire to bring under the notice of the Treasurer a very cruel case. A discharged soldier has had his pension reduced from 69s. to 23s. per fortnight. He has been employed in the Post Office since November, at Ss. 6d. per day. He is leaving that position at the end. of the week, because he is unable to do any work. He has no lower jaw, and will never be able to chew food as long as he lives. His arm muscles are injured, and his wife is expecting a child. Mr. Abigail, one of Sydney’s best-known legal experts, recently christened the Defence Department “ the Department of Muddledom.” These cases are doing more to injure enlistment than anything of which I have knowledge.
– Why has not the case been brought before the Defence Department ?
– I ask the Treasurer to investigate this matter. Mr. James, under whose control this matter comes, is a splendid officer, and does his work most conscientiously.
– I will see that these particulars are placed before the Minister.
– During the evening some honorable members alluded to the Industrial Workers of the World, and Mr. Russell, secretary of the Agricultural Implement Makers Union, thinks that the remarks were directed against him. He desires me to state that he has not been, is not, and never will be, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, because he belongs to a union, and believes in political action.
.- I asked the Prime Minister a question to-day as to whether Australian soldiers on active service, when being court martialled, are tried in accordance with the regulations under the Australian Defence Act or the regulations under the British Army Act. The Prime Minister replied that they are tried under the regulations of the Australian Defence Act. I have received certain information which confirms rumours that are widely current throughout Australia as to the very harsh penalties which are being imposed On Australian soldiers who are tried for disciplinary offences. In England recently two young fellows were charged with having been absent without leave, they having left Salisbury Plain and visited London. One of them, aged nineteen, was fined £7 10s., and the other, who was twenty-one years of age, was sentenced to imprisonment for two years. Another young fellow, a former resident of Port Melbourne, is now serving a sentence of three years in a prison in France for having been absent without leave from the base. He had been in the trenches in France for a considerable time, and had an excellent record both in Australia and on active service. In Geelong Gaol to-day is a batch of soldiers who have been returned from Egypt and other parts to serve terms of imprisonment. They are nearly all disciplinary cases. The men have petitioned the authorities here to be given their liberty, so that they may return to the front and make good again, the majority of them feeling their position keenly. Yesterday I was given an instance of the severe treatment of our men by some of the officers, particularly by English officers. A young fellow who took part in the memorable landing of the Australians at Gallipoli, remained there until the end, and left on the day of the historic evacuation, took ill on his return to Egypt, and was Sent to hospital. When he was able to leave the hospital, he was ordered to go to his camp, and arrived there weary, thirsty, and hungry. On asking for rations, he was told that he could not get them, not being on the list., and that he must parade before his superior officer, who was, I understand, an English captain. He asked his superior officer for rations, telling him of the circumstances of his case, and he was told that there were not any rations for him. He then almost demanded rations, and the officer replied-, I understand, “ You will be wanting my afternoon lea next.” Thereupon the spirit of the young fellow asserted himself, and he insulted his officer because of the contemptuous treatment meted out to him. He was immediately arrested, and was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment, serving five months in Egypt, and completing the remaining seven months in the Geelong gaol only the other day. The offence was committed under the strongest possible provocation, and splendid military services and a fine record were blotted out by it. The conduct of British officers at Salisbury Plain and elsewhere towards Australian soldiers, and the severity of the penalties they impose is widely commented on. The other day I asked the Prime Minister whether, if he went Home to the Imperial Conference, he would make inquiries, with a view to getting an alteration of the system. The English officers do not understand the spirit of the average young Australian, who cannot knuckle down in the servile manner of men in some other parts of the world, and therefore come under their displeasure. Some action should be taken, because boys who left their country prepared to give their lives for what they believe to be a good cause, are worthy of more consideration than they are receiving. Personally, I resent the imposition of such severe penalties for what we in Australia would term trivial offences.
– To-morrow we shall proceed with the Excise Tariff Validation Bill, and then with the Electoral (War Time) Bill. I shall bring under the notice of the Prime Minister what was said about the meeting of the Wool Board, and see whether what is desired can be arranged. I do not think that the honorable member for Yarra could have been in earnest in what he said about the Electoral Bill. What was not possible in’ regard to a Validating Bill would be quite possible in regard to that Bill, which is open to amendment in the ordinary way; and the honorable member will have no difficulty in moving such amendments as may come within the scope of the measure. The complaints about the severe treatment of Australian soldiers made by the honorable member for Fawkner will be brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence. Matters of this kind would be dealt with more expeditiously if, in the first instance, they were brought under the notice of the Defence Department, and the names and full particulars supplied in every case. What I have done when complaints have been made to me is to address the Minister, and, if not satisfied with his reply, to address him again. Generally, I have obtained a reasonable decision.
– I have never once got justice, or even a semblance of it.
– There must be delays, no doubt; and if a member cannot obtain a reasonable reply to his representations, he is right in bringing the case before the House. I do not think, however, that it is wise to make general statements about these cases in the first instance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 March 1917, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1917/19170314_reps_6_81/>.