8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. W. Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy to what extent it is intended to bring coal from Great Britain for use in these waters, when the Government have so much coal already paid for and lying at grass here. Is the coal that is being imported intended solely as a reserve for naval purposes, or is it to be used for other purposes?
– Thecoal that is being imported is Welsh coal, and will be used solely for naval purposes. The importation is necessary, because our stocks have become dangerously low by reason of the difficulty of procuring supplies from Westport. We are trying, as far as we can, to use local coal, and extensive inquiries are now afoot to test our own coals to see how far they could be used in the Navy. It is much too costly to import coal from Great Britian if that can be avoided.
– Has the Prime Minister been recently in communication with the Imperial Governmentabout the disposal of the Australian export surplus of dried fruits, and has the right honorable gentleman seen the cable which appeared the other day stating that the controller is now dealing with the supplies for next year, and has intimated his desire to adopt the principle of Imperial preference?
– I have not seen the cable the honorable member mentions. We have not approached the . British Government in regard to this matter, because this Government does not act- with regard to any commodity unless requested to do soby the producers of that commodity. If the producers of dried fruit wish us to act for them, we will do so.
– I ask the Post master-General, in view of an article about wireless telephones that appeared in Saturday’s Age, whether his Departmentis taking any steps to ascertain if the setsmentioned therein can be obtained to give better telephone facilities to families living in out-back places in the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member gave me notice of his intention to ask this question, and the answer is that inquiries are being made in the direction mentioned by him.
– I ask the Acting Treasurer when he will furnish the. reply which was promised by the Treasurer to Several questions asked by me about the financial position of Australia, our loans, and interest charges. The Treasurer (Mr. Watt) promised that he would furnish a. report at the earliest opportunity. I should like to know whether I can get that report?
– I shall ascertain exactly what my colleague promised in the matter, and shall carry out hispromises.
– Has the Minister for the Navy information regarding the action of Canada in declining the offer of a navy from Great Britain, and in determining, on grounds of economy, not to establish a navy, and is his Department going to follow the same line of policy ?
– I am not aware what Canada has done, but if she has acted as reported in the newspapers, I do not propose to follow her example.
– I ask the Prime-
Minister if he can give the people of Australia some information as to what is intended to be done with regard to the moratorium.
Mr.HUGHES. - I shall endeavour to answer the honorable member’s question to-morrow.
Delivery of Nairana - Speed of loongana.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he lay upon the table of the House a copy of the letter dated the 23rd February last from the Chairman of the Central Wool Committee to the Prime Minister, relating to a proposal regarding wool tops submitted on the I6th February last by the Colonial Wool Combing Company, and any other correspondence on the subject which he considers it advisable to place on the table?
– I shall lay these papers on the table. Ihad hoped to be able to do so now; but I shall probably be able to present them later in the afternoon.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information desired by the honorable member is being obtained.
Mr.FENTON asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he is aware that speculators and others are hoarding sugar, with a view to participating in the increased prices?
Will the Minister have investigations made as to the quantities held, and also take steps to make the sugar available to the public at present prices?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1 and 2. The Defence Department has undertaken to supply the Anzac Tweed Trust with 500 lbs. (weight) of yarn per week from the Government Woollen Mills, at Geelong. This quantity represents the maximum output which this mill is capable of supplying under present conditions.
Motion (by’ Mr. Hughes), by leave, agreed to -
That leave of absence for two weeks be given to the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Livingston), on the ground of ill-health.
The following papers were presented : -
Electoral Administration Expenses at Elections, 1914, and Elections and Referendums, 1919.
Inter-State Commission Act - Inter-State Commission - Sixth Annual Report.
Debate resumed from 19th March (vide page 632), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- In introducing the Bill last Friday the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said, amongst other things, that he and his party had been taunted with offering the measure as a bribe to obtain the soldiers’ votes. I never expressed that opinion, nor do I know any one who did ; but I do say that there was no need to have the election when it was held, and that ‘the Gratuity Bill could have been passed before we went to the country. The Bill, however, was used only as an excuse for an appeal to the people. The Prime Minister knew that he could not have obtained a dissolution six months before the natural expiration of this Parliament, unless he had an excuse such as was afforded by the referenda proposals. We are told that the people have awakened since, and that would appear to be so, judging from the results of the New South Wales State elections. I can only hope that the people will wake up in the other States.
Parliament was never consulted as to this promise to the soldiers. Nations have always given sums of money to their successful soldiers, but mainly to generals and admirals in the past, together with all sorts of titles and numerous letters of the alphabet to place after their names. In passing, I may be permitted to say that the men who came out with Sir Ross Smith have been treated in a paltry, mean way, which does not reflect any credit on the Commonwealth. As to the Bill, it can, at least, be said that it is democratic; on that point I agree with the Prime Minister. Those who come within its provisions are treated alike, but it must be remembered that a great number, who ought to come within the provisions, are left out. The Prime Minister has told us that this matter of a gratuity was never mentioned until he introduced it on, I think, the 3rd November. As a matter of fact, the returned soldiers themselves raised the question first, and practically put a pistol to the head of the Government, declaring that a gratuity had to be granted, and that it must be at the rate of ls. 6d. per day. I do not think there was an honorable member on this side of the House who said that no gratuity should be paid ; but we did object to the method employed, and to the proposal being put forward at an election time, when, as I have already said, the Bill could have been previously passed.
– You objected by going one better !
– We did not object to the terms of the gratuity; but, speaking on the 5th November, I said that the proposed gratuity of ls. 6d. per day to soldiers, sailors, nurses, and dependants of those who had last their lives, should be paid in cash to all who desired cash, and in negotiable bonds to all who preferred bonds.
– Where is the cash coming from?
– Had the war lasted three months longer, we should have paid, in cash, at least the. amount now required for the gratuity; indeed, we should have paid more. No one knew a week before the armistice that’ the war would not last another three months; and it would appear that Australia could find money for the waT, but, according to some honorable members opposite, it is impossible to find cash for the returned soldiers.
– That is not telling us where the cash is to come from.
– I said that we would have had to find an equal amount, or more, in order to carry on the war.
– That is sidetracking my question.
– It is not side-tracking the honorable member’s question. The Government had on the notice-paper, for over twelve months, a Bill for enforcing compulsory loans, and I ask why they did. not go on with it, seeing that they had the numbers behind them. The banks, in the matter of the loans, had to come to the rescue of the Commonwealth, by giving some £3,000,000 or £5,000,000, in addition to, I think, £10,000,000 they had already subscribed, thus accounting for about three-fifths of the loan.
– It was very nearly compulsion with the banks!
– No; numbers of people escaped. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) knows well how the banks have progressed. According to the Australasian Insurance and Banking Record of the 21st February, the deposits for the quarter ending 31st December, 1914, three months after the commencement of the war, were, in the ordinary banks, £177,000,000,and inthe Commonwealth Bank, £3,600,000, a total of £180,600,000. In Mr. Denison Miller’s own words, the wealth of Australia, during the period in which we had raised the third loan, of £150,000,000, increased nearly double that amount. According to the banking journal, in. 1915 the deposits in the ordinary banks were, in round figures, £191,000,000, and the Commonwealth Bank, £10,000,000, a total of £201,000,000 ; in 1916, the ordinary banks held £191,900,000, and the Commonwealth Bank, £29,000,000, a total of £221,000,000 ; in 1917, the ordinary banks held £207,900,000, and the Commonwealth Bank,£23,000,000, a total of £230,000,000 ; in 1918,the ordinary banks held £217,000,000, and the Commonwealth Bank,£51,000,000, a total of £268,000,000 ; and in 1919, the ordinary banks held £248,000,000, and the Commonwealth
Bank, £32,000,000, making a total of £280,000,000. This was in 1919, at the end of the month, when we held the election, and when the Government said they could not find any money for the payment of this gratuity; the Government could have found money to continue the war, but could not find any to pay our soldiers after the war. These figures show that the grand total had increased from the end of 1914 to the end of 1919 by over £99,200,000, or nearly £100,000,000.
– Yet you wonder at the increased cost of living.
– The honorable member’s interjection reminds me of the reply of a boy who, when asked why mushrooms were” so dear, said, “ Because the ground on which we gather them costs more.” That is the attitude of some honorable members. If they have no real excuse they fake one.
– What about the increase in the Savings Bank deposits at the same time?
– I have not those figures with me.
– Is the honorable member in favour of compulsory levy on the banks?
– I was in favour of having a compulsory loan.
I believe that the Prime Minister went out of his way to make this promise to returned soldiers without nonsuiting the members of his Cabinet. We have frequently heard Ministers admit that they are not acquainted with the terms of the Prime Minister’s proposals, and when the referenda Bills were under consideration, there were at least three of them who did not know the provisions of the measures. I claim that Parliament could have passed a War Gratuity Bill before going to the electors. The matter should not have been held over until election time, when it could be used as an inducement tq the soldiers to vote for the Government. The Prime Minister says that the bulk of the soldiers are behind the Government. That assertion might be true in the case of some electorates, but it isnot true in the case of my electorate. Even when the Government circulated among the soldiers a paper called All for Australia, which contained more misstatements than are usually found in election documents, they could not secure a majority of. the soldiers to vote against me in the Yarra electorate. The right honorable gentleman claims that the Opposition made no mention of the payment of a war gratuity until the suggestion was actually brought forward by the Government, but of course there is a great difference between the position of a Government and that of an Opposition. It is for the Government to come forward with policy proposals. At the same time the Labour party when in Opposition have never been afraid to put their policy before the people. I have all along said that the Government in their proposal were not dealing justly with the men to whom the gratuity is to be paid or with others who were prevented «from going overseas.
I do not object to anything the Prime Minister chooses to say about the members of my party on the political platform. He may ridicule Senator McDougall or the Hobart World in regard to what they have said in this regard, but I do object to him or anyone else attacking men who are not here to answer for themselves. I feel sure that honorable members on the Ministerial side deprecate conduct of that sort. The Prime Minister said that we have no returned soldiers among the members of the Opposition, and that the men we had during last session who had been to the Front had not got nearer to the front line than he had. He mentioned two names. I was cut off in my interjection when I sought to mention two other names, viz., Mr. McGrath and, Mr. Yates. No one will say that Mr. Corboy, the late member for Sw’an, was not in the thick of the fighting right from Gallipoli to Flanders. The other two whose names’ were mentioned were defeated at the last election by non-combatants, and, furthermore, one of them, the late member, for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), was defeated by a younger man. It ill-becomes the Prime Minister or any one to cast a slur upon men who formerly sat in the House and “ did their bit,” or to say, “ We have the records # of those men.” If it is right for any person to obtain from the Defence Department the war record of another, it is equally right that the Department should supply the House, with the records of other men who went overseas. It is useless saying, “If you do not mind I will put on record what these men did.” Once these men enlisted they had to do what they were told to do, and if some were more fortunate than others the fault lies, not with the men themselves, but with the officials. If was not right for the Prime Minister to talk of the records of men who are not here to defend themselves. I admit that in the heat of the debate I did reflect on men who have no opportunity of answering for themselves. I remember doing it in the case of the Institute of Science and Industry Bill, but I immediately expressed my willingness to withdraw my statement. The Prime Minister did wrong in attacking these defeated men of our party, but I hope that one of them, the late honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), will be here again in the very near future, not as the result of a fresh election, but by the decision of a Court. In any event, I hope that there will be no more falk of the sort, and that if men’s records are to be made public, the records of all legislators who enlisted will see the light of day. I am anxious to learn why some men were pushed on, although they had” no military experience, while others with military experience were kept back.
The honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Austin Chapman) has asked me whether I am in favour of a compulsory levy on the banks. I am not. I believe we can find the necessary money without doing that. The income tax statistics show us that the number of people in Australia who have incomes of over £100,000 a year has increased during the years of war by five. The number of persons with incomes between £10,000 and £100,000 has increased by eighteen during the same period, while, there has been an increase of 3,000 in the number of persons who have incomes between £1,000 and £10,00,0. These are the people from whom the money could have been obtained for the payment of the gratuity in cash. The Government would have secured the money necessary to keep the war going. They have just as much right to find it now that we have peace. .
We are told that the gratuity is to be on a democratic basis, and that all payments are to be alike, irrespective of rank. But what is the position of men who en- listed and were prevented from going away from Australia? A railway porter enlisted, and was sent to Broadmeadows, but immediately it was ascertained that he had served for four and a half years in the garrison artillery in Victoria, he was given a noncommissioned rank and made an instructional officer. He was kept drilling the troops, and the authorities would not let him get away. His three brothers and his nephew went into camp. Some of them have been killed. His sister had died, and he wanted to go to the Front with his nephew, but was not allowed to. do. so. He remained in camp as a drill instructor for fourteen and a half months, but eventually met with an accident and did not get away. He will not be entitled to this gratuity.
– He will be entitled to the allowance at the rate of ls. per day like others who were in camp.
– Then, again, every man in the Garrison Artillery at Queenscliff desired to enlist, but could not obtain the necessary permission. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page) mentioned their case in the House in the early days of the war, and said that he was prepared to serve at the Queenscliff forts, where knowledge gained by him as a soldier in the Zulu and South African wars’ would serve him in good stead. These men were not allowed to go away, and not one of them will come under the Bill.
– This is a gratuity, not for intentions, but for actions.
– Is every shirker to receive the gratuity ?
– Surely a man who enlists and is not allowed to go to the Front cannot be classed as a shirker. -
– No; but the difficulty is to determine who were shirkers and who were not. There were men in camp here for months, if not for years, but who did not go to the Front.
– The honorable member has probably in mind the case of men employed in the St. Kilda-road barracks - a case to which he has referred from time to time. On the other hand, I am dealing with men in the Garrison Artillery who pressed their officers for permission to enlist.
– But they did not go away to the Front.
– It was not their fault.
– It was not the honorable member’s fault that he did not go to the Front, nor was it mine that I did not; but we did not go.
– Men who enlisted but were kept in camp here as drill instructors, although they desired to get away, are in a different position from those to whom the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) has referred as shirkers.
Another case to which I desire to draw attention is that of a doctor who enlisted for service abroad, but who, because of his success in the treatment of meningitis, which ‘broke out in camp, was compelled to remain here. Ultimately he contracted the disease and died. His parents will not come under this measure. His case was a particularly hard one, and I believe the Treasury, recognising it as such, have been paying his parents the war pension. Then, again, there are nurses who volunteered for service, but were not allowed to go overseas.
– The honorable member would open the door very wide.
– What has the honorable member to say to the case of the doctor to which I have just referred ?
– It should be specially dealt with.
– But this measure does not apply to such cases. I hope we shall so frame the Bill as to reduce anomalies to a minimum. In connexion with almost every measure that we pass anomalies arise, and it is with a view of avoiding them as far as possible in this instance that I am pointing out these hard cases.
– Why not give the gratuity to every one? If we did that there would be no trouble.
– Let the honorable member propose such an amendment, and he will see how it fares at the hands of the House. Some people enlisted on the “ death knock,” so to speak, after they had been able to make sales of land to the Government, and although they only got as far as Western Australia, they will come within the scope of this Bill, while others who were more in earnest in enlisting will not. Those who enlisted for active service, and who were detained here as drill instructors, as well as others who met with accidents while in camp should be entitled to consideration.
– Deal with them specially.
– In the last Parliament every amendment submitted from this side of the House was voted out. Does not the Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie) think that the case of those who, while in camp in Australia, met with accidents, and were maimed or killed, as well as those who contracted disease, and died while in camp, should be worthy of consideration under this Bill? They or their dependants will not receive a penny. Again, no provision is made f or men who, having been rejected here, went to Great Britain, and enlisted. Imperial reservists in Australia have been treated differently. The Government of which I was a member decided that every Imperial Reservist who was called up, whether he had been in Australia for twelve months or five years, or more, should be brought within the War Pensions Bill, and I think that Australians who enlisted abroad- because the standard here was too high for them should be entitled to the benefits of this legislation. They come under the repatriation scheme, but their numbers, I suppose, are not sufficient to induce the Government to extend this measure to them. Honorable members may smile a.t that statement, but,- after all, it is numbers that count. If one honorable member oan obtain the record of a member of this House who enlisted, every honorable member should be able to do so.
– Is there any reason why any one should not be able to obtain such a record?
– I do not- believe that I could.
– Has the honorable member tried?
– If I were to apply now, no doubt I would obtain what I wanted, but had I tried before, I would have been told that the record of a man on active service concerned himself alone.
It is provided in clause 2 that - “Member of the Auxiliary Service” means a member of the Royal Australian Naval Brigade, Royal Australian Naval Brigade staff, or Royal Australian Naval-Radio Service, and includes any person appointed for permanent naval duty on shore.
All persons coming within that definition are excluded from the benefits of this scheme. In yesterday’s issue of the
Age, the following letter on the subject appeared : -
to the EDITOR op the “age.”
Sir, - When the proposal for the payment of a gratuity to sailors and soldiers was first formulated it was recognised that the peculiar conditions governing the services of the sailors in the Royal Australian Navy would have to be provided for, and a deputation waited on the Prime Minister and on the Minister for the Navy asking that naval men who had served at sea for any period during the war should receive ls. 6d. per diem for all the time they were in the Royal Australian Navy, and that those who were prevented from serving at sea through no fault of their own should receive ls. per diem. To these proposals a tacit, if not a definite, assurance was given, but I see they have not been honoured.
If the conditions of the Bill as now before Parliament are adhered to, a naval rating who was at sea during August, 1914, and was then perhaps drafted to a shore establishment, will receive a gratuity of about £134, whereas another who was in a shore establishment, but was, of course, eligible and available for sea service, but did not get an opportunity of joining a seagoing ship until, say, the end of 1916, will get only about £ 60, notwithstanding ‘that the latter man performed a much greater period of sea service. “If the gratuity has been based on equitable principles, as its framer and chief advocate professes it has, he will rectify this anomaly and keep faith with those whose cause he has so often expressed a determination to uphold. -Yours, &c, Ex-R.A.N.
I believe that one man who went to New Guinea will get the full gratuity.’ Other men were kept on duty on the mainland for a year or two, although they were anxious to go to the Front, and some of them will receive no gratuity.
– But some of them did not do a single thing after they went to Rabaul. I received this morning the following letter from the writer of the letter published in the Age, which I have just quoted -
As I pointed out in my letter which was published in the Age this morning that it was possible, as in the case of………… , whose only war service consisted of a trip to German New Guinea and hack, for a man -to receive the full gratuity for a far less period of sea service than a man who, while in the Navy all the time and available for sea service, might not have been sent until later.
The point is that we were on active service all the time, and whether they happened to be serving on a ship or in a shore establishment, had nothing to do with them. They had to go where they were sent.
The second point is that the U.S.A. laid these matters before the Prime Minister, who told them that provision to meet their case would be inserted in the Bill.
The third point is that practically all the members of the Navy were at sea when war broke out, and that those who enlisted later on were drafted to sea almost immediately.
– Those who were here were not in much danger, were they ?
– They were not, but if we are to have regard to that point, what about the munition workers? They were sent to places which were bombed repeatedly. The munition factories at Sheffield, Barrow-in-Furness, and at other places on the Clyde and on the Thames were subjected to bombing throughout the war.
– So were the people living about those towns. They were in just the same danger as were millions of civilians.
– They were well paid.
-Some of them were infinitely worse off than they would have been had they remained in Australia. I introduced half-a-dozen deputations of returned munition workers to Senator Russell, and to the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Groom) when he was acting for the Minister for Defence, and those men can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that they were not as well off as they would have been had they remained in Australia. Some of the boats by which they travelled were three months on the voyage to London, and they were not paid during that time. Many of them lost their tools. Quite a number of them did not average £2 per week from the time they left Australia until they returned, and they are firstclass engineers, men who to-day are holding good positions in some of the leading engineering shops in Melbourne.
– Does the honorable member say that those who are leading hands in Melbourne engineering shops did not average £2 per week at munition work in England?
– I say that from the time they left Australia until the date of their return they did not average £2 per week.
– I should like to know the circumstances of those cases.
– The big money made at munition working did not go to the skilled workmen, but to the women and others who were brought in from other factories to watch the machines. The men who were preparing the tools for the lathes and doing other skilled and intricate work were not making big money.
– I suppose they could have obtained employment on the machines.
– They could not. They were drafted to a factory, and there they had to remain doing the work to which they were appointed, and they were making less money than were some of the young women who were without experience in steel work. Of course one can soon become expert in working a machine, but the experienced and skilled engineers did not enjoy the advantages that were obtained by others.
– Is the honorable member advocating that the gratuity should be paid to the experts or to all munition workers ?
– I say that munition workers and war workers are as much entitled to the gratuity as are others. The men of the radio service should not be excluded from the benefits of the Bill.
– None of the men in the radio service went to the Front. Those wireless operators who went abroad were in a different service.
– Some of the men in the Australian Radio Service wished to enlist in the A.I.F., but were prevented from doing so.
– Just as were millions of miners and other workers in Britain.
– We are dealing with Australian conditions, and I am arguing the case of all men who went from Australia.
– How many men in Australia offered to enlist but were rejected, and will get no benefit from this gratuity ?
– I cannot say, but I am not arguing on behalf of these men.I have made a claim for the drill intructors who were prevented from going to the Front and the men in the Garrison Artillery who were kept at Queenscliff, or North . Head, or South Head, or Thursday Island, or Newcastle, and were told that they could not be spared to go to the war because they were required to guard Australia. They should receive the gratuity,- and so should the munition workers. Many Australians who were in Great Britain, including the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), did not bother to return to Australia to enlist; they joined British units. The son of the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) did that. He and a number of tradesmen whom I know in Richmond and Collingwood, who were getting experience abroad when the war broke out, are cut out of the gratuity.
– They get the British gratuity.
– I think they have had the British gratuity.
– If the Minister for the Navy gives me that assurance I am content. I again stress the claim of the men who were incapacitated whilst in camp. Many men contracted meningitis in camp and died. At one time Seymour camp was a hotbed of that disease, and many men who were prepared to go abroad and do their best succumbed to it. They are entitled to consideration, but they are to be excluded from the benefits of the Bill. Had they remained out of . the Forces, and enlisted during the last month prior , to the armistice, they would have been alive to-day, no doubt, and would have got, at any rate, some share of the gratuity. The relatives of those who died in camp have a right to special consideration. It is all very well for honorable members opposite to smile and say, “ You are piling up the bill.” They should not forget that those who died of illness in camp had enlisted to fight, and knowing that it might be their lot to fall on the field of battle. They offered and endeavoured to do as much as any man who left these shores. Some of those who sustained accidents while training in camp had to be discharged as permanently unfit for active service, and they are getting larger or smaller amounts as pensions to-day; but why should they be cut off from full participation ini the gratuity? I urge the Government to consider the position of such men.
Now let us examine the circumstances of soldiers who were punished for offences committed or alleged. This Bill says, “Punish them again” Take the case of the ex-honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates). While he was a member of the Australian Imperial Force, and on board a transport at Port
Adelaide, he endeavoured to secure for his comrades the shore leave which they had been promised. This was at a time when seven days had elapsed since the quarantine had been lifted. The military tried to rig up the same sort of thing on Gordon Webber, another Labour politician, while his transport lay off the quarantine station at Point Nepean. Webber acted as chairman in the men’s interests. Fortunately, in this instance - the chief officer responsible - Colonel Condor - was graced with a little humanity, and he treated the matter upon its deserts. But, with respect to Gunner Yates, because there were some vindictive officers in charge, and because there was a biased court martial, this Labour politician was severely punished. And now this Bill is going to punish him again. Referring to the court martial, I deliberately say that it was biased. Its members allowed the representatives of the press to be present, but they ordered me out of the room. That was when they regarded me as an individual. Afterwards, however, I suppose, on learning who I was, they sent for me to come back.
– They showed you out, and yet you call them a biased tribunal ?
– I do. I . call them a “crook” tribunal.
– It is very easy to say that here. Say it outside.
– I deliberately repeat that I believe the tribunal waa biased.
– Every man and every decision that goes against you is biased.
– I have never said that; but if we are to judge by some of the sentences recently awarded in the Courts, I would be justified in saying that if a man is a Labourite, and he goes before any of these Courts, he will get considerably different treatment from that which would be meted out to him if his politics were the other way. However, I am not dealing with that matter now. At the court martial which tried Gunner Yates, I sat in the room for a quarter of an hour or so, and listened to some of the evidence. Then one df the military nodded to another soldier, and said - looking at me - “ Out him,” and I was “ outed.” Soon afterwards they sent somebody running to the gates to inter- cept me, and I was asked to- come back ; but I said “ No.”
In this Bill the Government say, ‘ Yates has served his sentence, and now we will punish him still more. We will keep back his ls. 6d. per day by way of gratuity for such-and-such a period.” Why have all these military cases been re-tried in Australia ? Why have some of those soldiers who had been sentenced to years of imprisonment had their .terms reduced to months, or been released altogether ? It is simply, because the officers who sentenced them were themselves, in many cases, guilty of the same sort of thing. But they had all committed these offences when they were not really responsible for what they did. Now the Government say, in cold blood. “ All those men who have been punished shall be punished over again.”
– Who says that?
– The Bill says- so.
– I will show the Minister.
– The Bill says something about a prescribed authority being appointed to review these cases.
– I refer the Minister for the Navy to clause 5.
– Will the honorable member glance at the last portion of clause 6,’ which speaks of the prescribed authority authorizing the payment of the whole gratuity if it thinks fit?
– I am dealing with the Bill as I have read it, and I know what attitude those in authority will adopt. So far as the prescribed authority is concerned, the Prime Minister remarked last Friday that one of the three to form the Board would be a returned soldier, and that there would be two other persons. I asked who these other two would be. Honorable members on this side are entitled to as much consideration and information upon such a subject as are Government supporters. I do not think the personnel of the prescribed authority should belong to one political party or another; but I am quite sure they will be, and that they will be supporters pf the Government.
– Who says so?
– The Prime Minister said so.
– He did not say anything of the kind.
– This is exactly what he did say. I interjected, “ Will those other two men be appointed by the Government?” Mr. Hughes replied, “ All three are to be appointed by the Government.” I then asked, “ Will they be members of Parliament, or outsiders?” and Mr. Hughes answered. “ I do not know exactly what the honorable member means by ‘ outsiders ‘ “. Just prior to my interjections, the Prime Minister had intimated -
The other two members will be men who are in sympathy with the spirit as well as the letter of the Bill.
Honorable members on this side have had sufficient experience to be assured that no man on this side of politics will be afforded an opportunity tn fill one of those positions.
– I hope that no honorable member on this side will be in that position either. These people should not be members of Parliament at all.
– Well, shall I say, not followers of the Government in this House, but supporters outside? They will be political nominees; the prescribed authority will consist of political appointments only. Any man with experience of this Parliament knows that that will be the case.
– Does the honorable member infer, then, that if he were over here the same would hold good?
– I assure th< Minister for the Navy that when I get over on the Treasury bench again I shall take good care to follow the example afforded by certain honorable gentlemen in occupation to-day.
– The honorable member does not mean that.
– I do, and I ask the honorable member not to make any mistake about it.
This measure states definitely that -
A member of the Forces whose pay was forfeited for any period or periods each not exceeding twenty-eight days shall be deemed to have earned and received from the Commonwealth the full pay of his rank in respect of that period or each of those periods, as the case may be
– An offender “ gets off “ if the period in question was less than twenty-eight days.
– Yes; but if it was more than twenty-eight days he will be disqualified altogether. And - what is more - many honorable members opposite will be delighted to penalize these men over again.
– That is a most unfair statement.
– So far as the case to which I have just alluded is concerned, certain persons have shown that they are so vindictive that they will be pleased to penalize the already-punished soldier over again. I trust, at any rate, that those men who have had to undergo a penalty for offences committed, or alleged to have been committed, will not be further punished under’ this measure. We all know some or other of those soldiers who have been absent without leave. Have no honorable members opposite ever made mistakes like these chaps did ? What was the nature of their great crime? What has been the cause of their absence without leave? We all know. Before the end of their leave-
– Do not tell them. There is no need to say it.
– Well, honorable members opposite know. These boys have had a good time; and when they have waked up and found that they have “gone” a couple of days “ A.W.L.” they say that they may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb ; so they remain away still longer. When they return, of course, they are punished. But, under this Bill, we are to inflict still further punishment upon them.
– The prescribed authority will, no doubt, review some of these points.
– They did not get twenty-eight days for being absent without leave, unless the circumstances were aggravating.
– The sentence depended upon the man who tried the case. Those who were convicted for mutiny on the Australia - one of them a man who received a decoration for the part he played in the Zeebrugge affair - have been discharged from the service with ignominy, and will not participate in the gratuity. We should be bigger than to do a thing like that. We should say to men such as these, “ You, having been punished for what you did, may take the gratuity like any other man who served. Australia.” I hope that Parliament will look at the matter in that way. This is another letter that I have received -
I wish to bring under your notice the case of an illegitimate son of an unmarried deceased soldier. The boy was recognised by his father, and he (the father) contributed to the son’s support up to his (the father’s) death. Since then, the son has been drawing a pension of 10s. per week, so surely that boy is entitled to share in the leave and war gratuity that his deceased father was entitled to?
Under the Bill, the father or mother of that deceased soldier, if alive, will be given a gratuity, and the son will receive nothing. I hope that we shall provide for cases like that. The Bill provides for the payment of a gratuity to padres of various denominations, including those of the Salvation Army, but it gives nothing to the men who served with the Young Men’s Christian Association. I wish to know why there should be that distinction ?
– If any distinction is made, that is in the right direction.
– Those who served with the Young Men’s Christian Association were not the official representatives of any religious denomination.
– Does the honorable member for Robertson hint that they did not do good work?
– He meant that some one else did better.
– Three Young Men’s Christian Association men were killed, and there were sixty Young Men’s Christian Association men in the firing line all the time, so that the representatives of that body are entitled to the same consideration as is given to representatives of the religious denominations. I hold no brief for them, but I am here to see fair play. Some of our old-age pensioners had sons at the war. I have in mind a case in which both . parents of a soldier were receiving an old-age pension. He was killed, but a deduction was made from their pension because of the deferred pay which they got on his account. A similar deduction will be made in respect of this war gratuity. Pensioners who had two sons enlisted in November, 1914, and killed subsequently, would be entitled to receive about £130 for each of them- £260 in all; but there would be a deduction from their pensions at ‘the Tate of £1 for every £10, that is, they would lose £26 a year, or 10s. a week, in pension money because of the war gratuity. My view is that we should enact that there should be no reduction of the old-age pension because of anything received by way of war gratuity,ifthat cannot bedone in this Bill, the old-age and invalid pensions legislation should be amended. To reduce an old-age pension because of a payment of a war gratuity to the pensioner would be equivalent to the taking of Mood money by the Commonwealth. Here is another letter I have received: -
My wife and I are both old-age pensioners, and had a son, who was unmarried, killed in France. We think we are entitled to his war gratuity. I would ask you to endeavour to get a clause inserted in the Bill to the effect that it would not affect our old-age pensions. When our son was killed, he left us both some money by will, and, as soon as the officer in charge of the pensions heard of it, our pensions were reduced, and we have tp. refund what they say we have been overpaid, which I think is very hard on us. The same thing may occur in connexion with the gratuity. I feel sure that there are a great many more pensioners situated the same as we are.
I believe that that is so. Some time ago I mentioned a case in which the four sons of a railway maintenance man, who was then getting 7s. a day, went to the war. Two of them were killed, and a third died at sea, but the mother was given a pension of only 5s. a week. Because of the representations I made to the authorities, her pension was subsequently increased to 7s. a week for each of two of her sons. There should be no reduction of old-age pensions because of the receipt of war gratuity.
– The matter will be looked into. It seems to me that the honorable member is making a good point.
– We have provided that an old-age pension shall not be reduced because a pensioner owns the house in which he or she resides. Unfortunately, very many old-age pensioners do not own their homes, and we know what a horrible position it is nowadays to have one’s home sold over his head, and be unable to get another place. Such cases occur day after day. Old-age pensioners should be made as secure as possible.
– The honorable member suggests that we should apply to old-age pensioners some such provision as that relating to the taxing of gratuities.
– We are told that the bonds are not to be negotiable, and will not be liable to income tax. Many of our soldiers were mere boys when they went away, and are not now in receipt of £4 a week. If they have married they enjoy an exemption of £156 a year, and their incomes would be assessed for taxation at the lowest rate, so that in any case the taxation on the interest from their war gratuity would be only 2s.1d. a year. That is not much to make a noise about. In my electorate someone would calculate what would be its equivalent in admissions to football matches, ice creams, or similar expenditure.
– The honorable member made a great noise about the entertainments tax on children’s admission tickets.
– Yes, and I am glad that I was instrumental in securing the abolition of that tax.
– After helping to impose it.
– No. I have already scotched that misstatement. I had left the Ministry before the Treasurer of the day, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) delivered his Budget proposals. We have been told that the Governments of New South Wales, Vittoria, and Queensland will cash the war gratuity bonds for their employees.
– Does the honorable member refer to the new Government in New South Wales?
– Any promise made by the Nationalist Government in this matter will be honoured by the Labour Government, which, I hope, will be in office in New South Wales within a few days. Why should not the Commonwealth Government cash the bonds for its employees?
– The Prime Minister stated in his speech that that would be done.
– I do not remember that he did so. However, my point is that the Government employees are not the worst paid classes in the community. If they are to be given cash for their gratuity, why should men outside, whose positions are not permanent, be unable to cash their gratuity ? I intend to move an amendment providing for the payment of the gratuity in cash to all who desire it.
– I hope that the honorable member will tell us distinctly how the cash is to be obtained.
– It’ would have been found had it been- necessary for the continuance of the war, and it should be found for the assistance of our soldiers now that we have peace.
– The soldiers do not wish to bankrupt the country.
– I know a good many of the rank and file who are desirous of obtaining cash. Even if we make the bonds not negotiable, the men who want money for them will still get it, because it will be practically impossible to prevent the harpies and sharks, as the Prime Minister called them - and I say, too, that they Are - from taking advantage of the soldier, and cashing the bonds at less than half their face value.
Debate (on motion bv Mr. Greene) adjourned.
– Before I formally submit the motion which will set in operation the new Tariff, I should like to crave the indulgence of honorable members while I endeavour to explain to the Committee and to the country the general lines on which the Tariff has been framed, and some of the main considerations which have guided the Government in the determinations at which we have arrived. First of all, I remind honorable members of the definite pledge which this Government gave the country in regard to the introduction of the Tariff, and on which it was returned to power. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), in his policy speech at Bendigo, said - Experience has shown that the present Tariff, imposed when different conditions existed, is inadequate. During the war it was impossible for many reasons to amend it, and the early appeal to the electors precluded its introduction after peace had been signed.
The Government has carefully prepared a new Tariff. It believes it will prove satisfactory to the manufacturers of the Commonwealth, and intends to “lay this Tariff on the table of the House, and give effect to it at the earliest possible moment after the. new Parliament assembles.
– Will you guarantee that the Tariff will be satisfactory to the primary producers ?
– I believe that if the primary producers of Australia look at the Tariff - and what it will do for them, in common with the rest of Australia - in the light in which they ought to regard it, it will prove thoroughly satisfactory to them. I should like to conclude the extract from the speech of the Prime Minister, and then I may be able to answer other interjections. The right honorable gentleman continued -
This Tariff will protect industries born during the war, will encourage others that are desirable, and will diversify and extend existing ones.
That is the pledge which the Government gave, and the pledge which, I believe, the Government has carried out. We have placed this Tariff on the table at the earliest possible moment after the new Parliament has assembled, and I believe that it, will protect industries bom during the war, will encourage others that are desirable, and will diversify and extend existing industries.
I should like also to remind honorable members of the pledge which my honorable friends opposite gave in regard to the same matter - I mean the manifesto which was signed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), and by Mr. E. J. Holloway, the Chairman of the Executive of the Federal Labour” party. It was as follows: -
We shall . protect established Australian industries, and develop and foster new enterprises. Whilst giving adequate Protection by means of an effective Customs Tariff, we shall arrange that the workers in all industries will get their full share of the benefits of Protection. The use of Australian products by Government contractors and Departments shall be made compulsory.
While my honorable friends opposite made that promise to the country in re’ference to the workers of Australia, a number of them, though not all, deliberately advised the people to vote against the ‘ extension of Commonwealth powers, which would have enabled us to carry out that promise, and make it effective. T am only sorry that, now ‘we are tabling this Tariff, the Australian people did not give us that full grant of power to which I think the Parliament is entitled at the present time, and thereby did not enable us to make this Tariff as- scientific as I should have liked to see it, and to do some things which I think ought to be done.
There is one section in this Parliament - I refer to my friends in the Country party - which, so far as I know, did not make a corporate promise to the country in regard to the Tariff.
– Oh, yes, we did.
– I have seen a number of different promises, differing in sundry particulars, and I have studied some of the speeches made, but I have not seen that the members of the party were in agreement altogether.
– Oh, yes.
– Why not quote from our manifesto?
– I do not know exactly what “ our manifesto “ refers to. At that particular period the Country party–
– It does not suit the honorable gentleman to quote it.
– At that time the Country party, as we have it to-day, was not a corporate body, and I did not think it fair, in the circumstances, for me to pick out announcements of one or other of the various sections in the various States that have now come together, and say, “ That is the definite promise of the Country party to the country.” I thought it only fair to mention on the present occasion that, as a corporate body, the Country party had not issued any definite promise in this regard.
It is quite clear that the two greater parties, numerically, have made a definite promise to the country to give an effective Tariff; consequently, I do not think it desirable, however tempting it may be, to enter to-day on a defence of the Protectionist policy. Long ago, I think, Australia made up its mind that it is not going to be the dumping ground for the. over-production of other countries, and that it is going to definitely establish in this country its own industries, which will enable it to employ its own citizens, and, as far as possible, keep the money within our borders that is needed to such an extent at the present time to carry on the development of the great continent on which we live.
I propose to confine myself to a few remarks as to those special considerations which make it incumbent on Australia at the present moment to put her fiscal house in order. We have recently passed through the most trying time, probably, in the history of the world. Though, happily, the war is over, it has left us with its results in the form of a huge war debt, with international responsibilities of great magnitude pressing on. us, and, above and beyond all, with the task of developing this great continent, and exploiting its unexploited resources. We have not one-half, or one-quarter, developed this country and its primary industries to the extent we ought and must.
I believe that the great struggle has taught us some salutary lessons if we will but heed them. Before the war, on the 30th June, 1914, our national debt -Federal and State - was £336,781,121, and to-day it is £746,357,656. That is, I believe, without taking into account some of those moneys we still owe to Britain, and which are not yet funded. On the 30th June, 1914, the national debt per head of the population was £68 8s. 4d., and to-day it is £141 16s. The interest charge per head on the former date was £2 9s. l0d. per annum, and to-day it is £6. We have the knowledge that, besides the charges which lie on us at the present moment, we have to find, for the purposes of repatriation, immense sums of money which will considerably add to the interest on our accumulated debt.
And that is not all the story. In the near future, we have to convert loans that were raised very many years ago, and contract fresh loans to enable us to carry on. I find that, within the next two years alone, we have to renew loans which were raised at 31/2 and 4 per cent. amounting to £35,000,000.
– Is that not an argument for raising revenue through the Tariff?
– If the honorable member will allow me to develop my argument, I shall show him directly exactly what I mean.
– You are arguing for a revenue Tariff.
– Not at all; if the honorable member will allow me to develop my argument, he will see what I mean. We have to find this money to pay interest on our war debts, and it is an immense load to be carried by a little over 5,000,000 people. We have a huge continent, which is largely undeveloped, and the development and exploitation of which rests on the ability of the people to find the necessary money, and bear the initial burden inseparable from development. Here we are to-day with this enormous debt of over £750,000,000 and a population of 5,000,000, with a territory acknowledged to “be undeveloped, and which we know we can only develop by the expenditure of further money; having, also, the knowledge that some years at all events must elapse before we can get any return from the expenditure. It is only by our ability to build railways, roads, and bridges, conserve water, and provide the many services which are necessary for opening up a country that we can expect to develop Australia. Breaking up a big estate 40 or 50 miles from a railway and establishing settlers on small blocks is a useless step unless we are prepared to provide those settlers with railway communication and other means of getting their products to the markets of the world. Consequently, as we progress in the development of the continent we must inevitably add to the financial load we have to carry. I propose to show the Committee directly how that burden is to ‘be borne, and how it will’ be possible for us to proceed rapidly with the development of the Commonwealth, while at the same time not overburdening its people. But before doing that I wish to refer for a moment or two to another matter. In 1913-14 our imports were valued at £79.749,653. In 1918-19 our imports were valued at £102,1.15,122.
– For less goods.
– It may have been for lees goods, but the point is that in 1919 we were sending out of the country far more money than we were in 1914, and that, in view of the tremendous interest charges we are called upon to meet, we cannot afford to pay out this immense sum of money -for imported goods. I do not say that we can get on without any importations; it would be absurd to make that claim; but I say most emphatically that we cannot afford for a single day longer to put up with the economic ‘waste entailed in sending money out of Australia for the purchase of things which we can produce for ourselves from our own raw material. There is as much sense in growing our greasy wool here and exporting it, and bringing it back from overseas in the form of clothes, as there would be in growing our wheat and exporting it, and having it gristed abroad and imported into Australia in the shape of flour. There is just as much sense in leaving our fields untilled, and the soil unbroken, as there is in leaving our iron deposits undisturbed and importing the iron and steel we require. It is just as sensible from the Australian point of view to import all the flour we require for feeding our people as to leave our iron deposits undisturbed and our blast furnaces cold. Whatever may have been our position in the pastwe cannot afford to put up with this waste for a single day longer. I believe Australia has reached a point in its history when every dictate of wisdom and prudence should lead its people to endeavour to stop every possible avenue by which there is sent out of the country money which may be used within its own borders to provide employment for its people and develop its resources. This money to-day is being sent out of Australia to furnish employment for people in other lands, and develop the resources of other countries.
Later on I propose to return to the consideration of the matters I have been laying before the Committee. For the moment I wish to direct the attention of honorable members to one or two of the outstanding lessons of the war. I do not know anything which has emphasized the isolation of Australia and its dependence upon outside sources of supply more than the recent struggle through which we have passed has done. Our dependence on outside sources of supply -has been very largely upon manufactured articles and commodities for which Australia has the raw material not only in abundance, but even in rich profusion. Over and over again during the struggle Australia was involved in losses amounting to millions .of money owing to the fact that we had not developed our resources and our industries as they should have been developed; and the people of this country who lost infinitely more than did any other section of the community, and upon whom the losses have pressed most heavily, were the primary producers. Time and again Australia lost golden opportunities during the war because we had not the foresight and wisdom iri the past ‘to set to work and develop our industries in a manner which was quite possible for us. One of the first thing* that happened when war broke out was a demand for food, and particularly canned food, and Australia lost opportunities for placing contracts for millions of pounds’ worth of canned meats, simply because we had not the tin plate here, and could not get it. We had neglected to provide the iron and steel foundries, and had neglected to build up this industry, not because we did not have the tin - we have it in abundance - nor because we did not have the iron - we have the iron here - but because we lacked the machinery to make proper use of the raw material we have in such abundance’ within our borders for the manufacture of tin plate. What was it that Australia suffered from during the war perhaps more than anything else? What was it that led to the waste of enormous quantities of primary products here? Was it not the fact that Australia had no shipping, due entirely to our past neglect to establish the shipbuilding industry, one of the greatest of the industries that any insular community should do its utmost to build up? Our neglect in this respect led to the parlous position in which Australia found itself, and caused our primary producers to suffer the loss of millions of pounds through being unable to ship their products to the markets of the world. Had we been in a position to build our own ships, and send our wheat abroad independent of the tonnage we could induce the British Government to send to us from time to time, the wheat-growers of Australia would have secured an infinitely better price throughout the war, and all the waste that took place would have been avoided.
– A vessel is now leaving Hobart with 140,000 cases of apples, and the freight to-day, after the war, is 8s. per case.
– That is an argument in favour of what I am endeavouring to show. If, during the years gone by, Australia had established the shipbuilding industry, our producers, instead of being penalized to this extent, would have been able to send their own produce abroad by Australian ships, instead of having to pay tribute to other countries*; because the money earned from the present high freightsdoes not remain in Australia, but is paid to other countries.
During the war, I am glad to say we started to establish the shipbuilding industry, and I am informed by the Minister in charge of shipbuilding that by the end of this year we hope to have fourteen steel vessels, totalling 74,000 tons, completed. If the shipbuilding and iron and steel industries had been developed at the beginning of the war at the rate at which they have developed, with the tremendous impetus that the war would have given to them, it is not too much to say that probably by the middle of the war, or, at any rate, by the year 1917, we would have turned out a tonnage of between 200,000 and 250,000 tons ; and had we been able to do that there is not the slightest doubt it would have saved, our primary producers many millions of pounds.
– Did not the Broken Hill Proprietary Company commence operations before the war?
– Yes; but the whole scheme was in its infancy.
There is another lesson that the war ought to have taught us. It not only found us lacking many of the essentials of modern life, but it led to Australia being bled to an almost unlimited extent by profiteers on the other side of the world. Our experience has shown in the most conclusive way that, where we had developed industries, and were supplying the greater part, if not the whole, of our requirements, the advances in prices were very small ; but, where we had not developed our industries, and were depending almost entirely upon outside sources of supply, the increase was nothing short of enormous.
– And the increase is pretty well enormous in respect of some of the things that we produce here.
– Because the price of the primary product has in many cases advanced to a very large extent. While the advance in the prices of those things which we produce has been great in some respects, it has not been nearly as great as it has been outside; but, in regard to those things which we do not produce, the advance has been enormous. Let me give the Committee one or two illustrations. Take the price of harvesters. These, in . 1913, were sold in Australia at from £88 to £113, according to size; whereas, in 1918, the price ranged from £125 to £155. The advance there is, roughly speaking, about 40 per cent. That advance was largely, although not entirely, caused by the fact that parts of the machinery incorporated in the harvesters had to be imported from abroad.
– What parts?
– I am not sufficiently acquainted with the technicalities of the machine to describe them, but certain chains, for instance, had to be imported.
– Very minor parts.
– Minor, yet essential, parts, and the prices of those parts in many cases went up 800 per cent. That spread over the whole machine means a considerably increased price. Then, again, take fencing wire, which we are not producing. We find that, in 1913, the price in this country was from £7 15s. to £8 5s. per ton, whereas, in 1918, it was from £44 to £50 per ton. The advance in that case ranged from 468 per cent, to 506 per cent. I shall give honorable members one other example of a similar kind. The superphosphate industry has been developed in Australia for some considerable time, and the farmers, for the most part, have been supplied by our own manufacturers.
– Will this Tariff make fencing wire cheaper?
– I believe it will. While the price of superphosphates was kept to £4 7s. 6d. a ton for the first two years of the war, and only raised to £5 per ton when freights had proportionately increased the price of the raw material, it was costing £14 in Britain, and even more in other countries.
– What was it costing in Britain before the war?
– I think a little less than in Australia. It was only a matter of a shilling or two one way or the other; there was very little difference between the price here and in Britain. The point is that, in Australia, the industry had been developed, and, instead of the price of superphosphate going up to the level in Great Britain, it was kept for two years at £4 7s. 6d. per ton, and then went up to £5. Had we not developed the industry - had we been dependent upon the same sources, of supply a3 Britain - the chances are that we should have had to pay, not £14 per ton, but from £18 to £20 per ton for superphosphate, and our farmers would not have been able to use it.
There is yet another example: Methyl alcohol, which enters into many classes of production in Australia, and without which it would be impossible to carry on many trades, was being sold here at 5s. 6d. per gallon. Outside our borders it was 17s. 6d. per gallon.
– What is the price in Australia to-day?
– About 6s. per gallon. There has been an advance, but it is very slight. These are a few of many examples which I could give, showing very distinctly that where we had developed our industries before the war we were able to carry them on with a comparatively small advance in prices; but where we had not developed them the profiteers outside Australia bled this country to the extent of millions of money. And again I say that no section of this community suffered by reason of that fact to a greater extent than did our primary producers, and no class benefited by the establishment of such industries as we have developed more than did the primary producers.
I should like for a moment to refer to another country where agriculture flourishes, but where there is no duty on agricultural machinery. There never has been a local agricultural implement making industry in that country - I refer to the Argentine - and the reaper-thresher to-day is selling there at £388.
– What kind of a harvester ?
– If my honorable friend will go to New Zealand, where agricultural machinery is also on the free list, and where there is no local industry of the kind worth mentioning, he will find that every class of agricultural machinery to-day costs more than it does in Australia. I have in my possession the published lists of the International Harvester Company in respect of New Zealand and Australia. The honorable’ member may see them, if he pleases, in due time, and he’ will learn from them that in every case the price is more in New Zealand than in Australia.
It is unnecessary to say more on this point. I think I have shown that Australia has been, and is still being, bled for millions of money which we might be saving and diverting into productive channels. The question is whether this shall continue. Are we always going to sail our barque in the shallow waters, or are we going to make up our minds to steer a course for the open sea and the port, I believe, we all desire Australia to reach - that of a nation which is selfcontained in all that goes to make a nation great? I believe there is a reason why we should do this, and endeavour to do it quickly. The war has taught us not only that we are paying out millions of pounds to line the pockets of the profiteers on the other side of the world, but that Australia is lacking in many of those things which are absolutely essential for her defence. It is quite true, and one hastens to acknowledge it, that if this war has proved anything it has proved” that Australia has a defence force, and is capable of raising one able not only to defend Australia, but to do it probably incomparably better than any other in the world. On many a hardfought battle-field Australian soldiers have proved what they are worth, but if this war has shown one thing more than another it is that the craftsman in the workshop is just as necessary as the warrior in the field, that the skilled captain of industry is just as necessary for our forces as is the brilliant commander of the armies. Surely it has shown that the technical corps of the Army rests largely upon the chemist and his laboratory, and upon the engineer and his assistants who, far away from the actual field of conflict, are doing their work silently and well. The position to-day is that a nation cannot defend itself unless it is able to produce material as well as men. Equipment is as necessary as courage; munitions as troops, to enable a country to effectively defend itself.
I do not think I need recount in detail how deficient Australia found itself when the war broke out in many of those things that are essential to the defence of a country. To a great extent this might have been expected, but I believe a great deal of it can be avoided. Need I remind the Committee of our attempt to make shell cases? Honorable members know of what happened just as well as I do. We tried to make them, but did not turn out a single case of any use. It was not shells we were trying to make, but merely shell cases.
– You failed because you made them out of condemned steel.
– The real reason was that our industries had not reached such a stage of development that we were able to deal with a problem of that character. The Defence Department made strenuous efforts to equip our troops with everything they required; but it frequently happened during the war that the defence contractors were unable to fulfil their contracts, not because Australia did not contain the raw material, but because of the lack of some little thing which could not be produced locally, and could not be obtained from abroad. For instance, the contracts for military boots were held up. We had leather in abundance, but the boots could not be made because we could not produce in this country tacks, nails, and other findings for the boots, and we could not obtain them from abroad. The harness contracts were held up because bichromate of soda, which is required for treating the leather, was unobtainable. There was no reason why we should not make bichromate of soda other than the fact that we did not possess the necessary plant. Suitable steel could not be obtained to complete the munition waggons, nor had we woollen yarns for the making of cardigan jackets. I could give the Committee a long list of many contracts that were delayed through the lack of articles that were insignificant in themselves, but essential to manufacture. Our experience- in that respect was not unique. Free Trade England had allowed certain portions of her trade to drift to other countries, and I venture to say that many a. man is lying beneath the sod to-day because of that fact. The manufacture of cardigan jackets and other knitted woollen goods is a case in point. These garments were sorely needed by the troops in the first bitter winter in France, when they went down in hundreds of thousands to pneumonia. England had the wool and the machinery for the manufacture of cardigan jackets, but she had not got, and for a time did not produce, the knitting needles for the machines. The manufacture of those needles had been allowed to drift to Germany, which was the only country that was supplying this class of knitting needle before the war.
– Is the Minister asserting that English manufacturers could not produce knitting needles?
– They were not producing the particular class of needle required for these machines.
– Of course, Great Britain’s industries were developed to such an extent that she was soon able to supply the deficiency; but my point is that when the great strain came upon her many of her factories were absolutely hung up, and she could not manufacture the woollen garments which her soldiers required because she had allowed Germany to get a monopoly of the production of machine knitting needles.
– Surely Great Britain had woollen garments other than cardigan jackets?
– The fact remains that woollen singlets and cardigan jackets could not be supplied.
– What would be wrong with a good football jersey?
– Football jerseys are knitted garments, and for a time Great Britain could no more produce them than she could produce cardigan jackets. We found in Australia that, although we had the materials and the men for the manufacture of munition waggons, we were not able to produce the steel required to complete them. Thus the contracts for their manufacture were hung up for a long period.
– What was done with the waggons which were made?
– They were sent to the Front.
– They were not. Not a wheel of them turned.
– I am guided by the information which was supplied to me by the Defence Department.
– The honorable member must mean that the Queensland contractors could not complete their contracts.
– I dare say the honorable member is right. Queensland contractors could not complete their contracts because they could not get the steel. Perhaps in the war just recently concluded our industrial shortcomings did not matter so much. It is true that Australia lost opportunities of making vast wealth. Canada, which had developed its industries to a greater extent than we had done, was able to not only send a large army to the assistance of the Empire, but to also reap wealth from the war by supplying munitions. Australia lost that opportunity. Perhaps this time it did not much matter. We were 12,000 miles from the scene of conflict, and sea communication was kept open for us. But should we not reflect that some day the war may not be 12,000 miles away from us? We may be called upon to defend this country, and the lines of sea communication may not be kept open. From the point of view of defence alone, Australia has a duty to fit herself to equip her troops with everything that a modern army requires. Perhaps some honorable members are pinning their faith to the League of Nations. I would be the last to say a word against the League, or the ideals which underlie that great conception. But does any honorable member believe for a moment that the League of Nations will put an end to war ?
– I do.
– I do not. But whether it does or does not put an end to war. the enforcement of the decrees of the League depends in the last resort upon force.
– The Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) after his return from England, said that not force, but the boycott, would enforce the decrees of the League.
– In the end the efficiency of the League depends upon its power to enforce its will. Be that as it may, I do not believe that the creation of a League of Nations means the end of war. Possibly many quarrels which otherwise would have resulted in war will be amicably settled through its influence, but I do not believe that we can take our stand upon any other ground than that some day we may be called upon to defend this country. I believe that the establishment of our industries is our greatest insurance against war, and whatever may be the opinion of honorable members as to the amount of money we should expend in active preparations for the defence of the country on land and sea, there can be no two opinions that if the establishment of industries in Australia is the ‘best insurance we can have against war the premium we pay by that policy puts money into our own pockets instead of taking it out. When I am dealing with the individual items of the Tariff I shall endeavour to show how those considerations which I have briefly stated have weighed with the Government; but 1 ask of honorable members that when they come to the detailed consideration of the items, they will not lose sight of those wider aims which lie behind many of the proposals.
However important these considerations may be, the most pressing and urgent matter we have to consider is the economic and financial condition of .the country. I have already mentioned that our* national debt has assumed proportions which before the war we would have trembled to even contemplate, and had any Government proposed at that time to set to work to spend over £400,000,000, which has been the cost of the war, on a programme of railways, water conservation, and other developmental works, would they not have been written down as mad ? Yet to-day we have incurred that expenditure; we have the debt and the interest on it to pay, but we have not the development. The urgency of the need for that development must be patent to all. When we look about and se© outside of this country the teeming millions that are crowding upon the face of the earth, how can we establish our right to hold this vast territory unless we press on with the work of developing our vast unpopulated areas and our unexploited resources?
– Do the Government expect to settle the interior of Australia with a Tariff?
– I believe that the proposals which I have the honour to put before the Committee will go a very long way towards developing the unexploited resources of this country. The task of rural development is necessarily slow. It is only as a Government has money at its command that it can build railways, roads, and bridges, and supply water and such requisite assistance to settlers, and all those services, of course, necessitate an expenditure for which we are compelled to wait years before securing a return. Only when those facilities have -been afforded is it possible to push further and further out with the development of Australia. Here we are to-day, a handful of people, with a vast territory, and an enormous debt pressing upon us. The urgency of development stares us in the face. We know that our numbers cannot bear the load which the task of development must place upon our shoulders, and that we cannot carry on development with anything like the necessary rapidity. We must have more backs to assist in carrying the burden. We must endeavour to people our waste spaces, and we must induce as many new settlers as possible to come here and work hand in hand with us in the development of our land. Nobody in this House is a greater believer than myself in Australia’s future so far as the settlement of its waste land is concerned. As one. who has worked in the bush for a good many years, and has turned some of its unproductive areas into productive places, I share with every honorable member a desire to see Australia’s undeveloped areas placed under development in the shortest possible period. I emphasize that the task of rural development must be slow. The trouble always is that ,we cannot get the railways which are pushed out into new areas to .pay for a considerable time; and, meanwhile, not only are we placing comparatively few people on the land, but every individual whom we so place is merely adding, for a long while at all events, still further to the individual burden which every person in the community must share. 1 wish now to compare Australia’s rural population with that of some of the other countries of the world. Our proportion of rural inhabitants to the total population is, according to the latest returns available, 51.26 per cent.
– That includes all the mining towns.
– The honorable member is wrong. It excludes every town in Australia having a population of 3,000 or more.
– Places like Ballarat and Bendigo, and other such big mining centres are included.
– No; they are all excluded. In the United States of America the proportion of rural inhabitants to the total population is .53:66 per cent. Everybody knows that the immense rivers which run through America - drawing, as they do, a vast population to the soil upon very small individual areas - are the chief reasons for the comparatively small difference between the proportion in the United States of America and in Australia. 1 was astonished only the other day, when reading an article upon the tick question, to learn that in the vast areas covering the whole of the southern parts of the United States of America, where the authorities have been endeavouring to eradicate the tick, the average herd of cattle for each individual farmer in the year under review was only seven. That is a striking indication of the small nature of the holdings generally. In Great Britain the rural population proportionately to the whole is 26.4 per cent. ; in New Zealand the proportion is 49.26 per cent. I would remind honorable members that New Zealand has very largely a Free Trade Tariff; it is a revenue Tariff, if it is anything. The figures for South Africa are 48.42 per cent., for Germany 51 per cent., and for Austria 50 per cent. Upon these illustrations itis obvious that Australia has relatively a larger rural population than many other countries, including New Zealand.
– But here the economic conditions are altogether different.
– Let us compare New Zealand with Australia. Each country very largely derives its wealth from primary production, yet New Zealand has a smaller rural population than Australia. Area for area, New Zealand has more arable land suitable for closer settlement, and the average rainfalL is very much “‘heavier than in Australia. Naturally, New Zealand should be able to carry a much more numerous rural population, proportionately, than Australia. I might add that the statistics which I have quoted respecting each of the Dominions are taken upon the same basis, namely, by the exclusion of all towns having a population of 3,000 or more.
There is a vast area in this country which is capable of very close settlement. If we take a belt 100 miles deep around the coast line, and exclude certain strips such as that running along the Great Australian Bight, and one or two other barren coastal regions, it will be found that we have a territory capable of settling an enormous number of people - a total, indeed, which is very much in excess of that upon the land to-day. If we are to have really close rural settlement two things are necessary : We must, as far as possible, bring about the decentralization of industry ; and we must go in for industrial development to give to the rural population the necessary market in which to sell its products. If we develop along those lines, not only shall we place a greater rural population upon the soil, but we shall also keep in this country a vast sum of money which we are sending out to-day. That money will form the incomes of men upon whom our own taxgatherers will levy; it is money which to-day is forming the incomes of people who are paying tribute to the Treasuries of other lands.
I desire to refer now to experiences of the United States of America, which form an object lesson for ourselves. In 1890, when McKinley appealed to the American people - and everybody will remember the nature of the McKinley Tariff - the rural population was 40,227,000, while the urban population was 22,720,000. In 1910 (the latest census available), the rural population of the United States of America was 49,348,000, while the urban population was 42,623,000. In 1889 the value of America’s farm production was £506,194,-000, and manufactured products of the United States of America were valued at £1,928,473,000. In 1909 - I have purposely refrained from providing the figures for those years which show increased values due to the war - the value of America’s farm production had risen from £506,000,000 to no less than £1,748,624,000. The manufactured products were valued, at £4,253,509,000. During this period of twenty years of high Protection, the value of farm production in America had increased by no less than 245 per cent, while the value of manufactured articles had increased by 121 per cent., but the rural population had increased by only a little over 9,000,000. In 1889 the value of farm production was 26 per cent, of the value of manufactured articles, whereas, in 1909, it was no less than 41 per cent. In 1889 the value of farm production per head of the rural population was £12 12s. ; in 1909 the amount was £35 8s. - an increase of 181 per cent. In 1889f the value of manufactured articles per head of the urban population was £85 ; and, in 1909, £100 ; an increase of 18 per cent. What these figures show is that, as a result of the enormous increase in the urban population of America during the period which they cover, a home market was created there which increased the value of farm production from £12 12s. to £35 per head of the rural population. That is an object lesson which Australia should take to heart. America, by bringing, by her Tariff, population to very many centres of the country, was able to provide her rural population with markets close at hand, which not only consumed all that they could produce, but were willing to pay higher prices than could be obtained from the inhabitants of other nations. The possibilities before Australia in this connexion are enormous. In support of this statement I shall give one or two illustrations. The iron and steel production of this country has increased of recent years, and particularly, I am glad to say, during the war; but, if we produced all the iron and steel products which, excluding our own manufacture, wo now import in various forms, we should give employment to an immense additional population. The statistics I am about to use have been carefully compiled, and, I believe, are as accurate as it is possible to make them. If all the iron necessary to make the iron and steel goods which are now imported were mined in Australia, smelted here, and worked up by our own people, there would be employed in the iron and steel industry, and in those subsidiary to it, such as the coal, coke, limestone, and firebrick industries, at least, 45,000 men, who, with their dependants, plus those who would be needed to feed and clothe them, would add 300,000 souls to the present population of this country. These 300,000 persons would consume 1,600,000 bushels of wheat, 757,500 bushels of oats, 168,000 bushels of barley, 669,640 bushels of maize, 22,900 tons of potatoes, 16,200 tons of sugar, 2,400 tons of molasses. 5,100,000 lbs. of jam, 72,920 head of cattle, 576,000 sheep, 28.000 pigs, 6,300,000 lbs. of butter, 1,350,000 lbs. of condensed milk, and 1,000,000 lbs. of cheese; or, in other words, they would consume about £6,000,000 worth of our primary products, which to-day has to be exported, and is sold, in normal times, at the world’s parity. Those figures do not include the consumption of dried fruit, fresh fruit, fresh milk, eggs, and vegetables, all big items, the production of which gives employment to persons on small areas, persons earning their living by the management of comparatively small farms. If we put the food bill of these 300,000 people at 10s. per head per week, which is very low indeed nowadays, it would require, £7,80u,000 to feed them. Again, if Australia were to turn into the finished article of commerce even one-third of the wool which she pro duces, the increase in her population and consequent consumption, of rural produce would be even greater. Therefore, the possibilities of rural development due to the development of industries are almost without end.
A fact that needs to be emphasized in this connexion is that modern industrial, and commercial conditions demand the carrying on of businesses on a large scale, with continuity of operations. It is, therefore, essential that we should endeavour, so far as we can, to preserve the Australian market for Australian (manufacturers. Let me, once more, borrow an example from the iron industry. In a modern plant, worked under modern conditions, the molten iron goes in its molten condition straight from the blast furnace to the steel furnace, where it is smelted with the scrap, and the billet comes out white hot, and goes straight to the rolling mills to be rolled, very often completing the rolled section without requiring any further heating. But when a market is uncertain, and a manufacturer is unable to say when he can sell his products, the iron comes out of the blast furnace, and is cast into the pig. In due time, when an order comes along, the pig iron is melted in the steel furnace, and cast into billets or blooms. Then there comes a further order for rolled sections, and the billets have to be heated and rolled. These breaks in the continuity of operations mean a vast increase in cost, which makes it impossible for the iron and steel industry to be carried on at a profit. Therefore we should see that our Australian manufacturers are protected as far as we can from the competition of the outside world. I believe that the dearest form of protection that a country can adopt ie one that is inadequate, because the inducement for the investment of capital is lacking. You cannot get men to scrap machinery, and invest money in a modern plant unless they have a reasonable certainty of being able to carry on their business at a profit. Therefore we should see that the protection we give is sufficient to assure to those who are willing to invest capital in enterprises a reasonable chance of being able to compete with the outside ‘world. I do not wish honorable members to forget, when they come to consider the items of the Tariff, that the competitors of our manufac- turers, apart from the lead which their experience and trade connexion now gives them, which is considerable, have plant which was bought in pre-war days, at prices which are unobtainable now, and as a consequence, their overhead charges are much lower than those which result from the establishment of plants at the present day. Furthermore, they have the inestimable advantage of quantity production, and, in many cases, of specialization. I have not the slightest doubt that, in time, if we are only courageous enough to do the right thing, these differences will disappear, as they have disappeared in America.
I have attempted to show in the short time at my disposal some of the reasons which compel Australia to think seriously of putting her fiscal house in order. Considerations arising out of the war, and out of the economic and financial position in which Australia finds herself, have led to the framing of thi6 Tariff, and I believe that, as honorable members come to consider its items, they will find that it goes a long way to accomplish the object that we have set before us. I do not say that it embodies the counsels of perfection, because no doubt some mistakes have been made, and, despite the most meticulous care, anomalies will have crept in.
– Is that unusual in Tariffs ?
– The secrecy with which it is essential to surround the preparation of the Tariff shuts out from those engaged in its compilation information which they would readily call for, were they sure that there would be no disclosure of their intentions. The honorable member knows that the framers of Tariffs are shut out of avenues of information which they would like to take advantage of, and cannot. This being so, we shall not resent the criticism of our proposals when we come to the consideration of items, and we expect to get such criticism, and, no doubt, criticism of ample volume. So long as that criticism keeps in view the object for which the Tariff has been introduced, we shall, not complain.
When honorable members get the Tariff, they will see that the form adopted is ‘a material alteration- of previous forms. I wish, first, to direct attention to some of the changes that have been made, and to give the whys and the wherefores of them. This is a three-column Tariff. It will be found that the United Kingdom column has been retained, and there will be found also a column marked “ intermediate Tariff,” and another marked “general Tariff.” In the 1911 Tariff the general rate of preference given to the United Kingdom was 5 per cent., and, in some few instances, 10 per cent. In the 1914 Tariff the number of items with a preference of 10 per cent, was increased to 120. I propose to give honorable members a comparison of the British preference Tariff in the 1908-11 Tariff, the 1914 Tariff, and in the Tariff now under consideration. It will be seen that the Tariff before us increases the British preferential rates, not only very substantially, but to a greater extent than- ever before. In the 190S-11 Tariff there were 237 items with a preference of 5 per cent., and in the 1914 Tariff 303 items with a similar preference, while in the present Tariff there are twenty-four with that preference. In the 1908 Tariff there were four items with a 1 per cent, preference, in the 1914 Tariff there were three items, but in the present Tariff there are none. At a preference of 10 per cent, there were ten items in the 1908-11 Tariff, 120 items in the 1914 Tariff, and there are 367 items in the present Tariff. At 12-i per cent, preference there were no items in the two previous Tariffs, whereas in the present Tariff there are twenty-four. At 15 per cent, there were no items in the two previous Tariffs, while in the present Tariff there are 136. At 20 per cent, preference there were no items in the two previous Tariffs, whereas in the present Tariff there are thirty-two.
– Are there any at 100 per cent. ?
– No, there are none.
– The highest is 20 per cent.
– Excepting in the case of one or two fixed duties, which we shall deal with in detail when we reach them. I have a long list of the fixed duties showing that the preferential rate in this connexion has been- raised to a greater extent in this Tariff than ever before; so that both in the case of the ad, valorem duties and’ the fixed duties, the preferential rate to Great Britain has been increased. I. may instance metallic filament lamps - electric light lamps. These under the Tariff of 1908-11 were dutiable at 10 per cent, and 17£ per cent., and in the 1914 Tariff at 20 per cent, and 25 per cent., but we have altered that mode and made the duty per lb. I shall explain the reasons when we reach the item ; but the British rate is now ls., and the foreign rate 3s. per pound, and this is typical of some of the changes that have been made. What we have tried to do, particularly in regard to commodities which we are not producing, is to throw our trade as far as possible into Britain’s hands. I append a table showing the comparison between the various Tariffs and some examples of fixed duties -. -
The following are some examples of fixed rates : -
In every case the comparative rates I have given are between the United Kingdom rate and the General Tariff rate - they do not deal with the intermediate rate.
It is the desire of the Government, and, no doubt, the desire of all honorable members, ‘by every means in our power to increase the commercial ties which bind us to the Old Country; and we propose, as I shall show honorable members directly, to do something of an Imperial character, which we hope will lead to closer relations between the various Dominions. Here I should like to say a few words about the policy of preference as a means of pro moting trade within the Empire. After all, this preference to Britain is the policy of Protection applied to Britain ; to whatever extent we allow British goods to enter at lower rates, means, in effect, the policy of Protection applied to British goods. I do not know anything more humorous, to my mind, than the tremendous energy with which certain advocates of Free Trade press for preference within the Empire and refuse to recognise that, ‘ after all is said and done, it means the policy of Protection as applied to Britain
– There is a difference between Protection and prohibition.
– I shall com© shortly to the question of prohibition, about which the honorable member has had much to say. While we are quite willing to accord this large measure of Protection to British industry, and give assistance to our kinsmen overseas, we are not asking for a quid pro quo.
– We ought to.
– But while we are taking that attitude, I believe that that policy cannot go on for ever without reciprocity. I am very pleased to note that recently the British Parliament have made a start in the way of reciprocal relations with the Dominions. I hope it is only a beginning, and that the statesmen of Britain will see their way clear to recognise in some more substantial way than they have up to the present the value of reciprocal trade relationship, which we are endeavouring to strengthen in the proposals now before us.
– Dynamite will have to be used under some of the Britishers !
– I admit there are peculiar difficulties surrounding the position in Great Britain; but, still, a start has been made, which I hope is the beginning of better things. As I say, while the Commonwealth Government do not ask for a quid pro quo, the present position, as I have.s,:d. cannot exist for all time.
– The change will be very acceptable when it comes.
– And I hope it will come. When honorable members get the Tariff Bill, of which the Tariff before us is the schedule, they will find that it is not the formal document a Tariff Bill generally is, but that it contains several very important provisions which have to be read into the Tariff, and without reference to which it is impossible to explain the principles on which the Tariff has been framed. Honorable members will also be able to see what is the object of the intermediate Tariff. They will find that the Minister is empowered under the ‘Bill to enter into reciprocal arrangements with other Dominions of the British Crown. The Minister will be able, if we can arrange a satisfactory reciprocal agreement, to extend to other Dominions on individual items the British preference rate, or the intermediate rate, or, it may be, the general rate. Such agreements will be subject to the ratification of Parliament. The provision simply means that if any of our sister self-governing Dominions desires to enter into reciprocal trade relationships with us the Minister, with the British preference Tariff, the intermediate Tariff, and the general Tariff before him, may bargain with the sister Dominion and come to an agreement, which, as I say, must subsequently be ratified by Parliament. It is impossible to say exactly what such a provision may lead to. We have, in the past, tried to arrange reciprocal Tariffs with other Dominions, but, with the sole exception, I think, of South Africa, we have never been able to come to an agreement. But the embodying of this provision in a definite form places the means at our hand to enable us to complete such an arrangement; it is holding out, as it were, an invitation to the other Dominions to come to us with their proposals. While doing our best, no doubt, to protect our traders, where we believe they need protection, we shall consider these proposals, and may be able to do something to help our producers to get their produce more easily into other countries.
There is a provision of a somewhat similar character in regard to other countries than- the Dominions, the only difference being that the Minister is empowered to extend to countries other than the Dominions only the intermediate Tariff; that is to say, in entering into such negotiations, he is precluded from offering to those countries what we might term, for the purposes of this Bill, the Empire rate. He is confined in his negotiations with these other countries to the intermediate Tariff.
– He has power to bargain for the intermediate Tariff.
– Quite so. Any agreement under this provision is subject to the ratification of Parliament, and until it is ratified it will not be operative. I admit that, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) said a little while ago, there is need for care in what is done in this regard; but, inasmuch as the final settlement of these agreements rests with Parliament, there is, I think, sufficient safeguard against anything being done in a hole-and-corner way, and against the fear that proposals of the kind may not he fully discussed before settlement.
There is one very important limitation on the power of the Minister in regard to these negotiations. He is precluded from entering into negotiations which would lead to a reciprocal Tariff arrangement if he is satisfied that the economic conditions - and this applies both to the Dominions of the British Crown and to other countries - in such Dominion or other country are substantially lower than those prevailing in Australia. Importations from such Dominions or other countries will therefore fall automatically under the general Tariff and remain there until such time as their economic conditions assimilate more closely to our own.
There is another very important provision in the Tariff Bill to which I invite the attention of honorable members for a few moments. It is a proposition which has not hitherto been adopted by Australia in the form in which it will be found in the Bill, but it has been in operation in Canada, South Africa, and the United States of America. One of the outstanding difficulties in framing a Tariff is how to adequately protect our industries, particularly our new industries, against the dangers of dumping. In 1906 this Parliament passed the Australian Industries Preservation Act containing certain provisions which attempted to deal with dumping, but experience of the working of them has shown that the methods and procedure laid down are so cumbersome, and the difficulties surrounding their administration are *o great, that we have never been able to operate them. There have been a number of cases of dumping, but in not a single instance has it been found possible to apply these provisions. Consequently this particular legislation is a dead letter, and will continue to be such as long as it remains in its present form. It is impossible to frame a Tariff sufficiently high to protect our industries1 against certain forms of dumping, unless we increase the duty to an extent which would be utterly unreasonable, and entirely unnecessary for normal trade conditions.
– Then it is a revenue Tariff entirely, and not a protective Tariff.
– Though a duty of 35 per cent, may be perfectly effective when trade is carried on under normal conditions’, it would require a duty of no less than 170 per cent, to give the same amount of protection if a trader should reduce his prices by 50 per cent, in order to crush out a weaker rival.
– Then why not impose it?
– In a general Tariff it is not desirable to legislate to cover all cases of dumping. For that reason we are introducing this special provision. I would like to draw the attention of honorable members to the report of a Committee appointed in England by the Im.perial Government to investigate the subject of Trusts and their growth in- the Old Country. The Committee sat quite recently under the Ministry of Reconstruction, and its report arrived in Australia a little while ago. On page 2 of the report I find the following : -
We find that there is at the present time in every important ‘branch of industry in the United Kingdom an increasing tendency to the formation of trade- associations and combinations having for their purpose the restriction of competition and the control of prices.
Many of the organizations which have been brought to our notice have been created in the last few years, and by far the greater part of them appear to have come into existence since the end of the nineteenth century. For reasons which we shall presently discuss, there has been a great increase in the creation of trade associations during the period of the war.
On page 7, paragraph S, it is very clearly shown how these combinations, of which there are acknowledged to be over 500 in existence in Great Britain, affect Australia and Australian industries. The Commissioners say -
There was a general agreement among representatives of associations before us that one of the beneficial results of the formation of associations sufficiently powerful to control and maintain prices in the Home market was that it enabled British manufacturers to extend their output by selling their products at a lower price, or even at a loss, in foreign markets. The chairman of an important metal association stated that -
The cause of the formation of the association was the fact that this industry in Great Britain had been very unremunerative for many years, and had stood in danger of being crushed out of existence by foreign competition and by too much competition among manufacturers at home, and it was realized that if the industry was to be saved at all, the manufacturers would have to come together and form an association. … By securing remunerative prices in the home market, they could make a successful bid against foreign competition in the export trade. They had a fund, a fighting fund, for the special purpose of subsidizing members who found it necessary to sell at less than an economic price in order to cut out foreign competitors. That might be called meeting dumping by dumping, but he would not agree that British firms dumped in the aggregate much more than foreign firmsThey had dumped in Belgium as a reprisal against Belgian dumping here.
The chairman of a number of important associations stated that -
In the past it had paid Germany handsomely to export a large part of her steel products at a loss. In the future it will pay this country to do the same. He had no doubt at all that it would be a sound policy to sell “in foreign markets at a loss, t was true that SO per cent, of their output went abroad, so that it was not any matter of dumping an occasional surplus that the home market could absorb, but a .large proportion of their exports went to our own colonies, and by getting some little preference there and sufficiently good prices at home, the industry would be able, as organized in its conference, to undersell Germany or America in such markets as South America, even if that meant selling at a loss. About 60 per cent, of their output was sold within the Empire, and 40 per cent, outside. A slightly increased preferential price on the 60 per cent, would enable them to hold the 40 per cent, against competitors.
Here is a definite confession by the leaders of these great organizations, in confirmation of the statement of the Committee, that they are formed for certain definite purposes, one of them being to enable them to subsidize their members with the object of enabling them to crush out foreign competitors, even in the British Colonies, which our preference duties “lp them to do. It is not necessary for me to explain the methods of America, which is an adept in this particular form of trade competition. I may mention, however, that quite recently the American Congress passed a law suspending all the anti-Trust legislation so far as combination for export purposes is concerned, and enabling these great associations to exploit the foreign markets to any extent they desire in this particular direction.
The Tariff Bill contains a provision which authorizes an addition to the or- dinary duty payable of an amount equal to the difference between the fair market value of the same article when sold for home consumption in the usual and ordinary course of trade and free on board in the country whence and at the time it was exported to Australia and the dumped price, except in cases where the difference amounts to 5 per cent, or less. There is another method whereby goods may be sold in a country at less than a fair market value, and that is by means of subsidized freights. The Tariff Bill proposes an arrangement to meet this case. If by means of subsidized freights the effectiveness of our Tariff is reduced, certain duties will be added to the existing rates, which will make them once more effective.
– There are not many subsidized freights now.
– There are some in existence at the present moment. I can quote one instance which has come under my notice. I cannot give the particulars, because I have them in confidence, but I can give the figures. The ordinary freight at the present time is £10 per ton on a certain article, yet one firm is able to bring it to Australia at the rate of £1 per ton.
– The present proposal is to do under the Tariff what has hitherto been done under regulations.
– The Customs Bill will give us the power to dp these things by regulation. By this means it is hoped, in addition to the ordinary protection that the Tariff affords, some of the special dangers and difficulties which beset our new industries will be warded off.
There is one other matter in the Tariff Bill to which I must refer. When they see the Tariff honorable members will notice a number of items in the schedule in which provision is being made for a deferred duty - that is, a duty which will become operative from some date in the future. There are twenty-two of these items, but as we get closer to the discussion of them others may suggest’ themselves and be proposed. It will be necessary to associate with these items some administrative control of imports which will be fully explained to honorable members when we come to a discussion of the schedule. The principal items treated in this way are as follow: -
This is an unusual method to adopt, and I propose to set out very briefly the reasons for the proposals of the Government in this form. Over and over again there have been brought under notice inquiries as to the amount of Protection which would be accorded a manufacturer if he embarked on a new industry in this country . The Government, however, cannot give any promise.- The Government cannot say to such a man, “Come here and erect your works and we will give you such and such an amount of Protection.” There are at the present time proposals on the part of men who are prepared to expend up to £1,000,000 in individual instances, in establishing such industries in
Australia, if we will promise them Protection to a certain extent. The only body that can give a promise of Protection that is worth anything is Parliament
– And we cannot bind the next Parliament.
– It is perfectly true that we cannot bind those who are to follow us, but the probabilities are that those who have money to invest and desire to establish new industries here will take the promise that Parliament gives them to-day and trust to the future. There is at the present moment very strong evidence of a desire on the part of big enterprises in Britain and elsewhere to establish industries in Australia. In some cases plant which was employed in war operations can no longer be usefully engaged, and unique opportunities now present themselves to obtain for the Commonwealth not only the outlay of a vast amount of money, but also the ripe experience andbusiness enterprise of British firms of world-wide renown. We can induce these firms to come here. They are willing to come if we will give them what they consider a fair deal. No one knows better than they do what will be the methods of those who are likely to be their competitors in trying to crush them out. They themselves have been at the game, and they are not prepared to pull up stakes in the Old Country and invest huge sums in this new land unless they are reasonably assured of their position when they come. I think none know better what is the position.
– There will be no private employers in 1922; by that time we shall have Soviets.
– We may leave the honorable member to worry about that matter when the Soviets are established. I am glad to be able to say that it is principally from Britain that most of these proposals have come. There cannot be two opinions as to the desirableness of stretching out after the capital, and, above all, the knowledge and experience that these people are willing to bring to this country if we are prepared to adopt a bold, courageous course. We are, therefore, asking Parliament to declare that on and from a definite date in the future such-and-such a duty shall operate. The dates which have been selected are those within which, in our opinion, it will be possible for these enterprises to start operations. At the same time, there is in the Bill itself a provision which enables the Minister, if he is satisfied that the goods in regard to which a deferred duty is proposed, will not be manufactured in reasonable quantities on or immediately after the date set down for the operation of any such deferred duty, to postpone the date from which such duty shall operate until any specified laterdate on which, or immediately after which, in the judgment of the Minister, the goods will be produced or manufactured in reasonable quantities. I have every reason to believe that these proposals will lead to the establishment of industries of the greatest importance to Australia, attract a large amount of capital, and pave the way for others of similar importance.
– After all, these people will have to trust to the Minister, and not to Parliament.
– The position is that, if the Parliament says that a certain duty shall be imposed after a certain date, the Minister will be able to give that assurance to those who come hero and establish their industries. But, if they are delayed for six months, the Minister will have power to suspend the duty until such time as they have completed their works.
– That would be reported to Parliament.
– Yes, in the ordinary way. There are provisions in the Bill under which the Minister has a right to report to Parliament what he has done, and Parliament has the right to say to him, “ You must not do that.” The point which the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) raises is fully safeguarded under the Bill. There will be ample opportunity for the matter to be raised and dealt with in Parliament.
I need hardly point out that these proposals, embodied in the Tariff Bill, which I have endeavoured very briefly to put before the Committee this afternoon, are of the first importance and have a very direct bearing upon the Tariff itself. Honorable members, when they come to discuss the Tariff schedule, will have to bear in mind these additional provisions which strengthen the Tariff very materially, and which, I believe, will make it a far more effective instrument for the encouragement of our own industries. They will enable us also to make our fiscal relations with other countries an instrument whereby we can extend and foster ourown trade in countries beyond the seas.
Sitting suspended from 6.26 to8 p.m.
– I remindhonorable members once more of : the pledge which the Government gave the country, and whichconcluded with the words: “This Tariff will protect industries born during the war, will encourage others that are desirable, and will diversify and extend existing ones.” In framing this schedule the Governmen’t have tried to live up to both the spirit and the letter of that pledge.
– This is the first time you have attempted it.
– This is the first opportunity we have had. When honorable members study the Tariff in conjunction with the provisions of the Tariff Bill it will be for them to say whether or not in their opinion the Government have fulfilled their pledges. At all events we have tried to do so. We have fixed rates of duty which, in our opinion, will protect the new industries which have sprung into being during the war, old industries which have been extended considerably during that period, and new branches of industry which have arisen. I believe it will be found, ‘.too, that we have made provision for the encouragement of new industries in future.
The number of new duties independent of deferred duties is 95. In all these cases in the last Tariff importations from the United Kingdom were free. It must not be forgotten that we could not afford at the present moment to overlook the necessities of the Treasury. We have not been able to ignore the requirements of the Treasurer, who is asking for more and more revenue, in order to meet the demands that are being made upon him to extend services in many directions. Honorable members of the Country party are asking for additional telephone lines. I, as a country member, believe that one of the factors that makes life in the back-blocks more bearable is rapid communication with the nearest centres of population. By extending the amenities of life in the country Ave make the lot of those living outback more endurable, and also a good deal happier. Therefore, I repeat, we have not been able to ignore the requirements of the Treasury. Increases are proposed in such things as soap, potted meats, pickles, confectionery, sauces, and the like, because it is thought that local competition is sufficient to prevent these increases being passed on to the public on the locally-made article, and that people who insist on getting imported goods of this class can afford to contribute something to the revenue.
– What about stimulants?
– Honorable members will find increases in both the Customs and Excise duties on beer. There are also some adjustments in the Excise and Customs duties on spirits in accordance with the promise’ made by my predecessor, when he introduced the last Tariff proposals, that when the war was over the protection which had been accorded heretofore to Australian manufacturers would be restored.
– How much extra duty has been imposed?
– I give the honorable member the comforting assurance that the Customs duty on spirits has in no case been increased by more than 2s. per gallon, whilst there has been a reduction in the Excise duty on Australian-made spirits. There are items in the schedule on the dutiable list which, for some reasons it would have been preferable to have included on the free list, but considerations of revenue and the requirements of the Treasury have made this impossible. Some duties which press heavily upon our industries have been removed. For instance, it is proposed to remit the Excise duty on industrial denaturated spirits. This item bore a duty of ls. per gallon, but it is now free. There is a movement afoot to endeavour to replace petrol, which is used for internal combustion engines, by industrial alcohol. This has succeeded to a very large extent in Natal, where a patent spirit called Natalite is being marketed at a price much below that at which petrol can be sold. The price of petrol is rising higher and higher; but there are, I believe, opportunities for utilizing the vegetable products from which alcohol can be distilled and producing an industrial spirit at prices much below those at which petrol is being sold to-day. Provided that works are established near by, it will be found, I believe, a profitable enterprise for farmers to grow certain crops from which industrial spirit may be distilled. At all events, the Government recognise the possibilities in this industry, and we do not wish to continue a day longer than is necessary the tax that was imposed during the war. Provision is also made to provide the universities with alcohol for scientific purposes, subject to strict regulations. Similar action has also been taken in regard to seeds and nuts for the manufacture of oils, vegetable wax for manufacturing purposes, calico imported for bag-making, pickled goat-skins for the manufacture of glace kid, and wood pulp and paper shavings and waste paper for the manufacture of paper. All these things have been removed from the dutiable list. It may be found possible to introduce proposals to help the wood pulp industry in another way later on; but we do not think that the present development of the industry is sufficient to warrant, the continuance of the present duty, which is only 5 per cent., and is not sufficient for protective purposes. It was, in reality, a tax on the industries of this country.
During the war, besides the artificial protection afforded by scarcity of freights, a number of embargoes were in operation. Those embargoes, which originally arose out of a desire to prevent luxuries coming into the country, have directly led to the establishment of new industries in Australia. Perhaps the most notable of these is the motor-body industry, which is now employing a very large number of hands in several of the States. Nearly all the bodies on the cars now being sold are Australian made, and reports which have reached me indicate that they are standing the strain of the hard wear on Australian roads very well indeed, and compare favorably with the imported bodies. Another industry which has sprung into being during the war, and which is of great importance to this country is the manufacture of sheep dip. The dip which is being turned out locally is giving entire satisfaction to many of our pastoralists.
– It is good stuff. I use it.
– There is in the records of the Department a testimonial from the honorable member as to the merits of the Australian sheep dip.
I am glad to be able to tell the House that, as a direct result of the embargo we imposed, and for which the Government was very severely criticised, the firm of Cooper’s is now about to establish itself in Australia, and is erecting works in which it proposes for the future to supply
Australia with an Australian-made product. It is not desirable that the greatest of our primary industries should be dependent for its safety upon the product of a factory 12,000 miles distant. For the protection of our industries we should endeavour to build up these, comparatively speaking, minor activities in our own country, and so employ Australian labour in the output of Australian products.
The manufacture of confectionery has received’ a great impetus as the result of the embargo, and Australian firms have enormously extended, both in respect to plant and output, during the war.
– The trouble is now that they cannot get sugar with which to carry on.
– That is to a certain extent true; but, after all, it is a worldwide disability at present. The firm of Nestle’s is now establishing itself here, and is erecting its works for the purposes of confectionery manufacture.
– They were here long before the war.
– Their works are not yet completed.
– They have been in Queensland for ten years at least.
– Honorable members are confusing Nestle’s condensed milk production with confectionery. Their works for the output of the former commodity have been established’ in Australia for quite a long time, but their confectionery factories axe quite a new scheme. I am also glad to be able to announce that the firm of Cadbury’s, with which is associated the well-known house of Fry’s, is now coming out to Australia, and will erect works here for the purpose of supplying its customers with Australianmade goods. I might proceed to enumerate quite a number of other industries which have sprung into being during the years of the war, or have enormously extended and diversified their activities, as a direct result of the embargoes. Some of these were imposed during the war, while others have been instituted by the Government since. We believed that since the manufacturers concerned had had the pluck and the enterprise to come to the assistance of this country when nobody else could help us, and had invested their capital in starting these enterprises, it would not have been fair to leave them exposed to the fierce competition of firms which were quite prepared to crush them if they could, until such time as the Tariff might be introduced. I know that these embargoes have given rise to a great deal of criticism
– And not without reason.
– That is from one point of view, but the Government feel that as a matter of high policy we were justified in our actions.
All these embargoes, which were either put on during the war to meet the exigencies of the war situation, or were imposed subsequently as a temporary measure to protect those industries which had sprung’ into being under the artificially protective conditions arising out of the war, will be removed eight weeks from to-day. While I can only express my keen pleasure that the day has come when we may be relieved of the responsibility which the imposition and administration of these embargoes has entailed, I feel bound to say that my officers have tried by every means in their power to render their operation as little harassing to the commercial community as possible. They have really endeavoured to administer these very difficult measures with the least possible dislocation of trade and inconvenience. Honorable members may ask why it is that we cannot remove these embargoes immediately. As I have just indicated, we propose to do so in eight weeks from to-day; but I wish to inform honorable members and the country that, from to-morrow, the Government will not require licences for importations under the embargoes. The reason why we are not removing the embargoes at once is that there are some gentlemen who probably thought they were particularly smart, and who gambled on the tabling of this Tariff. It had been generally announced that the Government proposed to remove the embargoes when the Tariff was tabled. These persons have, on “ spec,” I suppose, ordered goods in advance, some of which are now in bond in Australia. Others may have goods on the water; I do not know. It was open for me, as Minister for Customs, when these goods were imported notwithstand ing the embargoes, to order their forfeiture. I did not take that course, but informed the parties concerned that they might hold the goods in bond. But it would have been unfair to allow these persons, who ignored the embargoes, to secure the advantage of placing their bonded goods . on the market at a time when their competitors, who had observed the law, were in no position to do the same. No one will say . that the former should be given an undue trade advantage. So, while we propose raising the embargoes as soon as possible, it is only right that due notice should be given of our intention. The period of eight weeks, we think, will furnish an opportunity for traders to cable overseas for such goods as they may desire to import, and, if they are able to secure shipments, make those goods available to the public as early as in the case of those who have already made their imports.
– What goods are there, generally ?
– They are in large number and variety. Take, for instance, motor car bodies. Nobody is permitted to import an automobile body to-day unless he imports two additional chassis with the original body. With respect to sheep-dip there is a complete embargo, and the same comment applies to confectionery.
– What is the penalty ?
– Forfeiture of the goods.
– Then, a favoured few whose goods you have forced them to keep in bond for a while, have, at any rate, escaped forfeiture.
– We could, of course, have enforced the penalty-
– According to statistics, confectionery has been coming in despite the embargo.
– To the best of my belief, no confectionery has come into Australia with the exception of two or three small lots. These were surplus canteen stocks. They were the property of our soldiers, and the money derived from their sale was to he given to the widows and orphans of deceased Australian troops. I thought that, in the circumstances, it was only right and proper to allow these goods to come in, and I gave the necessary permission therefore.
– But did those motor car bodies which came in, and should have been forfeited, belong to the soldiers ?
– No motor bodies have come in whatever. I may say that nearly every country, not even excepting freetrade Great Britain, has adopted similar methods to those employed by us in order to protect its war industries. Even Britain has fallen back upon the expedient of gazetting embargoes in order to protect industries which have sprung into being during the war, and in which she found herself so deficient during the early stages of the conflict.
The war has led to the establishment of a large number of what might be termed minor industries, which, though perhaps unimportant in themselves, are of the highest importance as the complement of other industries of the greatest moment to the country. When it came to the point of equipping our troops during the war, supplies were continually hung up owing to the fact that while our manufacturers could furnish the greater part of our requirements, some little thing was required which had not. been made here and of which it was well nigh impossible to obtain supplies from overseas, except after prolonged delay, if at all. Consequently, the importance of an industry is often in inverse ratio to its size or the number of hands it employs. We have often heard the remark, “What is the use of an industry to the country when it employs only six men and a boy?” The fact is that this small industry may be absolutely essential to the carrying on of some other extensive process which employs thousands of hands. One of the relatively minor industries which has sprung into being during the war, but which is of major importance, is that having to do with the manufacture of coal tar products. These are absolutely essential in a very wide range of manufacturing processes, but their production had been practically neglected in this country until the exigencies of warfare forced us to take steps in that direction. A valuable industry has now been developed. Coal tar was a waste product, and we allowed it to go to waste very largely. Nevertheless, there is a great mine of wealth in coal tar and the by-pro- ducts which can be extracted therefrom. Owing to the exigencies of the war, it was found necessary to establish distilleries in connexion with the iron industry, and allied with gas works, for the production of coal tar products. Heretofore, practically all of those products and. by-products had been on the free list. The Government propose to protect the whole of them, except in the case of certain dyes concerning which we are not yet sufficiently far advanced to carry on their manufacture in Australia. It is, perhaps, among the chemicals that many of these new minor industries will be found protected for the first time. The duties have been very largely recast, and every possible care has been taken in this respect; but I recognise that, when dealing with the items of a subject so highly technical, it is quite possible that some essential considerations may have been overlooked. The chemical industry is one which this Parliament should do its utmost to encourage. There is scarcely an industry, in fact, which can be successfully carried on unless it be in closest collaboration with the chemist.
– Do alcoholic medicines for hospitals bear a duty?
– Alcohol, of course, bears duty, and while I have every sympathy with the case to which the honorable member refers, I point out that there is great difficulty in devising any scheme which will enable us to permit the use of alcohol for medicinal purposes at a lower rate of duty than with respect to alcohol for potable purposes - having due regard, at the same time, for our revenue. We have given consideration to that, and we find that probably it would be impossible to do it without involving the country in greater cost of administration than the actual revenue from the spirit used, a fact of which in these days of economy we must take notice. I need hardly remind honorable members that the production of many of these chemicals is a key industry. This is a list of the chief coal-tar products and chemicals to which protection has been extended : Cresylic acid, carbolic acid, benzol, naphtha, crude and refined coaltar oils, tar- and pitch, naphthalene, disinfectants, and insecticides, carbide of calcium, alkali products, arsenical preparations, sulphates of magnesia and soda, hyposulphite of soda, alum, chlorides of calcium, barium and zinc, sulphate of zinc, lactose, hydrogen peroxide, carbon bisulphide, sulphate of copper, and others. I would refer for a moment, to item 278, among the “ Drugs and Chemicals,” where will be found a deferred duty of great importance. At present alkalis are free. Honorable members know the extent to which our industries are dependent on the production of alkalis. We propose, however, a deferred duty on them, because we believe there are persons who, within a reasonable time, will manufacture alkalis in Australia, and that eventually this country will produce all the alkalis she needs. Honorable members will have an opportunity to discuss the proposals later. The chief alkalis upon which our industries depend are carbonate and bicarbonate of soda, soda ash”, soda silicate, caustic soda, bleaching powder, chlorine, sulphur chloride and carbon tetrachloride, which will be, from the list January, 1921, dutiable at per ton. or ad valorem at 25, 35, and 45 per cent, under the proposed deferred duty. We regard it as of the first moment that the manufacture of alkalis should be established in Australia within the shortest possible time.
– And you think that there is a reasonable prospect of that?
– We have every reason to believe that within a comparatively short period their manufacture will be undertaken in this country.
– ‘That will mean the investment of a vast amount of capital ?
– Yes, but I believe that the capital will be forthcoming, and that those who are prepared to invest their money will erect works capable of supplying the requirements of Australia.
It is when we come to Division VI. of the Tariff, “Metals and Machinery,” that honorable members will find the .chief and most striking changes, and the most far-reaching proposals. I need not point out that it is upon the ferrous and nonferrous metals and their alloys that are based our great key industries, the industries upon which al] others are dependent both in peace and in war. Australia is fortunate in possessing nearly every known mineral under the sun, and in possessing them in abundance. We have iron ore of the finest grade, and also the rare minerals, such as tungsten, required for the production of the highest classes of steel. During the war we exported to the old country great quantities of tungsten, molybdenite, scheelite, and other ores, which the people there were very glad to get from us. The iron industry of Australia made giant strides during the war compared with its progress in pre-war days, but it is yet in its infancy, and has a long way to go before it can be regarded as fully established. Honorable members will see that the whole division to which I am now alluding has been practically recast. In former Tariffs, pig iron has occupied a place about the middle of the division, and has been free of duty; we have made it the first item ‘of the division, and dutiable at 20s., 30s., and 40s. per ton. Honorable members will see, as we come to discuss the items, how the iron and steel duties generally have been based upon this initial duty. I shall be able to show them, as we proceed from item uo item, how we have built upon it right through the division. I believe that, as a result of this duty, it will be found possible to establish the iron and steel industry on a permanent and lasting basis. As things become normal, there will be the fiercest possible competition in the sale of iron and steel products. No other industry has been organized to a greater extent than the steel industry. In America the steel combine has a capital of £369,000,000, and, if necessary, it could swamp this country with its product, giving it away for nothing without feeling the loss.
– The steel could be sent out here in ballast.
– That was done before.
– Provision is made for dealing with ballast freights. This special provision, plus the dumping duty and the general Tariff rates, to which the dumping duty is additional, should, we think, provide a sufficient protection for our iron and steel manufactures.
Honorable members will recollect’ that, when McKinley proposed to establish the iron and steel industry in America, Glad- v stone laughed his proposals to scorn, saying that McKinley had as much chance of establishing the iron and steel industry of America under a protective duty in competition with Great Britain as he had of making the American people wealthy by growing pineapples in hothouses; but we know what happened, and what has not the world owed during the past five years to the fact that McKinley was right and Gladstone wrong! There may come again an occasion in its history when the world may be glad that Australia learnt its lesson in time. Duties are proposed on iron and steel products of almost every kind; though there are a few which we believe it to be impossible to manufacture here under existing conditions. Honorable members will therefore find that provision has been made for allowing certain classes of machinery which we cannot manufacture in this country to be imported, but enabling us to close the door at the- right time. There have been extensive developments in the iron and steel industry of this country during the war, and at Newcastle the Broken Hill Company now has invested in plant and machinery a capital of £3,194,000 - a very good beginning, though a small thing compared with the capital of the United States of America Combine of £369,000,000. Then, at Lithgow, Messrs. Hoskins Brothers have increased their plant and their output materially, and a number of minor industries are springing up around these great iron works. For instance, there is in Newcastle a wire-drawing plant, which I believe is capable at the present time of turning out all the black and galvanizediron wire that Australia will require. It came into being as the direct result of the war, and, though not yet able to meet the whole of our demand, will, I think, do so before very long! If it does not, other works are likely to spring up to furnish the supply. Other subsidiary industries are nail making, the manufacture of galvanized-iron and black sheets, steel railway tires, wheels and axles, and bolts and nuts; and quite a number of others are proposed. Honor- able members will find, when they study the deferred duties, that many relate to iron and steel products. I am pleased to be able to say that one or two very large engineering firms in Great Britain are awaiting the opportunity to establish works here. Then the Queensland Government is about to erect iron and steel works, on which it is proposed to make an initial outlay of between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000. If the Queensland authorities are well advised as to the deposits of iron, limestone, and coal on which they intend to operate, if their works are erected in accordance with modern principles, and are efficiently managed, they will be a very useful adjunct to our iron industry, and an effective check upon the operations of private companies. There is one other point that I should .like to mention. The Inter-State Commission recommended that the duty should follow right through the manufactured products to the extent of the duty on the pig-iron. That is a rough and ready approximation. It varies, and must vary, of course, according to the class of product, but still we thought it was the best plan to adopt. It is practically impossible to adjust the duty in regard to every class of machinery and every class of iron product. Take, for instance, an anvil ; the relative duty on the raw product in an anvil is very much greater than the duty on the raw product in the case of a harvester.
– Or a typewriter.
– Quite so, or any other intricate piece of machinery. We could not adjust the duty in all the variations of the manufacture, and, therefore, we have followed the principle laid down by the Inter-State Commission.
Non-ferrous metals have also come in for a . great deal of attention, together with their alloys and manufactured products.
Copper, in item 140, which, under the 1908-11 Tariff was free, and under the 1914 Tariff 10 per cent., has a duty placed on it in all its stages of manufacture. Blacks, ingots, pigs, and scrap are dutiable, United Kingdom 10 per cent., intermediate 15 per cent., and general 20 per cent. ; angles, bars, plates, rods, and sheets, which were free for the United Kingdom, and 10 per cent, general, under the Tariff of 1914, are now United Kingdom 25 per cent., intermediate 35 per cent., and general 40 per cent. ; and pipes and tubes, which under the 1914 Tariff were free and 10 per cent., are now dutiable at 30 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent.
Large works have been erected, at Port Kembla, where there are now being turned out wire, copper-covered wire, and copper tubing; and new plant is being installed to extend operations in several directions.
Zinc and spelter are dealt with in item 144. The production of the raw material of zinc, of course, is one of our great industries. This was a commodity which Great Britain lacked at the beginning of the war - a lack she felt throughout - and everybody knows the fight the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) had in getting rid of the German influence which had laid hold of this great industry in Australia. Under the old Tariff of 1914, zinc and spelter were free and 10 per cent., and the duties now proposed are the same as those for copper blocks, ingots, pigs, and scrap, namely, 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 20 per cent.
The manufacture of spelter is now being carried on at Hobart in connexion with the hydro-electric scheme installed by the Tasmanian Government. In addition to spelter, zinc sheets are being rolled ; and it is proposed to extend the manufacture to lithopone, blocks for marine boilers, zinc shavings for the gold industry, zinc dust for sherardizing, metallic aluminium, ferro-alloys, zinc alloys, zinc chloride, zinc-sulphate, caustic soda, bleaching powder, and other chlorine products. These are allied to the zinc industry, and few of them can be successfuly produced without that industry. The electric power is also used for the production of carbide of calcium.
I should like to remark here in passing, tha-t I am very hopeful that further hydro-electric schemes will be developed in Australia. The honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) has been for some time connected with an agitation in his electorate for the use of hydro-electric power, which, I think, can be generated on the Clarence. If New South Wales - whichever Government is in power - and Queensland, which also has rivers capable of developing electric power, use the resources which Nature has given them, by damming back those waters and generating power, I believe it will lead to the extension of industry in Australia, and, what is more- important, to the decentralization of industry. There is no doubt that industries naturally flow to the sources of power.
– I suppose you know there is such a place as the South Coast of New South Wales, where there are also rivers?
– Yes; when I refer to New South Wales, the honorable member must have noticed that I used the word “schemes.” There are two schemes, one in the north and one’ in the south. There is a scheme on the Snowy River capable of developing very considerable hydro-electric power. In America, where, of course, there are infinitely greater opportunities of developing this class of power than in Australia, it has led to the establishment of cities, and, with them, intense rural population, which invariably gathers around cities in order to provide food and other commodities. If we are able to extend this system, of generating hydro-electric power in Australia, it will doubtless lead to the establishment of hives of industry, and materially assist in the rural development of the country.
I have occupied a very long time, and I do not wish to weary honorable members, but I wish to point out that lead and lead products are also provided for in Items 138 and 141, in a way they have not been provided for previously. Then, brass and metals, which are used as the base of electro-plated goods, as well as the finished product, are provided for m Items 139, 149, 192, and 197.
Wool products are provided for in quite a number of items. We have made an attempt to deal with a very difficult problem in connexion with the wool industry, namely, the production of yarn, and it is one of the most difficult of all the Tariff items tofix. because of the fact that there are yarns and yarns. There are as many as 400 different classes of yarns used in the different processes of woollen manu- facture, and the machinery that will make one class will not make another. As a consequence, it is extremely difficult to find a viti media through all the tangle; and while giving protection for yarns we can manufacture, and are manufacturing, we still allow certain classes to com© into Australia free until such time as we have given the users of yarn in Australia, at all events, a reasonable opportunity - in some places it may he by co-operative effort, and in other places by other means - of establishing the yarn industry on a permanent basis, and manufacturing the class of yarn Australia requires. Here, again, there is a proposition from a very large, influential, and experienced business firm in Britain to establish in Australia the spinning industry on a really big scale. The proposals in the Tariff are a little teo1 difficult to explain’ to honorable members just now, but I shall fully explain them when the items are before us; and the Government hope they have provided sufficient protection to secure the spinning of yarn on a big scale here. I need hardly say that if we do succeed in this, we shall have laid the foundation - the real foundation - of the woollen industry in this country. I hope that, as a result of the application of the new duties, we shall, at no very distant date, instead of sending away the greater part of our wool in the grease, be able to export it as a manufactured product.
There are some important advances in the Tariff affecting agricultural and farming interests, as shown in Division IV., under the intermediate and general Tariff. The duty on maize under Item 57c has been increased from ls. 6d. to 2s. per cental. The duties on wheat and flour, which were removed by the 1917 Tariff, have been restored. The rate on bananas has been increased from ls. 6d. to 2s. 6d. per cental. Citrus fruits will pay an additional A. per lb., and apples will bear a duty of 6s. per cental as compared with 2s. under the present Tariff. On hops, the rates, under the intermediate and general Tariff, will be 9d. and ls. per lb. respectively, as compared with 6d. formerly. Increased duties are placed on canary, hemp, and rape seeds, and the duty of 6d. per lb. has been imposed on lucerne seed, hitherto free. There are other items, but these I have quoted give an indication of what we have tried to do for the direct protection of some of the primary industries.
An effort has also been made to stimulate secondary production from our primary production in quite a “number of directions. Of course, we believe that it is infinitely better that our Australian producers should depend on their local market as an outlet for their product than on the vagaries of an oversea market, which is often manipulated to their disadvantage. For instance, amongst a number of others, Item 75 is designed to encourage the production of milk products in their secondary form. There are quite a number of products which are made from milk, such as dried milk, casein, sugar of milk, and others which heretofore have been free, and on which we now propose to impose a duty.
White lead, paints, dry colours, and varnishes are amongst the commodities for which fresh provision has been made. One of the chief ways in which we have made provision is by adding to the fixed duty in regard to all these commodities an alternative ad valorem duty; and the reason is that we desire to encourage higher grades of manufacture.
There are other duties which have been imposed with the intent of stimulating the production of our raw materials. For instance, we propose a duty on mica and mica, products. There is any amount of mica, in Australia of first-class quality, but it has not paid to obtain it, and, therefore, we impose a duty in order to encourage the industry. Mica is used in many different industries, some of which are entirely dependent on it-
– What about asbestos?
– The honorable member will find that full provision is made in the case of asbestos.
With the exception of the new duties the United Kingdom rates have not been raised in very many instances. The reason for this is that our information shows that, to a great extent, the industrial conditions in Great Britain have assimilated with our own during the war. For instance, the price of coal is higher there than it is in Australia to-day. Again, wages have increased in England to a very large extent, and if they are not quite on a level with what they were in
Australia prior to the war they are today a great deal closer to them than has previously been the case.
– That remark applies to nearly every country.
– Unfortunately, it does not.
– Name one country to which it does not apply.
– The wages in Japan are nearer to ours now than they were before the war.
– Let me mention India, where iron and steel works have been established greater than anything we have in Australia, and where wages are infinitely lower than they are in this country.
Honorable members will find as they go through the Tariff schedule that in quite a number of cases the United Kingdom rate is the same as it was in the 1914 Tariff.
– And as three-fourths of our imports come from Great Britain it means that there is no extra protection.
– But inasmuch as the preferential duty in favour of Great Britain has been raised, the duty on the general rate is in nearly every instance higher. Including the twenty- two deferred items, there are 117 items in this Tariff in. which there is a duty imposed against the United Kingdom where there was no duty previously. Then, again, there are forty-one increases in the United Kingdom rates due to increased duties having been placed on raw products. There are 151 other increases of United Kingdom rates. In 538 items the duty remains the same, and in twenty-five items it has either been removed or reduced.
I do not propose to deal further with the items. We can discuss them when we come to the schedule in detail.
– Has there been any alteration in regard to the duty on rice for making starch in Australia?
– Yes. Under the last Tariff there was a duty on rice which was applicable to all -rice, cleaned and uncleaned, and an Excise arrangement of Id. per lb., or ls. per cwt., I forget exactly what it was. However, our manufacturers discovered that it suited them far better to pay the duty on uncleaned rice and not claim a drawback than to pay the Excise. Consequently, no Excise duty was paid. We now propose to make the entry of uncleaned rice free, and to subject starch manufactured from rice to ah Excise duty. In future starch cannot be manufactured in Australia from rice without the payment of Excise, and as that was the intention of Parliament long ago, I think the present arrangement will afford adequate protection to the maize industry and insure, as far as possible, that starch made in Australia will be manufactured from maize. It is difficult to carry all the particulars of a Tariff in one’s head. I have given as full an explanation as I can, but I have also had prepared a bound volume for every honorable member, containing an index to the Tariff, the Tariff itself, and a memorandum setting out, in different type, the 1908-11, 1914, 1917, and 1918 Tariffs and the present proposals. This memorandum will enable honorable members to pick out the details rapidly. Although it is a little complicated, a little practice should enable them to compare the different items and know exactly what they are doing. The number of these volumes is very limited. Each honorable member will receive one bearing his name, and I trust that he will keep it and not give it away.
– Will the Minister say what he expects will be the effect of the Tariff on the revenue?
– The Treasurer believes that in the immediate future he will probably get a little more revenue than he has been receiving in the past, but my belief is that it will not be very long before there will be a reduced revenue from Customs and Excise duties as the result of this Tariff.
– Has the Minister anything to say in regard to the constitution of a Tariff Board?
– That is a matter which is under the consideration of the Government. The details have not been finally settled, but honorable members will find the proposals of the Government in regard to a Tariff Board in the Customs Bill when it is introduced. We could not very well incorporate them in a Tariff Bill.
– Has the Minister any idea as to what the departmental officers estimate will be the increased revenue in the first twelve months?
– It is very difficult to give an estimate with anyaccuracy,because we are living in such abnormal times, and we do not know what may happen to prices. They may increase; they may slump.
– Can you guess within a million pounds?
– Frankly, I cannot. In conclusion I desire to place on record my indebtedness to the Acting ComptrollerGeneral, Major Oakley, the Chief Surveyor, Mr. Hudson, and the junior officers working immediately under them for a lot of self-sacrificing work in connexion with the preparation of this Tariff. A work of this great complexity has made great demands on their time, but they gave it not only willingly, but also with wonderful spontaneity, which I wish to acknowledge here. It would have been utterly impossible for me to place the Tariff on the table had it not been for the work they have done. I ask honorable members to give the Tariff the same sort of unbiased consideration, and their assistance in making it as perfect an instrument as possible to accomplish the object we all have in view, namely, the truest welfare of our country. We stand on the threshold of great developments. The door of opportunity is open widely for us. The path beyond lies clear and plain if we have only the courage to tread it and put our country’s interest before other considerations, bending to no influence, yielding to no pressure, and refusing to be diverted one hairsbreadth from our purpose, pressing on in our endeavour to lead our country to the goal of national greatness. If we have only the courage to do this, besides rendering a great service to our country, we shall also buttress that Empire of which we form a part, by building up in this great southern land a nation furnished withall that is needed to make it self-contained and truly great. I move -
) Duties of Customs,
Duties of Excise ‘ be imposed as follow : -
That on and after the Twenty-fifth day of March . One thousand nine hundred and twenty, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, 'Victorian time, Duties of Customs and Excise be collected as hereunder setout in pursuance of the followingCustoms Tariff and Excise Tariff Schedules. CUSTOMS TARIFF. The First Schedule. All imitations to be dutiable at the rate chargeable on the goods they imitate, unless such rate is less than the rate which would otherwise be chargeable on the imitations. "Proof" or " Proof Spirit " means spirit of a strength equal to that of pureethyl alcohol compounded with distilled water so that the resultant mixture at a temperature of 60° Fahrenheithas a specific gravity of 0.91976 as compared with that of distilled water atthe sametemperature. The term "Iron" includes Steel. "Wool" or "Woollen" includes. all manufactures of wool or hair or combinations thereof. "N.E.I." means "not elsewhere included." "Departmental By-law" means By-law made by the Minister, and published in the *Gazette.* Unless the Tariff otherwise provides orthe Minister otherwise directs, any article composedof two or more materials shall be deemed for the purpose of classification to be composed wholly of the material of chief value in the article, provided that when the respective materials are of equal value the article shall be deemed for the aforesaid purpose to be composed wholly ofthe material that would make the articleliable to the higher or highest rate of duty. Whenever any goods are composed of two or more separate parts any part though imported by itself shall, if so directed by the Minister, be dealt with under the item applicable to the complete goods. " Non-spirituous " means free from spirit or containing not more than two per cent. of proof spirit.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 March 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200324_reps_8_91/>.