8th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clerk announced the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker. Mr. Deputy Speaker took the chair at 3.1 p.m., and read prayers..
– For some time past the Government of . Queensland has contemplated the construction of railways in the Burnett district, with a view to local settlement, the settlement of soldiers, and the settlement of immigrants from overseas. Now, there is an impression that the Acting Prime- Minister has refused definitely to lend £2,000,000 to the Queensland Government for the construction of these railways and the carrying on of the settlement. I, therefore, ask the Treasurer whether the Cabinet has definitely refused to lend the money ?
– The Cabinet has not definitely refused to lend the money. The other day, in reply to a question here, I made the simple remark that I was afraid that I could not find £2,000,000 at the moment for any of the States for any purpose, and I was surprised to learn that this had lashed the Treasurer of Queens land into a towering rage, and had caused him. to say, amongst other things, that the “ extravagant Commonwealth Government would not lend him £2,000,000.” When I spoke the other day, I knew nothing of what had beendone in the Immigration Office, respecting the lands referred to, but I have ascertained that an inspection of, them was made by Mr. Gullett, who has reported most favorably on the district for purposes of immigration. But he makes a series of proposals which, I. am afraid, will not receive much support from the Queensland Government, should we come down to tin tacks over the matter. For instance, he proposes that the immigrants should be supplied with ready-made farms, to cost, I think, £1,000 each. That, at once,’ conflicts with conditions in Queensland. I understand that the Queensland Government declines to allow a valuation higher than £150 for any house on a surrendered or an expired lease. These matters must be reconciled before money oan be spent. It. must be decided, too, what the tenure of land in Queensland isto be, and whether immigrants can be got to go to that State to settle on perpetual leases, when in other parte of the Dominions they are being offered freeholds.
– It appears that the right honorable gentleman has discussed the matter.
– I have discussed it with myself. I believe in discussing things with a sensible person now and again. This is a big subject, and the final word has not been said about it. I do not know that Mr. Fihelly can hope for a solution of the difficulty when he indulges in a tirade of abuse, as he did the other day.
– Do not say nasty things.
– No; Mr. Fihelly should be allowed to say all the nasty things, while I say nothing.I have not got £2,000,000 for him, or for any other man. But the matter will have to be seriously considered before a final determination is arrived at.
– Is Mr.Gullett’s report available to members? If not, when will it be made available?
– I think I said, on Friday, that it would be placed on the table of the Library, and I believe that has . been done.
– I have been making inquiries, and am. arranging to have Mr. Gullett’s report placed on : the Library table.
– ‘Has any request been received from the New South Wales Government for money to complete the purchase of farms under an arrangement arrivedat between the Commonwealth and the States for the promotion of soldier settlement?
-Yes. Application has been made by Mr. Lang for a great deal more money. The economy stunters tell me each day that I must rein in the expenditure, and yet nearly all the . State Governments are asking me repeatedly for large sums of money, and some of them at the same time denounce me for extravagance. What is a poor Treasurer to do? Certain obligations have been incurred by the exCommissioner for War Service Homes, and there are obligations on account of - soldier settlement; but what is at the bottom of the trouble is the fact that every one is clamouring for the solution, in . a year or two, of a problem that should take ten years to solve. At the moment I am finding every penny I can for these projects. I cannot give the States all they want, because I have not got it to give.
– With regard to the reported settlement of the law-suit over the sale of eight wooden ships in America, is the sum of £25,000 which, it is said, has been accepted by’ the Commonwealth, to beregarded as a penalty on the corporation concerned, or is the Commonwealth to lose the total sum of £375,000? And do the vessels again become the property of the Commonwealth?
– That is a very important question, and I fear that I can only answer it in general terms. Settlement has been arrived at in connexion with this matter. Whether the £25,000 is regarded as a penalty on the corf oration, I do not quite know at the moment. My understanding -of the position is that, one reason why we cannot get more than £25,000 from the corporation is because the corporation “went bung”; so we could not- get what we contracted to secure from that body. We have had the same unfortunate experience with these wooden ships, I am afraid, as practically every other nation. America, when the. war was over, had to write . them al1 off her books, and that involved tho enormous sum of about £200,000,000. I fear that pretty’ much the same procedure must be adopted with regard to all our own wooden ships. They cannot compete with ordinary modern vessels of commerce under conditions other than those which ruled during the war. Everybody everywherewas told at that time to build wooden ships - that if they could not get steelbuilt vessels they should procure wooden ones. Practically every nation did build wooden ships, the Commonwealth amongst the number; and the loss involved must be set down among’ those losses pertaining to war expenditure.
– What is the present position with regard to the Government’s building programme in connexion with War Service Homes throughout the Commonwealth ?
– The honorable- mem- ber.intimated to me just before the House met that he proposed to ask this question, following upon . a statement appearing in to-day’s press.- Very hurriedly, I have obtained detailed information as follows: - Up to the end of March last the total number of homes to which the Commonwealth had undertaken adefinite liability was 16,298. Of that total 1,967 houseswere in course of construction at the end of March, and some of these have been completed since. The Government will definitely, see that every home in course of construction is completed without any interruption of policy in any shape or form. This will involve the absorption, not only of the provision made on the Estimates for the current year, and passed by this House, for £6,000,000, but an ad- ditional £1,000,000 which the Treasurer provided following upon special representations; and there will be further -involved probably, close on another £500,000 before the end of the financial year. The Government are doing all that is possible to carry out the programme, consistent with regard for the financial position.
– Is it a fact that the Government cannot see their way clear to carry out their promises with, respect tothe cashing of a portion of the War Gratuity Bonds? If so, will the Treasurer, make those bonds negotiable?
– The whole matter is under consideration at the moment. I hope to be able to tell the House definitely, in the course of a day or two, what is to be done.
Alleged Inferior Shipments
– With respect to public statements which have been made regarding the alleged inferiority of some Australian frozen meat which has beensold, is the Minister for Trade and Customs in the possession of any facts bearing upon the matter? If so, in view of the fact that Australia supplies ‘Europe and other parts of the world with large quantities of some of the best meat in the world, will the Minister furnish this House with the names of the firms which have been exporting inferior meat, so that any undeserved stigma may be removed from reputable firms which have always supplied the world with best-quality meat?
– I have no recollection at this moment of any specific complaint concerning the inferior quality of any of our exported meat. So far as I can remember, some complaints came to hand during the war, or shortly afterwards, having to do with the condition of meat when it arrived at the other end. Again so far as my memory serves, it related more particularly to mutton. The inferiority was caused very largely by the fact that the carcasses were telescoped - a process which the. honorable member understands, no doubt - to save space on vessels during the war. Also, owing to the very long period of storage which some of the meat had to undergo, a considerable amount of mould developed in certain instances. I have no recollection of any case coming under my notice, which indicated that any one had shipped such inferior meat as would damage Australia’s reputation abroad. The Government are fully alive to the necessity for the standardization, as far as possible, of Australian primary products in the markets of the world. . And, in regard to meat in particular, we have taken specific action which will materially assist in tightening up the regulations. We have appointed a. number of additional veterinarians, because the certificate which we give is a veterinary certificate, and we were hot really complying with the law, under our own certificate, in what we were doing. We are also making the meat inspectors permanent employees. That is being done without any additional cost to the Australian taxpayer, because the fees which are charged for the inspection of meat are arranged on such a scale as will cover the whole of the cost of inspection.
Penalties for Illegal Export
– When coming into this chamber a few minutes ago two documents were placed in my hands - one of these being statutory rules and regulations in connexion with the export of wool. In reading this document over, I found that the penalty for the illegal export of wool was set down at £50. Is this only a joke, or is it seriously . proposed by the Government that £50 shall be the sole penalty in such circumstances? Does the Minister think that the penalty is sufficient - for I do not - and, if not, do the Government intend to increase the amount of the penalty in any way at all?
– The maximum monetary penalty which we are able to impose under the Customs Act is £50. But there is also the penalty contained in the fact that we can impose also the forfeiture of the goods in question. If anybody breaks the regulations and exports wool contrary thereto, not only ishe liable to an actual monetary penalty of £50, but also to the forfeiture, of the whole of the wool so shipped.
– How canyou forfeit it once it is exported?
– There are. ways and means of doing that.
–I see; all rights.
– If a false statutory declaration is made, is it the intention of the Government to institute a prosecution for perjury?
– I cannot very well answer such a hypothetical question; but each case, as it . arises, will bc considered on the evidence, and’ if a criminal prosecution is justifiable, I have not the slightest doubt the Government will not hestitate to take the necessary steps to institute one.
– I understand that the House is allowed a certain time in which objection can be taken to the statutory regulation relating to the export of wool just circulated among honorable members. I would like to know what action can be taken to discuss this matter?
– The regulation oan be discussed on a motion to disallow it, of which notice is given.
– As very disquieting reports are being circulated in regard to the class of land being purchased for soldier settlement, and as theCommonwealth supplies the funds with which the purchases are effected, I would like to know whether any Commonwealth officer is intrusted with the task of scrutinizing these purchases and reporting to the Government as to whether they are good, bad,or indifferent? If no such scrutiny is being exercised,- will the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook) cause it to be made?
– I am afraid we have no function such as the honorable member suggests. Although the Commonwealth provides the money, it only lends it to the States for this particular purpose. The States insist that the matter of land settlement is within their province. As a matter of fact, it was agreed at the outset that the States should do everything that was needed within their boundaries in the matter of settling soldiers on the land, and that the Commonwealth should lend them the money to enable -them to do so.
– Following upon his remarks in the chamber last week, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) threatened me outside that he would make- some disclosures as to my reasons for joining the Country party.
– I did nothing of the kind.
– I rise to request that the honorable member should give me notice of his intention to do this, so thatI may have the opportunity of replying to him.
– Order !
-Can the Acting Minister for Home and Territories state what amount is being paid to the Board presiding over the Federal Capital arrangements?
– The Chairman of the Board, Mr. Sulman, is acting, in an entirely honorary capacity. He and the other outside members of the Board receive travelling allowance at the rate, I think, of £2 2s. and 30s. per day respectively. The two Commonwealth officers on the Board get no additional remuneration whatever. Mr.- E. M. de Burgh is being paid 400 guineas for this work in the first year, and after that pro rata. The other architect, who is engaged in private practice, is paid at the rate of 1,000 guineas per annum.
– Is it true, as stated in the press, that the Treasurer proposes to review the position of the Commonwealth finances this afternoon?
– No. I saw it reported in the papers that I intended to do so; but I did not say so.
– Is the Acting
Prime Minister aware that dealers who bought wool about four years ago- have since been prevented by the Central Wool Committee from realizing on their purchases? Seeing that their wool has naturally depreciated in value, will the right honorable gentleman take steps to have it appraised, and give these men at least what would have been a fair valuation for it within a reasonable time of their purchases? Quite a number, of th em stand to lose a large amount of money through their being prevented from realizing on this wool.
– The honorable member, I am sure, will realize the importance of his question. I suggest that he should place it on the notice-paper, and address it to the Minister for Trade and Customs, who will furnish an answer.
– Is it the intention of the Government to introduce any antidumping legislation?
– Yes. The Bill, of which the Tariff we are now discussing is the schedule, has incorporated in it antidumping provisions, which will, I presume, be discussed by the House when the measure is introduced.
– Inthe event of woolbuyers who buy sheep-skins for f ellmongering purposes, and get a low-grade wool off them which does not average 8d. per lb., endeavouring to export this wool, will the Minister enable them to do so with . a view to keeping the fellmongering industry going, because otherwise the wool will be left on their hands?
– The 8d. per lb. is an average price. Skin wool has not to bring 8d.- per lb., but a price according to its classification in relation to the whole clip. That is to say, skin wool must bring its relative value as 8d. is to the average of the whole clip. Buyers of skin wool should have no difficulty whatever in disposing of their purchases.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the prevailing high price of petrol in Australia, what is being done to encourage - (a) the discovery of mineral oil or petroleum; (b) the making of power-alcohol or any other satisfactory substitute for petrol?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
asked the Acting
Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Shipments of “ B “ Grade Wheat: Complaints from South Africa - Alleged Inferior Preserves.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he will submit to the House the promised report (videHansard, page 7776) regarding the export of “ B “ grade wheat and flour to South Africa?
– The compilation of the report referred to by the honorable member is awaiting a reply to the letters addressed to the Premiers of the several wheat-producting States, and to the manager, Australian Wheat Board. The Prime Minister of South Africa has also intimated that he will submit claims in connexion with this matter as soon as possible. When definite information on the points at issue has been obtained, I will make the information available to honorable members.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice- 1.Whether it is his intention to report to Parliament concerning the alleged export of inferior and unwholesome jams, preserved fruits, and flour from Australia?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Taxation of Prizes
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Machinery for North Geelong Factory
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
It is now considered advisable to vary the original proposal and to decide that expenditure be confined at the present juncture to providing additional machinery at an estimated cost of £45,000 for the manufacture of worsted goods, for which the demand has steadily grown during the last twelve months far beyond the existing capacity of the mill. As the latter proposal does not involve the erection of additional factory buildings, action has been taken in the House of Representatives to rescind the resolution of reference to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, and Treasury authority has been sought to order the necessary machinery forthwith.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he supply -
The titles of the books the importation of which into the Commonwealth has been prohibited during the last two. years, and the names of the authors?
The names of the persons, other than members of the Public Service, who during that period have assisted or advised hisDepartment in discriminating against certain publications ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The Chairman of the Expropriation Board does not formulate the policy of the Government with regard to the admission of persons to the New Guinea Territory. The Administrator of the Territory advises that the location of employees of the Expropriation Board is at the present juncture very unsettled, and suitable accommodation for families does not generally exist.
I am informed by the chairman that the other members of the Board concur in his views that it is impracticable to provide accommodation all round for families and employees of the Board until (a) the repatriation of Germans is completed, the difficulty of placing and replacing new men and consequent moving about of men overcome; (6) the new employees have had an opportunity to judge whether their location and circumstances warrant the climatic and other risks to women and children; and (c) all employees of the Board can be treated alike in the matter of permission to take their families to the New Guinea Territory.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether private persons out-back who desire to construct private telephone lines, in cases where the Department is not prepared to construct those lines on account of the expense involved, will be permitted to place their telephone wires on departmental posts already existing on a portion of the route?
– The Department offers no objection to the erection of private wires on its poles in cases where such poles are available, and provided those concerned are prepared to pay the rental required by the Department for the use of its poles, i.e., 5s. per mile per annum for a single wire line, and 10s. per mile per annum for a double wire line.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
– On the 5th
May, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) asked the following questions: -
I promised to make inquiries in connexion with the matter, and now desire to inform . the honorable member that the Government have had no dealings with the firm of Messrs. Ft W. Hughes and Co., but is a party to agreements with the Colonial Combing, Spinning, and Weav ing Co. Ltd., which some years ago took over the business of F. W. Hughes and Co. Litigation is now pending in the High Court between the Commonwealth, the Central Wool Committee, and the company, in which the profits of the company are in question, and as the answers to the questions involve going into matters which will subsequently come before the Court for judicial determination, the Crown Solicitor advises that, in the circumstances, no further information on the matter should be furnished.
– On the 28th
April, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Lavelle), and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) asked the Prime Minister questions concerning the operations of the Australian Wneat Board. The Prime Minister intimated that on the return to Melbourne of the members of the Wheat Board steps would be taken to furnish replies to the questions. I now desire to inform honorable members that the questions necessitate detailed inquiries, andI would ask him to postpone the questions until Friday, the 13th, when replies will be furnished.
Expenditure at Flinders.
– On Friday last the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) asked the following questions : -
I am now able to- furnish the- following replies : -
The following papers were, presented : -
Greece - Treaty between the Principal Allied and Associated Powers and Greece; signed at Sevres, 10th August, 1920.
Ordered to be printed.
Mesopotamia and Palestine - Draft Mandates for; as submittedfor the approval of the League of Nations. (Paper presented, to British Parliament.)
New Guinea. Act- Ordinances of 1921 -
No. 1 - Laws Repeal and Adopting.
No. 2 - Interpretation and Amendments Incorporation.
No. 3 - Judiciary.
No. 4 - Arms, Liquor and Opium Prohibition.
No.5 - Natives’ Contracts Protection.
Northern Territory - Grown Lands Ordinance. Regulations- amended. .
Public Service Act- Promotions of -
In Committee of Ways and Means
Consideration resumed from 6th May (vide, page 8212) on motion by Mr. Greene- -
That duties of Customs and duties of Excise (vide page 726), first, item, be imposed.
-A very considerable time has elapsedsince we had the’ pleasure- of hearing the Min- ‘ ister for Trade- and Customs (Mr. Greene) introduce the- Tariff which is shortly to be considered by us- in greater detail. For the -present,I understand that a. general discussion is proceding upon some more or less fundamental economic principles:, and it is from that aspect that I desire to express just a few scattered thoughts, having special reference to the address of the Minister delivered when the Tariff was first laid on the table. The Minister, in that address, took the House seriously, and the country seriously, and, I dare say, he istobe forgiven if he takes himself a little too seriously. He based hisspeech upon an undertaking given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in his policy speech, at, Bendigo; in the course of which, latter speech, a promise was made that the Tariff would be introduced as part of the Government’s policy, which Tariff’ he. hoped would be satisfactory to the manufacturer. I fear that sufficient time has’ now elapsed to satisfy the optimistic Prime Minister that, whatever else may be said, for his Tariff, he has not succeeded thereby in entirely satisfying the manufacturer; so that this Government which; is, and always has been, fruitful in promises, has lived long- enough since the introduction of the Tariff to find, another prophecy unfulfilled. It is very probable that the Prime Minister, a convinced Free Trader, in a Government, themajority of whose members are; equally con vinced Free Traders, has now proceeded to England’ not caring the proverbial”tinker’s’ cuss”’ whether the manufacturer is satisfied or not. He has pro- bably observed also, if he has taken so? much trouble, as the Minister for Trade and Customs doubtless has, that, atall. events, the Tariff has’ not reduced the cost of living, and that it has not reduced the cost of government. But, after all, who would barter the roseate colouring of the Minister’s rainbow speeches for cheap boots, or cheap bread, or anything merely material of that kind ?
Labour’s policy, as enunciated by our leaders, and, indeed, ‘as stated in our platform, is effective protection, the worker to get his full share. That important addendum seems to have been omitted! from the programme of the Government. It was not entirely forgotten in the speech of the Minister for Trade and Customs, because if I may so speak without offence to him, he had the audacity to say that the Government would doubtless be putting into operation the rich advantages’ and opportunities which would have resulted if only labour had not stood in the way of an’ amendment of the Constitution proposed for the people’s acceptance at the last general election. That was rather a cool statement coming from a Minister who belongs to a party, and speaks for a Government, which, in the most persistent and unashamed way, has stood resolutely and consistently, if it is consistent in anything, in its opposition to the efforts made from time to time by the party of which I am a member to make the Constitution a more flexible instrument responsive to the needs of the people. And’ because, forsooth, many of us perceived or thought that we perceived the true merits of this proposed temporary tinkering with the Constitution for political electioneering purposes, and because we declined to accept any such temporary half-hearted proposals for dealing with the basic machinery of government, 0 the Minister, while admitting that the Constitution needs amending, instead of frankly laying the blame at the doors of the responsible persons, calmly assured us, in introducing the Tariff, that Labour- has hampered development, ‘ and that some of its followers were opposed to the temporary tinkering to which. I have referred. Labour, at all events, standing for effective Protection, has not forgotten the claim of the wage-earner, nor, has it, I believe, forgotten or neglected the claim of the consumer or the user of commodities.
Like the advisers and counsellors of a past monarch - I think Henry I. - who sent a little boy to his presence to announce the death of his son on the White Ship, this Government has sent into this House its most youthful and most gracious member, with a winning smile, to initiate a policy in which the majority of the Government do not believe, and supported by arguments which the greater number of the members of the Government are satisfied are fallacious and unsound. So much for the great principle of Cabinet solidarity and responsible government. The conversion of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to what may be called a tactical acceptance of the principles of Protection dates back to that period when he was eagerly embraced by the Tory High Tariffists of Great Britain, who comprise most of the hereditary reactionaries of that country and all the international bigots who were mainly instrumental in first provoking, and afterwards promoting, the war. It was a necessary consequence of his vindictiveness towards the Central Powers, an evil which he could not, consistent with that policy, avoid, that he should dd a great deal of harm to the people of this country. For that reason, the stupid and iniquitous policy was pursued of cutting off our noses to spite our faces in regard to trade with Central Europe. We have done, so far as lay in our power, our ignoble part in starving the women and children of the Central Powers, and incidentally we have robbed ourselves of some of the best markets of the world for our wheat and wool, and have led ourselves into a quagmire from which, during the last week or two, we have been making frantic efforts to extricate ourselves. There were many almost perfect flowers of speech in the Minister’s oratory. They were not quite fresh ; still, they were fragrant, seductive, and, like the scent of the rose, reminiscent of other and, perhaps, happier days. Somewhere I seem to have heard before the expression used by the Minister that “ we must develop this great continent and exploit its unexploited resources.” He might have added that we must people these unpeopled spaces, cultivate these uncultivated lands, fence our unfenced paddocks, milk our unmilked cows, plant the unplanted mangel-wurzel, dig out the undue rabbits, eradicate the uneradicated stinkwort, prickly pear, and bot-fly; and, I was about to add, but will not, chase out our unchaste political leaders. All these things, although true, are not quite relevant to the Minister’s main theme. In order to do those things in great measure, and with great success on national lines, we must have population; and it has been well proven already that by the processes of natural increase and immigration from the British Isles there will be no substantial, certainly no revolutionary, change in our population within the next quarter, or perhaps half, century. So far as immigration from other countries is concerned, the Government have deliberately discouraged that by, on the one hand, a policy of gross breaches of faith with the people of other lands already settled here, to which I have made frequent reference before; and, on the other hand, by a policy of land monopoly - not perhaps that the Minister is immediately concerned with the latter, although he belongs to a ,party which in State and Federal politics has already been the worst offender in that respect. The Minister said, rather unhappily, that we must develop this country by spending money. I do not challenge the Minister’s judgment as an expert in prodigal spending; on the contrary, I think public opinion will acquit him of any niggardliness in spending the people’s money. On the other hand, his statements seem to suggest that this Tariff involves, according to his own view, the laying out of money in Australia for the purpose of promoting local industries - which we all desire - by way of subsidy, apparently, from the general public.
– He is more concerned with the raking in of revenue.
– He is more con’cerned with the spending than the saving of money. We do not people a continent in the same way as we set a table for a dinner-party, and when we have everything ready invite our guests to attend. We do not people a continent by first supplying it with, railways, reservoirs, irrigation schemes, harbors, ports, and all the other very necessary adjuncts to advanced civilization, and when we have them all ready turn to the nations of the world and say, “ Gentlemen, at your pleasure. , The feast is spread ; the continent awaits your using.” The truth is that the first requirement is people, pioneers, workers; they are the first necessity of civilized advancement. And the first thing .people do when they come into1 a new country is to provide themselves by cultivation with the necessaries of life, the first of which is food. The secondary industries, in which we are all so deeply interested, and I, particularly, having regard to the electorates I represent, follow upon the primary industries; and it is a very absurd policy to make -your structure wider than the foundation upon which it rests. The Minister said, in speaking of our unexploited resources -
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 past, we cannot afford to put up with this waste for a single day longer.
All very true, but in these as in- other matters people follow the line of least resistance, and do what pays best. That may be’ sordid and dreadful, but it is true. The Minister, although he Las shown himself to be a good father and a wise counsellor, has not given any reason why the farmers in the Mallee should be diverted from growing wheat to exploiting our great . steel resources, or setting up factories for the pickling of goat skins and the making of knitting needles and tacks - to mention some of the industries quoted by the Minister. There is not too much farming; perhaps if land monopoly was broken down- there , might well be more. The honorable gentleman admitted, not boastfully, “but rather modestly, that he had had experience in opening up shall I say our “unexploited resources.” I speak with a certain degree of knowledge, however, when I remind the Committee that his attention has been directed rather to the milking of cows and the growing of lucerne than to the pickling of goat skins and the malting of knitting needles and ‘ tacks. But he will not contradict me if I suggest that in the choice of that occupation he exercised quits average wisdom and foresight..
Mr.Greene. - Thereare personsnow engaged in the pickling of goat skins. I think that that industry is carried on inthe electorate of South Sydney.
– Someof thebest leather in the world is made from goat skins - glace kid, for example.
– I should be very sorry to discourage it. My only concern is that in developing our argument for Australian industries we should not weakly assume the absurdity of persons devoting their attention to agriculture when by means of subsidies they might have been diverted to artificial industries.
– The honorable member is motdoing justice to my argument.
Mr.BRENNAN. - It does not become the lesstrue by frequent repetition, but employment is governed by supply and demand, and affected by cost of production, extentof markets, and other factors. A great many local anomalies, in addition to those men- tioned, will have to be cured pursuant to the general policy of the Minister. It as, for instance, absurd for a former at,say, Swan Hill to import so many things from Melbourne which could be maniufactured or otherwise procured in his immediate neighbourhood. I too, like the Minister, have had experience in “exploiting the unexploited resources “ or Australia. I,too,milked the festive cow before,by subtle analogy, I sawthat the process might be applied in another occupation, and I know that thereare many farmers who bring back from market cabbages, turnips, and other vegetables whichthey could grow on their own farms were it cheaper or easier to do it. The specialization of the market gardener is the simple explanation of the apparent “ absurdity.” The farmer often finds it pays him better to attend to the growing of his own product, and to buy vegetables and. other requirements in his market town than to raise everything has needs on his own ground.
– That happens only in Victoria.
Mr.BRENNAN. - It happens much morein the other States than in Victoria, because this is the garden State of the Commonwealth. I merely wish to state, iff mot to establish, the proposition that the farmer knows as well as the Minister why he should not go in for the pickling of goat skins or the making of knitting needles and tacks. It must be borne in mind that the opportunity toexploit the unexploited resources of thecountry is still open to those who wish to avail themselves of it. The Minister, labouring a hoary, economic fallacy, deplored the waste involved in sending money out of the country, but my concern for the people of my electorate, and, incidentally - may I say, though I may not be believed - for the people of the Commonwealth as a whole, is not so much as to what is sent out of the country, butas to what is got in return for its expenditure - in other words, the curing of the intolerable evil of the cost of living. It is true that men do. not live by bread alone, and equally true thatthey do not liveby money alone. What they live by is what money can buy and the comforts which money will secure. Australia is so happily situated, having regard to her equable climate, the great varietyof her soils and the fact that her working population is virile and expert, that her people should be capable of producing everything they require for their daily lives. But the policy of making Australia self-contained may be pushed too far. The best example of a perfectly self-contained household would beone which grew the cabbages on its window sills to save the trouble of going to a corner of the paddock for them, and the best examples of self-contained communities about which literature has informed us are the Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe with his man Friday. These small communities, being wrecked on a desert island, had to contrive to provide themselves with what was necessary for their existence, and it is wonderful how much they were able to do under the compulsion of that stern mistress, necessity. They were self-contained.
– And how much they went without;
– They must have gone without a great many things, a deprivation which theybore doubtless with Christian fortitude. But when by the mercy of Providence, ships hove in view, both sets of compulsory ‘colonists were pleased to put themselves again in communication with the outside world, and to avail themselves of the results of the in. telligent efforts of other persons, and of other countries. Self reliance is one thing, foolish isolation quite .another. The Minister, in showing the need for making Australia self-contained, spoke of our losses in the war. He said nothing - because it would not have been relevant - of our losses in human lives; he was speaking of out material losses. He went on to point out that our shores were girt about with enemies, and that although the seas were kept partly open by the British Navy and our. own, we were greatly hampered by the absence of factories for supplying the requirements, for the making of which, had we been wise, we should have provided in anticipation of the war. The honorable gentleman, however, confuses a defence policy with an economic policy. If we are to have, which God forbid, a repetition of the horrors of futile war, and if this country is to be beset with enemies, we must prepare to live for a time without communication with the outside world. While so circumstanced, we must, like the Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe, make the best of our isolation. But does the Minister suggest that we should live in time of peace under war conditions? Does he wish’ to put the pickling of goat skins and the making of knitting needles and tacks on a war footing? » Does he desire, not as a sane economic policy for normal peaceful times, but as a defence measure, that we should make the sacrifice which he seems to suggest is necessary of maintaining artificial industries in time of peace as a guarantee against invasion and loss of communication with the outside world ? The Minister also pointed out that, if we had laid down some scores of keels we could have got over the great difficulty of carrying our produce across the seas in time of war and after, assuming the seas to have been kept at least partially open. He is now speaking, of course, of a State enterprise; and it comes, again, rather curiously from the Minister to instil the policy of Labour, which is, Stateowned and State-made ships. But will the Minister tell me how far his prophecy regarding the ships to be constructed during the past twelve months, under his Government, has been fulfilled ? I seem to have heard something about Cockatoo Island Dockyard and about the discontinuance of
Commonwealth shipbuilding. Iri fact I seem to have heard enough to convince me that State shipbuilding by a Government which does not believe in State shipbuilding is not likely to be a very great success. Still, it is Labour’s policy, and all I would say to the Minister when he tells us - speaking of our tremendous national debt-that we must have more backs to carry the burden, is that we also need more brains to -distribute the burden. We have, as he reminded us, tremendous national resources. The Minister instanced our steel works, and pointed out the danger of dumping. ‘ As to these national assets, which neither he in bis wisdom, nor others in theirs, have exploited to their fullest extent - the people not having the capacity or the desire to .exploit them - I would suggest that, since he has become so very optimistic in regard to the operations of State-built ships, he might promote a policy of State-controlled and Stateowned steel works. But my concern is that the Minister, who seems to dread the octopus power of the importing monopolist just as much as I do, is quite ready to hand over his powers and his duties as trustee of the nation from the importing monopolist to the manufacturing monopolist, without any superintendence on his part, or on that of his Government. I am >one of those who believe that the national resources of this country should be controlled by the nation for the nation, and that the Government should be trustees for the whole nation. Of course, I will be told by the cynics that they can quote many examples of State-controlled enterprises, in this and other States, ‘ which have failed. As a matter of fact, it is generally found on examination that the contention is mere political claptrap, designed solely to discredit some one political party or other. But even if it were true that there had been failures, I would never confess to having so . little confidence in a really representative Government as to admit that we could not undertake to control or manage State enterprises with advantage to the State.” As trustees, the Government have recourse to funds, which is one of the first necessities for what the Minister himself calls continuous operation and mass production. They have recourse, also, to’ the best brains and the richest experience the world can furnish. And, therefore, I must not for one moment be taken to suggest that Australia’s industries, whether secondary or primary should be neglected in favour of foreign trade. But I do say that, where there are potentially great industries in a country, and where private enterprise, for one reason or another, has not grappled with them, with the advantages which Nature and situation give them against foreign competition, then - if not sooner - it becomes the duty of the nation to “exploit” those national enterprises. Of course, I will be met with the objection that we have not the power to do much within the limits of . our Constitution. I am not addressing myself to this subject on the supposition that those shackles and gyves which we have voluntarily forged about ourselves willbe for ever voluntarily retained. I approach the matter from the view-point that at no very distant date - and upon such date as we may select - these unfortunate limitations will be finally removed. The Minister himself pointed out that in England at present there are very sinister combinations of manufacturers, and that these have been publicly declaring, if not boasting, that by the process of combination they were able to dump their products into other countries and undersell the manufacturers of those countries, if necessary, at aloss. Of course, that is so; but it entirely bears out what I have been endeavouring to show, namely, that we gain nothing by supplanting one body of exploiters with another body of at least potential exploiters. Therefore,I, as one who adopted Labour’s policy of effective Protection - which protects at once, if at all, the manufacturer as well as the worker and the consumer - must not be regarded for a moment as assenting to the view that this Tariff, which the Minister introduced with such ornate phraseology, is going to be’ a cure either for the high cost of living or for the just complaints of the working classes in regard to the reward of their labour.
This is all I would urge with respect to our Protectionist policy, and in regard to the maintenance of Australia’s industries: We should approach the subject without cant or hypocrisy, and should not attempt, in our arguments in support of a protective policy, to hop from one foot to the other, and then to stand on our heads, while using a number of mutually destructive arguments in regard to the whole question.For instance, if we are prepared to say - as I am - that it is good to establish Australia’s industries, and that it is also a good thing to pay for their establishment, we should be ready to consider also how far we ought to go in subsidizing these industries, and how far the general public, and especially the working public, should be called on to pay and should be in turn protected. That is the simple question which we have to answer. But when the Minister labours his theme in order to pretend that he is going to cheapen commodities in Australia by making them more difficult to obtain from other sources, and by paying something additional to people to make them in this country, I can only refer to his remarks thereon as so much cant and humbug, and as being absolutely inconsistent with three-fourths of his arguments, if they were to be followed logically.
I have not said anything concerning the long table of individual items; but on the general question I thought it my duty to say a word or two. I do not know that anything I have said is especially directed to the winning of votes of the manufacturers of the electorate of Batman. It so happens that Batman is a great manufacturing locality - one of the greatest, in fact, in the Commonwealth. I feel certain that had I contented myself with going on the platform and shouting loudly for duties - even prohibitive duties - I could not have done myself any harm; but, certainly, such procedure would not have satisfied my view as to the claims of the whole people, and would not have satisfied my own conscience.
– I am doubtful if the honorable member has satisfied his conscience this afternoon.
– We ought to approach this subjectfearlessly and logically. I cannot hope, of course, to vie with the Minister in eloquence. I have not at my disposal the vast . volume of material on which he made his speech; but upon a few basic principles it is well, at all events, that I. should make my attitude clear. Having said so much, I may be relied upon to do my little part in seeing that, not only in primary, but also in secondary, industries, Australia is able to take its place and part with the other nations of the world, and that, in an emergency, at any rate, we are not so bankrupt that we cannot supply all our own reasonable needs. Having done that, and having divested this discussion, so far as I can, of a great deal of the makebelieve which is usually associated therewit*, I shall- be satisfied to abide by the result of our honest and united endeavours.
.- It is such a long while since the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) made his speech in introducing the Tariff that honorable members have been inclined to drift from the principles which the Minister then laid down. It has always appeared to me, in discussing the fiscal issue, that people have viewed the matter from a wrong angle, in that they have talked about Free Trade and Protection. ‘During the war, the Government plainly revealed the real angle of consideration; for they made it a matter of Free Trade or prohibition. And in prohibiting, as they did, some of our ordinary imports, they suggested quite a new view of the fiscal question. Nowadays, people are beginning to see that it is no more possible to have true Protection, as many people speak of it - but which is really prohibition - than to have Free Trade. And there are few people in Australia who now go to either extreme. The whole world has altered its views, to a large extent, at any rate, as a result of the overwhelming experience of the war. To-day we are all inclined to take a more moderate view of things than we were before the great cataclysm, because, in view of the great damage and loss the world has sustained, all peoples have in some respect become more sympathetic and more forbearing towards one another than they were before the war.
As it is a long time since the Minister introducd the Tariff, I want to refer to one or two of his remarks, and deal with them in order. He said, quoting the Prime Minister-
The Government has carefully prepared a new Tariff. It believes it will prove satisfactory to the manufacturers of the Commonwealth. i 1 1
Very few .people will question .the statement that this Tariff will certainly please the manufacturers of the Commonwealth , . but there is another body of people in Australia whose interests ought also to be considered. Later on in his speech the Minister said -
Here we are to-day with this enormous debt of over £750,000,000-
It has since increased - and a population of 5,000,000 and a territory acknowledged to be undeveloped, and which we know we can only develop by the expenditure of further money.
Later on he said -
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 produce to the markets of the world.
And then he made a statement which has just been quoted by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan.) -
It is just as important that we should mine and work our iron as that we should work our fields.
Towards the end of his speech he made this significant remark-
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 a result of this Tarin’.
I have quoted these statements consecutively in order to show what appears to me to be the greatest weakness of this Tariff, and that is that it meets too comprehensively and completely the statement made by the Prime Minister that it is a manufacturers’ Tariff. We all know that Australia came through the war solvent as the result, not of its secondary productions, but of its primary productions. Yet here in this Tariff the Government definitely, and with a complete knowledge of the position, lay down the theory that. all increased taxation brought about by the imposition of higher duties should fall upon the primary producers.
The Minister tells us that it is useless to burst up estates 40 or 50 miles from a railway unless we give the people facilities for handling their produce; yet everything in this Tariff puts an increased cost on the handling of this produce. It is time the primary producers. awoke to the fact that the schedule before us to-day will increase their burdens in a far greater proportion than is equitable, and to a degree which may lead to disaster. In the past they have borne the greatest burden of taxation. Before the inauguration of the Commonwealth, taxation was imposed upon them in a direct form for the purpose of producing funds with which to carry on governmental services, and then upon the creation of the Commonwealth Parliament a Protective Tariff was imposed which has since been increased on three or four occasions, each time falling more heavily upon the primary producers. At the same time there has not been in the slightest degree any reduction in the direct taxation originally imposed upon them.
– The Minister says that all these heavy increases will tend to make commodities cheaper.
– I know that the Minister has made that statement, but I do not think it will bear inspection. He may believe in what he has said, but if that were the only issue at stake I think he would find a tremendous majority of opinion against him. The great trouble is that this Tariff places a heavier burden upon those things which have made Australia what it is to-day. Time and again fresh taxation has been imposed on the very industries which have given Australia ite place in the world, and this Tariff will add still more to the cost of breaking in and improving new country, of handling it, and of getting produce off it to the markets of the world. At the same time nothing is done to relieve the primary producers of the direct taxation imposed upon them. The proposition is entirely . unfair. Sooner or later it must break primary production down. Despite the fact that consumers have been paying very high prices for primary products, every one knows that for the last ten years primary production has not been a paying proposition. No man can go into the market and buy freehold land in any portion of the eastern States and make grazing on it earn him a reasonable rate of interest on his outlay, unless he works a family to death in the pursuit of dairying.
If we are to have a protective Tariff we ought to do something to even it up. The protection ought not to be all onesided. It ought not to be a manufacturers’ Tariff. It ought to be a Tariff for all production, and I see no insuperable difficulties in the way of having such a Tariff. In the past people have been under the impression that manufacturing interests only were in need of protection; but there is no reason why to-day they should not view the matter in a truer light.
In his speech the Minister spoke about making Australia a self-contained nation. No more ridiculous statement could have been made in a deliberative assembly than to say that a nation should be selfsupporting. The honorable member for Batman has exposed the position in its true light. If we produce an article we must part with it for another. We must trade. We do not want gold coming here. We do not want to be in the position in which America finds itself, flooded with gold to such an extent that it cannot trade with other countries. When we produce an article, raw or finished,, we must trade it for some other article. It is sheer nonsense to talk about the country being self-contained, and I hope that when the Minister replies he will explain what he means by talking about making a country self-contained. If he can show us how we can carry our tremendous burden of debt without exporting goods there may be something in his contention. If he can show us that we can realize on all our primary products and still not export them again, there may be something in his argument. But as long as we have to pay interest on our burden of debt, so long are we obliged to export our products. We must export in some form or another. It is impossible for this or any other country to be selfcontained.
– The honorable member means that so long as Australia exports goods it must get goods in return ?
– Does the honorable member believe that 1
– Certainly. And I would like the Minister to show me how a country can export goods without importing others, except by receiving currency for them. We have a certain amount of interest to pay on our debt, and we must export goods to that extent, but if we want to get a return over and above the interest we are- called upon to pay upon our debt we must get other goods in return.
– Must get goods?
– Yes, or the equivalent of goods.
– What is the equivalent of goods?
– Various services are the equivalent of goods. For instance, one of the greatest sources’ of wealth of Great Britain is what are known as her invisible imports ; that is to say, the work she does for other countries, more particularly by means of her mercantile marine.
– Is that the only invisible export of Great Britain?
– No. there are others. . To my mind one statement made by the Minister was grossly unfair, and I hope that when he re-considers what he has said he will withdraw it. He said -
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 mau is lying beneath the sod to-day because of that fact.
I hope the Minister will withdraw that statement, because if it had not been for Free Trade England, her navy and mercantile marine, there would have been no Empire to-day. ‘ It seems to me that the Minister’s remark was a most unfair reflection upon the Old Country .
– The honorable member is drawing an inference from those words which I did not for a single moment intend to convey. As a matter of fact, I thought at the time I made my speech I had made my meaning abundantly clear.
– Every one realizes that if it had not been for the British Navy and mercantile marine, there would have been no Empire to-day and no White Australia.
– I agree with that.
– I knew that the Minister would agree with me, and therefore when he replies I hope he will soften down his previous statement, which certainly sounded somewhat harsh.
The Minister also told us that this Tariff was to be approved by this House and by the country for the reason that it gave greater preference to Great Britain. No one in Australia who calls himself a true Australian or Britisher but will want to see trade within the Empire encouraged. When the Minis ter made his statement, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) interjected-
As three-fourths of our imports come from Great Britain, it means that there is no extra protection.
The Minister replied -
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.
This is one of the most important features of the Tariff, and one which makes it to some degree acceptable to those people who, on other grounds, would fight it from end to end. We realize the value of the British Empire, not only to civilization, but also to Australia, and the people of the Commonwealth will gladly do anything that can be done to strengthen the bonds of the Empire or increase its power and authority throughout the world. When I came back from the other side of the world I was very much impressed with the possibilities of. trade between the various portions of the Empire; but I was greatly struck by the ignorance prevailing throughout the Empire as to the various component parts of ir. I wrote a letter to the Acting Prime Minister at the time suggesting that something should be done to get Australia to realize its distance from the other Dominions, and the opportunities it was losing through want of knowledge displayed in other parts in respect to its products. I was referred to the Board of Trade, and subsequently I placed before that Board a short resume of the position. However, apparently nothing has been done in the matter. We shall never realize the full benefits of the recent struggle . until we know exactly the position which each part of the Empire bears to every other part. We should have an Empire stock-taking in order to learn exactly what each Dominion can produce to the . best advantage. We should have our lines of trade . so developed as to enable us to make exchanges with the greatest advantage. Our desire should be, not to be a selfcontained country, but to be as far as possible a self-contained Empire. We have in the Empire all the necessary possibilities for trade. It is represented under every clime and’ every condition, and can produce all that human beings require. The time has arrived when we should not only consider the conservation and the full and proper use of all the products of the Empire, but the desirableness of so directing the stream of immigration that we shall not lose what is, after all, the greatest of all assets - the human strength and intellect which for a hundred years or more has been passing from under the flag. If we develop a proper system of preferential trade, and a proper knowledge of the products and possibilities of the various parts of the Empire, making up our minds a£ the same time, as the Old Country has already done, that our greatest stream of wealth - the strength and intellect of our people - shall be sent to the various parts of the Empire where they will have the. most value, then the Empire, as a whole, will have a better time than has ever been dreamt of, The possibilities in this direction are unlimited. For more than 100 years, and particularly during the last 100 years, the Empire has been losing a magnificent stream of potential strength and development, which cannot be put to its proper use, or diverted into its right channels, until we have a proper Empire stocktaking. We shall then know what we can produce best, and where we can produce it. It is sheer waste on our part to he attempting to produce commoditi.es which can be better produced, for instance in Canada, or for South Africa, for instance, to be trying to produce what can be better produced here. With a free interchange of traffic between the Dominions and the Old Country, we should not only ‘Strengthen our land in population, but would continue to maintain our command of the ocean, which, important as it is to the rest of the Empire, is even more important to Australia. We depend not only on the Navy, but to a very large extent upon our mercantile marine, and if we and the other parts of the Empire are going in for this closed-door policy, we shall restrict our opportunities for developing that seafaring life - seafaring attitude of mind which has always been the stand-by, the support, and the ‘final triumph of the Empire. In . Australia we have now an opportunity either to continue in the way of producing from the soil, or of diverting into secondary production a great deal of the manual labour which has been used in developing primary production. We have seen just recently how one of the greatest corporations in this country has gone, as put in its pamphlet, from silver to steel - from the country to the city. I fear that the trend of this Tariff, if it is passed in anything like its present form, will be to drive still more of our people into our cities. If we are to secure the full result that should be obtained under the present stimulus for Empire development, we ought to do something to bring up the primary producer to the level of the manufacturer. There are quite a number of primary industries which could be encouraged. There are some things relating to primary production, the importation of which, for the safety of the country, we should prohibit. Take, for instance, our importations of lucerne seed. The theory of the Protectionists is that by prohibiting certain manufactured article’s from entering this country we create a certain amount of employment, and so benefit the country, although we do not keep out anything that is really detrimental. But if the importation of lucerne seed were prohibited, not only would our farmers be given a chance of growing the seed, which can be produced with the utmost ease in very many districts, but a very real danger would be kept out of the country. Very often many deadly plant enemies are introduced in imported lucerne seed. There is nothing in this Tariff that will give the primary producer a chance to get on the same level as the manufacturer, although there is very much more reason why he should be protected, since by giving him protection we keep out things that are a deadly menace to the country.
What encouragement is given to the producers of broom millet, or to any other primary producers? We are told that the Government is going to take action to enable rice to be brought in for the manufacture of starch. What is wrong with our Indian corn ? Vast quantities of Indian corn or maize are produced here, and excellent starch, I understand, can be mad..) from it. Yet there is nothing in this Tariff to protect our maizegrowers. Then, again, we are to have a still higher Tariff on arsenate of lead, which, in the form in which it is introduced into this country, is absolutely essential to the fruit-growing industry. Australia to-day cannot produce a really good fungicide or insecticide for the spraying of fruit trees, such as can be made fromimported arsenate of lead ; yet the Government are raising the Tariff on arsenate of lead, thus making still more difficult the position of our fruit-growers.
– Fruit-growers have been using a locally manufactured arsenate of lead for many years.
– Has the honorable memberused the local and the imported article and observed the results?
– Has the honorable member seen as good results from the use of the local article as are obtained from the imported article?
– Then the honorable member is the only man interested in fruit-growing who has made such a statement to me. I know of hundreds of fruitgrowers who have expressed an exactly opposite opinion.
Another matter which appeals to me is theproposal to raise the duty on news paper. The increase may not hurt the metropolitan dailies to any extent, but it is of intense moment tocountry newspapers. Throughout Australia we have almost thousands of such newspapers, and under this Tariff they are subjected to an intolerable burden. The residents of . country districts want their local newspapers. There is not a country which, in proportion to its population, has a larger number of newspapers than we have. Every honorable member who lives in a country district knows that the local newspaper is always much appreciated, and that it is a matter of real interest to every country resident that the local newspaper shallbe kept going. The Government, however, come forward with an impost which will have a destructive effect on such publications. All these things seem to me to indicate that in the preparation of the Tariff no due consideration has been shown for those who live outside our cities. I rose to-day to show as clearly as I could that this Tariff is really whatthe Prime Minister said, and what I feared, it would he - amanufacturers’ Tariff. If the Minister could show that our primary producers would be helped as our manufacturers are to he under this Tariff some of us might be prepared to support it; but, seeing that the primary producer has to compete in the world’s markets, an attempt should at least be made in a Tariff of this kind to put him on an equal footing with the manufacturer.
The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney), in the course of his speech on Friday last, said he thought our local manufacturers could compete with the manufacturers of any other part of the world. I made an interjection, the exact nature of which I forget for the moment, and the honorable member replied that he was not going to pass a vote of want of confidence in the working men of Australia by saying that they could not compete with the workers of other countries. It seems to mo that the honorable member’s contention was entirely wrong. Our distance from other great manufacturing countries, and the fact that we have the cheapest coal and the best iron in the world, as well as very competent workmen, afford our manufacturers a great natural protection.
– That protection is our handicap.
– It is undoubtedly a handicap to the man on the land. The manufacturer alone, and not the primary producer, is considered under this Tariff. The honorable member for Hume said that he would not express a want of confidence in his fellow workmen, and at the same time announced that ho was prepared to vote for a high Protective Tariff. Surely, in supporting a high Protective Tariff he actually agreed to a vote of want of confidence in his fellow workmen. Wehave, as I have said, the cheapest coal and iron and the protection which is given by thousands of miles of freight. Wo know that our men can produce, when they please to do so, manufactures equal to those of other countries, and, inthe circumstances, it is absurd foran honorable member to say that he is not going to pass a vote of no-confidence in his fellow workmen when, at the same time, he votes for highly protective duties.
I return for a moment to our relations with the OldCountry. It seems to me that we owe it to Great Britain to do what we can to encourage our rolationship with her by way of trade as well as sentiment, and I thinkthat we are passing a vote of censure on the workers of this country when we say thatwe have to protect them against the workers of Great Britain. The workers of the Old Country, unfortunately, are worse fed than ‘ ours are; they are hot as well housed, and do not enjoy the same opportunities . for growing up astrong and vigorous people. It seems to me, therefore, that we ought to go further than has been done under the Tariff as it stands in giving a preference to imports from the United Kingdom . There, we have workers of our own kith and kin who, unfortunately, axe not. reared under the same advantageous conditions that we enjoy, and we ought not to fear their competition. We. should, on the contrary, do all we can to encourage the competition of Great Britain and all the Dominions of the Empire, protesting ourselves only against the cheap and inferior labour from outside. I hope that the Tariff will be so toned down that instead, of dragging the people from our rural’ districts to the cities, it will encourage equally with the secondary industries all those industries which exist throughout Australia, and which have enabled us to be regarded as the most happy, vigorous, and prosperous people’ the world has yet seen.
.- Twelve months or more have elapsed since the Tariff was presented by the Minister for’ Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene). Honorable members will admit that in. submitting it the honorable gentleman made a very clear statement showing that it possessed fear tures which had not previously been included” in an Australian Tariff. One of these features is this: - In the Tariff schedule there is a column called the “intermediate” column. By virtue of this,the Minister, with the sanction of Parliament, is allowed to make Reciprocal arrangements With the Dominions and foreign countries; and, to my mind, this is a most useful provision. Then, there are what are known as deferred duties; that is, duties imposed now, but which do notcome into operation until some future date, and these also may be found Useful. I am quite in accord with the idea of preventing dumping by means of the Tariff. At this stage I do not wish to go into too much detail. Personally) I regard the Tariff, and its relation, to the country, as if it were my own business; and 1 intend to exercise a free hand, and’ vote for increases or decreases in duties as the circumstances of particular cases warrant. When the items are before us, I shall give my. reasons for voting in any particular direction.
There are certain difficulties and conditions that must be recognisedin approaching a Tariff in this Common-‘ wealth Parliament. First, whatever Tariff is introduced it must be a revenueproducing as well as a protective instrument.When the States federated, the Customs revenues, which were a great part of the revenues of the States, were all handed over to the Federation; and the consequence is that the Federationmust realize large sums through the Customs. This the Federation has been able to do hitherto, and it is doing more in that way now than ever before. It will be seen that, as I said, the Tariff must not only have a protective incidence, but also be revenue-producing. I can see how hardship may arise in this connexion. For instance, in the matter of cotton goods, it seems to me that a great many people in Australia may feel the pinch, for thesegoods, which, I understand, are not manufactured to any extent here, are largely used.
– Any quantity is manufactured here; there are great factories in New South Wales.
– Cotton piece goods?
– Yes, and there was an exhibition of such goodssome time ago.
– Then, perhaps, the duties on piece goods are not only for revenue purposes, but also for protective purposes. I am glad to hear that such goods are produced in Australia.
– I was not referring to piece goods, but particularlyto stockings and socks.
– We cannot overlook the fact that wheneverthe Australian people have had the chance tospeak, they have voted for Protection. We arenot theorizing now ; we are supposed to be practical men, and, with a Tariff before us which has been in existence twelve months, we must take things as we find them, always remembering the mandate from the public that, in the main, there is to be Protection. Wherever I think that an article should be protected, I am prepared to vote for what may be considered an effective duty. I do not believe in monopolies; and itwill be a delicate calculation sometimes to ascertain whether we are giving a fairprotection, or whether there is danger of establishing a monopoly. However, we have to do the best we can. I do not believe that it. is always necessary to impose a heavy duty on an article which. Australia is not fitted to produce. Again, we have to remember the lessons taught us by the war. Australia, in many lines, should certainly be self-contained. Especially is that the case, I take it, with iron and steel and other allied items. . The iron industry should bo established here if it be’ possible, and to ‘that end the country should be prepared to make sacrifices, considering that it is the basis of sp many other industries. I have often held up the Broken Hill Company as an example of how the Government should enter’ into industrial enterprises. This company’ has shown that what is required is a businesslike examination of everything connected with an industry before definite steps are taken; and this is what the Government should remember before they come to this -House and ask for the necessary money. At the same time, I recognise the great work that the Broken Hill Company is doing. I have had the privilege of going over the Newcastle works more than once, and of seeing how the works are expanding, and realizing the number of men that will ultimately be employed there* While I thus express my admiration of what the Broken Hill Company is doing, and while I intend to do what I can for the industry, I submit that we must be exceedingly careful not to give that strong organization too much of a hold over the iron and steel and the* many allied trades in Australia.
– We may be subject to dumping from Belgium.
– As I have already pointed out, the Tariff Bill provides against dumping, and I commend the provision, Australia, in my opinion, is well fitted for many manufactures, seeing that we have the raw material in large quantities. Where such are the circumstances, I intend to vote for effective Protection. Australia ought to be an exporter of woollen goods. If we cannot manufacture enough- woollen goods, not only for our own people, but to export, I do not know in what industry wo can hope to become exporters. This is an industry such as I had in my mind when I pointed* out that we possessed large . quantities of raw material. If we are to give effect to1, the voice of the people of’ Australia, as often expressed, we must impose duties that are effective from a protective point of view. There are, as we know, many countries producing woollen’ and other goods that we are capable of producing here, and the rates at .which, labour is paid in those countries are- not anything like the rates that rule here. That being so, such duties ought to be imposed as will make up to the local manufacturer the difference in wages. But there may, be other conditions which give the foreign manufacturer a decided advantage; and it is necessary to take everything into account, and fix such duties as will give the local manufacturer a fair chance to compete, in view of the standard observed in Australia.
There is another danger which has’ to be guarded against. If we are not careful we may impose too heavy a duty in the case of -a certain industry we desire to see established, and thus bring about the destruction of a still more important industry already established here. As an example, we may take the agricultural industry. Farmers in Australia must be treated fairly. It is absurd to think that they are able to pay any price for their implements of industry; this they cannot do. If we put on such duties as allow the farmers to be exploited to such an extent that agriculture .becomes unprofitable, we shall destroy the best industry, we have. At the present time we cannot complain very much. -While reapers and; binders, which are a typical example, are at their present prices there is no particular need foi any duty. The McKay people at Sunshine, .a few months ago, were taking orders for reapers and binders at £100, for next year’s delivery; and I am sure that a Massey-Harris or an American machine could not be purchased for the money. If the Australian manufacturer can undersell the foreign manufacturer there is no need for a dutyBut these high prices are not going to last; at least, we hope they are not. The times are abnormal yet, and reapers and binders, in the matter of price, ought to come back to something like what they were many years ago when they could bet purchased at from £40 to £50.
– At £39.
– I have seen numbers sold at under £50, on terms.
– There was no duty on them then, and they were the cheapest article the farmers bought.
– . Allowing ‘ for changing times and conditions, there is no reason why reapers and binders of allkinds should not in a short time be bought at a price well under £100, if there is reason for high prices now. In my opinion there is no need at the present time for duties on these and many other farming implements. The manufacturers are doing very well at present; but, still, the time may soon arrive when they can fairly claim some assistance against American and other companies. It is claimed that in consequenceof the New Zealand Parliament some years ago taking the duties off certain articles, such as reapers and binders, manufacturers in the Dominion were put out of business, and that American people now practically exploit the market, with the result that the’ price there is higher in the absence of any duty orlocal competition than it is in Australia, where there is local competition.
– That is always the case.
– Not always; but assuming it to be the case, surely there is a happy medium by which the local manufacturers may be encouraged and the farming . industry not unfairly handicapped? That is all I ask for, and I think it is possible of realization. On some of these lines, therefore, I may be prepared to support a lower duty than that now fixed in the Tariff. However, at the present time I merely wish to make my position clear - to show, what may be expected of me when the items are before us.
We do not impose the Tariff merely to bolster up the interests of certain manufacturers; the benefits of a Tariff should be as wide as the country itself. Our object in founding industries is not only to make the few people who own them rich; we desire that the benefits shall go further, and be equally distributed all through the community. At any rate, we expect fair wages to be paid to the employees engaged in the industries. That is rather difficult to regulate under the present Constitution, but some means must be provided for reviewing the operation of these duties. If, while the manufacturers are doing exceedingly well, their employees are not receiving a fair proportion of the profits, there must be a means by which this Parliament, or some other body, can review the duties.
– The honorable member is evidently a supporter of New Protection.
– I always have been. I suppose I am the most consistent exponent in this House of profit-sharing and co-operation, and upon that idea New Protection is more or less based: I hope that when we are dealing with the items I shall be able to help the Committee in arriving at what are equitable duties. I intend to play a free hand, and treat each item from a business point of view, regarding the whole Tariff as if the country’s business were my own. I know it is difficult to strike the happy medium in all cases, but I hope that any vote I give upon the items will be, at any rate, recommended by common sense.
– I believe that aneffort has been made in this Tariff to encourage the secondary industries which are so very much needed in this young land. The conditions which have existed during the last six or seven years have undoubtedly shownthe necessity for not only encouraging primary production, but also for founding and fostering those secondary industries which are essential to the stability of the Commonwealth. As a result of conversations I have had with the Minister, I believe that he will be agreeable to making some of the items, ‘ to which exception is now taken, acceptable to the interested parties. I am pledged to a policy of Protection, and’ I do not think we should listen to the voices of those who desire a reduction of duties, except in respect of those commodities which it’ is impossible to produce within the Commonwealth. There is much to be said for deferred duties, which will come into operation as soon as an effort is made to establish an industry. I believe that the Minister will take care, when we are dealing with the items, that the public are not made to pay higher prices for imported commodities which are in general use, and are not produced in sufficient quantity in Australia. As a result of the war, Australia has been given new powers and possessions, necessitating provision for tradewith Eastern, countries. Recently, the Commonwealth appointed Commissioners’ to advertise our industries abroad. After all, unless we are prepared to advertise in the markets of the world we shall not achieve by the Tariff all that we desire. Although we number only 5,500,000 people, we have a great capacity for production, and I believe that under a proper policy of Protection we shall be able to hold our own in the markets of the world with manufactured goods as we do now with wool, wheat, and other primary products. Wool was the salvation of the Commonwealth during the war, and I feel that, despite all the obstacles and difficulties that confront us, the wool problem will be solved to the satisfaction of all concerned. It should be possible to build up from the wool industry a number of secondary industries, which would be’ of immense advantage to the Commonwealth. During last week Parliament gave consideration to a means of marketing the accumulation of 2,700,000 bales of Bawra wool without detriment to the oncoming clip. It has been suggested that it would be to the advantage of the Commonwealth to arrange to sell the wool to Germany on extended terms of credit. If we are badly in need of customers, it would pay us to deal with them on almost any terms. It seems to me that it would be more satisfactory to the Australian people if, instead of selling the wool to foreign countries, on extended credit, wo were to say to our own people and others who might be encouraged to come here, “ Take these 2,700,000 bales of wool on credit, over an extended term of years, and manufacture them locally into clothing.” If that were done, we might be able to place on the markets of the world the finished article instead of the raw material as we are doing now. We have heard a great deal about the difficulties experienced by those engaged in local secondary industries. The differences between employer and employee are generally known, I am satisfied that until there is harmony between those two interests our industries will not be the success that they should be. One of our greatest disabilities, and an important argument in favour of the proposed alteration of the Constitution, is that most of our population is concentrated in and about the great cities. I believe that the Tariff will encourage the larger country centres to build up secondary industries which will utilize the raw material produced in those localities. Statistics show that in the year 1918-19 the factories of the Commonwealth used £142,000,000 of raw material to which the process of manufacture gave an added value of £79,000,000, whilst £38,000,000 was paid in wages. I do not see why we should not be able to double and treble those figures, and make ourselves independent ‘ of Japan, America, and other nations to whom we are at present selling the raw material that we could manufacture here. But we must give security to people who invest their money against both industrial troubles and foreign competition.
I have no desire to repeat what has been said by other members. We have been told in the newspapers this week that an ample supply of linen is of importance to this Commonwealth. Hitherto we have got our supply of this and many other articles from overseas, although we could have produced hersthe raw material necessary for their, manufacture, and made our own requirements, exporting the surplus to the eastern and other markets. We are a young community, and should take a lesson from older countries. The other day,a leading Melbourne merchant said to me, We feel that the door has been closed against us, but we do not intend to lose the fine businesses that have been built up in Melbourne and throughoutthe Commonwealth. We have had a good spin, and have had every opportunity forsupplying the market. Now we are going to establish our own workshere for the manufacture of everything that we have previously imported.”
– What is that?
– I think that the firm in question has been an importer of engineering material mostly. This gentleman told me that it is intended to spend about £750,000 on the erection of plant. It willbe, I understand, an enormous concern, the firm being a very old one. As we are an important part of the Empire, we naturally wish to give to the Mother Landthe preference which she deserves, hut wemust let our own people enjoy the full benefits of their sowing and reaping. It is the desire of the people of Australia’ that this country’ should not only produce the raw materials it needs,. but also make them into finishedarticles.TheTarriffwillassist usto do this. Without manuf actures we cannot expect an immigration policy to be a success, and the Commonwealth will not become great so long as she depends on other countries for manufactured commodities. I hope that the amendments which I shallhave to propose will not be refused by the Minister. I trust that he will see the need of them. They are indeed, very small matters.
– If we get to the items we might finish, perhaps, by the middle of June.
– If members occupy as little time as I do the consideration of the Tariff will not take long. It is important that we should dispose of the Tariff as soon as we can, so that the public may know how they stand.
.- Naturally, I have listened to the debate with a great deal of interest. As the Tariff touches so many people where they are most tender, that is, in their pockets, its proposals have given rise to much difference of opinion, and to considerable debate. I take no exception to the remarks which have been made about a number of the proposals; but I am surprised that many who have spoken in opposition to the Tariff generallyseem unable to take a wide, comprehensive view of the needs of this young country.
– I draw attention to the state of the Committee. (Quorum formed.)
-It has been asserted, not once, but many times, and most emphatically, that the Tariff is prejudicial to the primary producers of the country.
– So it is.
– If I believed it to be so in the slightest degree, I would not support it, much less have been the framer of it. It is because I consider that it can be demonstrated beyond the shadow of doubt that the Tariff is nob only not prejudicial to the interests of the primary producers, but the one thing above all others that will put them where they ought to be, that I advocate its adoption. Go up and down the world, and search the history of the ages, and you will discover many countries in which the policy of Protection has been adopted -Protection to a degree that might well make this Tariff blush for shame at its moderation. These have been countries in which the primary-producing interests were important, and which, like ourselves, had great undeveloped territories and large natural resources. But is it possible for any honorable member to say in regard to any of them, “ Here is a country which by the adoption of Protection ruined its primary producers.”?’
– Can you instance’ a country whose geographical situation is like that of Australia ?
– I challenge honorable members to produce a solitary instance in which the adoption of Protection has prejudiced the primary producers of the country. I do not propose to go back to ancient times to show that the nations which have neglected the development of secondary industries have had to give place to those who have fostered such industries ; . I do not propose to go among the crowded centres of Europe, because honorable members may say that those countries provide no fair analogy and that it would be impossible to draw reasonable comparisons. I do propose, however, to turn to the history of a great country which is very much like our own in that it was opened up by the British race, and in that it has a vast area; and like our own, again, in that it possessed great undeveloped resourcessuch as those of ours to which the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) referred somewhat sarcastically this afternoon. And I propose to show not only from the lips of American statesmen, but from those of men in other countries also, including America’s neighbour - Canada - that it has been acknowledged that the protective policy of the United States of America has been the one thing which, above all others, . has placed its primary producing industries where they are. I now turn to the records ofthe debates which occurred during the discussion of the McKinley tariff in the House of Representatives of the United States of America in 1889.
– What was the population then ?
– Somewhat more than our own.
– A great deal more.
– And I do not think that those people were 12,000 miles away from the world’s markets.
– I hope to have the opportunity at a later stage to turn attention to that phase of the whole question. Reading those debates, I was struck - and I now refer, not only to those of 1889, but to all those which have taken place upon this all-absorbing topic in America - by one thing above everything else; that. is, by the similarity of the speeches made in opposition to a protective tariff with those which have been uttered in this House on the present occasion.
– Truth, of course, is eternal.
– I assure the Minister that I have never read them.
– I hope I did not convey the insinuation that honorable members had read the speeches of members of the American House of Representatives and had repeated them here.; but I emphasize that those who opposed the imposition of America’s protective tariffs were imbued with exactly the same views and desires as certain honorable members of this Chamber, and that precisely similar statements have been made in each of the two countries, namely, that if a protective policy is adopted the result will be the ruin of its primary producing interests. When we turn to the actual results, however, we find that, in the United States of America, not only did the tariffs not have that effect but, indeed, that the very opposite happened. I shall quote from the speech of McKinley himself when introducing the great McKinley tariff. He said -
We have now enjoyed twenty-nine years continuously of Protective Tariff laws (the longest uninterrupted period in which that policy has prevailed since the formation of the Federal Government).
I want honorable members’ to note my interpolation at this stage. My desire is to show what sort of a Tariff had existed in the United States of America during those twenty-nine years. The average Tariff rate in 1850, When the population of the United States of America was not very much greater than is our own today, was 27 per cent. In 1857 it was reduced to a little more than 18 per cent. It was raised to the average of 40 per cent. between 1862 and1866. In 1883 the average Tariff rate amounted to 41.63 per cent., including all the free items and everything else. In 1884, after the Tariff Commission had recommended a reduction of 25 per cent., the average rate was increased to 42.60 per cent. In 1885 the duties wentup to anaverage rate of 47.21 per cent., and after that date the average rate was about 47 per cent. The measure which McKinley introduced raised the average Tariff rate to 51 per cent.
– But I think that that was only upon dutiable goods, and not also on free goods.
– If I am wrong, I thank the honorable member for his correction. At any rate, the average rate in the McKinley Tariff was, as I have just said, 51 per cent. There are very few of our duties at present existing which approximate anywhere near to that. I have not worked out the average rates under our Tariff to-day, but it is certainly nowhere in the vicinity of 51 per cent.
– Hear, hear! It is about 27 per cent
– McKinley said at the end of a period during which there was an uninterrupted Protective Tariff -
We find ourselves in a condition of independence and prosperity the like of winch has never been witnessed at any other period in the history of our country, and the like of which has no parallel in the recorded history of the world in all that goes to make a nation great and strong and independent. We have made extraordinary strides in arts, in science, in literature, in manufacture, in invention, in scientific principles applied to manufacture and agriculture. In wealth and credit, and national honour we are at the front, abreast with the best, and behind none. In 1864, after fourteen years of Revenue Tariff - just the kind of a Tariff that our political adversaries are advocating to-day -
He is referring to the Democratic party, and he continues - the business of the country was prostrated, and agriculture was deplorably depressed. Manufacturing was on a decline, and the poverty of the Government itself made this nation a byword inthe financial centres of the world. We had neither money nor credit-both are essential. A nation can get on if it has abundant revenues. If it has none, it must have credit. We had neither, as the legacy of the Democratic revenue ‘Tariffs. We have both now. We have a surplus revenue and a spotless credit.
With a debt of 2,050,000,000 dollars when the war terminated, holding on to the Protectivelaws against Democratic opposition, we have reduced that debt at an average rate of more than 62,000,000 dollars each year- ,174,000 dollars every twenty-four hours for the last twenty-five years; and what looked like a burden almost impossible to bear has been removed under the Republican fiscal system, until now it is 1,020,000,000 dollars, and with the payment of this vast sum of money has not been impoverished.
The individual citizen has not been burdened or bankrupted, and national and individual prosperity have gone steadily on until our wealth is so great as to be almost incomprehensible when put into figures. With me, this position is a big conviction - not a theory.
I believe in it, and thus warmly advocate it, because enveloped in it are my country’s highest developments and greatest prosperity.
That was McKinley’s verdict upon twenty-nine years of a continuous high Tariff system. He found agriculture depressed, but after that period he had to state - and no one could contradict him - that agriculture was in a flourishing condition such as had never before existed in the history of his country.
– And he attributed the whole thing to the Tariff?
– Of course, the resources of, America had nothing to do with it.
– The whole point with honorable members who are interjecting was that this Tariff was going_ to ruin Australia. All I am endeavouring to prove is that a similar Tariff did not ruin America.
– Then, why do not the Government double the Tariff ?
– There are some reasons why even that, perhaps, would be warranted. At the same time I intend later to tell honorable members what the Government propose to do to prevent anybody from using the shelter of the Protectionist Tariff to impose an undue burden on the Australian public - that is, if circumstances were to permit such usage.
– The Minister has been strangely ‘silent on that point until today.
– No; I stated some time ago - I think, by interjection when the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) was speaking upon the Tariff - that that was what the Government were going to do. I indicated the fact in the most definite terms.
– Why did not the Government take that course first, and bring in the Tariff afterwards ?
– Because honorable members generally have occupied the time of the House in so many ways that it was impossible to do more than we have been trying to do. It will not be possible in the Bill, of which this Tariff is the schedule, to incorporate any legislation other than that which is necessary for the collection, of the duties themselves. But the steps which we propose to take - and the Government will be prepared to go ahead with them as soon as possible - are such as I believe will be effective. And, further, I am of opinion that they will be constitutional.
– I have heard the Government say that they could not take any such steps because they have not the power under the Constitution.
– I am simply dealing with what I believe to be the facts. It is my view that what we now propose to do could have been done at any time, and I believe that what we are about to do will be found to be constitutional.
However, I was dealing with the speech of McKinley in the course of introducing his Tariff. From those conditions of 1889 I turn to the year 1921, when I find President Harding giving utterance to exactly the same testimony, and saying precisely the same things, regarding the prosperity of American agriculture.
– He says that it is necessary to place a duty on agricultural products.
– He says that there is an insistent necessity to prevent importation of primary products into America to the detriment of American citizens,, and he has taken that very action.
I propose to call .another witness into the box. This time it is not an American citizen. I go across the border to Canada, where we find the Prime Minister of that Dominion, who has behind him, probably, a greater country support than any other Prime Minister of Canada has had, saying, in 1921, thirty-two years after McKinley spoke -
I do not want the woollen industry or any other industry to get any greater protection than makes it pay in Canada, but I do. not want a line of Canadian industries closed up in obedience to an arbitrary differential merely because its chief competitor is in. England. We cannot succeed, and. we cannot grow as a one-sided field products country. No nation in the world ever grew that way. The best service we can render to agriculture is to bring the biggest share we can of its market near to its place of production. We are gaining in that way in Canada. It we turn in the other direction agriculture will have harder times.
And then he says -
The history of agriculture in the United States should be a lesson to Canada.
And I say it should be a lesson to Australia. But this is the testimony of a public man with the object “lesson right alongside him, and he points the moral. He points to the history of agriculture in America under a highly Protectionist Tariff, and he uses that as his justification as Leader of the Agricultural party in Canada for asking the Dominion Parliament to strengthen its Tariff laws. According to the cables this morning, the Bill was introduced into the Canadian Parliament yesterday. If I cared to do so I could give instance after instance of a similar kind to show that never in the history of the world, at least so far as I am .acquainted with it, has there been a single case in which agriculture has suffered as the result of a Protectionist Tariff. On the other hand, I could give instance after instance in which agriculture has suffered as the result of a Free Trade policy, and I know no more significant .an instance than the history of agriculture in Great Britain itself. Now, I propose to put another witness into the box.
– Why do you not call a witness from Argentine, where the conditions more nearly approximate to our own t
– I could quote some instances from Argentine which would surprise the honorable member. He was complaining a little while ago about the cost of agricultural machinery in Australia. It costs a great deal more to buy the same machinery in Argentine.
I call one moTe witness into the box. He also is the head of a great Dominion, and of .a country which has undeveloped resources like our own, and which derives its greatest wealth from primary production. I refer to Mr. Massey, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Speaking on the 16th April, this year, he said -
The wheat position had not been handled with a great deal of wisdom. A very difficult -situation had arisen in New Zealand in regard to supply. The reason for the increased price guaranteed recently was that wheatgrowing was going out of existence as the result of the general increase of production and the fact that it was impossible to buy the implements for wheat cultivation at less than three times tho pre-war cost, and the price of machinery and wages had advanced tremendously.
– Those remarks practically apply to Australia also.
– New Zealand is a Free Trade country so far- as agricultural implements are concerned, but I will be able to show that there is not a single class of agricultural machinery that does not cost more in New Zealand than it does in Australia; that is so, even in respect of the reaper and binder.
– We must be close to that position in Australia, when we will also have to go out of the business. The Minister cannot show much difference in price here.
– These are facts which require a good deal of answering. Honorable members of the Country party have wandered all over the country making the assertion over and over again that a policy of Protection is inimical to the - interests of the primary producers. I ask them for their proof.
– I may have said that this Tariff was inimical to the interests of the primary producers, but I do not recollect having said that Protection was.
– We are getting on very well. I have listened to honorable members in -the corner, and I have had the greatest difficulty in ascertaining exactly what their fiscal faith is. I have tried very Hard to understand whether they are Protectionists or Free Traders.
– In what way does the Tariff benefit the primary producer?
– Later on I shall give the honorable member quite a number of instances.
– Give me one now.
– I shall do so. Two honorable members representing country constituencies took me to-day to visit a factory, because they recognised, if the honorable member for Wimmera does not, that the protection afforded to that establishment is a benefit to a vast number of primary producers. The factory is producing at least six commodities from a primary product which grows, if not in the Wimmera constituency, at least in the constituencies of a number of honorable members. I refer to maize, which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) will admit is a primary product, and is principally the product of small farmers. The first commodity produced by this factory is starch, the second i3 corn flour, the third glucose, the fourth maize sugar, the fifth salad oil, and the sixth a by-product which is sold to the farmer, and is very much better for- the milking cow than is bran.
– Why is it necessary to bring the maize to Melbourne to have it treated in this way?
– The honorable member for Cowper, as he did in his speech, which I very much enjoyed, at once raises an issue which, although I admit it is important, is like the flowers that bloom in the spring - it has nothing to do with the case. I have grown maize. On one occasion, I remember, we felled the scrub and burned it off, and in the ashes, using a hoe about 1£ inches wide and 9 inches long, we chopped the corn in from one end of the burn to the other. The ground was covered with logs and rubbish, but in due time we had a glorious crop of maize, 85 bushels to the acre. We had to .pull that corn and carry every ounce of it on our backs until we could get it to the tracks we had cut into the burn and pull it out with a sledge. And then we had to husk it, shell it, bag it, and cart it about 20 miles to the nearest port, whence it was despatched to Sydney. I had to send to the agent in that capital 6d. per bag to make up the deficiency between the freight and other charges and the return from the sale of the maize. So I speak from bitter experience, and I say that those gentlemen who declare that this Tariff is not in the interest of the primary producer do not know the- first thing about it, or what they are talking about. That factory which I saw to-day, and which uses 750,000 bushels of corn per annum, makes a market for the primary producers; it takes off any glut in the market’ and keeps the price of the corn at the rate of 5s. per bushel, which, if I had it for my crop, would have brought me in a return of £500 instead of my being compelled to send to the agent a cheque for £15 to pay the actual loss in consigning my produce to the market and selling it there. Is this Protection not of benefit to the primary producer of maize? The honorable member who says that it is not does not know what he is talking about.. The honorable member for Wimmera has asked me for one instance. I have given him one. If he wants more, I can give him a dozen others. I have to thank the honorable member for his question. It gave me an admirable opportunity to put in the most definite and simple way-
– Surely the Minister does not think that he answered the question.
– The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) seems to be hard to convince. I was asked for only one example.
– But do they not sell that starch above the world’s parity ?
– I cannot answer that question offhand, because I do not know. I must pass on<
– The honorable gentleman has shown us the necessity for the factory. Can he show us the necessity for the duty? We all realize the necessity for factories.
– I was not concerned for the moment with the question of the necessity for the factory. What I was endeavouring to prove was that the establishment of the factory was a direct benefit to the primary producer.
– That is more than the honorable member did prove.
– I shall in due course show the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) how the wheat-grower, for whom he is so anxious, will also be benefited by the Tariff. I yield to no man in my desire ‘ to see the primary producer of Australia prosper. I have been too long associated with him not to desire anything of the kind. What I do contend, however, is that we cannot get a normal development of the body politic any more than a normal development of the human body if one part of it grows at the expense of the other. We must have- a normal development if we are to get a sturdy growth. If we are to get the best out of all, we must have all sections of the community growing at the same time. It is impossible to get a normal development of primary production unless we have associated with it the secondary industries.
– But they should come after primary production and not before it.
– I shall be able to show conclusively that, in regard to some classes of primary production, the factory must come first,’ or, at all events, that primary and secondary production must grow simultaneously, otherwise we cannot hope to have the primary producer at all. The honorable member says that primary production must precede secondary production. I ask those who know their Australia - and, perhaps, none of us know it as well as we ought to do - where they expect to see the greatest development of primary production. I am speaking now of agriculture, and putting aside mining. Is it likely that we shall see intense rural settlement in that vast hinterland which lies between, say, Mildura and Darwin, or Charleville and Broome? Do we expect to see it along the wide open spaces of the East- West railway, or to find it in that area that will be traversed by the North-South line, should that line ever be constructed ? Is it there, apart from some mining development, that we shall ever get a thickly-settled rural population? Where in Australia must we expect to see it? Honorable members know, as well as I do, that it can only be looked for in some areas the boundaries of which are fixed, to a very large extent, apart from irrigation, by natural conditions. Honorable members must recognise that we cannot get intense rural settlement in Australia except in certain well-defined areas which’ are governed very largely by the rainfall and facilities for irrigation.
– I suppose the honorable member is now advocating centralization ?
– The honorable member may have such ideas in his mind, but they are not in mine. I am stating what T think must be self-evident to any one who has the slightest. knowledge of Australia. It is not in those great arid districts which, wonderful and admirably adapted as they are to certain purposes, can never support a great, rural population, that we can look for- intense settlement. Rural development, I repeat, can take place only in certain well defined areas, which are governed by two factors well known to us. Outside of those areas it is utterly impossible for us to hope for a dense rural population.
– Does the honorable gentleman say, then, that we have reached our limit?
– I was trying to state what I think must be a truism. I would be the last to suggest that we had reached the limit of rural development. No such thought ever entered my mind, and it is because I believe there are vast spaces in this country capable of intense rural development, provided we give them a market for their produce, that I say we can by this Tariff build up, assist, develop and diversify primary production in Australia.
– Not in our time.
– The honorable member seems to regard Australia only as a great wheat field. He does not appear to have any other conception of it. I willingly admit that wheat production is a great and most valuable Australian industry, but it would be infinitely better to scrap the wheat industry rather than that it should of itself stand in the way of the rural development and the possibilities of rural development which Australia holds out to us.
– The honorable gentleman has been doing well up to the present, but the statement to which he has just given utterance was a fatal mistake.
– I do not, for one moment, detract from the value of the wheat industry to Australia. To my mind, however, there are such tremendous possibilities for agricultural development in this country that, if one had to weigh the wheat ‘ industry . against that rural expansion which I believe we can have in this country, if we only shape our policy and course aright, it would be better from the point of view of Australia’s interest to scrap the one and take the other. I do not for one instant suggest, however, that any one would advocate the scrapping of the wheat industry.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8.10 p.m.
– The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming.) this afternoon stated what I think is well known to everybody who has followed the development of primary production in this country, namely, that if pastoralists who, a number of years ago, carried on their industry profitably on certain areas, were to. try to-day to. repurchase those areas, and dispense with the processes of agriculture, they would find themselves so handicapped with the capital value of the land that it would be quite impossible for them to be successful.
– My statement applies to land which has never been used for anything else but grazing.
– What the honorable member said was that a grazier could not purchase that land to-day at its market value, and carry on grazing profitably. Why is that? What is the reason for the rise in value? Is it not that the land can be put to better .advantage? Is it not that this land is suitable for growing other things?
– Not in all cases, by any means.
– That has been my experience. The reason that those men are no longer found carrying on the occupation of grazing on those large areas is that there is a market for other products than those which they produce - products which can be more profitably produced on that land. As a consequence, the price of the land has increased. If it had not been that those new markets for those new products had been created within this country, to a very large extent, would that land have risen in value? Would not the capital value of that land be conditioned entirely by the profitable occupation of it as a grazing proposition? So we find hot only that the value of the land has increased as a result of the establishment of secondary industries, but that there is a closer rural settlement. This, close rural development must, owing to the natural conditions of this country, be confined to well-defined areas, for reasons which we all know and thoroughly understand. As a result of “ those natural conditions over which we have no control, it is not there that we can produce, for the most part,- those things which form our staple exports, but those things which a local population needs. The honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), in the course of his speech, cited a case similar to that which I used as an illustration this afternoon. He told us of potato-growers in his electorate who got such a low price for their potatoes, as a result of over-production, that they had to send to their agents something in order to square accounts instead of getting any return. Does the price of potatoes and onions in Victoria pay the farmer to-day? Does the price of chaff or fruit pay the farmer to-day? Are we to go on growing more potatoes, more onions, more fruit, and more chaff ? Will that make matters better ? Will it not make them worse’ unless at the same time we get an increased home market? I thoroughly agree with the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) when he says that what the farmer desires, for the most part, is not the export parity, but the import parity.
– How will the Tariff help him?
– If the honorable member will be good enough to follow me as I develop my argument, I think he will see how the Tariff will help the farmer. I was saying that those products grown as they must be in the only areas where we can hope, owing -to the natural conditions of this country, to settle dense rural population, are in the main the products which require, and must have, a local population to consume.
– We require a local population to consume dried fruits, for instance.
– And a good many other things as well. As I said, I am as anxious as any other honorable member to see the primary producer prosper, but what I am more anxious about than anything else is to see the number of primary producers materially increased. It is of no use to say that as a. wheat, wool, or cattle growing proposition Australia can produce much wealth ; Australia can. But there are very definite limits to the possibility of Australia growing these three great staple commodities. If we would see, as I wish to see, a really dense rural population in this country, confined as that must be to those areas I have indicated, we must have a local market to consume the particular products that those areas are best -suited to produce; and we cannot get that market without the development of secondary industries. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) said a great deal about the price he has to pay for his reapers and binders. That is a question I hope to deal with in more detail in a moment; but here I wish to point out that if we have this increased urban population as- we shall, as a result of a protective Tariff, it need not necessarily be in one particular centre; it may be scattered over a wide area. Here, again, the definite allocation of industries is conditioned, as it must be, by the natural circumstances. If we create this local market by the establishment of industries under the Tariff, will not the increased demand increase the price . of local produce, say. of chaff, on that local market?
– Will that help to pay our national debt?
– I shall come to that by and by if the honorable member will allow me. The honorable member will admit that, with an increased demand, there is the probability of an increased price for produce. Suppose that as a result of the creation of secondary industries, more internal transport is required, and more chaff is used for the increased number of horses, and that in consequence the average price of chaff is increased 10s. per ton. It is a poor reaper and binder that will not cut 1,000 tons of hay, and if the average price is increased by 10s. per ton, it must be obvious that during the life of that machine the farmer has made an additional profit of £500. Honorable members cannot escape the fact that if we create within Australia a more insistent demand for the article which the f armer produces he must receive an additional price and be definitely so much better off in pocket. That fact is so selfevident as to be not worth arguing. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) asked a while ago how the development of secondary industries would help us to pay our great debt. If he will allow his mind to follow the argument to its logical conclusion, he will see how the establishment of secondary industries in this country will help the farmer in carrying the burden of not only the national debt, but also the development of the country. Suppose, for the sake of argument, there were no secondary industries in Australia* - that we had nothing but primary industries and no Tariff.
– Does the Minister think that is the policy of the Country party ?__
– I am not even suggesting that. As I have already said, I have had some difficulty in determining whether honorable members in the corner are Protectionists or Free Traders. Suppose that Australia had no secondary industries at all, but imported from abroad all its manufactured goods, would not the whole burden of taxation fall upon the primary producers ? Would not the whole of the national debt have to be carried upon their backs?
– 7We carry it now.
– And they could do it.
– Is it not a selfevident fact that, as we have already in this country a considerable amount of secondary industry from which incomes are being earned through the manufacture in our midst of a great deal of our raw products into the finished articles of commerce, the people engaged in the secondary industries are sharing the burden of taxation and debt which the country is carrying? Does it not necessarily follow that if we still further increase the amount of secondary production we must correspondingly increase the number of burden-bearers and decrease the load borne by the primary producer ? If we were to adopt a policy of having no secondary industries or of not encouragingthe further development of those already in existence-
– The Minister knows that that is not the policy of the Country party.
– I do not wish to fit that cap upon anybody in this Chamber. I cannot understand anybody suggesting that the abandonment of a policy of developing the secondary industries, and in lieu the importation of all our goods from abroad, thus employing workmen of other countries to earn incomes which the tax-gatherers of those countries collect, can be of any assistance to the primary producers of the Commonwealth. I agree entirely with the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) that what the farmer desires is not export parity, but import parity, and I am prepared to do all in my power to bring into existence that state of things in regard to all classes of primary production so far as it is possible to do it.
The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), in the course of his exhaustive speech, mentioned a number of items in respect of which the Tariff was, in his opinion, deliberately imposing a burden upon the people of this country. I was most astonished by the particular examples lie selected. For instance, he objected to the action of the Customs Department in regard to the collection of duty on Horlick’s malted milk. He considered that was quite a wrong thing to do. Rut the action has led to the establishment of one of the finest factories in this country. I refer to the Glaxo factory in the Corangamite electorate.
– It is the biggest milk condensing factory in the world.
– And it was established as a direct result of the action of the Customs Department to which the honorable member for Dampier objected. According to him what we ought to have done was to have left Horlick’s milk untouched. If we had, that factory would not now be in existence.
– What proportion pf the condensed milk is exported ?
– A very large proportion.
– The Minister ought to know that the action of the Department did not bring the Glaxo people to Australia.
– I1 speak of something of which I have definite knowledge, and as I have been continuously in close contact with this industry since its commencement, I ought to know why the Glaxo people came here. We put a protective duty on Horlick’s malted milk; the manufacturers of Glaxo found that they could not compete with a locally produced article, and they therefore came to Australia, established a factory, and are now buying from the farmer his raw product, converting it into the , manufactured article of commerce, and creating incomes upon which the Treasurer can levy in order to relieve portion of the taxation burden. Thus in this instance the farmer is being brought considerably nearer the desideratum mentioned by the honorable member for Wimmera, import parity. The Glaxo factory takes an enormous quantity of milk.
– And pays 7d. per lb. more for the butter value than the butter factories can pay.
– Does not the honorable member see that by the establishment of the Glaxo factory and others an enormous quantity of milk is consumed that hitherto was converted into butter ?
– Was not my complaint that the Minister took power to place that duty upon Glaxo instead of putting the item in the schedule for Parliament to deal with 1
– I cannot exercise ,a power unless Parliament has given it to me.
– The Minister took the power to himself in regard to item 174.
– The honorable member is -entirely wrong.
– Will the Minister deny that item 174, which formerly was “machine tools as prescribed,” was altered to “machines, machine tools, and appliances,” thus giving the Minister the right to put a duty on machines.
– There has been no change in the wording of the item under which I acted, and the honorable member for Dampier is not right in saying that Parliament had not authorized me to exercise the power which I did exercise.
– What I said was that we must make this Tariff schedule complete, so that the Minister may not exercise that power.
– I must, of course, bow to any decision of Parliament, but I do not think it possible to frame the Tariff on the lines the honorable member suggests. Coming back to what I was saying about the duty on Horlick’s malted milk, I wish to point out that the diversification of our secondary industries brings us closer to what the honorable member says he so much desires - that is, obtaining for the production of Australian farmers, not the export, but the import parity. The factories that are making condensed and dried milk are buying from the farmers a raw product which hitherto could be exported, only when made into butter or cheese, and are making it into commodities which, though largely consumed in Australia, are sent from the country in much larger quantities, and for them we receive much more than we get for the butter and cheese that we send away. Thus the industry i3 increasing the market for milk, and reducing the quantity of milk that has to be sold in the form of butter, thus lengthening the period during which the dairymen get, not the export, but the import parity for butter. The honorable member knows well- that in Australia the highest price is obtained for butter, not during the export season, but during the months in which the community has to fall back on stored and imported butter. The farmer wants the import parity.
– That is what I want.
– The Tariff in many other items, as well as this relating to Horlick’s malted milk, does much the same thing. The honorable member for Dampier referred to the duty on pickles. The growing of vegetables out of which pickles are made may be a comparatively insignificant part of bur primary production, but is it not better to employ our own population in growing vegetables for pickle-making and in making pickles than to let this work be done by people outside of Australia, and to send our own good money away to buy their productions?
– Cannot we make pickles, and are we not doing so?
– “We were importing an enormous quantity of pickles, and it seemed to me desirable, in the interest of our primary as well as of our secondary producers, to put an end to this importation, so that we might make more pickles in our own country. The honorable member for Dampier referred to the decreasing of the Excise duty on whisky and brandy as a triumph for his argument. He said that I was increasing the Tariff on the one side and decreasing it on the other. Apparently he did not realize that while the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors is permitted in this country by law, those interested in the business have as much right to protection as the persons interested in any other business.
– They have always had protection. There is a big difference between the Customs and Excise duties.
– Does the honorable member know what the difference is?
– Of course he does. He is full of his subject.
– The difference is about 6s.
– What was done was in the interests of the primary producers. During the war, by an exercise of powers such as those for which I have been abused in this Chamber on many occasions
– Very justly.
– Possibly. I am not complaining of the abuse. What I was about to say was that during the war the Government took it upon itself to limit the quantity of spirits that could be imported into this country, and thus created a market in Australia for a very large quantity of locally made brandies. Because of that action, which we took as a temporary expedient only, the difference between theCustoms and the Excise duties, which, as the honorable member knows, is the amount of protection given to the brandymaking industry, was reduced to ls. per gallon, lt was not pretended that that difference was a sufficient protection to the industry; but we considered that while the embargo on importation was in operation, as it was until I tabled this Tariff schedule, the industry could dispense with other protection, and we could collect a little more revenue from it. But immediately this Tariff schedule was tabled, the embargo on importation was removed, as I promised that it should be,, and the difference between the Customs and Excise duties was restored to the original amount. If that had not been done, the local product would not have had anything like the sale it had during the war, and a large number of persons who had planted brandy grapes would have had no market for their vintage, and would have been absolutely ruined. Therefore, the honorable member for Dampier, in objecting to what was done, was speaking contrary to the interests of the primary producers, which I am satisfied he has at heart. I do not propose to go over the whole of the ground that he covered, but I should like to reply to his criticism of the duty on copper. Here, again, the Government have acted solely in the interests of the primary producer. The present duty was imposed in order to give, if possible, continuous operation to> our copper mines.
– How many were there in your little Combine ? How many wore . associated with the treatment plant at Port Kembla?
– It is true that the Inter-State Commissioners made the recommendation which the honorable member quoted. I have read every line of the Commissioners’ report; but they had not in their possession a great deal of the information! that I had.
– Theirs was sworn .information, yours was not.
– They had not the information to which I refer, because the manufacturing industry had not been established when they made their inquiries. They admitted that they had no exact data upon which to base their recommendations, but they said that they thought that their information regarding iron and steel justified them in making certain recommendations about copper. The most convenient time for dealing with the matter in detail will be when we come to the item itself, and I do not propose to state now all the considerations which influenced us in settling the rates of duty on the manufactured product. The honorable member, however, overlooked the fact that there is a duty of 20 per cent, on the raw material of this industry. We knew that the copper market would continue to be liable to heavy fluctuations. The cost of producing electrolytic copper in this country is about £90 per ton, and we felt that, unless a sufficient duty were imposed on the raw material, when the market fell below the cost of producing copper in this country, local manufacturers, who would, of course, endeavour to buy their raw materials as cheaply as possible, would go out of Australia for them, instead of using locally produced copper. Therefore, in the interests of the copper miners, we put a pretty high protective duty on the raw material, and then gave sufficient protection to the manufacturers to preserve their industry. Our action, I repeat, was in the interests of the primary producers.
I wish to refer now, and with a good deal of hesitation, to another way in which the Tariff may be said to be of assistance to the primary producer. I evince this hesitation for the reason that I do not think it is to the credit of the Australian people that there should be, as there are, unfortunately, very many who, if they see an Australian name on .a manufactured article, will not buy it. A while ago I was travelling in a train, and had for a companion an American. Incidentally he was looking round Australia with a view to establishing a large industry here. In the course of conversation I asked, “What has struck you more than anything else about the Australian people?”. He said, in his inimitable Yankee fashion, “Well, we Americans think America, we dream America, we talk America, and we boost America for all we are worth. But I was never in any place in all my life where there were so may people out to ‘nark’ their own country as here, in Australia.”
– That is the sort of thing one hears from a Minister; but if he were on the other side of the House the position would be entirely different.
– I am not making these remarks with any thought of pointing them at honorable members in the Corner. Nothing was further from my mind than to suggest anything personal.
– The cap does not fit us.
– I am not suggesting that it does. However, the fact remains. I was in a manufacturing establishment in Sydney the other day, and when passing the despatch room I noticed very large parcels addressed to New Zealand and South Africa. I asked, “How is it that you sell your stuff in those countries ? Is there not a market in Australia ?” The manufacturer said, “ Yes, there is a market here so long as I do not put my own name on my goods. If I do that a number of firms down in the city “ - and he mentioned them - “will not take them.” The goods were ladies’ hats. The manufacturer could send them to South Africa and New Zealand, and put his own name in them and secure as ready a market for them as for any Parisian model. I am somewhat reluctant to mention facts such as these; but, unfortunately, it is true that there are many Australians who have not the local patriotism to go for the local item if they can get an imported one.
– Fortunately, there has been a great improvement in that regard during the past few years.
– Yes, we are gradually breaking down prejudices of this kind, and I .am glad to say that there are quite a number of big firms in this country which, before they go outside of Australia for any machinery,- whether large or small, and no matter of what kind, do their utmost to procure it from an Australian manufacturer first. During the past few months I have made it my business to see what has been and is being made in this country. In the stressful years of the war the Australian people had to meet the straitened circumstances with the limited means at their command ; and I must say that the manufacturers rose wonderfully well to the situation. Australians should have every reason to be proud that they are Australians. There is to be seen at the Broken Hill Proprietary works, at Newcastle, to-day a mighty engine - as big as anything in this country, in fact - which is used in connexion with the blast furnaces. t It was manufactured at Castlemaine, and it is one of the most magnificent pieces of machinery I have set eyes upon.
– In the book, Silver to Steel, they boast a good deal of the machinery which they got from America.
– No doubt; the Company did get a lot of wonderful machinery from the United States; but the reason they had to get it from that source was that there were no patterns upon which to make it in this country. Once the machinery had been brought here, however, duplications were made by Australian manufacturers. One could’ proceed to enumerate instances almost unlimited of what has been done in this regard. Still, a lot of people are prejudiced against Australian goods and will have only imported goods. Incidentally, of course, the revenue benefits and we, as a people, are relieved to some extent of the burden of direct taxation.
When the Committee deals with the items individually I shall be able to furnish honorable members with a great deal of information of a detailed character concerning what was done during the war, and I shall be able to indicate the enormous benefit which Australia has reaped by the establishment of local industries during that period. For example, there is the iron and steel industry. During the war the Broken Hill Proprietary Company ana Hoskins were supplying iron and steel to manufacturers in this country on the basis of many pounds sterling per ton below the price at which manufacturers in other parts of the world were supplying.
– Of course, our ‘ iron and steel industry is a .great one, and we would do anything we could to help it.
– I believe that of the honorable member, the only difference between us being as to the exact degree of assistance which we are prepared to give.
– Is it a fact that originally the Broken Hill Proprietary” Company did not want a duty on iron?
– Mr. Delprat did make such a statement when the industry was inaugurated, but he had not gained the experience which he has to-day. If the honorable member were to speak to Mr. Delprat, although he is no longer general manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, he would learn that in that gentleman’s opinion the duties which the Government propose are the lowest on which it would be possible to secure the development of our iron and steel industry and put it so substantially on its feet that in future it would be able to compete on level terms with any manufacturer anywhere.
– Has Mr. Delprat expressed himself definitely in that direction to the Minister ?
– Yes, personally, to me, and in very definite terms; and I am certain that Mr. Delprat would have no objection to my referring to the matter and introducing his name here.
I desire to refer to one or two other statements which have been made in the course of the debate. I shall first answer the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming) and the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) in regard to the statement that we must import goods in. return for goods. I have tried to follow the reasonings of those honorable gentlemen. Why must we do so? It is perfectly true that there are some goods which we must import. There are certain things which it is not economical to manufacture here, and we must get them from abroad. There are some goods which we do not produce here, but which are necessary for the ordinary needs of human life. To a certain extent, we must import goods to balance goods ; but that we must import goods to the full extent of the value of those which we send out is a doctrine to which I cannot subscribe. Those honorable members must know that there is no country in the world which balances its foreign exchanges in that manner. The balance is never shown in that way. If honorable members care to take a period covering any number of years they will see that there is never to be found an exact balance between imports and exports. The honorable member for Robertson referred to such things’ as invisible and visible exports. It would be theoretically possible for us to export all our goods, and take nothing in return but those invisible imports which are represented in the shape of valuable securities. There is nothing to prevent that.
– But it could not last.
– The country would become so enormously wealthy that I really do not know what would happen. But any student of economics knows that the invisible importsand exports of a country are just as potent factors in the balancing of international exchanges as are goods themselves. And, if we send £1,000,000 worth of goods to England, is not this country infinitely better off if, instead of our importing £1,000,000 worth of goods, foreign investors should place £1,000,000 in capital in Australia for the establishment of a new industry? Is there any reason why this does not just as ‘ effectively balance that £1,000,000 worth of international exchange as the importation of goods? Furthermore, by. the creation of the industry in Australia, with the increased population it brings, and the use of our own raw material in this country, instead of exporting it, we balance so much of international exchange for all time.
– If that £1,000,000 is invested in Australia from abroad we must pay interest on it so that it amounts to the same thing.
– We pay that interest by the export of goods.
– That is what I contended.
– But the difference is that the income is earned in Australia, thus increasing the field of taxation, and instead of having to import such a large quantity of commodities, we export a great amount of material in the manufactured form. Consequently we are far better off.
Now I wish to refer briefly to agricultural implements, because my friends in the corner are more interested in them than in anything else. But what is remarkable about their objection to the duty on agricultural implements is the fact that they do not go to the neighbouring country of New Zealand for a comparison. New Zealand is a primary producing country. It is a British community, and in many respects has the same conditions as are found in Australia.
The world’s markets are open to its primary producers as they are to my honorable friends. If there is anything in honorable members’ arguments as to the advantages of Free Trade in agricultural implements, surely we would find those advantages in our neighbouring Dominion, which is Free Trade so far as these implements are concerned.
– The Minister claims that the highprice of machinery in New Zealand is crippling the agricultural industry there. What is the difference in the cost of similar machines in Australia ?
– That is not the point I am arguing for the moment. The honorable member claimed that if we had Free Trade in agricultural implements the farmers would be in a position to buy in the markets of the world just as they are called upon to sell in the markets of the world. He said that that would be an advantage to them. But why did not the honorable member argue his case from the point of view of the price of machinery in New Zealand ? For the simple and sufficient reason that agricultural machinery there, which is supplied almost entirely by overseas manufacturers - because there is practically no agricultural implement making in the Dominion - is, without exception, dearer than it is in Australia. I have with me a list, the latest I have been able to get for comparative purposes, of the prices of agricultural machinery in New Zealand and in Australia. Our duties upon this machinery range from 5 per cent. to 35 per cent. There axe 85 items in the list, comprising reapers and binders, mowers, hay rakes, grain and fertilizer drills, spring tooth cultivators, maize cultivators, maize drills, disc harrows, diamond harrows, spring tooth harrows, ploughs, drills,and quite a number of other items. The list is taken from the published price lists of the foreign companies doing business both in Australia and New Zealand, and thereis not a solitary case in which the price is not more in New Zealand than it is in Australia.
– What is the difference in the freight?
– If there be any difference in the freight from Canada it would be in favour of New Zealand as against Australia. Without exception prices shown in this list are higher in New Zealand than they are in Australia. I shall quote a few from the New Zealand May list and the Australian March list. For the grain fertilizer drill (eleven hole), the price in New Zealand is £66 7s. 6d., as against £61 15s. in Australia. There is no duty upon this class of machinery in New Zealand. For the grain fertilizer drill (thirteen hole), the price is £72 2s. 6d. in New Zealand, as against £66 10s. in Australia; for the grain fertilizer drill (fifteen hole), the respective prices are: New Zealand, £79; Australia, £71 5s. ; for the grain fertilizer drill (seventeen hole), the respective prices are: New Zealand, £85 17s. 6d.; Australia, £78; for the No. 11 disc, the respective prices are: New Zealand, £71 5s.; Australia, £64 10s.; and for the No. 13 disc: New Zealand, £78; Australia, £70.
– Have you any binder quotations?
– I shall give the honorable member the binder story. He need not worry about binders. The illustration which the honorable member provided more than any other disproved his own case, and I propose to deal more particularly with reapers and binders for a moment or two, and then pass on to deal with the definite, challenge the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) threw out to me to prove that a Protective Tariff produces cheaper and not dearer machinery. Speaking from memory, I think the honorable member said that in September last he paid £78 for a reaper and binder which, as the local manufacture had not then been thoroughly undertaken, I suppose was a foreign machine.
– It was a Massey-Harris machine.
– The honorable member was told that as a result of the Tariff the price would be raised to £120 after the 1st January, 1921. He was exceedingly lucky in buying at the time he did.
– It was in September.
– But about that time the same company issued a new price list, and they made the price of the reaper and binder prior to the 1st January, 1921, £98, and afterthat date, £120.
– That is correct.
– I do not think it is.
– Yes, that is what they did. I can give the honorable member ocular proof of what I am saying. The honorable member asked a little while ago the price of reapers and binders in New Zealand to-day. It is £97. In Great Britain, a Free-Trade country, it is £91 10s.
– Does Great Britain permit agricultural machinery to enter , free of duty?
– Yes, there is no duty in Great Britain on agricultural machinery.
– According to a report I have received the Minister is wrong in that regard.
– Will the Minister undertake with me for a matter of £100 donation to the hospitals, that if he removes the Tariff on agricultural implements for twelve months I will not get my reaper and binder for £78 ?
– I do not know that it is parliamentary to take up bets on the floor of the House.
– It is not a bet.
– These are indisputable facts which can be demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt. Owing to the fact that we suggested placing a duty on reapers and binders, a local manufacturer was induced to undertake the manufacture of these machines, and, as a consequence, has turned out a reaper and binder which experts tell me is an excellent production, surpassing in many respects the imported machine. They tell me that it has fewer oiling points, fewer wearing points, and,’ in all probability, will outlast two of the imported machines. I am merely telling the Committee what has been told to me. In regard to these particulars I do not speak of what is within my own personal knowledge.
– Is the honorable gentleman referring to the “ Massy Greene “ binder ?
– I believe it has been so christened. Honorable memberswill admit that a reaper and binder is a complicated piece of mechanism, and that the expenditure of a large amount of capital is necessary before it is possible to turn out the first machine. Notwithstanding all the difficulties a local manufacturer has put this machine on the market at £95, or less by £2 than the price at which the Massey-Harris machine is selling under Free Trade in New Zealand; In Australia, as soon as the foreign firms discovered that this was a genuine effort to put a locally manufactured machine, on the market, and that sales were being made, with the result that they could not sell their machines at £120, they brought down their price to £101. If there had been no Tariff the price of the reaper and binder in Australia to-day would be £98, with every prospect of it being £108 next month. That is the story of the reaper and binder so far as I am acquainted with it.
– Has the Minister worked out what will be the natural protection in the shape of freight, insurance, and other items?
– As time is going on I did not intend to deal with the question of natural protection, but I will say, in passing, that the natural protection which many industries are supposed to enjoy is more or less of a myth. Under modern conditions we cannot have a lot of little factories dotted all over the country; we must have, more or less, massed production in many industries.
– That is not necessary in the case of all industries.
– No ; I was careful to say that it did not apply to all. In very many cases, however, owing to some natural feature or .advantage, certain goods must be produced at certain points. Australia is a vast continent, and to convey goods from one part of it to another often costs as much as, if not more than, it costs to bring the same goods overseas. Take, for instance, timber. Cargoes of timber can be landed here from Europe at 4s. per 100, whereas it costs 5s. 6d. to bring them from Tasmania. One could quote almost innumerable instances of the kind, so that the’ talk of the natural protection enjoyed by certain industries because of the distance to be covered by imports from abroad is, in many instances, quite wide of the mark.
There are many matters in my notes to which I should have liked to refer had time permitted, but the only question with which I propose now to deal is that of massed production. The honorable member for Wimmera asked me to prove that, as a result of this additional protection, we should get cheaper machines. My honorable friend is a wheat farmer. He cultivates a certain area of land, using a certain quantity of seed and fertilizers, and employing a certain number of ‘men to put in the crop .and to look after it. I ask him whether, if he has a 20-bushel crop, it costs him more per bushel to produce that good crop than a 5-bushel crop would have cost him? Is it not evident that it costs just four times as much per bushel to produce a 5-bushel crop as it costs to produce a 20-bushel one?
– But the farmer loses on the 5-bushel crop.
– Of course, he does; but I was not referring to that point. If we put a duty on onions the probabilities are that it would cost Australians more to get their onions while importations were proceeding. But while that is so in regard to certain food duties it does not apply to a very large number of manufactures. Under a Protective Tariff we secure very often such an increased market that we get massed production and continuity of operations, and, just as in the case of the farmer., who finds that a good crop costs him less per bushel to produce than a poor crop does, so with massed production - with continuity of operations and with the same overhead charges all the time - the manufacturer can produce goods at a lower price and make more profit. That is a well-known commercial fact.
– That means the intensification of the exploitation of the worker.
– I am afraid’ the honoi able member has not been following my argument, since it has nothing whatever to do with the subject which he has raised. The point is that with the same capital invested, the same overhead charges, a manufacturer, if he can turn out with four times the number of workmen usually employed, four ‘ times the number of machines, gets-
– More for less.
– He gets a bigger profit on his capital with the same relative profit on his turnover, and he can afford to reduce his prices to the consumer, and pay the same wages to his workmen, while at the same time he puts more money into his pocket. There is no magic about that operation; it is a matter of common commercial knowledge, which every honorable member thoroughly understands and appreciates. I should like to tell the honorable member for Wimmera that the experience of America in regard to many of its great manufacturing industries has been that the greater massed production has become in that country, the lower the price to the consumer has become.
– Hear, hear! the Minister is perfectly right.
– I am glad that the honorable member agrees with me.
– Any business man would agree with the honorable gentleman on that point, but it is in that respect that Australia fails. Any man who chooses to open a bit of a tinpot show here is given a high duty to which the whole of the community has to contribute.
– If my honorable friend had £10,000 to invest, would he invest it in an industry in respect of which he was not sure of what was going to happen from day to day?
– It is not usual for me to do so.
– No, the honorable member would invest his money where he saw an opportunity for carrying on business successfully. One of the greatest difficulties under our Tariff arrangement has been that our duties in many instances have not been sufficiently high to give business men the definite assurance that, if they invested their money in an industry, there would be continuity of operations and such security that they could proceed to launch out. The honorable member for Swan is perfectly right if he suggests .that we get tinpot industries as a result of low duties. In such circumstances we do not give corresponding benefits to the country, but we do have a revenue Tariff. In many cases the trouble has been that we have had a low Tariff, with the result that manufacturers have felt such a lack of security that they have not been able to establish industries on such safe business lines and invest the necessary capital to properly develop them, so that there has been no resultant benefit to the community. I am glad to say that condition of affairs is rapidly passing away. I know of quite a. number of industries which under the Tariff, as we have it framed to-day, have started operations in a big way, or are about to do so, and will add enormously to the wealth of the country.
– If the object of this Tariff is not to increase prices, why is the Minister proposing it?
– I thought I had made that point abundantly clear; I am sorry if I have not been able to make it plain to my honorable friend. What I was endeavouring to show was that we hope by means of this Tariff to give manufacturers security of such a nature that they will be prepared under modern conditions to invest their money in industries and establish them on such a sound basis that they will be able to give to this country cheaper goods than they are able to offer at the present time.
– There is one grave mistake- in connexion with this Tariff. The Government do not guarantee a manufacturer a pension should he fail.
– Unfortunately, a grateful country, does not go so far as to do that for members of Parliament, and until it does I do not feel disposed to suggest that we should so deal with manufacturers.
I was about to quote from a report issued by a committee appointed by the British Board of Trade in regard to the iron and steel industry during the war. That committee brought in a unanimous report, so far as the portion I am going to read is concerned. This is what the committee said -
The Committee therefore recommended that Customs duties be imposed upon all imported iron and steel manufactures thereof. They are of opinion that a specific duty should be levied upon each class of commodity,! and that there should be a maximum, general, and minimum Tariff.
The amount of Tariff should be determined by consideration of the needs of the industry protected, and by the needs of the nation as a whole, and the amount of specified Tariff should be varied readily, according to the changing demands of national policy.
The existence of a Tariff of this nature would, in the opinion of the Committee, be of the greatest advantage to the industries and the nation. There is no reason to believe-
Aud that is why I quote this report -
There is no reason to believe that the price to the consumer would rise. o
On the contrary, the increase in production at home would lead to a very material reduction in costs, since it would be possible te effect economies in production by the installation of more complete and better plant.
The experience of the United States proves that the stimulating effect upon production through the conservation of the home market results in an actual reduction rather than an increase of price.
There is no room for argument about that As I say, Australia has nothing whatever to fear from the imposition of the Tariff. It may temporarily mean increased prices.
– I am glad the honorable gentleman says that !
– I would not deny it for a single instant. After all is said and done, we are sensible men, at least presumably so, and I do not deny that in the initial stages the imposition of a protective Tariff may raise prices.
– That is exactly my contention.
– But I contend that the ultimate benefit to the country is great, and that the ultimate result will be to lower prices and! not to raise them.
I do not propose to keep the Committee any longer than to refer to the Board of which I spoke some time ago. I wish honorable members tounderstand that, whilst the principles of which I speak will be embodied in the Bill, I do not bind either myself or the Government to the actual details of the proposition. The matter is under consideration, and we are trying to get a certain amount of information from other parts of the world. I desire the Bill, as we frame it, to embody, as far as possible, the best information we can gather, so that we may have in our hands an instrument which will accomplish that which we desire. We are, of course, to some extent circumscribed by constitutional limitations as to the nature of the “ brakes “ to be applied if anybody should take opportunity by the hand at any time, and use the Tariff to exploit the public. If the Government have one desire, and if I, personally, have one desire more than another in introducing this Tariff, it is that the Australian people shall not be exploited by reason of it. While we haver every wish to endeavour to establish industries in our midst the last thing we wish is to see the people exploited thereunder.
– Our experience has not been good during the last couple of years.
– The honorable memher did mention one instance, that of woollen contracts. I do not think anybody was more surprised than were the woollen manufacturers at the result of those contracts. They had not realized, I fancy, what an enormous advantage they got by concentrating on one particular class of goods, and working their mills twenty-four hours a day. and seven days a week. The price per yard at which they took the contracts from the Defence Department, compared with the prices which they had to charge the public when they were manufacturing a very large range of goods, was small in comparison, but it yielded them profits which I admit, and admit willingly, were in the circumstances enormous. I cannot conceive of a better example of the benefits of massed production than is afforded by this instance.
– We have high prices, all the same, in regard to flannels and blankets.
– I think that the dearest worsted that Messrs. Vicars turn out is somewhere about l1s. a yard. I am only afraid that, sometimes, the Australian public do not get the full benefit, because, unfortunately, we are not producing anything like the amount of woollen material we ought to. It is sellnig in competition with imported goods, and the manufacturers of the imported goods, during the war, reaped profits which make the profits of our own people, in our own country, insignificant.
However, I wasabout to deal with the proposal of the Government to appoint a Board. I do not wish to deal with the proposal in detail except as to one part. What we propose is to appoint a Board, probably of three men. I have had some difficulty in making up my mind as to whether, in the firstplace, we should not have made it a departmental Board. I do not think that we could, but that we must take people from outside. The proposed Board will have a good many duties to perform. It will have a general oversight of the working of the Tariff; and one of its duties will be to ascertain openings for new industries, make reports to Parliament from time to time, and so on. One. function of the Board in which I think the Committee is interested at the present time, will be to act in any case where a manufacturer takes undue advantage of the Tariff. What we propose is that, in conjunction with this Board, there shall be a Tariff Committee of the House. If a complaint is made that some manufacturer is charging an undue price for his goods, the duty of the Board will be to immediately investigate the case. The Board may be met with a refusal by the manufacturer to disclose his business, and, in such event, we propose exactly the same penalty as in the case of a verdict being brought in that he has taken undue advantage of the Tariff.
– Could such cases be dealt with under the Customs Act?
– No, we shall have to pass a special Bill. If the Board reports that there has been undue profit made, and undue advantage taken of the Tariff position, that report automatically goes, to the Tariff Committee of the House. This is done to, as far as possible, save lengthy discussions in Parliament. The Tariff Committee will consist of honorable members drawn from all parts of the House, and they will discuss the report of the Board. This report will set out what the offence is; and it is the duty of the Board to make a recommendation to do one of two things - reduce the duty, specifying the. extent to which it. shall be reduced, or abolish it. The Tariff Committee of the House will investigate that report, and discuss, as far as it can, the whole of. the circumstances. The Committee will then report tothe House, which will then automatically be called upon to immediately deal with it. The proposal is that, In the event of its being found that any manufacturer is taking undue advantage of the Tariff, the matter comes., practically automatically, to this House, and this House ‘must discuss and decide whether the duty shall be reduced, and the extent to which it shall be reduced, or whether it shall be totally abolished.
– You are going to create another “ pup “ of the Inter-State Commission- there will be a “litter.”
– I do not think so. I think that what we have in our minds will be effective, indirectly if not directly, because I feel sure that so long as we have the proposed Board a manufacturer will hesitate, and hesitate a long time, before he runs the tremendous risks involved.
– And when the Board does move itwill be sufficient to move the manufacturer !
– I have not the slightest doubt what will happen - not the slightest doubt that this Board will prove effective.
– Will the Board have power to inquire as to the detrimental effects of duties on other industries?
– Yes, generally speaking; the Board’s duties will be pretty wide. I hope that the Board will not be limited in its operations; and if they find that the protection of one industry has a detrimental effect on another it will be their duty to report the fact to Parliament.
– Could you not get exactly the same result by means of. a departmental inquiry?
– I do not think we could; it would be extremely difficult - quite impossible by departmental officers at the present time. As honorable members know, I have the very highest opinion of the gentlemen who have been engaged with me in the work of framing the Tariff, and of my staff: generally. I do not think that if we searched the continent over we could, on the whole, find a better set of men - men who are more devoted to their work or who spend such an enormous amount of energy in their efforts to do the beat for Australia.
– You have a body of experts at your command; let them investigate and report to you, and then you can bring the matter before the House-
Mr.GREENE.- On the whole, I believe that an independent Board, which is not under Ministerial control, will be found the best, the ultimate decision, of course, resting with the House. I have endeavoured to show, as briefly as possible, how in my opinion, taking the Tariff by and large, the primary producing interests have as much to gain by it as has any other section in the community.
– Honorable members may. question my statement. All I ask of them is that, when considering the items, they will give to every one free and unbiased consideration in Australia’s best interests, and that they will not forget that, after all is said and done, this is a young country, far removed from big centres of civilization, and that, so far as lies in our power, we should make it self-supporting in respect of all commodities it is able to economically produce.
.- The magnificent speech to which we have just listened is certainly the best ever delivered in this Parliament by a Minister of Customs, and I have heard more Ministers introducing Tariffs than perhaps has any other honorable member in the House. The subject of fiscal Protection is almost as old as history itself. Ancient history speaks of only cities and kings, never of country parties. England was never a Free Trade country. No country has ever had the protective laws that England had. In the last century there were seventy-five death penalties for defrauding the Tariff and Excise revenue. By those penalties England supported her fiscal policy and built up her manufactures. To-day she is almost a revenue Tariff country. The fight over Protection reminds one of the game of see-saw played by children. One child sits at each end of a plank, and often a third stands at the fulcrum and adjusts the balance by the disposition of his weight. At one end of the fiscal see-saw plank is the realFree Trader, who contends that no revenue should be raised through the Customs House, but that all taxation should be direct. At the opposite end is the real Protectionist, even to the extent of prohibition, like myself, but who does not expect the Customs House to be a producer of revenue, and would allow to be imported free of duty articles that cannot be manufactured in the country. Standing mid-way between the two is the revenue Tariffist. All the Tariffs I have heard introduced into this Chamber have given a little to the Protectionist at one end of the see-saw, and a little to the Free Trader at the other end, and the result has been, unfortunately, that we do not get a truly protective Tariff.I invite honorable members to read Kelly’s Customs Tariffs of the World, 1920. If they do, they will find that Tariffs of the United States of America and Japan stand out predominantly. Japan stands pre-eminent by reason of the fact that she is the only country in the world that beat the American Tobacco Combine. The
English companies spent about £3,000,000 in fighting the Combine, but we know that to-day the English interests are wholly owned by the American Combine, although the business operations are carried on under the English name. In the Commonwealth were two large companies which honestly tried to fight the American Combine, and widely advertised the fact, and in order to give themselves greater power they made a conjunction of their stock so that they would have a larger amount of capital. But they awoke one morning to find that the majority of the stock had passed into other hands. I have no complaint to make of the present Tobacco Combine in Australia. The employees are treated well, enjoying splendid conditions of labour and good wages. I have told those interested in the Combine that when the time comes when the Australian Labour party is in power and nationalizes the tobacco trade, the treatment the Combine receives will be according to the way in which it has treated its employees. However, I propose to tell the Committee how Japan defeated the American Tobacco Combine. The Japanese people had been taught by the Americans to smoke certain brands of cigarettes, and when a smoker’s palate becomes accustomed to a certain tobacco, he does not care for any other The Japanese were at war with Russia, and desired to acquire the tobacco monopoly, which is a great asset as a security for a loan. To that end they made overtures to the Combine. I shall continue my remarks at the next sitting of the Committee.
The following papers were presented: -
Customs Act -
Regulations Amended (Wool) - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 97.
Proclamation prohibiting Exportation (for six months - except under certain conditions) of Wool (dated 9th May, 1921). Northern Territory - Ordinances of 1921 -
No. 4 - Workmen’s Compensation.
No. 5 - Supreme Court.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn.
I appeal to honorable members to endeavour to shorten the Tariff debate. A great deal ofwhat is being said in the general debate will be repeated on the items. Honorable members should try to shorten their speeches in the general debate, if not to forego them altogether. The House has had the Tariff under consideration for three or four weeks, with the exception of some days of interruption, and I respectfully suggest that it is time we brought the general debate to a close, and proceeded to deal with the items.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 May 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210511_reps_8_95/>.