8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Deputy Speak er (Hon. J.M. Chanter) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr.CONSIDINE.- Iwish to know from the Minister representing ‘ the Minister for Home and Territories when the Australian census figures will be . available?
– I answered the question about a week ago, when it was asked by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley). I said thenthat the figures were expected in a fortnight or three weeks.
Mr.BLUNDELL. - I have received a telegram from South Australia, containing the statement that it is intended to dismiss postal employees there who are returned soldiers, many of whom have been employed two years, and some for longer periods. Before action is taken, will the Acting Prime Minister make the fullest inquiry into thecircumstances, and see if preference cannot be given to the returned men?
– I have received, intimation of the proposed action, and have already taken steps to ascertain the facts. Until they are ascertained, I am unable to say more than that ‘they will be given the fullest consideration.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister received a report from the TaxationCommission, which was appointed some time ago, and, if so, is it likely to be available to honorable members in the near future!
– No. I understand that the Commission is somewhere in the wilds of Western Australia, though it is expected back any day now. When it returns, I shall make inquiry.
– I understand that the Repatriation Commissioners have issued a book, setting forth their decisions under different classifications, and I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation whether he will see that every honorable member gets a copy of it ?
– I do not know if the honorable member refers to the rulings given within the Department for the guidance of the officers administering the Act. I shall submit his request to Senator Millen, who is in charge of this particular branch of the work of the Department, and ask if it canbe complied with.
Mr.HIGGS.- Will the Acting Prime Minister release for public information any news concerning foreign affairs that he may get from the British Government?
– My disposition is to release all thatcan be released, the object of the Government being to give the public as much information as itcan concerning foreign affairs generally.
– Does the Acting
Prime Minister know whether the Imperial Government, at its end, or the Commonwealth -Government, at this end, exercises censorship over news cabled from other parts of the world to Australia?
– Since I have been Acting Prime Minister, there has been nocensorship of news at this end. I do not know what is done on the other side of the world.
– I ask the Minister assisting the Minister for Repatriation whether consideration has been given to the need for an amendment of the law which will relieve unfortunate mothers who lost at the war sons who, had they returned, would now be helping them, but who were not contributing to their support when they enlisted?
– The question hinges on an interpretation . of, I think, section 27 of the Act, which defines the pension obligations of the Commonwealth, and requires the administration to ascertain to what extent and degree dependence on the soldier existed at the time of. his enlistment, the rates of pension being fixed accordingly. The honorable member asks,I take it, that the Government should consider the assistance that soldiers killed in the war might now be giving to their parents had they returned. I will put the problem before my colleagues, and let the honorable member know the result.
British and American Relations: State of Ireland.
– I have received from the honorable member for Barrier the intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance;’ viz., “ The’ menace to the world’s peace involved in the growing estrangement between the United States of America and the. British Empire, due in part to the awful state of affairs existing in Ireland under the British occupation, as depicted in the report of the American Commission on . Conditions in Ireland.”
Mr.CONSIDINE (Barrier) [2.38].- In its issue of the 25th September last the New York Nation, a newspaper of international standing, which exercises an immense influence in. the moulding of public opinion in the United States of America, published the following editorial under the caption, “No War with England”:-
It is because they believe that war between England and the United States would be the greatest calamity which could befall the civilized world, andbecuase they feel that the two countries are rapidly drifting apart, that the editors of The Nation have invited one hundred of their fellow-citizens to form a committee to investigate, through a commission, the charges and counter-charges of atrocities in Ireland. The case of Mayor McSwiney, and the other hunger strikers, has stirred this country profoundly. So conservative a newspaper as the Chicago Tribune declares that the “Irish situation seriously involves the United States, and the case of McSwiney is the Irishquestion just now at its highest point of drama.” This, the most powerful newspaper of the Middle West, declares that if McSwiney starves to death this blunder “might conceivably affect the peace of the world.” The words are ominously like those used by President McKinley; and the interventionists in Cuba in 1898, who maintained that the United States could not tolerate such terrible conditions at its door……
The Nation then sent the following telegram to fill themembers of the “United States Senate, many members of the House of Representatives, the Governors of all the States, the mayors of about seventy-five leading cities, the editors of about twenty leading newspapers, including such papers as the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Transcript, the Philadelphia. Ledger, the Pittsburg Leader, some thirty-five heads of universities or colleges and professors, Bishops of the Roman Catholic, Protestant Episcopal, and Methodist Episcopal churches, a large number of heads of unions and labour ‘organizations’, and men and women in other walks of life : -
The struggle between Great Britain and Ireland, which has gone for many months with increasing use of armed force. by both parties, is widely reported to be accompanied ‘by atrocities planned by British. Government and answered- in kind by Irish people. One grave result is rapid growth oftanti-British feeling which seriously threatens . unspeakable calamity of war between United States and Great Britain and endangers peace of the world. In the interest of peace and international’ friendship the editors of TheNation earnestly invite you to serve as a member non-partisan committee of representative Americans with power to add to their number, who shall designate a select commission to sit at Washington or elsewhere for impartial investigation of reported atrocities in Ireland, regarding, which the British Ambassador and Professor De Valera, and others, shall be invited to submit evidence. Proposal does not contemplate any recommendation regarding future relations between Great Britain and Ireland.
The Nation’s invitation resulted in the acceptance by such a large number of those circularized, that the Committee of one hundred had to be . enlarged’ forthwith to a Committee of150, comprising five Governors of States, ten United States Senators, twelve Congressmen, the mayors of fifteen cities, two Judges, two Jewish Rabbis, sevenProtestant Episcopalian Bishops, four Methodist Episcopalian Bishops-, the Cardinal; an Archbishop and four Roman Catholic Bishops, eleven labour union officials, an ex-ambassador, many ex-Governorsand ex-senators, educationists; editors and proprietors of newspapers,, and other prominent citizens of- the United States. A ballot taken by this Committee of 150 resulted in the election of thefollowing persons to serve as a Commission to inquire into the conditions in Ireland: -
JANE ADDAMS. - As a worker, lecturer, and writer for social betterment, she has won a reputation that makes her one of the most distinguished women in the world, one who has never refused a call to high public service. For over thirty years’ Miss Addams has been head of Hull House, Chicago. She is Chairwoman of the Women’s PeaceParty, and of the International Committee for Permanent Peace, and in 1910 served as President of the International Congress of Women, held in Switzerland.
JOSEPH WINGATE FOLK.- A native of Tennessee; his public career has been largely identified with the State of Missouri. He won his . Spurs as circuit attorney, in St. Louis, by fearlessly exposing political corruption. He was subsequently elected Governor by the State on the democratic ticket by a large. majority in a Republican year. His record as Governor stands as one of the particularly bright spots in American political life. During the Wilson Administration he served for a time as solicitor for the State Department, and since 1914 has been chief counsel for the Inter-State Commerce Commission. He is also general counsel for the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce.
JAMES H.MAURER.- For many years he has been President of the ‘Pennsylvania State Federation of Labour. He is known as an authority on labour conditions and problems, and is a power in the progressive wing of the American Federation of Labour. Mr.Maurer hag. served several’ terms as a member of the Pennsylvania State Legislature for the Reading district.
FREDERICK CLEMSON HOWE. - He is one of ‘ the foremost American authorities on economic and. social subjects, particularly on taxation and municipal government He has been Professor of Law at the Cleveland College of Law, Lecturer on Taxation at Western. University, and Lecturer on Municipal Administration and Politics at the University of Wisconsul. He has held several public offices, including that of Commissioner of Immigration at the Port of New York, from 1914 to 1919. He rendered conspicuous service as an expert on international affairs attached to the American delegation at the Peace Conference.
DAVID I. WALSH. - He has had a notable public career in his native State. Admitted to the Bar in 1S97, he began his public service as a moderator at town meetings, was elected to the Massachusetts . House of Representatives, and served subsequently as LieutenantGovernor and Governor. He was chosen as delegate at large to the Massachusetts Convention in 1917. His term as a United States senator began last year, and as a new member his vigorous personality immediately made itself felt, “lt I considered my. personal desires, I would decline the service offered,” he wired The Nation, “ but the patriotic and humanitarian aspects of this service compel me to forget self. I will servo with other members who will undertake this work with open mind and without prejudice of any kind.”
Subsequently, the following were added to the Commission: - Rev. Norman Thomas, of New York; Major Oliver P. Newman, of “Washington, D.C.; Senator George W. Morris, of Nebraska. The Commission applied to the British authorities so that no obstacle would be placed in the way of witnesses desiring to give evidence, and received a formal assurance from the British Ambassador that no person would be refused a passport on the ground that he or she desired to give evidence on either side. Subsequently, the British Ambassador, on 23rd October, 1920, wrote to the -secretary of this Commission, and concluded his letter with the following words: -
I may add that nothing will be done by the British Government to encourage the holding of this inquiry, or to assist witnesses to appear before the Committee. (Signed) Auckland Geddes.
Tn response to an inquiry, by the Chicago
Tribune, Mr. De’ Valera, the President of the Irish Republic, said he welcomed the inquiry, but did not believe the British Government would facilitate evidence being placed before the Commission, and that owing to the command of the sea being held by the British Navy, it would be very difficult for witnesses to give evidence in the United States free from molestation, and also that there was no guarantee that when the witnesses returned to Ireland, they would not be made the object of fury of the army of occupation. The Commission held its first sitting at the Hotel Lafayette, “Washington, D.C., on 18th November, 1920, when the chairman (Commissioner Howe), made the following statement: -
This is the first session of the hearings of the American Commission on Ireland. The motives which call this Commission into existence and its purposes as formulated by the Commission are as follow:-
He then repeated what had practically been stated by the editors of The Nation in the leading article referred to, when they sought to bring this Commission into existence. Thirty-eight witnesses were examined by the Commission at Washington, consisting of English men and women, Scotchmen, and American and Irish people, and including five members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, with service in Ireland extending from two months to thirteen years. As the result of their investigations the Commission sought permission from the British Embassy to send a delegation to visit Ireland, but were refused passports by the British Government. In consequence, the Commission was not able to proceed either to Great Britain or to Ireland in order to conduct its investigations personally on the spot. It dealt, however, with a great mass of testimony that was secured from British official reports, statistics, and parliamentary papers, and the report of the British Labour Mission to Ireland. On 6th April the Commission published its unanimous findings as follows : -
We fmd that the Irish people are deprived of the protection of British law to which they would be entitled as subjects of the British King. They are likewise deprived of the moral protection granted by international law, to which they would be entitled as belligerents. They are at the mercy of Imperial British Forces, which, acting contrary both to all law and to all standards of human conduct, have instituted in Ireland a “terror,” the evidence regarding which, seems to prove that -
The Imperial British Government has created and introduced into Ireland a Force of at least 78,000 men, many of them youthful and inexperienced, and some of them convicts; and has incited that Force to unbridled violence.
The Imperial British Forces in Ireland have indiscriminately, killed innocent men, women a.nd children; have discriminately .assassinated persons suspected of being Republicans; have tortured and shot prisoners whilst In custody, adopting the subterfuge of “ refusal to halt,” and “ attempting to escape “ ; and have attributed to alleged “ Sinn Fein extremists’” the British assassination of prominent Irish Republicans.
House burning and wanton destruction of villages and cities by Imperial British Forces under Imperial British officershave been countenanced and ordered by officials of the British Government; and elaborate provisions by gasoline sprays and bombs have been made in a number of instances for systematic incendiarism as part of a plan of terrorism.
A campaign for the destruction of the means of existence of the Irish people has been conducted by the burning of factories; creameries, crops, and farm implements, and the shooting of farm animals. This campaign is carried on regardless of the political views of their owners, and results in widespread and acute suffering among women and children.
Acting under a series of proclamations issued by the competent military authorities of the Imperial British Forces, hostages are carried by Forces exposed to the fire of a Republican Army; fines are levied upon towns and villages as punishments for alleged offences of individuals; private property is destroyed in reprisals for acts with which the owners have no connexion; and the civilian population is subjected to an inquisition upon the theory that individuals are in possession of information valuable to the Military Forces of Great Britain. These acts of the Imperial British Forces are contrary to the laws of peace or war among modern civilized nations.
This “ terror “ has failed to re-establish Imperial British civil government in Ireland. Throughout the greater part of Ireland British Courts have ceased to function; local, county, and city Governments refuse to recognise British authority; and British civil officials fulfil no function of service to the- Irish people.
In spite of the British “terror,” the majority of the Irish people, having sanctioned by ballot the Irish Republic, give their allegiance to it, pay taxes to it, and respect the decisions of its Courts and of its civil officials.
A supplementary report deals with the religious issues in Ireland in an equally plain and admirable fashion, as follows : -
Outside of a part of Ulster, Catholics and Protestants live in peace and harmony, and their political opinions are not primarily a matter of religion.
Even. in Ulster, religious bigotry is not by any means wholly spontaneous, but is artificially stirred up by those whose economic and political interests are served by dividing the people.
While it obviously lies beyond our province to pass final judgment upon the various aspects of the Ulster issue, we have not only a right, but a duty as American Protestants, to denounce the degradation of religion by such pogroms as occurred last summer. Upon this wo owe it to our fellow religionists, both in America and in Ulster, to speak plainly.
Those were the conclusions of these representative American citizens - the findings of a Commission, as is stated in its report, composed of American Protestants, who felt it their duty to appeal to their co-religionists in Ulster and in the United States to put . an end to the damnable state of affairs that has . been in existence in Ireland since the right of the Irish people to determine their, own destiny in accordance with their own ideas and aspirations has been attempted to be smothered by armed forces at the dictation of the Imperial Government. The findings of this representative American Commission have been proved up to the hilt by statements made by no less an authority than General Sir Hubert De La Poer Gough, a military officer who, at thetime of the threatened Ulster rebellion in Ireland, resigned his commission sooner than be a party to using armed forces against the Ulster people. He has expressed himself in such language as the following : -
The Union has failed irrevocably, and after long trial. Law and order has given place to a bloody and brutal anarchy, in which the armed agents of the Crown violate every law in aimless and vindictive and insolent savagery. Is there a single Irishman or woman whose blood does not boil at these things, and who does not demand the end of English rule, and the right of the Irish to govern themselves?
– I rise to order. I direct your attention, sir, to the fact that the honorable member has been reading for the last twenty minutes. He. has been doing nothing but read.
– That is not true.
– Vile and hideous slanders on the Empire, too!
– The honorable member has not made two words of comment since he rose, and I submit to you that he is not making a speech, hut is taking advantage of his privileges in the House, to read a document in extenso. For twenty minutes he has readreports, and I submit that he may not do so.
– I followed the honorable member while he was speaking, and took it that he was reading from the report of a Commission in America. He had, however, finished his reading of that document, and had begun to speak extempore. He then began to read from some other document before the point of order was raised. I call the honorable member’s attention to the fact that it is against the Standing Orders for an honorable member to read his own speech; but I know of no standing orderwhich forbids an honorable member to read extracts from other speeches, so long as they are in conformity with our rules.
Mr.CONSIDINE. - Did you say, sir, that it was against the: Standing Orders for me to : readmy own. speech?
Mr.CONSIDINE. - ‘That is what I did not do, as the Treasurer himself pointed out.
– My complaint is that the honorable member is reading, somebody else’s speech.
Mr.CONSIDINE.- As you, sir, pointed out to the right honorable member, I had quoted extensively from the American Commission’sreport on conditions in Ireland.
– It will make a very nice little pamphlet, will it not?
Mr.CONSIDINE. - Possibly ; and I hope the right honorable member will lend me his aid in distributing it. As you, sir, have upheld my right to make my speech in my own way, so long as 1 do not transgress the rules of the House, I shall continue the brief quotation that I was making from the expressions of opinion of General Gough -
England has departed further from her own standards,, and further from the standards even of any nation in the world, not excepting the Turk and the Zulu, that has ever been, known in history before. She is doing irreparable harm to the interests of her own Empire, and to her good name, by the . circulation of accounts, which are daily proved to be only too true, of what is being done in Ireland from day to day. In an impoverished bankrupt world she is recklessly adding another area of: ruin and destruction.
We realize thaton every ground Ireland must have full national self-government, with, no greater and no other limitations than are imposed on Canada, Australia, or South Africa.
I quote the concluding portion, so as to be perfectly fair to General Gough. I draw the attention of honorable members to the tremendous advance in thought made by this general, the leader of the British Fifth Army on the “Western Front, whorefused in 1914 to be used: by the British Government for the purpose of coercing Ulster, and who since the war has so radically revised his opinion as the result of his study of the conditions at present existing in his native land. The gentleman whom the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) was proud to quote in the days preceding the war is the gentleman whom he now, by interjection, accuses of slandering the British Empire. But, of course, General Gough has advanced mentally, whereas the honorable member is still where he was in 1914.
– Will the Irish people who are concerned in this trouble accept the suggestion of General Gough?
Mr.CONSIDINE. - I do not know; but it is for the right honorable gentleman and those who stand for British Imperialism to give the Irish people the opportunity of expressing- their opinion free from military terrorism; and when the Irish people so express their opinion I will stand by it whatever it be. If they choose to remain a component part of the British Empire under a Constitution similar to that of Australia, Canada, or South Africa, who am I that I should attempt to dictate to them what they should do? If upon the other hand they desire to keep the Allies up to the conditions for which they said they fought the last war, to secure small nations from coercion, and to give them the right to determine their own destiny; that is to say, if the people of Ireland claim that they have the right to maintain the Republic they have set up and. to rule their country in their own way, just as every intelligent Australian claims the right to do, according to their own ideas, free from the military domination of any Power, is there anything wrong in their doing so?
– A. good. deal.
Mr.CONSIDINE. - I am glad to note that the honorable member for Kooyong is the only one who thinks so. He considers these words of General Gough a slander upon the British Empire, but I could quote from a pamphlet signed by fifty British intellectuals, professors of universities and leading public men of Great Britain, a most damning indictment of British rule in Ireland, or another indictment of that rule contained in the London Times, of the 14th September, 1920, and signed by Ernest Barker, Philip Gibbs (knighted by the King, not for slandering the Empire, but for services during the war), Charles Gore, Hubert Gough, J. L. Hammond, L. T.
Hobhouse, Desmond MacCarthy, John Masefield, 0. E. Montague, Gilbert Murray, C. P. Scott, H. G. Wells, and Basil Williams. If the honorable member for Kooyong would, only peruse the sources of information I have brought under his notice, provided he is capable of doing so, he would in time advance to the stage reached by General Gough today.
.- I do not propose to discuss this question at length, but the motion having been moved by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), I feel it incumbent upon myself to express my entire sympathy with the object the honorable member has in view, and generally, so far as I was privileged to hear them, with the opinions he has expressed with regard to this matter. There can be no doubt there is a growing estrangement between Great Britain and the United States of America, and there equally can be no doubt that it rests largely upon the treatment of Ireland by the present British Government. But the fact that our position as an Empire is being prejudiced in America is by no means the only or, from my point of view, the main consideration which should impel us to direct intelligent criticism to the conduct of the agents of the British Government in Ireland, because the sad truth is that the recent conduct of those agents is calculated not only to cause estrangement between America and Great Britain, but also to bring the whole of the Empire into discredit and disrepute among the civilized nations of the world. It is not too much to say that the present policy of the British Government in Ireland has not a single reputable supporter in any part of the world outside those persons who, being amenable neither to argument nor to appeal, have stood, while they can stand, merely as the open enemies of Ireland. It is a deeply regrettable and even painful thought that at this very time trials should be proceeding in Germany with respect to the treatment of British prisoners by the agents of the Central Powers. That fact tends to show up in even more searching light the conduct of the agents of the British Government in Ireland. If ever there was a case established against a Government in the courts of public opinion, it has been against the British Government, not only by the argument of Irishmen, but in equal measure by temperately expressed judgments of thinking Englishmen. We have upon our side the patriotism and the brains of England ; while on the other side are money, passion, and prejudice. The case of Ireland is quite safe, even in the view of reputable and wellinformed Englishmen. The British policy in Ireland is condemned, not only in America, but also, apart from official circles, in France, Italy, and the world over, and it is so condemned because it is indefensible. The British Government do not admit that there is war . in Ireland, because the practices that are taking place there to-day are not sanctioned according to the rules of civilized warfare. You, sir, must be perfectly well aware that there is no ‘rule of civilized warfare which permits the indiscriminate destruction of property in the invaded country, and the ruthless, firing into ‘the homes and houses of the people without regard to whether or not women ‘or children, aged or infirm, sick or well, fall victims to the bullets. It must be well known to every honorable member, that there is no rule of civilized warfare which permits towns and villages to be sacked, ravaged, and destroyed in revenge for certain acts of war by the soldiery of the invaded country. The truth is that the people of this country are unfortunately largely dependent for their information upon that poisoned stream of fiction which reaches this country through the newspaper cables. But honorable members are not so dependent. They have at their call other sources of information, and if they are able to call in witness, as they ought to be able to do, the sober testimony of thinking men in every civilized country, they ought to be able to see that the conduct of the British Government in Ireland is indefensible. I suppose we shall be told, as we have been told before, that this is no concern of ours. That argument might be adduced with some colour of justification by the Republican in Australia, but it is curious that the Imperialist should say that we in Australia are not concerned with the operations of the British armies, and Black and Tans of odious memory, in a part of the Empire itself. If I had not any association or kinship with Ireland, and I still were a member of this Parliament, I would feel it my bounden duty, as I do to-day, to lose no opportunity on the platform, or in this House, of rising in protest against what is going on there. I do not propose to tell again to-day this thricetold tale. Ireland’s claim to some kind of local autonomy has been so far established now that it is not denied even by Ireland’s enemies. But at the beginning of the war, it was denied, and there axe persons - amongst them the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), the representative and spokesman of a class - who have always been opposed to anything that has been offered, to Ireland, and at whatever time it has been offered. Had the present Act, which is designed for the partition of Ireland, been submitted in 1914, to the honorable member for Kooyong, and those associated with him, they would have opposed it with all the bitterness and persistency with which they now oppose the Republican’ -ideal, and formerly opposed the Home Rule movement. Every concession that is offered to Ireland meets with their wholesouled and bitter opposition. Hence it is to-day that they are always ready to concede something which the Irish people are no longer willing to accept. The Irish people now stand on the principle enunciated at the beginning of the war, and painted on the very moon during the course of the war - the right of self-determination, the right of Ireland as a nation to prescribe its own form of government. . An election has just taken place in Ireland. It was not an election of the Irish by the Irish for the purpose of determining their form of government, but an election under conditions and for an object prescribed by a power which to-day is an alien power. And we may as well face this fact: Ireland has in a spirit of friendship and candour offered to accept her position within the Empire. She has been refused, cheated, and despised. She no longer comes asking for her place within the Empire, but comes declaring that, as there is no place for her within the Empire, she will still have her place in the sun, and without the Empire. Although the election which has Been held has been conducted by an external power, and with machinery devised by that power, it nevertheless has yielded a result which shows the overwhelming majority of the Irish people to bo favorable to the Republican ideal. And yet, forsooth, we are told that Ulster, too, must have selfdetermination. Those who passed the Partition Act for Ireland took all sorts of care that the determination of Ulster should not be left to the people of Ulster. They selected a section of a segment of Ireland, and when they were satisfied that this section of the Irish people would be favourable to anti-Irish ideals - in other words, that theirs was the rebel stronghold against the constituted autho- ity in Ireland-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I very much regret the introduction of this question into the Commonwealth Parliament by .the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), and I am surprised that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Ryan), the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), and the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Lavelle) should be found rising in their places to give the necessary support to have the question discussed.
– The honorable member for Werriwa is not in the House, but if he were here he would support the motion. It is a pity you cannot tell the truth.
– I supported it, and I am not ashamed to say so.
– I would be ashamed ‘of a political career similar to that of the honorable member for Capricornia.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the offensive statement he made concerning the political career of the honorable member for Capricornia.
– I regret that the honorable member’s political career should be offensive.
-Order! The honorable member must withdraw unconditionally, and without comment.
– I do not know what I have to withdraw.
– The honorable member made a personally offensive statement in regard to the honorable member for Capricornia. Such statements are not allowed by the rules of the House.
– If I made a statement which was offensive to the honorable member .for Capricornia I withdraw it.
– If I made a mistake in mentioning the name of the honorable member for Werriwa I apologize, but four members of the Australian Labour party rose to support the honorable member for Barrier.
– If necessary, they would all have risen.
– They all would not have risen. One honorable member, when this matter was introduced by the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine), did not come into the chamber. He stood behind Mr. Speaker’s chair. I warn the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) and the other honorable members with whom he has been associated this afternoon, that they will break up the Australian Labour party if they permit the introduction of questions such as this into the Commonwealth Parliament. I say, as an Australian native, that, in my opinion, the majority of Australians know very little about Irish affairs. We know that there has been trouble in Ireland for a very long while; but we know also that there are 670 members of the British House of Commons, and that they are nearer to Dublin than we are to Sydney. They know all about the Irish question, and I am quite satisfied that if Mr. Lloyd George and his Government were anything like as bad as has been described by the honorable member for Barrier, if they were indulging in a policy of tyranny and iniquity, they would not remain where they are for another twenty-four hours. I have cursorily read the daily accounts of what is taking place in Ireland - and only frag.mentally, because I have enough to do in the advancement of matters of Australian interest if I am to perform my duty satisfactorily to my constituents and the public generally. But I have read that the British Prime Minister described what has been occurring in Ireland as murder, and that he announced that the British Government were taking whatever steps were deemed necessary to try to put an end to the reign of murder. The proposal of the honorable member- for Barrier, and his suggestion that what is happening in Ireland is likely to disturb the amicable relations existing between the British Empire and the United States of America, is a mere subterfuge adopted in order to have the subject of Ireland debated in this Parliament.
– I rise to a point of order, which is, that I did not make any such statement. I quoted from the New York Nation, which published the statement.
– Order ! That is not a point of order.
– The honorable member sought to impress the view on this House, as a fact, that there is danger menacing the British Empire, that the state of Ireland would cause strained relations between the Empire and the United States of America. I emphasize that, in my view, the honorable member introduced his motion because of the opportunity it afforded to introduce the Irish question into this Parliament ; and, as an Australian native, I object to such a subjectmatter being brought forward here. Honorable members like the honorable member for Barrier - the physical force revolutionist, as he described himself in this Chamber the other day, who, in pursuit of his ideals, is prepared to abolish present conditions of law and order by force of arms if he can get enough support, who believes that Ireland should be separated, as a Republic, from England - ought to go to Ireland and stay there.
There are Australian questions of seriousness and urgency confronting Australian politicians, great social questions which should engage our attention, without having the case of Ireland thrust before us in this manner. I do not believe that the majority of the people of Australia have any sympathy with the views of those Labour representatives who have spoken to-day. It is an abuse of the toleration of the Australian Labour party that members of the party should use it for such a purpose.
I spurn the suggestion of honorable members opposite that I have no sympathy with the sane and common-sense ideals of the Australian Labour party. I might have been with them yet, but for that crowd, behind and within the Labour party, who hold opinions similar to those of the honorable member for Barrier, of that foolish secretary of the miners in Newcastle, Mr. Willis, and of other direct actionists.
– Neither Mr. Willis nor the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) belongs to the Australian Labour party.
– The honorable member for Barrier did. belong to the party ; and, in that regard, I draw the attention of the public to the fact that, although Mr. Michael Patrick Considine left the Labour party, there was not a single word of reproach expressed concerning him throughout the Labour press of Australia - the Brisbane Worker and Daily Standard, the AustralianWorker, Sydney - while the columns of those same newspapers have been filled with abuse of myself.
– That speaks volumes for my personal character.
– No; but, rather, the sympathy of the editors of the various Labour publications - Mr. Boote, for example, and other direct action advocates - for the politics of the honorable member for Barrier. However, I: will not go into that phase further, although I could furnish additional facts. I do not’ wish to occupy much time in discussing the motion. As I have said, there are other matters of greater importance urgently awaiting the attention of the Commonwealth Parliament. It would be wrong, however, for this Parliament to permit the honorable member for Barrier and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) to make speeches such as they have, and to allow those utterances to go out from Australia without contradiction or challenge.
– I deem it my duty to protest against the utterances of the honorable members for Barrier (Mr. Considine) and Batman (Mr. Brennan). Those honorable members said, in effect,, that the case against the British Empire has been proved by the statements of famous men throughout the world, of whom they gave a. list. I say the case for the Empire has been overwhelmingly justified by infinitely greater men. I desire to. express, my opinion, in brief, regarding the estrangement alluded to this afternoon between the British Empire and the United States of America. I say, deliberately, that if there is any truth in that allegation, it is due to influences brought to bear on the American people by those who speak in terms similar to the honorable members to whom I have just alluded, and who have said that they are quite willing to take their places outside the Empire. Their endeavour and ultimate aim is to sever connexion with the Empire, and it may be that the work that is now proceeding, not only in America, but elsewhere, has. that object in. view. The bulk of the people in the British Empire, however, are convinced that their abject will not be achieved, because there is undoubted loyalty towards the British Empire on the Irish question. The position in Ireland has nothing whatever to do with this Parliament, . and the motive for introducing the question into this Chamber this afternoon is doubtless, to stir up. among the people of theCommonwealth an atmosphere of disloyalty. Although they are living under the . protection of’ the Union Jack, they are endeavouring to hurl it into the dust.
– I desire only to sever my connexion with robbery and murder.
– Right down- through the ages, it cannot be said that the British Empire has ever associated itself with murder or brutality; it has always stood for those things which- make for the harmony and peace of the people: All loyal members of the British Empire must recordtheir emphatic protest against the statements- which have beenmade by those honorable members . who have supported the motion, and it is our duty to let the people of Australia know that, notwithstanding the opinions expressed this; afternoon, there are others in this chamber who are prepared to defend the Empire against abuse, and the attempt to belittleit on the Irish question.
– It is not my intention toaddress myself to the motion before the House at great length, because honorable members already, know my opinion on the Irish question. I think it is generally understood that the position in Ireland- is largely responsible for the strained relations existing, not only between Great Britain and America, but between. Great
Britain and other countries. The position in Ireland has brought Great Britain to the verge of war, and it is still doing so.
– Brought what?
– The position in Ireland is bringing America and England to the verge of war.
– That is ridiculous.
– It is not. ‘Any reader of Irish history realizes that for generations the Irish people have been seeking independence, which has been refused owing to the crass stupidity of the people of Great Britain.
– Not the people.
– I blame the people for not carrying out the proposal just as I blame the people of Australia for submitting to the present intolerable economic conditions. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) has endeavoured to justify the action of the British agents in Ireland,; but that honorable member has . twice voted in this House for the principles which he now denounces.
– But not for what they are now- asking.
– It would have been better to give the Irish people Home Rule when they wanted it, and it would be preferable to grant them a Republic rather than allow them to form one by force.
– I did not vote for a Republic
– The honorable member supported Home Rule.
– I voted for local government, not a Republic.
– Who has broken up the Empire?
– Is the Empire broken tip?
– It is only under a cloud.
– A cloud of the honorable member’s imagination.
– The British Empire is under a cloud as the result of her treatment of the Irish people. Whenever this question is discussed, the sectarian issue is introduced.
– No one has spoken of the religious element to-day.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley) may not know as much as I do concerning the opinions held by honorable members of this Chamber. It has been said that Home Rule for Ireland means Rome Rule, but it does not mean anything of the sort ; because, if Home Rule had been granted toIreland, there would not have been bitter religious controversy, but merely contests between the capitalists and the workers, such as we have here. The religious element has been introduced with the idea of bolstering up landlordism in Ireland. During previous discussions on this topic much has been said of loyalty to the Empire ; hut have the loyalists ever helped the workers? No. The so-called loyalists are always on the side of the capitalistic section of the community.
– On hearing the remarks of some honorable members, one would thinkthat those who are in favour of Home Rule, or the formation of an Irish Republic, were reared in a certain religious atmosphere. I was not, and honorable members know it. I am sorry that this matter has been introduced into this Chamber; but, whenever it is, it is my intention to express my opinions. It would have strengthened the British Empire if Ireland had been given -Home Rule, and it would strengthen it now if the British Government would allow the Irish people to establish a friendly Republic rather than allow matters to drift, which will result in the formation of a Republic antagonistic to British ideals and aspirations. The demands of the Irish people have beenrefused merely to protectthe interests of landlordism.
– Does; not the honorable member know that the interests of Irish landlords were purchased with £200,000,000 of British capital?
– I know that. I have read a good deal on the Irish question, and many of those who speak of loyalty have said’ that it would be better to grant the Irish people Home Rule than allow the country to be a drag on the British people. It is a question of whether the British Empire is to be for ever saddled with the trouble that now exists. We all desire to know when peace will be restored, and when the interests of the general community in Ireland will not be subordinate to those of the capitalistic class. We will never have a united Empire, which we so much desire, while the people of Ireland are being so shamefully treated. Do honorable members really believe that peace can be restored under the present policy? The sooner the people realize the position, and allow the question of loyalty to stand aside in deciding the issue, the better it will be. Some may think that this is a sectarian question; but I remind honorable members that Devlin was returned as a member for Ireland for an Orange constituency. Why? The people know his opinions.
– He is not a Republican.
– The honorable member says that he is not a Republican, but we know that he would not give the people of Ireland Home Rule. He has always been against doing so. He would not give them even the measure of Home Rule which the people of Australia enjoy. It is the pig-headedness and stupidity of the honorable member and those with whom he is associated that have brought about the present position, and they have used the question always to serve their own purposes. I am sorry that it should be necessary to introduce the question into the Parliament of Australia, but I say that the trouble in Ireland has its reflection in Australia, and throughout the Empire. It would be better for Australia if the trouble were put to an end, and there is only one way of stopping it, and that is by giving the people of Ireland what they desire. I, as a representative of the people in this House, say that the Irish should be given their rights, and the man who says that they have no rights in this matter is unworthy of membership of a Parliament such as we have here to-day.
Question - That the House do now adjourn - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Tenders for Collins-street Building.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Will he supply the following information: - The names of tenderers for the Collins-street building for the Commonwealth Bank, the amount of each tender, and the time required by each tenderer to do the work?
– The Bank employs its own architect, and the Department of Works and Railways has not anything to do with the design or erection of the building referred to.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– I shall obtain the information and lay it upon the table of” the House.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I am not aware of any proposal in the direction indicated.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Mr. GIBSON (for Mr. Mowilliams) asked the. Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Commonwealth Government has not given the Anglo-Persian Oil Company any monopoly. Experts supplied by the AngloPerman Oil Company, under the terms of the agreement entered into between the British Government, the Commonwealth Government, and the company in question, have been carrying out investigations in Papua, and are now similarly employed in the New Guinea Territory, with a view to the discovery and development of oil fields. Until these- investi- gations have been completed, the Government is unable to formulate its policy in connexion with the question of oil development in the Territories.
Presentation to French Government
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Imperial League of Australian Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Womenfolk handed to the Prime Minister before his departure an Australian flag which they asked him to present to the city of Amiens. The presentation is to be made as a tribute from the womenfolk of the sailors and soldiers of Australia to the women of France.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
-The Commonwealth has no power to control this company unless the -whole or part of its capital is subscribed outside the British Empire. Inquiry will, however, be made regarding the constitution and personnel of the company.
Attitude of Australia
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow:
Speech by Prime Minister.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice- -
– The answer supplied to me is that consideration has not been given to this matter by the Government. I should like to supplement that formal reply, however, by saying that, as I understand it, what occurred was “this : There had been a debate in the French Chamber of Deputies, in which. M. Briand, the French Premier, had been accused of -being more or less under the complete control of Mr. Lloyd George. He had been accused in the French Chamber of being too pliant, and of not being sufficiently insistent on France’s rights in his relations with the British Government. When, therefore, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth (Mr. Hughes) felicitated the French Premier and expressed his satisfaction at the result of the debate, he did nothing, so far as I can see, that gives any Imperial newspaper the right to chastise him for interfering in connexion with Silesian matters.
– On the 20th ult., the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) asked the Minister for Trade and Customs the following question, upon notice: -
I replied that as far as possible the information was being obtained. £ am now in a position to . furnish the honorable member with, the following information: -
According to the latest figures available, £1,040,81215s.1d. is the total amount held by the Commonwealth Government in respect of the realization of the property of German, Austrian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, and Turkish nationals.
This total is made up as follows: -
It cannot . be stated exactly at present how much of this total is in respect of the property of German nationals, and how much is in respect of the property . of other ex-enemy nationals.
It is estimated, however; that about £1,000,000 out of the £1,040,81215s.1d. represents the proceeds of realization of the property of German1 nationals:
The property of German nationals remaining to be realized is considerable, but its value cannot be furnished with any degree of accuracy prior to realization. 4 and 5. See answer to No. 3.
Re adoption of Clearing Office system. - In January, 1920.
Re retention of . property in Australia of German nationals resident outside Commonwealth. -In December, 1920.
– On the 26th May the honorable member “ for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) asked a number of questions respecting the case of Mrs. Farr, and he was informed that inquiries were being made on certain points relating to that lady’s entrance into the Commonwealth, and the arrangements made for her maintenance and hospital treatment while in Australia. I am now in a position to state that -
Mrs. Farr arrived in Sydney from New Zealand on the 6th September, 1915. Her case did not come under the notice of the Quarantine Medical Officer or the Customs authorities at the time of her landing, and no action was consequently taken under the Immigration Act.
It is. reported that prior to her arrival from New Zealand, negotiations were carried on by her husband with the’ Reverend Mother Superioress of the MountSt. Margaret’s Mental Hospital,Ryde, and that when she landed at Sydney she . was taken straight to that institution.. She remained as a patient of the Mount St. Margaret’s Hospital from the 6th September, 1915, till the 9th January, 1921, although she was allowed during that period to go for several long visits to the country, under the care of a trained nurse. In January last she was transferred to the Gladesville (State) Mental Hospital.
It has been ascertained that the cost of Mrs. Fair’s maintenance and treatment at Mount St. Margaret’s Hospital has been defrayed by her husband, Professor Farr, who is also paying the cost of her maintenance at the Gladesville Hospital, where she is still an inmate. In the circumstances, it is not proposed to take any action under the Immigration Act in this case unless. the State Government make a request, and. show cause which would render such action desirable.
The following papers were presented: -
Northern Territory - Ordinance of 1921 - No. 6 - Supreme Court (No. 2).
Papua - Ordinance of 1920 - No. 15 - Criminal Code Amendment.
WAYS AND MEANS (Formal).
Question - That Mr. Deputy Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Ways and Means - proposed.
.- In order that we may get on with some business, I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– On the question that the debate be. adjourned-
– Order! The question cannot be debated.
– Do you think you will get any further ahead by taking this course, and depriving us of the opportunity to discuss grievances? I for one will see that you do not.
– Please yourself about that.
– We will have to deal with, grievances by means of special adjournment motions. . I will give you an adjournment to-morrow !
– Order !
Question put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) put -
That the Committee have leave to sit forthwith.
The House divided.
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 1st June (vide page8783) : division vi.- metals and machinery. *
*Motive power, engine combinations, and power connexions are dutiable under their respective headings when not integral parts of machines,’ machinery, or machine tools.
Upon which Mr. Watkins had moved, by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to sub-item a : - “ and on and after 3rd June, 1921, per ton, British, 30s.; intermediate, 45s.; general, 60s.”
.- I understood that the Minister- would make a statement to-day about this particular set of duties, and therefore I shall defer the few remarks I wish to offer in reply to some of the incorrect assertions that we have heard during the discussion.
.- The item now under consideration affects an industry of vast importance, one that is important in many respects and for many reasons. The manufacture of iron and steel has been referred to. repeatedly during the debate as a key industry; it is more than that, it is a basic industry, without which all others would cease .to exist. It is, to use the word in its broadest sense, the primary industry. Without its productions, the farmer could not till his field, the miner could not win wealth from the earth. All industries are dependent on it.
– And, therefore, may be gravely affected by the action now to be taken by this Committee.
– I shall come to the effects of the duties shortly. To complete what I was saying about’ the importance of the iron and steel industry, let me add that it is essential to the defence of the country and the preservation of our national existence. In view of the lessons of the war, Australia should be prepared to pay whatever price it will cost, even if that were infinitely greater than I believe it will or should be, to secure the establishment of this industry on such a sound basis that there can be no question of its future prosperity and progress. One contemplates almost with amazement what has already been accomplished in the last few years. In the year, before, the war Australia imported 54,19S tons of pig-iron and produced 66,868 tons, her consumption then being about 120,000 tons a year ; but in 1920 our production and consumption was 345,000 tons, or practically three times as much. Then, in 1913, we imported 65,000 tons of steel ingots and blooms, which was our consumption for the year, because wc were, not then manufacturing steel. It was not until 1917 that steel billets were being turned out at Lithgow, the Broken Hill Company producing them a little later. In 1919. the Broken Hill Company produced 176,843 tons of steel ingots, 31,003 tons of billets, and 2,085 tons of blooms. I have not Messrs. Hoskins’ figures for that year, but in 1917 their firm made 19,667 tons of steel ingots. Thus our consumption of steel, as well as that of pig-iron, is now about three times what it was immediately before the war. ‘ That shows not only how great has been the development of our iron and steel industry, but also how many other of our industries have developed.
– What were our importations during the interval?
– They were a bagatelle; we could not get what we required. The industries of this country were crying out for the raw material of machinery and building operations, and our external supplies of it were virtually cut off. During the last year of the war we imported only 874 tons of pig-iron, most of which came from the United States of America. Had not our iron and steel industry been established as it was just before the outbreak of war, what would have been the position of Australia when transport from other (countries was interrupted, and we were almost entirely deprived of supplies from our ordinary sources? We should be deeply thankful that an industry was established before the war which, during the struggle, was able to meet what had been our normal requirements, and also, to a large extent, the increased demand created by the war. Not only did it provide Australia with what Australia would have had to, go without during that period, but it also effected, as far as the community was concerned, an enormous saving. I have the figures, worked out in detail, as to the prices that were charged by the Broken Hill Company for all their main products for every year of the war.
– Can you give us any of the pre-war prices for the purposes of comparison ?
– I have not got them here at’ the moment. In any case, that is not the point I am making. Not only was the fact that these industries were established during the war of immense assistance to Australia, but they* also saved this country many millions of pounds. It is almost impossible to conceive that, if this industry had not been established, we should have been able to get our requirements, and certainly we should never have got them to anything like the same extent that the local companies were able to supply them. But even had we been able to import to the same extent as the local companies were able to supply our requirements, and had we paid the prices which the rest of the world had to pay for those products, we should have been many millions out of pocket.
– And that money would have gone to develop the industries of other countries and not our own.
– What the honorable member suggests is perfectly correct. I have here the figures for rails and fishplates,blooms, channels, beams, angles, (heavy, light and bulb), rounds, flats, squares, rods, billets, and pig iron. The comparisons have been worked out with the utmost care. The prices for other countries are taken . from their published periodicals - the Ironmonger in England, the Iron Age and the Statist in America. There is no question of the authenticity of the figures. For the local statistics I have had to rely on the Broken Hill Company’s own figures, which I asked them to give me, showing the actual amounts of the various products which they supplied, and their prices at the works for all the goods. These figures show that, as between the American prices landed c.i.f. in Australia and the prices in Australia, in the years 1915 to 1920, the net saving to the people of this country from the Broken Hill works alone . was £4,371,724. The amount of iron and steel turned out by Hoskins at Lithgow is, roughly, about one-third of the output of the Broken Hill works, and inasmuch as Hoskins were selling in competition with the Broken Hill Company, one can safely assume that their prices were . similar, and that we should therefore add one-thirdof that amount to arrive at the actual net savings to the people of this country. That is to say, we must add, roughly, £1,500,000 to the £4,371,724, thus ascertaining a net saving of very nearly £6,000,000. 1 have the same detailed statements worked out to show the comparison with England. I find that, compared with the English prices, the amount of savings to the people of this country over the same period in regard to the Broken Hill Company’s works alone was£6,321,621. That of itself seems to me to be as fine a recommendation as one can give to the people of this country for the establishment of the industry here.
Mr.Gabb. - Are those departmental figures, or the firm’s figures ?
– I have had the figures checked, so far as one can check them, from the various periodicals “which publish price-lists in Great Britain and America, -while for the local prices I have had to depend on the records of the company’s office.
– Are your figures depar tmentally prepared?
– All I can say is that they have been carefully checked.
– Have they, been prepared by the Chamber of Manufactures, or by your Department?
– I will tell the Committee frankly what I did. I knew that the products of the Broken Hill Company and of Messrs. Hoskins Limited had been sold in Australia much below the world’s prices, and I knew, of course, broadly speaking, , that this must have meant a very great saving to the people of Australia. 1 asked the management of the Broken Hill Company to give me their figures, so that, by taking the figures for other countries from the various trade journals, and ascertaining the average of prices over the various periods,I might be able to arrive at the difference, and thus find the saving to the people of Australia. That was done.
– Do those figures cover iron and steel only?
– They cover only the items I have mentioned.
– There is another big saving in connexion with the subsidiary industries.
– As the honorable member points out, this is only the beginning of the thing, because these products are used again in the manufacture of many articles of commerce. So we get a further saving, inasmuch as we are working on a lower outlay cost, when the manufacturer and the merchant come to put on their profits. Therefore,while there is this large saving on the rough products of the iron and steel industry, if one may so term them, there is a further saving when we consider the products manufactured from them.
– The converse is also true, that if you put up the price of the raw material you put it up in the subsidiary industries, too.
– There is no doubt about that. I have put these broad considerations before the Committee, because it is essential not only that we should recognise the necessity for the industry here, but also that we should have some idea of the tremendous advantages which Australia has already reaped from its establishment in our . midst, never losing sight, of the fact that the safety and security of the country absolutely depend upon its definite establishment, progress, and perpetuity in Australia.
It is. when we regard the question of perpetuity that we come down definitely to the consideration of the degree of protection that we should give to the industry in its. comparative infancy., It has. had during the war a marvellous opportunity to grow and develop, an opportunity which, in normal circumstances, it would never have secured. Australia has every reason to be grateful that there were men in this country prepared in the circumstances to risk the enormous amount of capital involved in the industry, and to press ahead in the belief that the people would! recognise the immense- service- that had been rendered to them, and would be prepared also to- see that -they were- given reasonable assurance, enabling them to carry on hereafter the good work that they had begun.
That brings me to the consideration of the peculiar conditions under which the iron and steel industry must exist if. it is to continue. I do not know any industry which provides a better example of the absolute necessity for continuity of operations, and mass production. The key to the whole position lies in the fact that, the iron and steel industry must have continuity of operations, and mass production, if there is to be the slightest hope of success. Unless we can secure those two things, there is not the remotest chance of maintaining the industry against the great established Steel Combines, world wide in their operations, of which honorable members have some knowledge. Consequently, in anything we do here, we must be reasonably certain that what we do will secure those two objects. We must be reasonably assured that the protection we give will afford this great enterprise an opportunity to go. steadily on with, the work it is doing, because, if there is to be any interruption in the operations, if they are to . be submitted from time to time to a competition which will put out the fires in the blast furnaces, because they cannot produce in. competition, we shall arrive at a position where it will be utterly impossible for the industry to continue. Not only must we . take all reasonable action to prevent this, but we must also see to it that those allied and kindred industries which depend upon the blast furnaces for their supplies, and which the blast furnaces depend upon to take their products,, are likewise protected in such a manner that we- shall get continuity of operations both in the blast furnaces and the subsidiary industries. There is the whole picture, if honorable members will so regard it. Not merely must we keep- the blast furnaces continually going,, keep the metal continually moving from the blast furnaces in its molten state to the still furnace, and keep the steel ingot when it is cast in its red hot state going straight to the mills to be worked into the various forms that the trade requires, but we must also see that the industries which take in these sections . whatever they may happen to be, are also in- a position to produce continuously: The industry is Tike a huge machine into which at one end is poured the pig iron-, and- out of the other is obtained the finished’ product. It must be in continuous- operation, otherwise there is not the slightest chance of placing the iron and steel industry on a sure footing in this country.
One has so much material in connexion with a subject of this nature that it is somewhat difficult to select just that which may be most suitable for the occasion.
– It was supplied free of charge, too, was it not?
– I can only tell the honorable member for Barrier that much of the information I haveon this important subject is the result of a great deal of study and hard work.
– I have no doubt about that ; bus much of the material was supplied free, for I got some of it.
– If the honorable member had spent as many hours and weeks as I have in the study of this industry he would probably know as much as and perhaps more about it than I do myself. I have tried, because I recognise its tremendous importance to the welfare of the Commonwealth, to make myself acquainted with the industry in all its ramifications, and I have endeavoured, from the facts presented to me, to determine, in the circumstances, what is a reasonable amount of protection to extend to it, in order that it may be carried on here under satisfactory conditions.
This brings me to the point which I was about to mention when the honorable member interrupted me, namely, as to the manner in which the industry has been established in other countries. As far as I have been able to gather from a close study of the question, the iron and steel industry has not been established in any country in the world except under a Protective Tariff. Great Britain herself adopted methods of protection which, I venture to say, this Committee would not look at for a single moment.
– They were drastic measures.
– They were, indeed, very drastic, and applied not only to the material, but also to the men engaged in the industry. In this way Great Britain established herself in a position of preeminence in the early days of the iron and steel industry under comparatively modern methods of production.
– What was the position of her opponents ?
– It is true her opponents had not reached that stage of development now reached by the opponents of the Australian iron and steel industry, and because of this fact one is amazed that Great Britain adopted such drastic measures to establish the industry in the Mother Country.
– This is the first time I have heard that Great Britain built up her industries by Protection, although I am aware that she had Protective duties.
– I was astonished myself, when I studied the history of the iron and steel industry in Great Britain, to learn of the methods by which the Mother Country established her preeminence in the early days of the industry. The first country to definitely chal lenge Great Britain’s position was the United . States of America, which built up the industry there under a Protective Tariff so high that I almost blush at the moderation of the request to which I am now asking the Committee to agree. The honorable member for Dampier told us last night that the United States of America had these items on the free list.
– No ; I quoted the items which I said were free.
– I am talking of the particular items now before the Committee. It is. quite true that they are to-day on the United States of America free list, because that country, as the result of a continued policy of highProtection, has so developed theiron and steel industry that it is now in an unassailable position, no longer requiring Tariff protection. That is my conception of the proper operation of a Protective Tariff.
– Will you hazard a guess when we shall reach that happy position ?
– I say that, if we enjoy for the same duration of time- from 1874 to 1897 - a. term of twenty-three years of solid and continuous’ high Protection on these particular items, we may expect them to be sufficiently well established. We cannot then expect to be able in the short period that this industry has been in operation in Australia to throw it open to the competition of the whole world. This would be a disastrous policy for many reasons, -some of ‘which I have endeavoured to place before the Committee. ‘ Inmy judgment, We are. not asking for excessive duties. I agree with the honorable member for Dampier that there is a point ‘beyond -which it is not desirable to go. I agree that it would be midsummer madness to force up wages in this country to a point at which it would be impossible for Australia, which, after all, is only one -country in the world, in its economic relationships with other countries; to -maintain her position. But I entirely disagree with the proposition put forward by the honorable gentleman last night, if I understood him aright, that we must make the industrial conditions here such as will enable us to compete with the nations of the world, for surely we have set up a standard of living, with regard to the workers of this country, infinitely better ‘than that obtaining in many other countries.
– I made it clear that my remarks were directed to the British preferential Tariff. As far as the other countries are concerned, I do not care what duty is imposed.
– I took particular notice of the honorable member’s remarks, because, as far as I understand the position, we have a standard of living which is appreciably better than that in many other countries that come into competition with us, including Britain herself, and I think we should endeavour to maintain that standard. If to do that it is necessary to have Protective duties, we should impose them without the slightest hesitation.
– Will you indicate what you intend to do in regard to the manufacture, of steel plates for ship building?
– I shall refer to that matter later on. The honorable member for Dampier also said something about the natural protection which this industry enjoyed.
– I said I would not deal with that particularly, because it was only a small item.
– I point out, that the Inter-State Commission, in its report on the industry, which the honorable member quoted last night, expressed the view that this natural protection is an absolute myth. It stated -
It is a commonly accepted fact, confirmed by the evidence that pig iron has been imported in considerable quantities as ballast at very cheap freights. This may not apply so much to China and India, although, during’ the war, conditions have existed which have enabled cheap freights to offer from India. There are no other imports that can command so low an inward freight; and, as the competition in price and freight is most keen from those countries where labour cost is not more than half what it is in Australia, it means that the Australian iron manufacturer has no natural protection in freight and charges, and has the disability of increased cost of production.
– I know the Minister wants to be fair, and so he will admit that I did hot claim natural protection so much for pig iron as for other items.
– I think the honors able member said that there was a greater natural protection on machinery than on this particular item. I venture to say, however, that if the Inter-State Commission had gone on, as they very well might have done, they could have pointed out that overseas freights on this particular class of material are very much lower than our coastal freights. Therefore, our local manufacturers not only have no natural protection, but have also a definite handicap in regard to freights. In addition to competing with thoroughly established industries in other countries, backed by almost unlimited capital and able to place their products if necessary at reduced costs in any part of the world, our manufacturers start so much behind scratch in regard to the cost of actually landing their products in the various ports of Australia.
Over and over again the statement has been made here that the rates of wages in other parts of the world are as high as they are in Australia, but, so far as I have been able to study the problem of wages here and elsewhere, I have gathered that, no matter what happened during the war, the present tendency is for wages in Great Britain and America to fall below th’e [Australian level. Since the Armistice the tendency has been for wages in Australia to rise all the time, and for the conditions of labour to become more difficult so far as the manufacturer is concerned, whereas in other countries competing with us the pendulum is swinging the other way, and things are daily becoming easier for the employer, and, perhaps, more difficult for the workmen. In some respects the wages paid in Great Britain are lower than the corresponding rates paid in Australia. Again, in regard to coal, the last figures I saw as to the cost of this fuel at Pittsburg, taking the pit run, as the coke works do, show that it is 16s. 8d. per ton as against £1 ls. 9d. at Newcastle. The actual amount of coal used per ton of pig iron is about 2 tons, or 1.25 tons of coke, which, of course, is actually used in the blast furnace operations, while another ton of coal is used in turning the pig iron into steel. As a consequence, the slightest reduction in price of coal elsewhere is a definite handicap to the Australian manufacturer.
– In Canada immense quantities of bituminous anthracite; on which there is a fair duty, are imported,^ but still Canada is building up a big steel ‘’ industry.
– For the moment I cannot say whether the Canadian steel industry is m that, position, but I know that in America the price of coal is coming down all the time, whereas in Australia, if anything, it is rising’ all the time. Therefore, .one is faced with the definite knowledge that, the Australian manufacturer commences operations with odds against him, apart altogether from the fact, that his organization is smaller than that, of his competitors, that he has a. limited market for his products*, and that he is lacking in experience in: the commercial battlefield. In. view of these, facts, one must conclude that he needs some sort of protection, at any rate, to the- extent of the rates- set. out- in the schedule.
Now I turn to the other side of the picture. Requests have been made for increased duties. I pointed out earlier in the course of my speech that the iron and steel industry is at the base of a pyramid. Upon it are built a vast number of other industries. Upon it depends to a greater or less extent almost every individual in the community. Consequently, in the arrangement of” these duties we. must exercise due care to see that we do not ask. for more that is’ necessary, while still providing what may be. regarded as sufficient. Honorable members who have asked, for increased duties say that such increases have come about in the cost of coal, labour and harbor dues, that the duties have become less effective since they were first imposed; but I would point out that at the moment this Tariff was tabled no Protection, was needed in these lines, a. statement which, is amply borne out by the fact that the Australian manufacturers were in a position to sell their products to other nations at a very much lower price than those nations were asked to pay by the manufacturers of other countries. When I set out in an endeavour to wrestle with this very difficult and tangled problem which confronted me in respect to the duties upon iron and steel products, I endeavoured to keep in mind what was likely to happen in the future as far as ohe could forecast
– The Minister did not contemplate a reduction of about 70’ per cent, in the value of the duty.
– It is not a fair presentation of the case to say that a duty has practically disappeared because additional charges have been put on the manufacturer in Australia during the period the duty has been in operation, when- it was actually not required at the moment the Tariff was tabled.
– The steel-‘ manufacturers bad prohibition when they commenced operations in Australia-, because at that time no foreign supplies were coming to« band:
– When the Tariff was tabled, there was no prohibition in regard to these lines. The war. had. been over for some considerable time, and it was a comparatively easy matter to secure importations provided the price of the local article was not very much below the world’s market price. But as that was actually the case at the time, it did not pay foreign manufacturers, to send their products to Australia. It is hardly a fair presentation of the case to assume that a duty of 20s. was necessary when the Tariff was tabled, and then show that because certain charges’ have accrued since then its value has disappeared. It was a difficult matter to forecast what was likely to happen when the period’ of competition - to which we are rapidly approaching, and which in some- cases has actually arrived - could be reasonably assumed to- exist. But when we were considering these- duties we took this, into account. I think that when trads assumes what I anticipate will be its normal level, this particular duty will be found to represent about 22 per cent. British.
– On pre-war levels, the duty is much more than 22’ per cent.
– It is; but one must guess somewhat in these matters, and I have endeavoured to guess at what is likely to happen in the final adjustment of prices to which the markets will settle.
– It is purely an arbitrary assessment, because the Minister has no material’ on which to form a definite judgment.’
– I admit there is nothing certain, and that one is more or less treading on shif ting quicksands. All one can say is that on pre-war prices the duty will represent very much more than 22 per cent. British, hut I am assuming that, although the prices will fall to a point appreciably below the war level, they will not reach the pre-war level. In all the circumstances, bearing in mind the fact that the iron and steel industry here has had a flying start, and that it is established on up-to-date lines with, as far as one can see, every prospect of . success, I think the rates of duty fixed should prove sufficient.
Certain figures were quoted last night as to -the prices at which certain products of the steel industry were being sold in Australia. In every instance it was stated that they have come from Belgium.
– Which might mean Germany.
– As the. law prevents the importation of goods containing more than 5 per cent. of German origin, I conceived it my duty to try to ascertain whether any of the iron or steel arriving here from Belgium was of German origin. As the result of our inquiries, we were assuredas definitely as we could be in a matter of this sort that the origin of this iron and steel is not German, but that German coal, which, of course, was reparation coal, had been used in the manufacture of these articles. Of course, we could take no action in regard to that coal.
– Was the Minister satisfied?
– As satisfied as one could be. Of course, we could only make inquiries through official channels, and that was the result. The real reason why we are up against this Belgian competition to-day is not that Belgium. is producing iron or steel cheaper than we , are, but because the exchange rates between that country and Australia are such that the Belgian manufacturers have done what I have predicted several times in this chamber would be done. I have said several times that when certain countries arrived at a point where they were anxious to get rid of their products, they would use exchange rates for the purpose of enabling them to dump those products.
– Could the Broken Hill Proprietary Company supply those iron and steel goods which are being imported to-day ?
– There may have been a period when, owing to strikes and the fact that the blast furnaces had to shut down for quite a long period, the Broken Hill Company and Hoskins Limited couldnot supplythe local demand, and it was necessary, therefore, to get bars and articles of that sort from abroad. I was saying that Belgian competition arises not from the fact’ that Belgium is producing iron and steel at a lower cost than the Australian manufacturers, but because she is taking . advantage of the exchange ratesto dump her products.
– How are we to pre- vent it?
– ‘The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) has suggested increased duties. If those increases were made, they would not materially improve the position in regard to Belgian competition. A great deal more must he donebef ore we can he reasonably assured that we have overcome the exchange problem. The matter . must be dealt with by special legislation.
– Belgian products would be subject to the higher rate.
– It does not matter whether or not they , are governed bythe higher rate ; even the. rate . of . £4 per ton, which the . honorable member for Newcastle has suggested, would not nearly counterbalance the exchange position.
– Has the Minister worked out the actual exchange rate ?
– It varies from day to day ; hut I think it is now about 60 francs to the sovereign.
– If a rate of £4 per ton is not sufficient, make it £10.
-The exchange position is not normal. It may take . some time to adjust itself, but the present conditions are passing, and I do not think, it would be right to attempt to counterbalance the exchange -position by imposing duties which would apply to all countries alike, regardless of whether the exchange was favorable or unfavorable. For instance, inbuying iron from America to-day we get an oppositeresult to that which attends purchases from Belgium. The American exchange rate today is about $3.95 to the sovereign. The Belgian rate is 60 francs to the sovereign, as against the Mint par rate of 25 francs. When the Belgians dump their product into Australia, and we receive 60 francs worth of their goods for a sterling value of 25 francs, we have a position which can be met only by special legislation. To-day the American Congress and the British Parliament are wrestling with this problem in comprehensive, although entirely different, ways. At this moment the House of Commons is considering, in Committee of Ways and Means, a very drastic and comprehensive proposal at which the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) would look askance.
– God help Australia when Britain imposes a Tariff like this !
– The resolution now before the British House of Commons places in the hands of the responsible authorities tremendous power to prescribe, independent of Parliament, not only the articles upon which duty shall be imposed, but also the extent of the impost. The Imperial Parliament is outHeroding Herod in trying to protect British industries from the dumping of continental goods owing to the exchange position, subject to certain limitations. As we shall . before long have to resume trading operations with Germany, and as the present Tate of exchange is 243 marks to the sovereign instead of the Mint par rate of 25, it would mean absolute ruin to our industries, particularly the production of iron and steel, if we opened our door to trade, with Germany without first introducing special legislation to cope with the exchange position.
– During the war the British Government placed an embargo on imported chemicals,, and Judge Sankey ruled that they had not the power - that the matter must be dealt with by Parliament.
– The British Parliament is being asked to definitely place that power in the hands of the Board of Trade over which a Minister of the Crown presides. I have endeavoured to deal with this highly important subject as briefly as possible.
– Has the Minister heard anything about restriction of trade by the Broken Hill Company ?
– That was denied last night.
– There has been a confirmation to-day of what was said last night by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr).
– I have not heard of anything which might be regarded as restraint of trade.
– Have no complaints been made officially ?
– I . have had letters from two companies complaining of certain actions by the Broken Hill Company. One of them I brought under the notice of the Broken Hill Company, and the complaint was immediately adjusted. The other complaint is one of which the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) knows something. It is a quarrel between a number of very hard-headed business men.
– It is a quarrel between a monopoly and another firm.
– I am certain that no Court in the world would say that the action of which complaint has been made amounts to restraint of trade.
– Hear, hear.
– How does it happen that the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) can see all these letters to. the Customs Department but no one else can see them? Is he wetnursing the Government?
– He certainly did not see the departmental files.
– Then how can he declare with such assurance that the Government are right ?
– The Government are not involved in the dispute.
– The correspondence which I have had simply reveals that there are two sets of very keen business men who are both trying to make their own point. It is perfectly legitimate business.
– Are you quite sure that it is legitimate?
– So far as I am able to understand the squabble, it is. I have not the slightest doubt that these gentlemen can arrange their business differences and come to terms. As a matter of fact; I know they are approaching each other at the present time.
– And the company is holding off until the Tariff is passed.
– Does the Minister say that the quarrel has nothing to do with the fixing of prices by the Broken Hill Company ?
– It has nothing whatever to do with that. I do not think I should disclose the actual details of the dispute, of which I have confidential knowledge, but I do not think that any Court would say to the Broken Hill Company that it must do what it is Being asked to do. I believe that the rates which I have asked the Committee to accept do give reasonable assurance of continuity of operations.
– There is a very big doubt as to whether they do.
– If I felt any reasonable doubt, I would unhesitatingly ask the Committee to increase the rates, but if we increase the rate on this basic item, we must carry the increases right through the schedule.
– Does that mean that the first item governs all other items of metal and machinery, and that if there is no increase on the first item, there can be none on the others ?
– I am not saying that there may not be need for adjustment of the duties in respect of individual items, but if we increase this basic item there is not the slightest doubt that we must do the same right along the scale.
– If we put a duty on the raw material, why should it be necessary to increase the duty on wire netting or fencing wire?
– The first item represents the raw material for the manufacture of the others, and whilst eventually we may arrive at- a time when we can ignore the duty altogether, and make the items free, that time is not yet. The iron and steel industry is still in its infancy, and that is why I feel that the rates laid down should be reasonably safe.
– If it should be found that the rates are not sufficient, what will become of the subsidiary industries?
– I have not disguised from myself or the Committee the seriousness of that possibility. It is. absolutely essential that we should be reasonably assured that our industries are secure.
I think what I have done will be sufficient. If it is not, it will be for this Parliament at some future time to say so; and 1 do not think it will hesitate to say so. But I cannot conceive of any Government coming into power and letting this industry down.
– Suppose that it goes down before Parliament can deal with it?
– That is not at ‘ all likely. I repeat that I have given the whole matter very careful consideration.. The. rates set down are not the rates originally proposed. Those which I have; determined upon are the outcome of careful study of the whole problem, and I ask the Committee to accept them, at all events, for the time being.
– The Minister has made out one of the best cases possible for a high rate of duty upon the raw materials used in connexion with iron and steel production. He has stated that, even on the basis of the increased rates suggested by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), the foreign combine competitors will not be kept out. That being” so, I would go further. I would make the duty twice as heavy ; and, if that were not sufficient, I would treble the rates. This is the key industry of the Commonwealth. It is the backbone of Australian manufacture. The only matter about which I am disturbed has to do with the interests of the subsidiary industries. My heart is in those works at Maryborough, because the men at the back of them have been struggling for the past thirty or thirtyfive years as best they could against foreign competition. In many instances; notwithstanding that they had to pay high wages and high prices for imported raw material, they have held their own against outside competitors. Here is the chance to do something worthy and really practical on behalf of our fellow Australians, and I am satisfied that Parliament will rise to the occasion.
– The schedule will not pass this month if these are to be the rates.
– We would be false to the Australian people behind us if we were to allow the schedule to pass in its present form, after the speech which the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) has made this afternoon. I will relate the circumstances which converted me to . a belief in complete Protection for our key Australian industry. Honorable members will recall that, when the East-West Railway was beingconstructed, Mr. King O’Malley was the Minister whose Department controlled that great work. He tried to get rails and fastenings as cheaply as possible, and he called for tenders in all the four corners of the globe. The peculiar thing was that he could only secure certain portions of the iron and steel requisites from Great Britain, a certain quantity from Germany, and a certain portion also from the United States of America. What was the position? Some honorable members in the Corner now say that we are in the grip of a Combine. It is better to be in the clutch of a Combine inside the Commonwealth than of one outside, which we cannot touch. The prices for the whole of those steel rails and fastenings, and the like, which were urgently required for the building of the Transcontinental line, were exactly the same from each of those countries mentioned..
– What were the p rices ?
– The first quotation, I think, was £6’ and £7 for steel rails. We would not accept it, but finally we had to pay £8 17s. 6d.
– What is the price of steel rails now?1
– That was before the. war. I do not know what the price is to-day, nor do I care. It matters not to me what may be the price, so- long as the product is Australian made. I am concerned about the outside Combine. It made us pay just what its members liked, and it would do the same again tomorrow. Mr. King O’Malley made a deal with the Russian Government to supply us with all our requirements of rails and fastenings. That source of supply was outside of the foreign Combine which he had previously run against, and we were overjoyed to think that the Minister had beaten the Combine. But when the Russian authorities tried to secure freight to carry their steel products to Australia, not a. single ship could.be had. The Shipping Ring was linked up with the Steel
Combine. We had to go back again to the latter, and those people made us pay for endeavouring to break away from them by putting’ on £1 17s. 6d. to their quotation for rails.. I thus became a strong Protectionist for life where Australia’s iron and steel industry was concerned. If, as the Minister says, the proposals of the honorable member for Newcastle are not sufficient to keep out the foreigners, I would treble the proposed duty. But for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company starting the Newcastle Steel Works1, where would our subsidiary industries be to-day ?
– There would be none.
– Absolutely none; and no one knows that better than the Minister. We hear honorable members talking of the price of harvesters to-day. Purchasers: would have been compelled to pay through the nose - if they could have got the machines at all - but for the Broken Hill Company’s works at Newcastle. During the war period that firm did not put up the price of its products, although the opportunity was afforded to raise them to fabulous heights, seeing that the people who wanted steel had! to buy from that, source alone. As a good Australian, I feel that the least that I can do is to give this great Australian- industry the measure of protection required, namely, sufficient to keep out foreign competition. The objection has been advanced, that that will have to be done by the introduction of special legislation.. If the Government are serious, about the need for this special legislation, where is it?
– We lean . only do one thing at a time.. >
– I will tell the Government what to do, and they will get the thanks of the Australian people for taking my advice - common-sense and practical as I am convinced that it is. Let the Minister quadruple the rates of duty until the necessary measure dealing with foreign exchange shall have been passed.
– Hear, hear! Save the industry first.
– We should not let it languish or be killed by the foreign Combine.
– How would the honorable member’s proposal assist firms such as the one in Maryborough to which he he has referred?
– We can trust the men behind the key industry, just as they proved worthy of out confidence during the war period. If, however, the Broken Hill (Proprietary Company will not agree to supply Australian subsidiary industries with their ‘necessary -steel and- iron products,there is a way by which the Government can overcome the deadlock. Happily, there is plenty of raw material in Australia. We have . been told that the South Australian iron ores are the richest am the world. If “there is danger, of the dumping of cheap foreign materials, it is our duty toremove that menace. Let us not only protect . and save Australia’s key industry, but, at the same time, encourage the establishment and growth of subsidiary industries. Mr. Hoskinstold me some time ago, by the way, that it is his intention to construct new works at Port Kembla. Here is an opportunity to give him a good . start with his new subsidiary venture. I am certain that the Minister is sympathetic. Will he agree to temporarily increase the dutyrates in order effectively to shut off cheap Belgian steel ?
– Thebetter course will be to ; get the Tariff schedule out of the way, and for the Government then to introduce the Bill -dealing with exchange.
– But promises are vague.
– The honorable member knows that if I make a promise I will act up to it.
– I do not doubt that for a moment; but there are others to he dealt with.
– I will guarantee that it will be done.
– I am ‘quite prepared to accept the Minister’s assurance. I am pinning : myfaith to the proposed Board of Trade, because I believe the operations of that body will be the solution of our difficulties. The Board will take the matter out of the hands of the manufacturers, and will submit concrete proposals to this Parliament, which we will either have to ratify or reject. This is the key industry of . the Commonwealth, and this item is the most important in the whole Tariff. I seriously ask the
Minister to . give consideration to my suggestions, because it -is the . easiest thing in the world to reduce or remove a duty that has been imposed if, as the result of experience, it is found to be excessive or unnecessary.
Mr.GIBSON (Corangamite) [5.41].- During the debate on this particular item we have heard a good deal concerning the operations of the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited. Unfortunately, I have notbeen ableto visit the works of this company at Newcastle, but we have been informed by honorable members that they are the finest in the world, possessing very up-to-date machinery, and producing sufficient to meet the requirements of Australian consumers. But are they meeting ourrequirements at present? I donot think so. It seems that ‘we are endeavouring to place the whole of our subsidiary industries in the hands of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company and Hoskins Limited. At present these two manufacturing concerns are not producing anything like the requirements of the Australian people, as in February last the Broken Hill Proprietary Company were asking certain purchasers of steel in Australia to import their requirements.
– That was during a strike period.
– That may be so.
– To what strike is the honorable memberref erring ?
– The shipping strike, when it was impossible to freight iron ore around the coast.
– At that time five firms made purchases totalling 6,500 tons of steel, and that quantity is now on the way to Australia, and will be charged a natural duty of 100 per cent., and an additional duty of ‘60 per cent., making a total of 160 per cent., which is altogether unreasonable. . Surely this up-to-date plant at Newcastle, of which we have heard so much, can -compete against manuf acturers . abroad witha lower duty than 160 percent.
– How does the honorable member make it 160 per cent. ?
– There is a natural protection of 100 per cent., and a proposed duty of 60 per cent. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) has endeavoured to make honorable members believe that the Australian consumers have benefited to the extent of £6,000,000 by the prices at which the Broken Hill Proprietary Company have sold their products in Australia. They were disposing of fencing wire at £40 per ton during that period, and must have been making a very good profit.
– But the Broken Hill Proprietary Company do not manufacture fencing wire.
– It is a subsidiary industry.
– It is manufacturedby another company.
– Fencing wire was being sold at £40 per ton until supplies began to arrive from Belgium, when it dropped to £20 per ton. The manufacturers must have been making a good profit over and above the ordinary profit if they could make such a reduction. The rate of exchange is, approximately, 8s. 3d. per ton.
– It is not.
– The Minister said it was very much more.
– Pig iron costs £5 7s. 3d. per ton f.o.b., which is equivalent to £8 15s. 6d. c.i.f. and e. The freight is 60s., and insurance and exchange 8s. 3d.
– That does not take into consideration the difference between Belgian currency and sterling exchange.
– It does not. My quotations are pounds sterling. Some of those who are crying out for Protection are actually importing the very articles they wish protected. I have in my possession a Shipping List, from which I find that on the 30th May, Mr. H. V. McKay imported 360 bars of steel from Belgium, and 18¼ tons of pig iron. A few days ‘earlier the same gentleman imported 160 packages of rivets and nuts, 2,019 packages of bar iron, and 259 packages of steel bars. The Lion Mills also imported 20 tons of pig iron. “We have been told by those who are supposed o know something about the industry, that in Australia we have the richest iron ore in the world, but this ore is receiving natural protection’ to the extent of 100 per cent. in competition with that from other countries. It is easy to understand that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company gives preference to certain pur- chasers, because they are unable to meet the requirements of the Australian people. I am not prepared to say that the company can be regarded as a monopoly; but it is an easy matter for such corporations as those I have mentioned to interfere with trade. If we are going to unduly protect these industries by imposing higher duties, there is every possibility of certain manufacturing firms not being supplied with their requirements. Only the other day the Victorian Government called for tenders for the supply of 4,000 tons of steel in connexion with the Morwell electrification scheme, but Australian steel manufacturers did not submit a tender. There must be something radically wrong with this great manufacturing concern, with all its natural advantages, if it did not endeavour to meet the State Government by submitting an offer. I am anxious that this industry shall receive the necessary protection to keep it one of our leading industries; but I do not wish to see it reared in an artificial atmosphere. If it is going to succeed it should do so on a sound business basis, and not expect to conduct its operations successfully merely by means of high Protective duties. I do. not feel disposed to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Newcastle.
.- I followed very closely the speech of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) uponthis item, and if ever a case was made out in favour of higher duties the Minister made one. I was very much surprised when he asked the Committee not to support an increase in the rates he proposed, because in view of the statements he made he evidently desires to protect the industry. ‘ If that is so, there is no course left to the Committee but to increase the duties.
– That is proved by the Minister’s statement.
– Yes. The Minister dealt with the cost of converting iron ore into pig iron. He showed that wages had increased in Australia since the duties appearing in the schedule were imposed. If that is so, there is every justification for imposing still higher rates, because the cost of production has increased. He also said that costs on the other side of the world had decreased considerably. Consequently higher duties must be imposed if our industries are to be protected.
– Did not the Minister say that the industry was protected by the shipping freights ?
– The Minister has made out a good case in favour of higher duties, and I shall be very much surprised if the Committee accepts the rates he proposes. This is the hey industry of Australia - not one of them - but the most important, and it is the duty of this Parliament to protect it in the interests of the whole community. If we are to remain here until the end of the year, I shall fight this matter to the last ditch, because I feel that we should not be content until the Minister is prepared to make some concession in the direction I have indicated. I do not wish my statement to be regarded as a threat; but I feel very keenly on the matter. What did the Minister say in regard to. currency? I . am surprised at the arguments that have been adduced. Since this Parliament met we have been informed that during the present session our time is to be devoted to consideration of the Tariff, and that during the absenceof the Prime Minister. (Mr. Hughes) contentious matters that might jeopardize the Government would not be introduced. The Government appealed to the Country party to grant them immunity from, attack during the absence of the Prime Minister ; but we are now told that it is necessary to deal with the, question of exchange by legislationduring the current session.
– It will be purely a Tariff Bill.
– If it is to be a Tariff Bill, when does the Minister propose introducing it?
– When the Tariff is disposed of.
– The Minister has not made such an admission before. We have never been informed that it was the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill dealing with exchange.
-We must do it.
– If it is necessary, it should be done promptly.
– It is necessary.
– That was generally understood.
– I do not believe one-half the members of this Committee knew that it was the intention of the Government to introduce such a measure.
– How are we to remedy the evils which exist without such a Bill?
– It is useless for the honorable member to speak in that way. We have to deal with the facts as they have been presented to the Committee. I knew that it was the intention of the Government to appoint a Board to deal with firms who were abusing the privileges they enjoyed under a Protective Tariff.
– The Minister referred to-day to the question of exchange.
– Yes ; and the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) is now’ endeavouring to protect the Minister. It was never publicly announced, and the Minister knows that as well as I do.
– I made such a statement, but not in this chamber.
– But we are guided by what we hear here. It was clearly , stated that it was the intention of the Government to deal only with the Tariff. The Minister for Trade and Customs has said that a Bill dealing with the rate of exchange is dependent on the Tariff. If the franc has fallen from 25 to . 60, what hope can this industry have of. carrying. on? We do not know what damage may be done within the next three or four months. The Minister has frankly admitted that there is already dumping from Belgium. Manufacturers there are getting coal from Germany, and because of the rate of exchange they are able to land their steel and iron in Australia more cheaply than it can be produced here.
– The world’s demand is so great.
– Exactly; but if that is the position, are we to allow it to continue to exist until this industry collapses in Australia?
– I admit there might be a higher duty on Continental importations.
– I contend that higher duties should be imposed for the protection of this industry in Australia. We must, beyond all doubt, make its position secure. I speak from memory, and am subject to correction, but when we built the transcontinental railway, and were faced with the difficulty of getting rails, to which the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page) has alluded, we had to pay, I think, £8 17s. per ton for them. This industry was then coming into existence. It was only in its infancy. I do not think that the Newcastle works had then started the manufacture of rails.
– Hoskins made a good many.
– That is so, and I believe they cost a little over £9 10s. per ton.
– No. The pre-war price was £81 6s. per ton, at Port Augusta.
– What was our prewar price?
– That was our price.
– That was the Broken Hill Company’s price for rails, landed at Port Augusta.
– Then at that time we were purchasing rails abroad at something like the same price. The point I make is that if this industry in its infancy could supply us with rails at a price anything like that charged for imported rails, it was very greatly to its credit. An increased duty to-day is absolutely necessary because of the changed conditions. The Minister admitted that twelve months ago the duty now proposed was necessary.
– He pointed out that it had no value as a Protective duty at that time.
– What I said was that at the time the duty was imposed no duty was necessary, but what we did was to endeavour to forecast, as well as we could, future conditions, and to impose a duty that would meet them.
– At the time the Minister made that forecast he will admit that conditions were altogether different from what they are to-day. The price of coal has gone up considerably. It has been increased to the extent of 4s. per ton, and as it takes 3 tons of coal to produce a ton of pig iron, that means an increase of 12s. in the cost of produc tion of a ton of pig iron. There have been two or three increases in wages under awards of the Arbitration Court. These have been necessary to enable the workers to cope with the increased cost of living. Then wharfage charges and harbor dues have increased. All these increases must have placed the Broken Hill Company in a very different position with regard to the cost of production from that which it occupied at the time when the Minister for Trade and Customs made his forecast of the duties necessary to meet future conditions. The Minister has pointed out that since the war, and in the last few months especially, conditions abroad have materially changed. Wages have . come down, unfortunately, in many industries, the cost of coal has (been reduced in Belgium, and, on top of all this, we have the difference in the rate of exchange to consider. In these circumstances, how can the local industry continue to exist if some additional protection is not afforded to it? It will be admitted that the Broken Hill Company has done well for the Commonwealth.
– It has been on a good wicket, too.
– I admit that all manufacturers have been on , a good wicket. Can the honorable member tell me any one who was not on a good wicket during the war?
– Many people were not.
– Many people who were consumers were not; but there were very few manufacturing industries that were not on a good wicket during the war.
– The honorable member is helping the consumer a lot now.
– I think that I am. I am endeavouring to secure employment for people in Australia to tide them over the difficult times ahead. Whether the honorable member can see it or not the position staring us in the face now is avery serious one.. No one knows what may happen here in the near future. The conditions from which the Old Country is suffering at the present time may be repeated here. We may have to suffer to some extent in the same way, no matter what we can do, but I think we should do what we can to prevent that.
– The course which the honorable member proposes would intensify our difficulties.
– I do not think so. If we accepted the views expressed by the honorable member, and some other honorable members, we . would do nothing to protect this industry. We wouldallow it to collapse, and would send money from Australia to keep people in other parts of the world at work for lower wages than are paid here, whilst our own people would be left to walk about in idleness.
– Of what use are high wages if we continue to increase the cost of commodities as the honorable member proposes that we should do?
– The honorable member does not . appear to see the difference between endeavouring to stabilize matters, and protect the country . from reductions in wages, and the. question of the cost of commodities. No one took a more active part. than I did in trying to prevent high prices. Throughout the war, the period when those in power should have grappled with the question, my voice was always heard against the continuous increase in the cost of living. Now., when we should be getting back to normal conditions, the honorable member is content to. allow everything to drift, and he would permit the workers who, for years past, have been earning less than sufficient to meet the increased cost of living, to go right down to bed-rock.
– The honorable member is proposing to increase the cost of living.
Mr.CHARLTON.- Not- at all. I believe that the effect of an increase in the- duty on- this item would’ be to decrease the cost of living. The honorable member- does not, or will not, see that I am endeavouring to prevent this industry going down because of competition from abroad, due to conditions, that we all deplore, existing in other countries at the present moment.
– We all want to do that.
– I am afraid that the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) does not.
-The honorable member is accusing , the honorable member for Darwin of being a foreign trader, but he is not one-
-I am not so sure about that. Judging by the honorable member’s interjections,’ I should- say that he favours giving work to the people of other countries rather than to Australians!
– The honorable member wishes to attain a certain object, but is going the wrong way about it.
– There is. no general sentiment in the Committee in favour- of foreign manufactures as against Australian manufactures-. The votes that have been recorded show that.
– I do not know that they do.
– This is the most Protectionist House that has ever been seen in Australia.
– I am in agreement with the honorable member, ifhe says that, there is a substantial majority here in favour of Protection.
– That is all I say.
– I understood the honorable member to suggest that the whole of the members of the Committee are Protectionists, but we know that there are some who take another view. The honorable member who preceded me said that those engaged in this industry are not able to supply the requirements of Australia. I do not know whether, at the moment, they are or are not ; hut I do know that they are making every en deavour to do so. They are at the present time extending their works.
– A new blast furnace is being erected which will have a capacity of 500 tons, a day.
Mr.CHARLTON. - That is so, and the company is laying- down additional machinery plant.. A large number of men were employed in connexion with the extension of the works- and plant, But I can inform honorable members’ that a- few weeks ago, when I was at the works, numbers of men who- had been employed on the extensions were being paid off because of the uncertainty of the position of the company. They realized that they would not be justified in expending more millions if they were not able to hold the market here. What I am anxious about is that they should be placed in a position to hold the market. If we have to pay a few shillings more per ton forsteel rails and other materials manufactured here, we shall not have much to complain about if at the same time we are finding employment for our own people.
– No one grudges paying a few shillings extra, but an increase of a few pounds is a horse of a different colour.
– I do not know that there is such a difference. The price of rails here to-day is between £17 and £18 per ton, and it is very little less in Great Britain. These high prices have been occasioned by the Avar, and are operating everywhere. Prices will gradually fall here, as elsewhere, when we settle down. We shall never get back entirely to pre-war conditions, and I am one of those who hope that’ we never will. I hope that we shall not get down to bedrock, as we did before the war. I think that it is in the best interests of the people as a whole that prices should be fairly high, so long as they are not exorbitant, if wages are also high. Under those conditions, the people will be more contented, and we shall have a better race as the result. The whole question is whether, in Australia, we should be selfcontained. Without this industry we cannot be self-contained. If we did not have the steel and iron industry firmly established, everything else would go by the board. What would happen to us in time of war if we did not have this industry established in Australia? I do not wish to see any more wars, but they may come in spite of us, and, if they do, and this industry is not in existence here, what will happen to us? Where should we have been three or four years ago if we had not established this industry? Have we nothing to learn from the history of the last few years? The lesson we should have learned is that we must be self-contained. No greater lesson was ever taught the people of Australia and their representative men. We should have been helpless during the war if it had not been for our steel and iron industry.
– The trouble is that Australian statesmen do not seem to have learnt the lesson.
– The statesmen we have have learned the lesson.
– I hope that the statesmen, not only of Australia, but throughout the world, have learned that everything possible should be done to prevent war in the future. But we have to deal with things as they are, and so must make sure that we are giving ample protection to this industry. The Minister for Trade and Customs desires that the duty should be left as proposed. I do not know what actuates him in that desire. I do not know whether he is trying to please the Corner party or not, but it does seem strange that when he explained that he is not prepared to consider an increase of the duty on this item, honorable members who have been opposing the Tariff have suddenly disappeared from the chamber.
– No; they have left one sentinel in the Corner.
Mr.Hill. - Yes; and one who is prepared to move an amendment for a lower duty, so that the honorable member can go ahead.
– I believe that it is our duty to make all provision necessary for the’ carrying on of these works continuously. The Minister has pointed out the necessity of continuity of operations in this industry. To allow a blast furnace to go down involves the expenditure of a lot of money. If those engaged in this industry cannot secure sufficient orders in Australia to keep their furnaces going constantly, their . enterprise must be a failure. If any one of us had a plant with two blast furnaces, and could get sufficient orders to keep only one going, he could not make . his enterprise pay, in view of the capital invested in it. It would be impossible on the capital that had been put into it.
– The company must have continuity.
– Exactly; they must be working all the time. During the late shipping trouble the company was compelled to let the furnaces go down, and very heavy expense was involved in getting them going once more. The founders of this industry were led to believe that if they laid down a plant they would be able to keep their furnaces going, and it is essential that we should provide them with a market.
– And after they had asked us tosee that they got a market for their product they told us to mind our own business.
– That is the other side.
– That is the silver side; but the honorable member is dealing with the steel side of the question.
– T am dealing with the bread-and-butter side. There are probably 20,000 people directly and indirectly engaged in this industry.
– More than 20,000 workers.
– We must see that they are kept in employment, and employed under reasonable conditions. We shall have trouble if we allow iron and steel from Belgium to be dumped into Australia, and so deprive our own industry of its market. Some time ago a company was- formed to carry on coal-mining operations in the vicinity of Sydney harbor. After boring through shale to a great depth coal was reached; but the company found it impossible to make the proposition pay. It spent over £1,000,000 and, after all, had to close down. These steel works might have a like experience. Unless the shareholders can get a fair return for their money they will have to close down, and their huge plant may be scrapped. It is our duty to see that that does not .occur. We are not anxious to increase the cost of iron and steel to the general public, and if, as the result of increased duties, the prices are raised, it will be to only an infinitesimal extent. Increased duties will be the means of keeping out cheap foreign material. If, as the Minister has said, the rate of exchange is such as to assist very materially the importers of steel, what hope can we have of the continuance of these works unless we afford them adequate protection? The Minister has said that he intends to introduce a measure dealing with that phase of the question ; but we do not know that it will ‘prove satisfactory. We do know, however, that we can to-day adequately protect this great industry. I am sure that the majority of honorable members are favorable to increased duties, and that the Minister would consult the wishes of the Committee by supporting the proposed increase. If it were found desirable later on to vary the rates, it would be within the power of the Minister to do so. This industry’s chief competition comes not from within the British Empire, but from outside. Why should we give employment to’ a lot of Germans? The coal that is being used in the Belgian ironworks to-day is coming from Germany, where it is cut at a much lower rate than that prevailing in Australia, and it is being used in the manufacture of steel and iron that will compete with our own products unless we provide for adequate protection. I hope that the Minister has not finally made up his mind to refrain from supporting an increase, and that the whole question will be thoroughly threshed out. We know what the closing down of this industry would mean.
– But the honorable member does not believe that it is going to close down?
– I do not know whether or not it will close down.
– The honorable member has a shrewd idea that it will go on.
– I intend to do all that I can to keep those engaged in the industry at work.
– .Yes; while they are working they will not be thinking.
– At all events, I do not want to see people walking our streets in idleness and in a state of semistarvation because of lack of legislation on our part to protect Australian industries. Our conditions of labour are in advance of those of Belgium and other European countries, and I want them to be maintained. This is a key industry, and we have to stabilize it. Among its many subsidiary industries is that of nailmaking; but that industry in New South Wales at the present time is closed down. The men tell me that they will not be able to resume operations unless the Tariff is increased. They have been out of work for a couple of months, and they say that it is impossible to carry on while the present dumping continues. If we take a sane view of this question, we shall provide for full protection for all our industries. I ask honorable members to give this subject careful thought. Every word that the Minister uttered was really in favour of an increase of these duties. He did not say a word in favour of retaining the present rates or of reducing them. He stressed the point that this was a key industry, and that it should bc protected. I give the honorable gentleman credit for the way in which he is handling the Tariff schedule, and also for the speech made by him on this question ; but, in view of his utterances, I find it difficult to understand why he is not prepared to move for increased duties. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson) has. said that there are 6,500 tons of steel now on the water for Australia, and that if these duties be increased that shipment will, have to pay the increased rates. No doubt,, the importers would regard that as a hardship, but it is a by no means uncommon occurrence. I regret to hear that there is so much coming in. It is only within the last two or three weeks that wages in European countries have fallen, and if already large . quantities of steel are on the way to Australia, we may be sure that, unless we raise the Tariff, other big shipments will follow. Why should we import material that we can manufacture for ourselves? We shall be able to more than meet our requirements, so far as steel is concerned, when the additional furnace to which the Minister has referred is set going. The fact that there is certain steel on the water is no justification for refusing the proposed increase in the duties. Reference has been made to what is termed the “ natural protection “ ; but what is that ? It is true that there is a good deal of water carriage, and that freight has to be paid; but I can remember the time when steel products’ were brought out here as ballast.
– There is no natural protection.
– I venture to say there is not.
– ‘“The boot is on the other foot.”
– I think so, too. Freights have been coming down very fast. Prior to the war, I have known iron and steel brought out for about £1 a ton; and, as I say, in some cases as ballast, the exporters being glad to get some return for this ballast, and take back coal . and other commodities. We have to look at our position here.’ We have a huge coast line, and manufacturers in, say, New South Wales, have to supply orders in Western Australia or the Northern Territory, . covering’ distances nearly as great as those from other countries. Thus we see what is the. value of the “ natural protection “ we hear so much about. As a matter of fact, this industry depends entirely on what we do in this Parliament. If I were certain that the present duties were adequate, I should not be. taking up my present, position,, but I feel that they are not adequate. Changes are taking place throughout the world which must inevitably be felt here, and my desire is that we should be prepared, as. far as possible-, to meet the situation. The aftermath of war is already reflected in the unemployment in all the States, and the position must be intensified unless we do something by way ofprevention. The proper- course is. to provide as much employment as possible, and see that wages are not permitted to run down on a sliding scale. Once wages begin to drop to any considerable extent, the country is injured,, with benefit to no one; there is less money in circulation, and the position becomes acute. This is a time when we should do our best in the way of economy, and for- the- next few years obtain as much revenue as possible; and to this end it is necessary to provide avenues of employment. Indeed, the provision of employment is the very object of the Tariff, and we have to face the fundamental question whether, in the interests of the country, steel and ironworks shall be established.. ‘ It is true that’ such works are already here, but there is the danger and possibility . of stagnation ahead; andonce operations are suspended, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to resume them. I remember, a few years ago, oil works being established near to Hamilton, the operations of which were interrupted by the war ; and to-day beautiful machinery there can be seen rusting away. If the wheels of the steel works are not kept well oiled and going, we must look forward to similar results, and Australia will be unable to claim that she is a self-contained country. As a matter of fact, Australia is not self-contained now ; and we are looking to this Tariff to make her so. The first step is to start the key industry, which, of course, is that of iron and steel. There is not a member in this House but will admit that duringthe last twelve months conditions have altered all over the world, and we cannot hope to escape ; yet, it is proposed that we should absolutely refuse to do the fair thing by this industry. This will -mean either the industry “going to the wall,” or a big inroad on wages. So far as I can learn, this industry affords very satisfactory terms to the employees; I have heard very few complaints in this regard, and there seems a general idea that the “ fair thing “ is being done. Surely, then, we ought to see that the fair thing is done by the companies which so treat their employees. I hold no brief for any company, but regard the question from the national point of view. What is the use of talking about immigration if we do not provide avenues of employment - if, in the case of the key industry, we refuse to impose duties sufficient to enable it to live and grow as it should? I agree with the Minister’s statement that in America the high duties which prevailed for many years havebeen lowered, and that it is possible that we here may, after a period, be able to reduce the duties considerably. We must not forget that this industry is in its infancy, and requires the parental care and control of this Parliament; and that, unless we rise to the occasion, we may strangle the infant. I venture to say that when the industry is thoroughly established it will produce material as cheaply as in the Old Country, or in most countries of the world. We ought not to he told that we must come down to the level of manufacturers abroad who get labour at half the price paid in Australia. This matter is too important for any game of “ ducks and drakes.” Personally, I do not propose to allow these items to go through without their being thoroughly threshed out. This particular item is the main one in the Tariff - the main consideration for this country, and on -what we may do depends our future. Every honorable member, with the exception of a few in the Government corner, are in favour of increases in the duties, and my surprise is that the Minister does not accept the amendment. No one more than the honorable gentleman realizes the importance of the industry,for he has spent more time than most of us in ascertaining the facts connected with it ; indeed, his speech to-day showed that, really, he is convinced that the duties ought to be increased.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
.- The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr.. Watkins), who has moved to increase the duties on pig iron, and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), who eloquently supported him, have protested vigorously against the Minister’s refusal to accept the amendment. These honorable members naturally wish to benefit an industry which is carried on largely within, or near to, their electorate, and I have no quarrel with them on that ground; but it is for other honorable members to see that a bigger measure of protection than is needed is not given to thisindustry, because that might increase the cost of the iron and steel which it produces, andwhich is their raw material. It was contended that the Minister’s speech, properly weighed and considered, justified the proposed increases, but from that I entirely dissent. The Minister (Mr. Greene) is to be congratulated upon his presentment of the case. He has again shown himself to be fully conversant with his subject, and he viewed it in the manner that was to be expected of a fair-minded administrator whose duty it was to see that an important industry was adequately protected without harm being done to dependent industries. Replying to an interjection of mine, the honorable member for Hunter accused me of wishing to benefit the foreign trader, and of being unwilling to support Australian industries. I do not suppose that he meant what he said on the spur of the moment, because an instant’s reflection would have caused him to remember that my votes on items already dealt with prove my readiness to give to Australian industries all necessary protection. At the same time, I contend that one industry should not be protected unduly, and at the expense of other industries depending on it for their raw material, which is what would follow from the amendment. As the Minister rightly said, if we increase the duties on iron and steel, we must increase the duties on all lines under the: heading of machinery. There are industries other than the iron and steel industry whose existence is very important to the welfare of Australia.
– What would become of the industries dependent on the iron and steel industry if it were not kept going?
– The honorable member has asked that question several times. I am willing to give the industry sufficient protection to keep it going continuously. No one would oppose the amendment if it were proved that without an increase of duties this industry would be wiped out.
– You would wait until it was wiped out.
– No. There is no evidence that it is likely to be wiped out. Those who support the increase have drawn attention to the change of conditions in other countries since the Tariff was introduced. The Minister has told us that when the Tariff was first brought down the iron and steel industry needed no great measure of protection, and that he has since taken into consideration the changes in wages and in the prices of commodities in other countries, and other matters which invited attention. That he has done so is proved by the knowledge of the industry that he has displayed; and if he is now satisfied with the duties contained in the schedule I am willing to accept them. The Tariff is to operate, not for a year only, but, we hope, for an .indefinite period. Certainly we should not like to have to consider new Tariff proposals every session. Other industries, such as mining and agriculture, are as important to Australia as is the iron and steel industry.
– During the war there would have. been no mining industry had not our steel works been in existence.
– It is likely that very soot some of our largest mines will have to close if honorable members persist in opposing the reduction of their working expenses. A few days ago, the very members who are now asking for increased protection for the iron and steel industry were complaining because certain mining companies which, they said, had made huge profits during the war, were not able to cany on because of the fall in the value of metals.
– We asked that they should abide by the law of the land and the decisions of the Arbitration Court.
– One Arbitration Court has said to the men, “ Return to work at reduced wages.”
– Nothing of the kind.
– These honorable members wish to give the iron and steel industry more protection in order that it may continue to make huge profits, as it did during the war; and this must be to the prejudice of the community generally. But as the Tariff discussion has now extended over several weeks, inconsistency on the part of members is not surprising. If never before has there been reason to consider the arguments of members inconsistent, this discussion has provided many instances of inconsistency. When members speak of the reduction of wages that may take place, I would remind them that mining and other primary industries are now being carried on at a loss. Agriculturists are not getting the rewards to which their labours entitle them, and nothing like those enjoyed in this- industry for which certain members are fighting so strenuously because they represent the persons employed in it.
– Would you think it a good thing for your constituents that their wages should be reduced?
– Of course, not.
– That would not be so bad as having no wages at all.
– No doubt, .half a loaf is better than no bread.
– Any number of industries have now to be content with the half loaf.
– I shall not support a proposal the effect of which must be to allow one industry to make large, profits at the expense of other- dependent industries. Those who advocate the increase of these duties seem not to realize that other industries, such as agriculture, have already to pay dearly for their machinery, and get very little returns.
– If you desire cheap machinery, you should be a Free Trader.
– Members of the Corner party have been derided because they wish to obtain consideration for those whom they claim to especially represent, but surely that party - I am not a member of it, though equally with its members I represent an agricultural constituency - is as much entitled to fight for the interests of its constituents as are the members for Newcastle and Hunter for those of the men whom ‘they represent. If I judge the Minister’s meaning aright, he is not going to agree to the increase proposed by the honorable member for Newcastle, and so ably supported by the honorable member for Hunter. In my opinion, the proposed increase is preposterous, but I can quite understand that, after certain increases being proposed and carried during the earlier part ‘ of the consideration of the Tariff, some manufacturing interests in the Commonwealth came to the conclusion that they had only to ask in order to receive. I have no doubt that when the debate on the Tariff began, the manufacturers concerned in the iron and steel industries in particular were perfectly satisfied with the Minister’s proposals. There is no evidence to show that they are not satisfied to-day, and I would have been indeed surprised if the Minister had acquiesced in the proposal to increase the duties by 50 per cent. I had not intended to speak, but after listening’ attentively to some of the speeches on the item, I felt that I could not allow it to pass without entering my protest against the attitude taken up, and the lack of consideration shown, by some honorable members as to the effects of their proposal on other industries. I am out to support a measure of protection that is, in my judgment, sufficient to allow Australian industries to grow up in security, but if I went beyond that I would not be doing justice to myself or the community in general. In all these proposals, we must consider the effect of very high, or, as some honorable members have suggested,’ prohibitive duties on subsidiary industries. That aspect has not been realized by those who propose to increase these duties., Had the Minister agreed to the increase, I should certainly have entered a protest, but I am happy to say that he has not so agreed. His reasons for not being willing to’ agree were sound and statesmanlike, and I congratulate him on them. I am satisfied that the majority of the members of the Committee will not favour the increase. I shall support the Minister’s proposal, and shall not support either an increase or a decrease of it.
.- This is one of the key industries of the whole Commonwealth. It has been established in Australia for a number of years by pioneers, who have risked their capital, and brought the best brains they could possibly command to the task of establishing it. So far they have been going on under very moderate protection, and have been able to supply the markets of the Commonwealth with an article that we all desire. The praise of the whole community was lavished upon them during the war for the noble way in which they stepped in to supply steel rails, even to the British Government. They also supplied cur own requirements/ and kept our manufacturers going. If this is to be a country of any importance, we must have industries of this kind established here. No country in the civilized world has made any progress unless a large part of its population has been engaged in the manufacture of iron and steel, and other requirements. If we are to take our place among the nations, we must have this as our base, industry. We are only starting to develop this industry, but already one company alone has spent nearly £5,000,000 in placing at Newcastle one of the best plants that can be found in any part of the world. They find themselves in competition now with the foreign article.
– They are great philanthropists !
– I do not suppose they are in the business for the good of their health. Their object is to make money, the same as other people, both here and in other parts of the world. There is another iron works established at Lithgow, and Mr. Sandford, who did the real pioneering there, wasted his money and energy, and almost went insolvent over it. Then Mr. Hoskins took it up. He has been plodding along and developing it, and to-day, like the Broken Hill Company, he finds himself at the mercy of the Belgians, who are prepared to dump iron and steel in here at very reduced rates. This is not a question of Protection ot Free Trade so far as I am concerned. It is a matter of preserving an industry which has already been established. I suppose 7,000 or 8,000 men are employed in the two establishments, and many more are engaged in the . branch industries that have sprung from the iron and steel industry. We shall be treading on very dangerous ground if we do not see that this industry is given the fullest possible protection. The Minister is cavilling over an increase of £1 per ton in the duty, for that is all that the honorable member for Newcastle’s amendment means. The honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) said that an increase of £1 per ton on this raw material means an increase in all the other commodities. It does ; but if an increase of £1 per ton is put on the raw material, and in consequence another £1 per ton is put on the price of galvanized iron, it does not take a ton of iron to cover an ordinary house, and even an extra £1 on a cottage or house that is being built is a mere nothing compared with the great industry that the extra duty will support and maintain. The same thing applies to agricultural machinery. Most of those machinesdonot weigh very much, because the whole object of the manufacturer is to make them as light as possible to handle and work.
– The duty is £50 on a single machine.
– L am speaking only of the increase in the duty as proposedby the honorable member for Newcastle. It has been argued that if the Minister accepted the amendment it would add to the cost of machinery. I do not suppose it would add 10s. to the cost of a plough or , a reaper and binder. I hope honorable members who have put forward that argument will look at the matter in a practical way. An increase in the duty to protect this large industry is certainly going to increase the price of other things, but that argument can be urged against every duty thatwe impose. Recently the honorable member for Lilley , (Mr. Mackay) appealed for an increased duty on bananas, and ; an increase was granted; with the result that to-day there is . an increase of 6s. in the price of bananas. The honorable member knew, and we all knew, that that . would be the effect, but we . knew also that the increased duty was going to . preserve an important industry. I hope the honorable member who was treated so generously about bananas will look with a friendly -eye upon this industry:, and help to keep it in existence. One could go from one industry to the other and show the great advantage that has accrued to all of them, and to the labour employed in them, through the establishment of the iron and steel industry in the Commonwealth. The Broken Hill Company are prepared to make the material for every iron or steel bridge that needs to be constructed in the ‘Commonwealth. They are making that material in this country; they employ labour here; and the whole Commonwealth benefits. They can make here all the steel rails that used to be imported, and surely that is an advantage to this country. Any company that has embarked its capital in the iron and steel industry in Australia we have a right to protect up to the hilt. I have been supporting the Minister during the whole of the Tariff, and I assure him that he would do well to err on the right side by accepting the proposed increase in the duties, because it would be a guarantee of stability and permanency to the people who have put their money into the industry. They say that they cannot carry on against the competition which they are called upon to meet. The Minister says he is prepared to bring in a Bill to prevent dumping, because, as he admits, no . matter what duties are imposed, the Tariff alone will not keep the industry -going. There, is a good deal of -truth in that contention, . and therefore we want the Anti-Dumping Bill as well as the Tariff.
– We must have it.
– We must have it if the industry is to exist at all
Mr.Considine. - The Minister does not propose to bring ina Bill to stop the dumping of labour in this country.
– No; he is leaving that to the honorable member.. I shall support the increased duties, because the company has been paying decent wages, so far as it possibly could, according to the awards of the Arbitration Court. There have been very few disputes among the employees in the district, and under these conditions I want to see the industry protected. I shall not only vote for the increased duties,but I shall vote also to keepout those . articles which are going to ruin our industries by dumping.
.- While at all times wishing, to see industries opened up and developed in Australia, as I said when speaking on the first item-, I fail: to see how an- abnormally high Tariff will bring- about the results’ that those who advocate it expect., The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins)- and. those who support, himhave put forward arguments to show that a. still higher Tariff than, the Minister (Mr; Greene) has proposed is warranted. In my opinion,, such a Tariff is not warranted,, as I propose to prove by using the very arguments that those who advocate increased duties have used. First of all, the honorable member for Maranoa. (Mr. James Page) said he did not care a hang what it cost se long as it was an Australian industry. Looking round the chamber when the honorable member used those words, I saw a smile on the faces of two gentlemen who have taken a very keen interest in this debate right through. If they subscribe to that doctrine, they are supporting an argument which is different from the one they use outside this chamber, and certainly different from the one which honorable members- will use when they go outside. As: am Australian desiring, to see Aus- tralian industries: prosper; I would not support a Tariff that meant “ any price being paid so long as it is paid in Australia.” The honorable member for South’ Sydney (Mr. Riley), in supporting the amendment of the honorable member for1 Newcastle, said that he wanted to see industries spring up in Australia, and asserted that iron and steel was the key industry of the whole position. I admit that it is the key industry.. The honorable, member said that it meant very little to the man who was building a house if an extra fi per ton was added to the cost of the corrugated iron that he needed for roofing purposes. I submit that it matters a great deal to him. The honorable member also asked what difference it would make on the small weight of a machine. Honorable members opposite who are supporting the amendment to increase the duty are always saying that their hearts go out to the workng men of this country, and we have just, been told by the honorable member for South Syd ney (Mr. Riley) that the extra duty will not represent a very great deal of additional expenditure for galvanized roofing iron. If it will not. mean very much, the company should be as; well able, to stand it as, the- man who may require galvanized iron roofing for Ms house. I shall make it my duty to examine these items, and consider how they will’ affect the industries of Australia, and although I may vote to remove some of the duties in the schedule, 1 intend to support the Minister in regard to the item now under discussion. The manufacturers in my State can get cheaper pig iron from Great Britain, not. to mention foreign- countries, than from the Broken Hill Company’s Newcastle works, or from Lithgow.
– How will the honorable member vote on the proposed duties for manufactured articles, then?
– I will disclose my position when those items are under consideration. Freights, between Newcastle and “Fremantle are as high, if not higher, than between. Great Britain and Fremantle, and it is as well, that honorable members who- are supporting, the amendment should bear in mind the fact that there are other States in the Federation besides New South Wales and Victoria. In Western Australia there are manufacturing works under State and private control,, and if we increase the duty on the raw material ‘ in this way they .will be obliged to charge higher prices for their productions. If we increase- the Tariff three hundredfold, we shall not be able to prevent dumping, or to do- anything in the way of exchange.
– Then why worry about the duty ?
– Why should we increase the duty when it will not prevent damping ? ‘
– That is where we do not agree
– If the honorable member’s- argument is sound, the outlook for Australian industries is very bad.
– Nothing of the sort. A few years ago the general manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, Mr. Delprat, said that the company did not want protection for the steel works, but last year he asked for Tariff protection, and when this schedule was prepared he thought the duty adequate.
It is only during the last few days that honorable members in this Chamber have made representations for additional duty on the ground that conditions have altered. All I can say is that if the position is going to alter in this way, we shall not know where we are. If I thought for a moment that the industry could not be continued without additional protection, I would be prepared to vote for a higher duty ; but I am convinced that it can exist without this extra assistance, and that the company will be able to produce iron and steel at a rate that will enable the manufacturers of Australia to turn out machinery at a fair and reasonable price.
– I have at all times been guided by what I regard as the experience of the world. I ani convinced that strong local industries are the surest guarantee for reasonable prices, because of the competition as between them and the importers. The latter are thus debarred from’ exploitation, and internal competition is established. This is ‘the experience of Australia, and, indeed, it is the experience of the world. In this case we are anxious to make certain that the iron and steel industry is going to have ample room for expansion. Honorable members have pointed out that at one stage it was thought the industry could do without protection. That was a splendid aspiration; but experience has demonstrated th’at it could not be realized because of the dumping process and this competition from abroad. The fact that there has been expended in the industry something like £5,000,000 is a very sound guarantee of the iona fides and enterprise of those engaged in it. If I thought that the industry would be getting too much of its own way, and become a monopoly, extracting huge profits from the pockets of the people, I would be one of the first to endeavour to check its operations in the interests of the consumers; but my first consideration is to have the industry so firmly established as to insure its expansion to the fullest extent. Therefore, when it has been demonstrated by figures from a reliable source, and facts which cannot be successfully challenged, that the ‘industry does require further help, and when I realize that the duty which was offered to it in
March last year is in value about 70 per cent, less than it was then, I think we have a right, as a Parliament, acting in the best interests of the Commonwealth, to make quite certain that the industry is fully protected. The burden of the claim made by honorable members in the Corner, and others who have spoken in opposition to the proposed increase in this duty, is that the real price of the article will be the cost of landing a similar product from abroad, plus the duty, thus making this impost a heavy charge on the community. But, while that calculation may be mathematically correct, it is not the experience of Australia as the result of the establishment of industries here by reason of the adoption of a Protective policy. Furthermore, the experience of America, where the duties on iron and steel products have been more than twice those proposed here, has demonstrated beyond doubt that the imposition of such duties has ultimately brought about, not only the establishment of local industries, but also the cheapening of the article produced.
I want to establish four points, which I shall prove. First, the iron and steel industry of America, which is colossal in its proportions, and of vital importance to that country, could not have been established but for the high Protective wall which was raised there with the object of - its establishment. Second, within a period of five years after the imposition of that Protection, imports fell away to nothing, and the home industries vastly increased, and were able to supply practically all local requirements. Third, the prices charged by the home industry were infinitely less than those which had prevailed previously. Fourth, the effect of the Tariff was to bring down prices throughout the world. These four propositions cannot be successfully disputed. I have the whole of the figures here, and they can be seen bv any honorable member. But Mr. Taussig, a political economist whose fame is world wide, in his Tariff History of the United States of America, hae made available all the statistics which are indisputable, and I propose to give a faithful analysis of them. He informs us that, in 1871, the United
States of America produced 34,100 tons of steel rails, and imported 506,500 tons. The cost of her own rails was £19 2s.1d. per ton. The cost of the imported rails was £12 0s. 5d. per ton. America paid on all the rails she used of her own manufacture £71s. 8d. per ton in excess of the price charged by the United Kingdom, and 6 and 7 dollars in excess of the duty of 28 dollars (£5 16s. 8d.) which she imposed under the Morrill Tariff. In 1876, after five years’ experience of that duty of 28 dollars, during which she established many valuable local industries, she had increased her production of steel rails to 368,300 tons, and had reduced her imports to below 1,000 tons, having in that short period reduced her own cost per ton to £111s. 3d., namely, 19s. 2d. less than she was paying the United Kingdom in 1871. The United Kingdom in this period had reduced her price to £7 17s.1d., or £3 4s. 2d. below the American cost. The Americans continued their 18 dollars (£3 15s.) per ton duty to July, 1883, when it was reduced to 17 dollars (£3 10s. 10d.), where it remained till 1890, when a further reduction to 13.44 dollars (£2 16s.) per ton to 1894 took place. Our British preferential duty is 35s. and 45s. respectively, and intermediate 60s. and 70s. respectively, on rails 50 lbs. and over and rails 50 lbs. and under, as against a United States of America Tariff of 75s. for a nine-year period. The table of American production of steel rails, if followed through to the year 1897, discloses the astounding fact that America, for the first time in her history, produced rails for £41s. 8d. per ton, or 5s.10d. per ton less than the United Kingdom cost. The next year it went still lower, and from 1899 to 1908 - a ten-year period - a ton of steel rails cost £5 16s. 8d.
– Does the honorable member imagine that the Tariff had anything to do with that result?
– It had everything to do with it. It was the result of the operation of the Tariff. I challenge the honorable member to successfully refute these facts.
– The facts are all right, but the inferences are all wrong.
– As the result of the operation of the Tariff in America that country was able to produce steel rails at a cost of £5 16s. 8d. per ton; and within five years after the imposition of the duties was able to supply her own market, and cause prices to be materially reduced elsewhere.
– During that same period there was an enormous reduction in costs throughout the world. It all took place without the operation of the Tariff.
– The honorable member’s interjection is by no means relevant. I have already shown that, whereas America previously imported 500,000 tons of rails, she was in a position after five years of the operation of the Tariff, and through the establishment of her local industries, to completely supply her own market at a vastly lower figure than previously. Furthermore, the establishment of this industry in America created such a competition that the outcome was a general world-wide reduction in the cost of steel rails.
– The Tariff had nothing whatever to do with that. It was due to a general fall in prices.
– It was unquestionably mainly, if not wholly, due to the operation of a Protective Tariff, as has been conclusively demonstrated.
– It has never been ‘ demonstrated. It has been said for years, but it is the silliest old story in the world, and is the laughing-stock of any one who has investigated it.
– With great respect to my honorable friend, I prefer to accept Mr. Taussig as an authority in preference to the honorable member.
– Mr. Taussig’s facts are all right, but the honorable member’s inferences from them are all wrong.
– Mr. Taussig’s facts are as I have stated them. It lies with my honorable friend to attempt to refute them ; his own ipse dixit is not convincing.
– I have already said that the cause of the reduction in prices was the general downfall of prices everywhere.
– I am very glad to see that my relation of these facts has aroused resentment. My friends do not like them. I claim that Australia is justified in being guided by the experiences of America, and I am prepared to say that ifwe do so we shall attain the same results.
We have to realize that we must establish this important key industry in Australia for the general welfare of the community. There has been a great deal of talk in regard to monopolies. Our first duty is to establish the industry here, and if later on it is found that monopolies are created, or that the manufacturers are taking undue advantage of any duty, I hope a Board of experts will be appointed to watch the effect of the operation of the Tariff, and so adjust duties that there will hecompetition from abroad if it is necessary to guarantee the full and complete protection of the consumer. Despite the strongly pronounced feeling in thisCommittee in favour of an increased duty on this item, the Minister (Mr. Greene) is not convinced that the industry requires it, and, of course, we must accept the result of his investigations with a great deal of respect; but from the assurances given inevery direction, it is clear that some further guarantee is required by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company and other companies which I hope will protect them in this industry.. In those circumstances, if the Minister -cannot see his way clear to agree to the full increase suggested by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), he should at least consent to some additional duty in view of the increased cost of production in Australia.
.- The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) based his argument upon wrong assumptions.In the first place, he ascribed the development of the steel and iron industry in the United States of America to the assistance given by the Tariff. Those who know anything about the industryare aware that both the Broken Hill works and the foundry of Hoskins and Company were started without any fiscal protection.
– But they had prohibition throughout the war.
– The industry was started before the war, but during the war, and since, they were fed on such rich cake, in theform of high profits, they are now reluctant to come back to plain bread and butter.
– How much assistance did they get from the Commonwealth in the form of bounties?
– Then let us return to the bounty system, by which everybody in the community bears his share of the burden. The enormous development of the iron and steel industry in America is due, not to Protection, but to the marvellous resources of the country and the remarkable increase in population. I answer the honorable member for Kooyong by quoting the same author as he quoted. Taussig, writing in 1909 on the subject of Protection in relation to the steel industry, said -
The Tariff was felt to need overhauling because it was believed, rightly or wrongly, to promote combinations, or, at all events, to increase the profits in great protected industries. The huge fortunes acquired in some protected industries, the Carnegie fortune most conspicuously of all, brought feeling against monopolies andtrusts to hear against the . high duties. As has already been said, the trend towards combination is . essentially a consequence of increasing large-scale production. But it has been intensified in some casesby Protection, and the profits of some trusts have been greatly swelled. The two things - . trusts and Tariff - are much associated in the public mind, and ‘hostility to the combinations has bred hostility to extreme Protection. Hence theRepublican party, in. its campaign platform of 1908. gave a . promise of revising the Tariff. .. . The doctrine was laid . down as follows: - “In all . protected legislation the true principle ofProtection is best maintained by the imposition of such duties aswillequal the difference between the cost of production at home and abroad, together witha reasonable profit to American industries.” …. Yet Tittle acumen is needed to see that, carried out consistently, itmeans -simple . prohibition and complete stoppage of trade.
Anything in the world can be . -made within a country if the producer is assured of” cost of production, together with reasonable profits.”
And he went on to quote Adam Smith as having said that grapes can be grown in a cold climate with the aid of a hot house.
– The honorable member’s quotation only confirms what the honorable member for Kooyong said.
– Does the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. James Page) desire to build up in Australia fortunes like that of Carnegie? Taussig wrote, also -
To connect high wages with the effectiveness anil productiveness oflabour; to consider whether it is worth -while todirect labour into industry where it is not affected; to reflect what it really means to. “ equalize “ a high domestic cost of production with the lower foreign cost; in fact, to reason carefully and consistently on the Tariff question, all this, unfortunately, is almost unknown. The average employer and the average labourer alike accept the familiar catchwords and fallacies. Let us stimulate employment, make demand for labour, create the <home market, equalize
C03t of production, .preserve American industries, and the American standard of living.
The latter portion of this quotation is about the only argument we have heard during the debate upon, this Tariff.
The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson )r quoted some interesting, statistics in regard to- the present prices of imported goods. The Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) made much of the argument that the low rate of exchange in France and Belgium, from which countries all our imported steel is coming at the present time, enabled those countries to sell to us at lower prices than the local’ manufacturer ca’n quote. The Minister, too, fell’ into the same error. As a matter of fact, the prices quoted by France and Belgium ever since the war have been in pounds sterling. The figures quoted by the honorable member for Corangamite to-night were correct, and showed the exact rate of exchange between here- and. London, and the prices that had to be paid by McKay and others because the Broken Hill Company could not supply them with raw material.
– Does the honorable member suggest that because the quotation is- in pounds sterling for foreign trade the existing exchange position is affected?
– I say that the prices quoted by Belgium and France were in pounds sterling.
– But that does not affect the exchange position.
– If a man buys 10 tons- of Belgian material at £10 per ton he pays £100. The price would probably be on the basis of the exchange, but the importer would have to pay the full pound’s worth.. The whole point of the argument is that the present prices are quoted on a pound sterling basis.
– If that is so, can the honorable member explain why the House of .Commons is now dealing with the- exchange position ?
– I cannot, and neither can the Minister.
– I can; it is quite clear.
– We are not fully aware of the difficulty. Last night I told the Committee that I would not consider natural protection in connexion with iron and steel, but the figures which were supplied by the honorable member for Corangamite, the authenticity of which I can guarantee, show that the natural protection increases the prices of many articles to the extent of 50 per- cent, and 60 per cent. The- present price of pig iron is £5 7s. 3d. f.o.b. The freight is £3 per ton-, and’ there is a further 8s. 3d. for insurance and exchange, making a total natural protection of £3 8s. 3d. upon material that costs. £5 7s. 3d.
– Does it cost nothing to distribute the local product in Australia?
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Foley), pointed out the position in which Western Australia would be placed, and how some honorable members are attempting, to destroy all. possibility of. establishing industries in that- State in order to give a further advantage to* the industries in their own States.. I have- not: advanced that argument,, but there is a good, deal in it, because if it is- to cost the people of Western Australia £3. 2s. 6d. to get goods from Newcastle to Fremantle, it will be cheaper to get the goods from London. The protection that is being given at the present time on these, articles amounts to about, 1,00 per cent.
– I thought it was a question of. developing the country and making it self-contained, and not of buying in the cheapest market.
– I, too, wish to see this industry developed in Australia.
– The- honorable member is going about it in a peculiar way.
– I desire to show that the statement made by Mr. Delprat before the Inter-State Commission, that his company did not require any protection or assistance from the Government, was correct. The company were prepared to establish the steel industry with n© greater assistance than was supplied by the natural resources of the country and the great facilities at their disposal.
– That is different from the statement which Mr. Delprat made to me.
– The evidence he gave before the Inter-State Commission was published, and his directors knew of it. Every shareholder in the company knew that enormous sums of reserved capital and borrowed money were being invested in this huge industry under the conditions stated by Mr. Delprat, namely, that the company wanted no protection or assistance from the Government in any shape or form.
– They knew what they were doing.
– I do not think they knew there would be in power a Government who would be so kind and considerate to them as are the present Government. The company’s works made a magnificent start ; they jumped off a spring board, and they have had a wonderfully good time.
I have here an official Government statement showing the prices of rails, fishplates, fishbolts, and dogspikes. Australian rails delivered at Port Augusta prior to the war cost £8 16s. The price in 1918 - the maximum war-time quotation - was £19 5s.; but the price today, also for delivery at Port Augusta, is still as.high as £17 15s., an increase over the pre-war price of more than 100 per cent. Similar prices in respect of fishplates are: - £11 2s. delivered at Port Augusta prior to the war; £23 5s., the highest war-period price; and £21 15s. to-day. The cost of fishbolts before the war was £21 6s. ; the maximum war-time price was £66; the price to-day is £56 10s., nearly 300 per cent. above the prewar quotation. And still there is the cry for protection ! The pre-war quotation for dogspikes was £15 16s. ; the. maximum war-time price was £40; to-day, dogspikes cost £38 10s.
– The same argument might be applied to wheat, the price of which is three times what it used to be.
– We are not asking for the protection of wheat. We are dealing with an industry which controls nearly every manufacturing activity in this country. If a manufacturer were to indent from the Old Country, say, a 200-ton line of various steel products, there would probably be more than 100 items in that indent. The Broken Hill
Company will not accept such orders except under conditions providing that the firm shall be given six months or twelve months before it can put in the machinery to make many of the minor lines which are not frequently ordered in the Australian trade. As for other lines, the Australian firm will not undertake to supply them at all. I quote the following from Hardware and, Machinery of 4th April last: -
The Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. have advised the trade that no new contracts will be accepted during the next six months, and that buyers wanting to effect forward contracts during that period should look to oversea sources. Further advice of the position of the company in regard to forward contracts is promised in May or June. C.i.f.e.- quotations for Belgian mild steel are freely made at from £13 5s. to £15 per ton, with sales at £15 10s. for immediate shipment.
That state of affairs was due to the strike. The Australian enterprise could not supply orders. I have heard recently that, in, connexion with the Morwell electrification scheme, in which there is required an enormous quantity of angle iron, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company could not quote for it. Indents have had to be, or must be, sent to the Old Country for these lines;
Has any evidence been advanced to show that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company need protection ? I hold in my hand a statement setting forth the amount of capital which has been put into that company, and indicating its net profits. For the past three years these have amounted to about £600,000 per annum. The Broken Hill Proprietary mine has been closed for a considerable time, so that all the indications are that the company has been doing remarkably well at Newcastle. It has had a very fair start, and I am glad of its prosperity, because one naturally wants to see flourishing industries in Australia. It may be argued that it does not matter much if wo add acouple of pounds a ton on items for example, such as steel bars; but I point out that they go into every blacksmith’s shop in the land, and are used by almost every Australian manufacturer. Before a manufactured product reaches its ultimate purchaser there are various additional profits to be added; and it is theman on the land, who wants to fence a holding with wire netting to keep out vermin from his crop, who has to bear the brunt of it all. The cost of wire netting has gone up by about 300 per cent. All these burdens inevitably tell on the man who is struggling to build up the primary industries of Australia.
Unless there is a possibility of Australia’s iron and steel interests being injured or, ruined, where is the call for high protection? If there were some actual menace, prompt action could be taken. There has been, a good deal of talk about dumping, but it should- not be forgotten that there has been a huge demand all over the world. There was enormous destruction during the war period, and iron and steel is wanted on every hand. There can be very little if any dumping in Australia for years to come, therefore. I invite those honorable members who have devoted themselves to this point to-day to listen to an important quotation which I am about to make, and which reveals how’ easily the Commonwealth Parliament could overcome similar difficulties. Under Article V. of the Japanese Customs Tariff Law, there is the following provision -
When important industries in Japan are threatened toy the importation of unreasonably cheap articles, or the sale of imported articles at unreasonably low prices, the Government may, under the regulations provided by Imperial Ordinance, specify such articles, after submitting the matter to investigation by the Unreasonably Cheap Sale Investigation Committee, and impose upon them during a certain fixed period of time duties not exceeding in amount their proper prices, in addition to the duties provided in. the, annexed ‘Tariff.
Then there is a following section specifying how that can be done. The whole scheme is . simple and effective.
If it were proposed to grant a bounty to the iron and steel industry again, the Minister would be under an obligation to furnish estimates informing the general public of what was involved. I have worked out certain figures showing what the rates of duties under the present schedule would mean. These estimates are taken on the basis of importations made in 1913. If we had to import the same quantity now as came in, free of duty, in that year, the imposition would amount to £68,000. In respect of ingots, blooms, and slabs - taking the same basis of comparison - the duty which we would have to pay to-day would be £27,700. On bars, bar-rods, angle-tee bars, and so on, the amount of duty which we would be called upon to furnish to-day, if we were to import the same quantity as in 1913, would be £391,000. On plate and sheet iron, upon which we paid £19,000 in. duty in 1913, and on which duties are suspended, we would have to pay £216,000 more. On those few items which I have indicated, the total amount which we would have to pay would be £704,000. If we add such lines as rails and tubes, and other items of iron and steel required in Australia - supposing that all these were manufactured here - the extra amount which the people would have to pay would be more than £2,500,000. ‘
– But the Minister mentioned an actual saving of some £7,000,000.
– And the Minister knows what he is talking about.
– I am not insinuating that the Minister does not. The honorable member for “Wakefield . (Mr. Richard Foster) realizes that these figures may reach his constituency, and he rather resents the publicity that I am giving them.
– I can answer them all.
– I have already, quoted from the Hardware Journal showing that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company advised purchasers to import their requirements.
– Then,, some one must be a robber or a liar.
– The company stated , that owing to a strike they could not supply local requirements. That statement was published, and the honorable member for Wakefield says that it is false.
– I did not sayso.
– Certain purchasers were told to indent on their own account, and goods to the extent of 7,000 tons are coming into this country. If the request of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company is acceded to, very heavy duties will have to be paid. It appears that some one has been doing a good deal of “ lobbying.”
– Is not this rather late?
– Those people who have followed the advice of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company will have to pay additional duties on the goods they have imported.
– Has not some one been “ lobbying “ on behalf of the American Steel Trust?
– I have not seen the representative of any such corporation. Has the honorable member?
– No. But, apparently, the honorable member for Dampier knows something about it.
– In the amendment I have suggested I have asked that the general Tariff rate shall stand, and that the British rate be reduced from 20s. to 15s. I cannot understand the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robet Best) opposing such a reasonable proposition.
– Is it wrong for me to suggest that some one has been “ lobbying.” on behalf of the American Steel Trust, when, apparently, it has been, done on behalf of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company?
– Representatives of that company did not interview certain individuals, but asked members of our party generally to meet them. They came in a straightforward way, as gentlemen, and asked us to support an extra duty,, to which, however, we did notconsent. It has been stated that they have promised that if these duties are imposed- they will increase wages, and possibly that may have been the means of influencing some honorable members.
– Well,. I do not believe it.
– Well, that is what one hears in the lobbies.
– That will not strengthen the honorable member’s case. It is useless making such statements, and the honorable member should realize it.
– The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), is showing his opposition to such a proposal.
– I do not believe in low wages; but we want our industries to be effective, so that we can hold the trade. I am anxious to see men paid according to what they do, because if the operatives will not produce sufficient the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) will find his Tariff proposals generally of little value.
– I went over the works, and did not see a single man who was not doing his best.
– Taking the duties suspended on the basis of 1913 importations, it means protection to the extent of over £700,000 on this item alone, and I do not believe any Government would dare to give a bounty on the same basis. If this high duty is imposed, it will fall only on one section of the community. It is all very well for the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) to appeal for- high duties-; but if they are imposed, they will not have the slightest effect upon his constituents. It is those hard and overtaxed workers in the rural areas, who are opening. up new country, and who are developing it to the best of their ability, who will have to pay the impost. If rural production is unprofitable, there will be no room for the Broken Hill Steel Works, or any such industry. We see reports in the newspapers every day that mines are being closed down,, and the imposition of. heavy duties must have a corresponding effect in the cost of working, the mines.
– Is the honorable member now in a position to give information concerning certain propaganda work?
– I have only just received my papers, and am unable to discuss the matter at this, juncture. In fact. I do.not, see how I can find an opportunity, unless on a motion for the adjournment of the House. The primary producers will have to pay the whole of the extra duty.
– Why does not the honorable member make a rational statement? Does he think the primary producer is a fool?
– If we follow the matter to its logical conclusion, we find that it is. the primary producer who is keeping our industries in operation, and without his efforts we would not have even our cities-.
– I know that; but the honorable member’s, statement is incorrect.
– Perhaps some of those who are supporting the higher duties possess only a garden tool.
– I believe in something reasonable.
– I have been endeavouring to show that practically the whole of this heavy impost will fall upon the primary producer, who is not having what can be termed a good time. I trust the Committee will absolutely refuse to increase the rates, but will support the amendment I have suggested, which does not provide for a reduction from countries outside the United Kingdom, but for a lower duty on goods coming from Great Britain.
– I desire at this stage to deal with only two points raised by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), one of which was that, because the invoices to which he referred were expressed in terms of steril- ing, that that was . sufficient proof that the exchange position between the country from which the goods were invoiced and Australia had nothing to do with the question.
– And the price that was paidfor the article.
– I am afraid I cannot follow the honorable member. The position, of course, is that the sterling price at which the invoice is drawn out is the conversion of the price in the currency of thecountry into sterling, and nothing more. It has nothing Whatever to do with the relative value of the goods as expressed in sterling here and in the country of origin. I shall endeavour to illustrate that from some figures I have before me. My authority is the United States Monthly Labour Review, dated July, 19.20, which quotes the Bureau of Labour and Statistics of the United States of America.
Mr.Hector Lamond. - Where did the Minister get that? The Library cannot supply it.
– Perhaps we obtain a lot of information that does not reach the Library. I have before me the rates of wages in March, the number of employees, the average daily’ earnings, and the various classes working in the iron and steel works in Oppeln and Silesia. In July, 1913, the average daily wage of the labourer in the steel works inGermany was2.10 marks; but the average daily wage of the labourer in the steel works in Germany to-day is 12 marks. When we convert the daily “wage of the German to-day at the current rate of exchange as between the sterling equivalent and the mark, we find that his wage is a little over11d. When these wages are expressed in marks in the value of the product itself - as they have to be eventually when they sell the product - it costs many more marks ; but when we bring the mark back into the sterling current rate, we get a lower wage, and one infinitely below that paid here for the same class of work. When we convert the 12 marks, which are paid in Germany to-day, as against the Australian Tate, which is 14s.8d., the German is being paid only11d.
– What is the exchange rate of the sovereign to-day?
– The computationsI have given are at the Tate of ‘243 marks to the £1 sterling, When we convert cost of the product in marks into sterling for invoice purposes, there is still the vast difference in the exchange between the two countries. It is true that we are not trading with Germany. We are trading with Belgium; but we get an extreme instance as between Germany and ourselves. Nevertheless, the same principle applies between Belgium and Australia, and that is why Belgian iron and steel is being quoted at a lower price than the British product. That is why, within the last week or two, England has taken action to give her Minister controlling the Customs Department the power to deal with this exchange position. America is doing the same, and We must follow suit if our industries are to be given a reasonable chance to live. I say that the fact that these invoices are quoted in sterling does not in the least alter the fact that the exchange position gives to continental countries an undue advantage, and they are at the present time quoting prices lower than British prices, and lower than our people can compete with.
– In view of the statement made by the Minister, will he not postpone the further consideration of this item, and see whether he cannot agree to increase the duty?
– No ; I want to get on.
– The honorable gentleman will not get on in that way.
– The amendment of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) only affects imports from Great Britain. It will not affect imports from Belgium or Germany.
– I think that the duties I have proposed should be agreed to.I am dealing with the argument of the honorable member for Dampier, and not with his proposed amendment.
I want to say a word or two concerning his statement that, in the interests of the primary producers, we should not protect these industries. I cannot follow the honorable member in that statement. If there is one class in this community which, more than another, suffered during the war from the exploitation of firms abroad through the tremendous prices they were charged for the goods they required, it was the primary producers. No class in this community has been exploited by importers and, in their turn, by the people in whose goods they dealt, as the primary producers have been. There is no other class either that has, by the establishment of these industries in Australia, received more relief than have the primary producers. I will give just one instance in support of this statement. Every one knows how the price of wire went up during the war. Every one knows that until this industry was started here on a big scale at Newcastle the price of wire was up in the clouds. What happened? The works at Newcastle were put up under war conditions. Their overhead charges were relatively 400 per cent. greater than those of companies that had been supplying Australia with these goods before. But when the Newcastle works got going - and I speak now of April, 1920 - they fixed the price of wire from their works at £24 10s. per ton.
– What was the price before the war?
– I am speaking of what happened during the war. I say that in April, 1920, the price of wire f.o.b. Newcastle was £24 10s. per ton.
– I paid £31 10s. per ton for it in Melbourne six weeks ago.
– I can tell the honorable member what the price was f.o.b. Newcastle, but I cannot tell him how much was added to that price by others. The f.o.b. price in England in April, 1920, was £42.
– That was f.o.b. London.
– Yes, London or Liverpool.
– Was not the price in one case for black wire, and in the other, case for galvanized wire?
– No; I am quoting prices for the same class of wire. The May price was £24 10s. f.o.b. Newcastle, and £43 10s. f.o.b. England.
– Can the honorable gentleman give the American price at that date?
– No; I have not the American prices before me. The June price was £24 10s. f.o.b. Newcastle, and £44 10s. f.o.b. England. The September price was £24 10s. f.o.b. Newcastle, and £41 10s. f.o.b. England, and so it goes on. The importers were not able to pass their price on. They had made contracts spread over a considerable period, and were getting deliveries of wire to keep their trade, and they were obliged to sell every ton of wire they imported at a loss against the Newcastle wire. I, therefore, repeat that the primary producer, at all events, has reaped a very considerable benefit from the establishment of this industry in Australia. If it had not been established, he would have been called upon to pay infinitely more than he has paid.
.- No item in the Tariff is of greater importance than that now under discussion. The way in which it is dealt with must have an effect upon every industry in Australia. I wish to justify the vote I intend to give on this item. I am sorry that, apparently, the Government have not realized the motive which has actuated the supporters of the amendment. A change, has taken place in the economic condition of the world. Since this Tariff was framed, in March of last year, many changes have taken place. To-day, in manufactures, Australia has in America a competitor that she never, had before. The American Government and people have determined to become large exporters of goods to other parts of the world. Our infant industries are not in a position to compete with
American industries that have been long established, and are able to produce at a much lower rate than we can in Australia. There is a great movement in the world at the present time for the reduction of wages, and, despite the advice of the daily press, I say that we must, at all events, maintain a high standard . of living in Australia. That is the only way in which we can insure fitting conditions for human beings in a civilized community. We must pay attention to the movement going on on the otherside of the world for the reduction of wages, and of the standard of living. If we bear that in mind, we shall understand the motive by which the supporters of the amendment are actuated. On this item I take advantage of an opportunity of which I did not avail myself in speaking on the Tariff as a whole, to point out that if it is intended that the dutied imposed in this case shall be of any benefit to the people of Australia, they must be such as will prohibit the importation of. iron and steel from any other portion of the world. I remind honorable members that shipping companies running our large ocean liners quote reduced rates of freight for steel rails, machinery, and other heavy cargo that can be shipped as stiffening cargo for their vessels. This must giveimporters of these goods a considerable advantage, which can only be met by the imposition of heavy duties upon them. I agree with honorable members who contend that the steel and iron industry is a key industry. I have followed occupations in life other than that of a member of Parliament, and I am able to inform honorable members that in the building- trade to-day iron and steel plays a part that was never thought of twenty years ago: Iron and steel structures are to-day amongst the largest items in the requirement for large buildings. The honorable, member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) has a habit of repeating statements. He has referred to a statement made by Mr. Delprat, but ignores the fact that it was made some years ago. When Mr. Delprat was giving evidence before the Public Accounts Committee in connexion with the ‘shipping inquiry, he statedthat, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company desired a protective duty on steel, believing that Tariff Protection was infinitely superior to the bounty system. The honorable member for Dampier has asserted again and again that an endeavour is being made to build up a monopoly in connexion with this industry. I recognise that there is a possibility of a monopoly being created, but should that happen, the united wisdom of the National Parliament should be able to devise the machinery necessary to cope with it. If we must handle the product of a monopoly, it is better that that monopoly should be in our own country, where we can deal with it, rather than in some other part of the world, where we can exercise no control over it. A Labour Government would not allow a monopoly to hold sway in this country for any length of time. The honorable member for Dampier and other honorable members of the Country party have referred to wire netting. Wire netting is shipped by measurement, and not by weight, and in order that it may be put into the smallest possible space, it is dumped or pressed to such an extent that the zinc used in galvanizing it is chipped off, and the netting is thus seriously damaged. Locally-made wire netting is worth considerably more than thatwhich is imported.
– I call attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– I hope the . Australian public will take this lesson to heart, and purchase locally-made wire netting, since it is more lasting than the imported article.
The Minister (Mr. Greene) in determining the duties to be imposed under this item, no doubt acted upon information supplied by officers of his Department. He seems, however, to have overlooked the fact that more than twelve monthshave elapsed since the Tariff schedule was , submitted, and that since then the conditions of labour in America and all European countries have materially altered. There seems to be a tendency, not only in America, but throughout Europe, to lower the workers’ standard of living. That will mean an interference with the distribution of the wealth of the people, and a very serious position is likely to be created. We should do nothing to hamper, our secondary industries. Our primary industries were urged to produce more and yet more, with the result that we have an abundance of wool, much of which, we cannot sell. Our farmers are likely also to have trouble in getting rid of their wheat, so that we must look to our secondary industries to keep up the standard of living in Australia.
– And yet the honorable member desires to increase” these duties, and so to increase the cost of implements and machinery used by the primary producers.
– It is far better that, our primary producers should pay for a shovel made in Australia ls. or ls. 6d. more than is asked for the imported article. The money spent in the manufacture of the Australian-made article remains in the country. It is distributed among our own people, and is helping to create a local market for the products of ourprimary producers. Our object should be, if possible, to shut out importations. When our imports are declining, Australia is making progress, but when they are increasing, I recognise that the country is being subjected to a strain which, having regard to our war debt, it cannot bear. Our object should be to reduce our imports and to increase our exports. Australia will suffer if she continues to import on the present large scale. We are told that the reason for the increase in imports is that delivery is now being made under many contracts entered into during the “ar; but the fact that we arc importing so largely clearly shows that our Tariff is not sufficiently protective. It ought not to be necessary for us to import iron and steel ; we have here the raw material to produce the finest steel and iron. Experts told the Committee of Public Accounts that the locally-made plate and angle iron used in the ships that we constructed in Australia was better than any that could be imported. That is the opinion of experts, and not merely of members of the party to which I belong. These experts were brought from overseas in the war period to assist in establishing the shipbuilding industry here, and that was the conclusion at which they arrived in regard to the merits of our iron and steel.
There is no justification for the idea that the imposition of the additional duties necessarily means an increase in prices; but, even if it did, and it was necessary in order to maintain wages and our present standard of living, it would have my support. I can remember the day when we .were told by gentlemen with Free Trade proclivities that cheap labour was the salvation of the country; indeed, they would almost have led us to believe, that we must .sink to the standards of China and Japan. This, however, I am convinced, Australians are “not prepared to concede. When I reached manhood, and could think for myself, I’ saw the fallacy of ideas of the kind, and I earnestly urge on the Government to remember that this industry i’s necessary to our defence and our commercial prosperity. We are an island continent, and, sooner or later, as Australia develops and population increases, our coastal shipping service will be of some magnitude. And when I realize how essential this industry is to us, I feel that I must do something to make the importation of iron and steel impossible. _ If we had to import the raw materials for the industry, I might take a different view; but we know that Australia abounds in all that is necessary for the production of the finest iron and steel in the world. The experts to whom I have referred have no doubt as to the quality of our iron and steel, and they have expressed the further opinion that Australian workmanship cannot be excelled, while production is cheaper here than in England or America.
With all these facts $ before me, I should be a traitor and a renegade if I did not urge the Government to reconsider their attitude in regard to this item. There would be no more wrong .in the Government acting on that suggestion than there would be in the Free Traders of the House submitting themselves to an intellectual readjustment before voting on the question before us. The Government ought to try to bring their supporters together in view of the importance of this industry. It grieved me very, much to hear it suggested to-night by an honorable member that the smaller States were being asked to pay for the advancement of the State from which I come. That is a deplorable spirit to be exhibited on such an occasion; it is a spirit which was not found in New South Wales when the majority of the people there voted for a united Australia, so that the rest of the country might share in her prosperity. We on this side of the House always display a national spirit in dealing with public questions, and I hope that, we shall hear no further references of the kind to which I refer. If one State of Australia is making’ progress, that must tend to the progress. pf every other State; and sp, if it State is not doing so well as others, the position can be improved by the display of the proper spirit. There is no doubt that the iron and steel industry is the key to all. the other industries, whether printing, building, engineering, or ship construction. Much of the opposition to the amendment comes from the representatives of the primary’ producers; but I remind those gentlemen that if the secondary industries are not able to maintain a high standard of living, primary producers will suffer to a greater extent than they now imagine. I am given to understand that the amendment, if agreed to, might affect other items in the schedule; but I presume the Government are able to safeguard themselves in this respect. I should not be speaking at this length if I did not feel that this i3 the most important question that can come before us in this Tariff discussion. The employment of labour involved is something enormous. Messrs. Hoskins Brothers, at Lithgow, are one of the largest payers of freight that the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales have. Every day they run a train made up of forty trucks. Then they. have transport from Mudgee, and, further, there is the sending of their finished materials to Sydney and elsewhere.
– I draw attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– Again, at Newcastle we have the works of the Broken Hill Company. These works not only give an immense amount of employment locally, but keep going an iron mine in South Australia, and a vessel which trades regularly between that State and Newcastle. The ramifications of this industry are paralyzing, and its benefits are widespread. Round about Newcastle there are no empty houses for miles, and rents have gone up enormously. Shopkeepers, clergymen, hotelkeepers, newspaper proprietors and many others owe their in comes to the trade which it causes. What we desire is that Parliament shall meet the circumstances of the day, and keep an eye on the future. This is the duty of statesmen. We need to take a long vision. The amendment before the Committee is much more important than were the proposals of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), many of which were as useless as a mustard plaster on a wooden leg for the cure of a cold.
I was told by a doctor the other day that I might expect to live for another thirty years, and I guarantee that thirty years hence the people of Australia who meet me will tell me what a great work I did in advocating the increase of these duties. Those who vote for the amendment will not be sorry for doing so, and those who vote against it will regret that they did not take the advice of the honorable member for East Sydney. Some of my friends who live in country districts have not had so good an opportunity as I have had to travel and broaden their minds. I should like them to avail themselves of the benefits of my experience, and take my words to heart. If they do, they will accept the amendment in a broad national spirit. I was brought up in my early days to believe that Free Trade was a godsend, but I was converted at the age of seventeen or eighteen. When I came out to New Zealand and Australia, and saw men walking about the streets with nothing to do, while locomotives and other manufactured articles were being landed on the wharfs, I thought “ I will do something for this country by starting the idea that it ought to produce what it needs for its own requirements.” It is remarkable how this Tariff has gone through up to the present. Twenty years ago, in our State Parliaments, such a thing would never have been thought possible. It only goes to show the great change that has taken place in Australian sentiment. I am inclined to think that a great deal of this is due to the system of public school education. Of course, in those days, when Australia was divided into petty States, the people had a very limited idea of national life, but when the Commonwealth was inaugurated the people stepped on to the broad path of nationhood, the Australian spirit and sentiment began to grow, and we accepted our responsibilities as a nation. Among those responsibilities is the employment ofour own people and the utilization in the best interests of the people ofour raw materials.
– I call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– If any item can be quoted to show the real intention of a Tariff, it is this one. I shall always endeavour to go even as far as prohibition in dealing with the importation of articles produced by industries which are in the same position as the iron industry. Not one of those who have opposed the amendment has endeavoured to show that the industry is not essential to Australian progress. It is pure imagination to say that an increase of £1 per ton in the duty would increase the price of the iron by £1 per ton.
– If you had to write out your cheque for £50 or £60 extra for a reaper and binder, you would find that it was not a difference of £1.
– In New Zealand, under Free Trade, the reaper and binder is dearer than in Australia. If the primary producer has to pay 10 per cent. more for his. reaper and binder which is produced in Australia, he has the satisfaction of knowing , that the money he has spent will be circulated in Australia, with the almost certain result of enabling those who require the commodities he produces to pay for them at decent wages. We must do something to keep our industries at a high standard, so far as wages are concerned. If we do not, the primary producer will get no returns, and his land and stock will go down in value.
– It has gone down in value.
– The honorable member should support the amendment, because with the changes which have taken place in other parts of the world, and the possibility of a lower standard of industrial conditions to which I hope Australians will never submit, there is a great danger to our local industry.
– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum
– I do not think that the Minister has considered this question as’ seriously as he, should do. I do not know of any item in the Tariff that affects so many people as does the one we are now considering. The people are expecting a great deal of assistance from this Tariff. A large revenue from Customs duties is no evidence of the prosperity of a country. On the contrary, a Tariff which reduces importation to a minimum is the one that makes the country progress. We cannot pay our way if importations continue on’ the present large scale. One of our greatest troubles is that we are receiving too much revenue from Customs duties, and are thereby extracting from the people in the humbler walks of life a greater amount of taxation than they should be required to pay. Most of the articles from which Customs revenue is derived are necessaries, and, therefore, every individual in the community contributes to this form of taxation.
I do not wish to further detain the Committee, but I know that when my friends read my remarks this evening, they will congratulate me upon my statesman -like view of the Tariff in its relation to the great iron and steel industry. I have no personal interest, commercially or politically, in this industry. I hope that the energies of Australianswill be devoted to something more than tilling the ground, drawing water, or humping wood. No country has done well which has not a high standard of wages, or which has not provided ample employment for its people in industries. No greater duty or responsibility rests on a National Parliament than to provide that employment for the people of the country. It is a pleasure to honorable members when, at the conclusion of theirduties, they pass among their constituents to realize that, as a result of what they have done here, the people are fully engaged in producing wealth for the community at large.
Motion (by leave) (by Sir Joseph Cook) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 11.30 . a.m. to-morrow.
House adjourned at 11,5 p.m.
Chanter) took the chair at 11.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) agreed to-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next at 3 o’clock p.m.
– It is my melancholy duty to intimate to the House that Mr. James Page, one of our most respected and best beloved members, died this morning. The news comes like a bolt from the blue, and gave me the greatest possible sense of shock when it was told me. Happenings like this cause wonder as to what life may have in store for us. To see a man stricken down at the height of his power and in the plenitude of robust health gives us pause, and makes us realize how slender, after all, is our hold upon life and its opportunities. Edmund Burke; speaking in the House of Commons on an occasion like that on which we are met here this morning, in language far better than that in which I can clothe my thoughts, said of a deceased member-
The worthy gentleman who has been snatched from us at the moment of the election and in the middle of a contest, while his desires were as warm and his hopes as eager as ours, has fittingly told us what shadows we are and what shadows we pursue.
There can be but one sentiment in this chamber to-day, that of unfeigned sorrow for what has occurred. ‘ Mr. Page was without a single enemy. At the height of our most bitter controversies we always felt a deep respect for the man who is no longer with us. I am not sure that I did not like him best in his moments of excitement. He was ‘ a man who loved his country intensely, and loved his fellowmen, serving them with every atom of .his strength and with the whole devotion of his mind. There are few finer characters than that of Jim Page.
In one sense we can scarcely be sorry for him. He lived a full, well-rounded, useful life, serving his country in almost every possible sphere of activity. As a citizen he built up for himself a character for good repute, and won material success ; but never for a moment did he forget those less fortunate than himself. He served his country not only in the paths of peace, but also upon the battle-field. We all know something - of his career as a member of this House. It is that by which he is remembered best. I was a comrade of his for twenty years, and I do not remember a time when I had not the greatest respect, esteem, and good-will for him ; I am sure every other honorable member felt in the same way towards him. All we can do this morning is to bow our heads in the presence of this mystery, and bow our wills to a higher will, hoping, as I believe most profoundly that, although he has passed to “where beyond these voices there is peace,” he still lives on, to do useful work in some other and better sphere. ‘ I move -
That this House records its sincere regret at the death of the honorable member for Maranoa, the Hon. James Page, who was a member of this House since the inauguration of the Parliament; and expresses its appreciation of the zeal with’ which he devoted himself to his public duties, and its profound sympathy with his bereaved family in their great sorrow.
.- I rise to second the motion of the Acting. Prime Minister, and to indorse his remarks about our deceased friend and comrade. It falls to my lot to express the profound regret, not only of his own colleagues, the members of the Commonwealth Labour party, but of all the State Labour parties and of the whole Labour movement throughout Australia. He was a close personal friend of mine for many years, and I mourn his loss as’ that of a very dear comrade, .who stood by me in many a hard-fought fight. We all know that Mr. Page was a staunch battler for Labour from its earliest days, and took a large part in blazing the track which led to its success in many spheres. As the Acting Prime Minister has said, he held the respect not only of his supporters but also of his opponents, because he was a fair fighter, and always played the game. It is but a few hours since he was with us, bright, cheerful, and full of fight. Yesterday afternoon, when an adjournment motion was spoken of, he interjected, “ I will give you an adjournment to-morrow.” He has given it to us, Mr. Deputy Speaker! Such happenings as this should incline us to: think more kindly and generously of one another in political life. - The suddenmess of his death makes us realize what frail creatures we are ; it should certainly make lis feel humble when we are shown how, truly, in the midst of life we are in death. Words fail to adequately express my feelings on this occasion, and I content myself with extending my sympathy to his son and other relatives in their bereavement.
.- It is with the deepest regret that I rise to support the motion moved by the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook). Although I have not been many years in this House, I have been here long enough to greatly appreciate the qualities of our departed friend. I think I am speaking not only for every member of the Country party, but for every honorable member of the House, when I say we admired his wonderful spirits, jovial nature, and yet earnest devotion to the principles he espoused. As the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has said, the late member, though a great fighter, was always a fair one. The news we have received this morning is tragic and astounding. Mr. Page was here with us yesterday full of life and vigour, and to-day we know that he is no more. I must content myself with, in a somewhat feeble manner, indorsing the remarks of those who have preceded me, in the hope that our words may bring some comfort to those whom our deceased friend has left behind.
.- Aa the only representative in this House of the Industrial Labour party, I desire to co-operate in extending our sympathy to the friends and relatives of our late comrade. My acquaintance with him was not of very long standing ; but, regarding him as both friend and colleague, I cannot adequately express my sorrow at the loss we have sustained. I join with the representatives of the various parties here in extending our sympathy to the late member’s relatives and friends, and in expressing .the great loss occasioned by his tragic death.
– I entered this House at the same time as the late, member did, as a member of the same party, and from the same Sta’te, and the House will bear with me while I say a few words in reference to his tragic death. The late member and myself have not always followed the same political lines, but I am pleased to say that the friendship between us was never disturbed on that account. We remained the best of friends, and, indeed, it would have been difficult for any man to quarrel with James Page. As I know from experience, he was a nian ever ready to extend help where it was needed. In my mind’s eye, I see him sitting opposite as he did yesterday, full of life and vigour ; no one could for a. moment have anticipated that the hand. of the grim reaper was so shortly to be placed upon him. To say that I specially regret his death is but to very inadequately express my feelings; and I can only, as one who knew the deceased gentleman intimately, give my support to the motion submitted by the Acting Prime Minister. We cannot but feel somewhat pleased that we did not resolve on an all-night sitting yesterday, for otherwise we might, for the second time, have had a tragedy within the walls of this chamber. ‘ My regret is deep and sincere at the death of a man for whom I had the greatest possible respect, and between whom and myself there was a friendship which nothing could break. Mr. Page recently suffered a great bereavement in the loss of a sister, to whom he was greatly attached, and I think that that occurrence may, perhaps, have had its share in precipitating the sad occurrence of last night.
.- May I be permitted to indorse the sentiments expressed by previous speakers. From the time I entered, this House, I knew Mr. Page, both as colleague and as close friend; and I remember the good advice and valuable assistance he. was ever ready to give me. I always admired Mr. Page for his big-heartedness Whatever differences of opinion there may be from time to time in connexion with the performance of our duties, no one was quicker to forget and forgive than our late friend. He was full of the milk of human kindness, always generous in his endeavours to assist others; indeed, it seems to me that he lived to better the lot of all with, whom he came in contact. Mr. Page lived a useful, political life, both State and Commonwealth. He worked in the interests of the community ; and whatever our political feelings may be, we respect a man who has the courage of his opinions, and is prepared to stand by them, irrespective of consequences., I do not think we could have a man of finer character than the late Mr. Page. Like other public representatives, I have in my time met many men whom I admire, but I can say, without the slightest hesitation, that no man stands higher in my estimation than did the late James Page. As a friend, I shall certainly miss him while I -remain here, and I think he will be missed by all honorable members. I remember how full of life and fight he was last night, when an all-night sitting was anticipated. I am glad that an all-night sitting did not occur; and I venture to express the hope that we shall, as far as possible, dispense with such sittings as very trying to the health. As I have said, our deceased friend last evening was full of fight, and said to me, “ Charlton, I will be with you until tomorrow ; I w’ill see you through as far as this fight is concerned,” plainly showing that at that time, so far as he knew, his health was all that might be desired, and that he was anxious to continue here and do his duty in this Chamber. Then to get the startling news this morning that he had been found dead in his bed was a blow to every one of us, a shock which none of us expected to .receive. I realize the great loss that his death will be to our movement, and how difficult it is to replace a man of his calibre. I extend my sincerest sympathy to his relatives and friends in the great bereavement which they have sustained.
.- I trust the House will bear with me while
I say a few words in tribute to the memory of one of my oldest friends. The late honorable member was a friend of mine for more than thirty years, and it was a terrible shock to me this morning to hear from the Acting Prime Minister that he was dead. It is impossible even now for me to realize that it is true. I can only regard it as a mysterious visitation qf the beneficent Deity, when I remember that I was sitting alongside him last night about
II o’clock, he being full of health, spirits, hope, and brightness. The news this morning is one of the most dreadful calamities to me, as it must be to every member of the House, and I venture to say to the whole of the people of Australia. When I first met our good friend he was then,. I think, a shearer, and I was a struggling squatter in the far NorthWest of Queensland. In those days I had pushed sheep out beyond what were then considered the bounds of civilization, and it was a favour to get shearers to come and shear sheep’ so far out. The late honorable member and myself were always friends from the boginning. 1 can remember the first great shearing strike taking place just thirty years ago, and the second shearers’ strike in 1894. This much I will say, that, whatever side men fought on in .that, struggle, they fought as men and as gentlemen When I mention that the late Mr. Page was one of the leaders of the shearers, and that Senator Fairbairn was one of the three leaders of the squatters - the “ Triumvirate “ as they were called - in those days, honorable members will realize the truth of what I say when I apply the words of the good old Book - “ There were giants in those days.” That struggle was fought out without the slightest bitterness .on either side, and possibly that circumstance was largely due to the presence of such men a3 Mr. Page. I recall, also, the first Federal election, at which Mr. Page was a candidate. Although he was opposed by a well-known squatter, I was one of those who supported him even in those early days. After that election, inspired by whom I do not know, some articles antagonistic to him were published in the local paper, and I am glad to think that I wrote, to the Western Champion at Barcaldine and told my friends there that in my opinion Mr. James Page was, amongst all the members of the House, the best supporter of the whole of the people who lived in the western parts of Queensland. I could say much more about my old friendship with him. For sixteen years, during the life of this Parliament before I had the honour of being returned, whenever I desired to come to this Chamber, the only man to whom I ever sent my card was our late’ lamented friend. I have always looked upon him as my greatest friend, an.d as the best representative for the last twenty years that the people who live far back, away from the benefits, the amenities, and delights of city civilization, have ever had in this House. I desire to join in this tribute to the memory of one of my oldest friends, and one’ of the bravest and most loyal men that the Empire has ever known.
.- I wish to add my tribute to the memory of my mate, Jim Page. Open-hearted and big, physically and mentally, reminiscent of the western plains which he loved so well, there was never a man downandout in. the west of Queensland who sought his assistance in vain. . No matter whose the quarrel, no matter whose the fight, Jim Page could always be found on the side of the man on the lowest rung of the ladder. He pioneered the fights of the Australian Workers Union in Western Queensland ; he pioneered the fights of the Australian Labour party; and he was known and loved, particularly out there, but also generally throughout the length and breadth of the land. He was one of the big men of Australia, and one whom we could ill afford to lose. He was cheery of disposition, and intensely loved a practical joke. He was the life of our party, and he loved to come into the room and get three or four of us to join him in singing one of the many songs for which he is responsible. It was only last night that he began to sing one of.them as he sat on the front seat on this side, but when you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, looked at him, he at once desisted. There was no fun in which he would not join. He was like a big school boy coming into our room - always good tempered, and we can ill afford to lose him. The Australian Workers Union, the Australian Labour party, and the nation generally will find it, indeed, hard to replace Jim Page.
.- May I, as one of the few remaining original members of this Chamber, be allowed also to add my word of tribute to the memory of the late honorable member for Maranoa? He has been through all these years a very intimate personal friend of mine, and I feel his loss most deeply. To me he was always the beau ideal of those who have come from the Old Land to help to build up the fortunes of Australia. He started at the very bottom, and worked Himself up, by sheer force of character and the admiration of those with whom he came in contact, into the high and honorable position in which death found him. He always lived a strenuous life, and the manner of his death is probably the one which he would have desired. There have been many who have already entered this Chamber and have left it for one reasonor another. Many more will yet come, but I feel sure there will never enter within its walls a finer type of man than Jim Page.
.- As one who, perhaps, knew our late friend more intimately than many other honorable members, I should like to. add my tribute in support of the motion. I think the best side of his character was the’ fact that while he forgot the unpleasant things done to him, he never forgot those who did him a kindness. It may be said of him that he was a person brimful of humanity. He always stood out for a fair deal. He had many fights, but no enemies. For many years, our departed comrade discharged the onerous duties of the office of Whip of our party. How arduous and exacting those duties frequently are none can better testify than one who, like myself, has undertaken them. He appliedhimself to their discharge with the utmost zeal and efficiency, and with the same warm-hearted enthusiasm he devoted to every aim of the great cause he loved so faithfully and served so well. God rest his soul!
– Before putting the motion I should like to add a few words as a tribute of sorrow on my own behalf and on behalf of the staff of this Parliament at the great loss we have sustained in the death of the honorable member for Maranoa. I had known him ever since he became a member of this House. I had been associated with him politically in many ways and had always found him, as has been said by honorable members to-day, a man of most generous impulses, and with a big heart. It is only two days since he came to me in this chamber, and with tears in his voice offered me his sincerest sympathy in the bereavement which’ I have recently suffered. My heart went out to him more than ever then, as it had on other occasions when he tendered me his sympathy in formerbereavements. I say, in all sincerity, that no ona deplores his low more than I do, and I hope that bis relatives may. be given the strength to bear the great load of sorrow which the Almighty has placed upon thom*
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Sir Joseph Cook) agreed to-
That Mr. Deputy Speaker be requested to transmit to the relatives the foregoing resolution and a copy of the speeches < delivered thereon.
House adjourned at 12.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 June 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210602_reps_8_95/>.