8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr.Deputy Speaker (Hon. J.M. Chanter) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriationstate the attitude of the War Service Homes Commissioner towards occupants of War Service homes who are temporarily embarrassed owing tosickness or other causes, and thus unable to meet their obligations for the moment? In some cases, men so situated are receiving from the Department seven days’ notice that they must pay their rent or go out.
– Under the law, no returned soldier can receive seven days’ notice to vacate his home. The law forbids any action being taken against any soldier in default until three months have expired, and then it is the practice of the Department to give at least three notices. Under those circumstances no case of hardship is likely to occur. However, I assure the honorable member that when it is made known to the Department that anyperson, owing to adverse circum stances, such as ill-health, is temporarily unable to meet his obligations, no drastic action will be taken against him.
– I lay on the table thereports of the Public Works Committee, together with the minutes of evidence, on proposals for the construction of a telephone trunk line between Brisbane and Sydney, for the erection of Ordnance and other Defence buildings at Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, and for the es- tablishment of automatic telephone exchanges at AlbionandNewmarket, Brisbane.
Ordered to be printed.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Northern Territory - Report of the Acting Administrator, 1919-20.
Reparation Terms accepted by Germany - Telegraphic summary of.
Ordered to be printed.
War Service Homes Act-Land acquired under, in New South Wales, at -
Granville, Greenwich, Waratah (2), Yass.
– I ask the Post master-General whether this statement, which appears in to-day’s Age, is correct - it is a portion of the evidence of the manager of Metal Manufactures Limited, Port Kembla, given before a Select Committee in New South Wales -
In view of recent official statements that telephone orders had been held up owing to a look of supplies of copper wire, witnesssurprised the Committee by stating that hie firm manufactured 100 tons of copper wire a month, and that the Department used about 500 tone a year. They could give them 1,200 ton a year. They had written to the Department in Melbourne, and had circularized the Deputy Postmasters-General in each State that they would be glad of orders,
If so, will the right honorable gentleman take stepsto securean ample supply of material, and carry out works, some of which have been held up for four years owing to lack of material - works such as the North Coast metallic circuit?
– I shall make inquiries about the statement in the Age, which I have not yet seen. The Departmenthas already anticipated practically the whole of the vote for next year in ordering material so that it may be ready for use.
– (By leave.) - The Government have concluded a new Tasmanian mail contract. “We have been in negotiation for some time past with the shipping companies concerned, and it has not been easy to secure an agreement.
– Does the new contract effect any economy?
– If economy means lower prices there is no economy in sight in connexion with this agreement as in connexion with most other contracts to perform services for the Government.
– Even the Age is dearer now than it was last month.
– Our negotiations have been with representatives of Messrs. Huddart Parker and the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, those companies arranging in combination for the service. Having investigated their figures, having seen their books, and having made as thorough an examination of the case as we could, we have satisfied ourselves that even with an increased subsidy the service will be run without a profit. It seems extraordinary that with a subsidy twice that paid under the pre-war contract, no profit will be made by the companies, but having in- . vestigated the whole of the figures, I feel certain that the service will be carried out without profit. That is not an exaggeration; my statement is a result of careful deliberation, and is under the mark. The companies would prefer to have no mail contract, but the Government has persuaded them to accept a subsidy for the continuance of the mail service. They would prefer to run their steamers without being tied down to the conditions of a mail contract, managing the service according to circumstances, and to the greatest commercial advantage. However, Ministers felt that Tasmania has the same right to a direct and frequent mail service as any other State, and we have taken the steps necessary to secure it to the people of that State. I regret that the new steamer which was ordered during the war is not to be employed to give a better service than there was before; as in the case of the Orient mail contract, we must be satisfied in these days with a service not better than the pre-war service. I hope that conditions may soon so change that we may increase these facilities, and give the people the better services to which they are enti tled. The war is still over all these matters, not only in the direction of increasing the cost, but in multiplying the difficulties of conducting these businesses. The companies would have preferred to have nothing to do with the mail contract. They would rather have carried our mails on the poundage system, and have used their boats with a view to obtaining the best commercial advantages available. It is our duty, however, to try - as we have endeavoured to do in the past - to secure a service for Tasmania conducted with such ships as are capable of coping with the passenger traffic and of maintaining a good speed. With the present rates for fares and freights, the difference between the earnings and the running costs of the ships was so great that it could not be met wholly by an increased mail subsidy. It has been agreed, accordingly, that the rates for freight shall be raised by 2s. 6d. per ton - which is 162/3 per cent. - while the fares will be increased by 20 per cent. These increases make the rates approximately the same as those now existing in respect of the Australian coastal shipping services generally. The companies will have the right to review the rates of fares and freights after six months; but any further increase must be approved by the Postmaster-General. We cannot get them to agree to the subsidy without that right of review after having given the contract a test. I said, in my opening remarks, that the firms were likely to make no profit. I will say now that they are facing a distinct loss.
– Will the Government claim the same right of review?
– I understand so. The old contract provided for a mail subsidy of £15,000 per annum when the Nairana was brought into use. Under the agreement now to be made, the mail subsidy will be increased to £30,000. The contract will provide for a service of three trips a week between Melbourne and
Launceston for seven months of the year, and for two trips a week for the remaining five months. Between Melbourne, Burnie, and Devonport there will be two trips a week throughout the year. The contract will be for a period of twelve months, and will be continued thereafter subject to either party having the right to give twelve months’ notice of its termination. I take this earliest opportunity of making the House acquainted with the terms of the contract, which were concluded only yesterday. The whole matter will be submitted to Parliament later.
(by leave). - This is a very important matter, and I sincerely hope the House will be given the fullest opportunity of discussing it.
– The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Wise) will give notice to that end at once.
– I am gratified to hear, it. The change in the contract is very drastic, seeing that the amount of the subsidy to be paid is to be doubled, and that there is provision also for increased passenger fares and freights. The Acting Prime Minister pointed out, of course, that those increases would be in accordance with the rates now prevailing along the Australian coast. But in fully discussing the whole subject it will be the duty of honorable members to see that the best interests of the whole of the people of Australia are conserved.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether, in connexion with the resumption of work at Cockatoo Island, the Government are setting out to get work done and to pay wages therefor, or whether they are proceeding to pay wages and to find work as a reason for the payment.
– The Government are setting out to put the whole business under the best management possible, giving as free a hand as may be conceded in the discharge of the work carried on at the Dockyard.
– Have they not had a very free hand there in the past?
– Yes, that has been my trouble - too free a hand, indeed, for my finances.
– Does not the Acting Prime Minister think he should wait, before making comments like that, until he has had our report?
– The honorable member wants work to be begun at Cockatoo Island, and I have been asked to describe the conditions under which it will be begun. It will be begun, and continued, I hope, within the terms under which the Board of business men has been set up. I invite the attention of honorable members to those terms. As for the personnel of the Board, which is to control all future operations at the Dockyard, the chairman will be Mr. Farquhar, formerly of Walkers Limited, Queensland. His colleagues will be Mr. Aird, of Melbourne, and Mr. Brown, late of the Prime Minister’s Department.
– Do the Government propose to give this House an opportunity to discuss the report of the Commission ?
– I have received only an interim report.
– I refer to the final report.
– There are also some features in connexion with the appointment and powers of the Board which Parliament should have an opportunity to discuss before that phase of the matter is completed.
– To that comment also my remark is, “ Yes.” All that the interim report recommends is the completion of the two boats at Cockatoo : and, with respect to the conclusion of those jobs, there can be no controversy. The vessels should be finished at the earliest possible moment.
– I call the attention of Acting Prime Minister to the fact that the mail contract in connexion with the Lord Howe andNorfolk Islands and New Hebrides must be renewed in July. Since there is no one in this House but myself who has any idea of the terms of that contract and of what is generally involved, I ask whether, before anything is done in the matter of renewing the contract, I shall be given an opportunity of discussing the whole subject. The subsidy amounts to something like £12,000 for the conveyance of mails to and from the three island groups.
– I invite the honorable member to put his question on the business-paper, and to address it to the Postmaster-General.
– I have already done so, and have got the usual Ministerial reply, which nobody can understand.
Manufacture of Cardigan Jackets
– In the course of the opening debate upon the Tariff the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) made certain statements in which he referred to the inability of Free Trade England to supply cardigan jackets to the troops. Later, I read a statement which was ridiculed by some honorable members. I have now a copy of a letter from the War Office, and, if I am permitted to read it, I will ask the Minister a question thereon.
– The honorable member is evidently dealing with something that arose in the Committee of Ways and Means, and I think he had better defer the matter until the Committee resumes.
– Very well. I wish now to hand to the Minister for Trade and Customs a copy of a letter and statement of receipts and issues by the War Office, and to ask him if he will give these papers consideration, and either confirm or withdraw the statement which he previously made in connexion with this matter.
– Yes. I will.
Upper Burnett Lands - Soldier Settlement in New* South Waxes.
– I ask the Assistant Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Rodgers), whether he will kindly give the House and the country the benefit of the opinion he has formed of the Upper Burnett country in Queensland from a closer settlement point of view, as the result of his recent visit of inspection:
– I have recently had an opportunity of visiting the vast stretch of rich and fertile country referred to in company with the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), and General Sir Thomas William Glasgow. I should like time to give a considered opinion on the Upper Burnett area, which, unquestionably, has few equals in the Commonwealth for extent and fertility of soil, and readiness for settlement. Its settlement by returned soldiers is a proposition well worthy of consideration. I defer any further comment upon it.
– Is the Assistant Minister for Repatriation aware that for two or three years quite a number of people have been waiting for payment for lands purchased for returned soldiers in New South Wales, and that they have been repeatedly told by the Under-Secretary for Lands in New South Wales that they cannot be paid or the purchases be finalized until money is provided for the purpose? Is the honorable gentleman aware that in a number of these cases great inconvenience and loss has been caused, and will he state what steps he proposes to take to finalize them?
– I regret to say that complaints of the nature referred to by the honorable gentleman have reached the Department of Repatriation. I cannot personally accept responsibility for the condition of affairs of which the honorable member complains, nor can the Commonwealth Government. I stated yesterday, and now repeat, that the Commonwealth Government made provision for, and this Parliament approved of, an. allocation of £4,000,000 for soldier land settlement in New South Wales. The Treasurer has since supplemented that amount by a further grant of £250,000. .
– The Government gave Victoria £1.,000,000 more than it gave New South Wales last year.
– Speaking from memory, I do not think that there is one fully certified account for land settlement in New South Wales that has not been met by the Commonwealth Government.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has his attention been directed to the statement made by a professor of the West Australian University, as follows : - “ In a mathematical examination paper only three out of seventy-six University students tackled the problem of computing the Federal tax on an income. All three were incorrect.” What steps, if any, are being taken to simplify the forms of taxation used by the Commonwealth?
– It is said that in considering a problem the first thing to do is to define terms. How are we to interpret the statement of this West Australian professor? Is it a reflection on the teaching of mathematics in Western Australia ?
– I guess it is a reflection on Mr. Knibbs’ curves.
– My answer must be that my attention has not previously been drawn to the statement referred to. I have, however, now seen the statement which was made to the Royal Commission on Taxation. One of the matters referred to the Commission was to inquireinto and report upon “The simplification of the duties of taxpayers in relation to returns and in relation to objections and appeals.” The report of the Commission has not yet been received by the Government, but I hope that this is one of the matters which we shall soon be able to clear up.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government that Australia should be represented at the Empire Conference of Agriculturists to he held in London on 14th and l5th July next?
– I have no information whatever on this matter.
Consideration resumed from 9th June (vide page 8970) :
DIVISION VI. - METALS AND MACHINERY.
Motive power, engine combination’s, and power connexions are dutiable under their respective headings when not integral parts of machines, machinery, or machine tools.
Wire netting, per ton, British, 68s.; intermediate,85s.; general, 105s.
Upon which Mr. Gregory had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added : - “ And on and after 10th June, 1921, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 10 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.”
.- I should like to be permitted to amend my amendment. I wish to make it operative as from the 31st July, 1921. Wire netting is essential for the settlement of new land, and I think that it should be admitted free. In my. view, the industry established here should be protected by a bounty. If the amendment in the form in which I now wish to submit it is agreed to, the Government will be given ample time - a couple of months - in which to introduce legislation in connexion with Tariff reform, and make provision for a bounty for the wire-netting industry. I think that until the 31st of July the duty proposed in this Tariff should remain in force, and that after that date wire netting should be free under the British preferential Tariff, and there might be a small duty against continental or other wire netting. The demand by members of all parties is for greater production, and that can only be brought about by a better use of lands already occupied, or the opening up of new lands. In the opening up of new areas, particularly in remote districts, wire netting is an absolute necessity for the protection of sheep from dingoes and the protection of crops and cereals from rabbits. No one would consider for a moment the opening up of a new sheep station in any of the remote districts of Australia without making provision for wire netting. I remember that, nine or ten years ago, with another, I was opening up some 6,000 acres of land, and we had to put rabbit-proof fencing around the whole area. The cost was then from £57 to £58 per mile, including posts and ordinary barbed wire, as well as wire netting. We need not worry much about the barbed wire, although it forms an essential part of fencing against vermin, because the cost is small in comparison with the cost of wire netting. A vermin-proof fence at the time I refer to cost anything from £57 to £60 per mile. It is idle for honorable members to talk about dumping when the price of wire netting to-day is more than 200 per cent, higher than its pre-war price. This article must be used extensively if we are to develop the resources of Australia, and yet the Government ask that a duty shall be imposed upon it. I admit that if they will not grant a bonus to encourage its production, there is no justification, in view of the duties which have been imposed upon iron, steel, and wire, in leaving it without some measure of Protection. To do so would be grossly unfair to those who are engaged in its manufacture, and who will be compelled to pay duties upon the iron and steel which they use in their operations. But if the conditions obtained to-day, under which the iron and steel industry was established in Australia, there would be no excuse for protecting wire netting. We have in power at the present time a Government whose members pretend that they are desirous of fostering production in this country, and yet they bring forward a proposal to levy a heavy duty upon this very necessary commodity.
– Does the honorable member know that, based upon present prices, the duty proposed in this schedule is less than that which was imposed under the old Tariff ? The duty upon wire netting to-day is less than the duty which was collected for some years.
– The honorable member for Dampier has bad luck with his statements.
– I have nothing of the sort. The statements which have been prepared for me are just as complete as any which come from the Department of Trade and Customs.
– What was the old duty?
– The old duty was, British, free; general, 10 per cent.;but I am under the impression that at a later stage it was increased to 15 under the British preferential Tariff and 20 per cent, under the general Tariff. I know that the duty collected uponwire netting in 1913 amounted to only £123, while with the same importation to-day the duty would be £75,424.
– From the stand-point of the value of wire netting to-day, how does the duty now proposed compare with the duty which was levied prior to the war?
– I have said that, based upon present prices, the duty now proposed is less than was the old duty.
– The Minister said that later. His first statement was that the duty was lower.
-No. The honorable member should point out that the present duty is lower than was the old duty.
-Per mile of netting?
-Certainly not. I do not intend to institute a comparison between a free and a 10 per cent, duty, when wire netting cost £50 per mile, as it did in 1913, and the duty which is now proposed, when that article is costing £100 to £150 per mile. I regard the importation of wire netting as of very great importance to our agricultural and pastoral production. The Government have recently incurred an enormous expenditure in sending agents to England for the purpose of attracting desirable immigrants to Australia, and an intense anxiety has been exhibited to secure English reservists, with a view to pushing forward the development of our back country. But surely we cannot dump these reservists in the bush, and tell them that upon every article which they require they must pay a high Tariff taxation. If the Government had the slightest desire to aid in the settlement of our rural areas, they would remit the duty proposed upon wire’ netting, and stimulate the manufacture of that article by the payment of a bounty.
– Should we then be able to purchase wire netting any cheaper than we shall be able to purchase it under the Government proposal?
– By that means we should be building up the industry. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) has argued more than once that no matter what taxation is imposed upon any commodity, its effect is to decrease the price of it. Let us test that theory. There are quite a number of orchardists in his own electorate, many of whom are obliged to cover the whole of their orchards with wire netting.
– Those orohardists ought not to be at the mercy of a foreign combine.
– Honorable members arc well aware of the enormous losses which have been sustained by the man upon the land on account of the rabbit pest, and of the huge sums which have been expended upon wire netting in an endeavour to cope with that pest. We also know that it has been used extensively in some parts of the country by pastoralists who desired to protect their flocks from the ravages of the dingo.
– Is wire-netting not now obtainable?
– Yes; but only at enormously high prices. Prices have been 400 per cent, over those ruling before the war, and on many occasions wirenetting has been unobtainable.
– I think that the honorable member’s move is really to prevent an increased duty being proposed, and that he is not actually out to secure, a reduction.
– Not at all. I desire to secure free netting, and make the people of Australia pay by means of a bounty. The Government, realizing the great value of wirenetting in connexion with the development of Australia, allowed imports from the United Kingdom to come in free. T, do not know that local manufacturers have asked for any duty provided that their raw material is allowed to come in free. The Minister is so imbued with the idea that high Protective duties are of marvellous value to the community that I do not expect to get any concession from him.
– That is a very unfair observation.
– I am speaking as the result of my experience of what has been done so far in connexion with the Tariff. The honorable member (Mr. Corser) was, no doubt, placated by the increased duty placed on bananas. The increase was so enormous that it astonished honorable members.
– I did not move that increase.
– I hope, at all events, that the Minister will give serious consideration to the demand for some concession in connexion with this important item. I desire, by leave, to amend my amendment by substituting “ 31st July,” for “ 11th Jun«”.
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly
– I hope that honorable members will give very earnest consideration to the item under review. I do not know whether the Committee would approve of ihe application of the bounty system to the manufacture of wire-netting; but I certainly cannot support the duties set out in the schedule. I am aware that a new industry for the manufacture of wire-netting has been commenced in Australia; but, while the Committee has been more than generous in its efforts to protect new industries, this impost comes into direct conflict with primary production in Australia to an extent that should convince even those who favour, a highly Protective Tariff that relief must be given, either by means of a bounty on the local manufacture of wire-netting, or by returning to free imports from Great Britain, placing a duty of only 5 per cent, on imports from other countries.
– The Minister has said that the rates under the old Tariff were higher. We will accept the old Tariff.
– Yes. I want to tell the Committee the exact position in regard to the manufacture we are now discussing. The rabbit and the dingo are the greatest enemies of the primary producer in Australia. That remark applies equally to the farmers’ within the Hundreds, and to the pas,toralists outside. The State of which I am a representative has had a rather severe experience in this direction, and other State Governments are beginning to admit that they will have to incur enormous expenditure, as South Australia has done for the last thirty years, in order to contend with the ravages of the dingo outside, as well as the rabbits inside, the Hundreds. The duty on barbed wire also has an important bearing on this question. In the outside vermin districts, where dog-proof fences have to be erected, barbed wire is a very considerable item. Not only two widths of the netting, but at least three spans of the barbed wire are used in order to make the fences thoroughly effective. I do not propose to go into details; but I may say that, in order to rescue the outside pastoral areas of South Australia from the ravages of the dingo and the de-population which that pest brought about between twenty and thirty years ago, so large an expenditure had to be incurred on vermin-proof fencing that the vermin-fencing rates were actually greater than the rents for the pastoral areas. The Government had to spread the repayments over a period of twenty-one years, and in many instances even that period had to be extended in order to prevent the country from being once more deserted. The Minister says that, per mile, the impost is not so great as it was prior to the war.
– I did not say that.
– The Minister spoke to that effect.
– Then I shall be glad to hear what the Minister did say, and what he means.
– What I said was that the application of the ad valorem duty at present means a greater impost, at the moment, than the particular duty for which I am asking.
– “At the moment “ ? Well, I wish to tell the Minister that the dingoes have had free play during the war period, where vermininfested districts had not already been provided with fences.
– That is the trouble.
– The reason for this non-provision of fences was the fabulous price that was charged - a price that the country could not pay. Wire netting during the war was 400 per cent, higher in price than prior to the war.
– What was the cause of that?
– Largely the cause was that the machinery employed in this business was being used for war purposes. For instance, barbed wire was required for the war; and many of us were hoping that, when the war was over, and valuable material was being disposed of, we might get it at cheap rates. That, however, has not occurred, and is not likely to occur.
– Do you know why?
– It would be very difficult to say; there are several reasons.
– It was not any good - that was the trouble.
– The Minister is quite right ; the material was of such inferior quality that if it had been brought here it would have proved practically useless.
– Does the honorable member know that the barbed wire manufactured here is cheaper than that imported ?
– That may be; but it is still nearly 300 per cent, higher in price than before the war.
– Still, it is cheaper than the imported article.
– Producing interests in Australia, particularly in the interior, cannot pay either 300 per cent., 200 per cent., or 100 per cent, on the previous prices. We hope to get back to former conditions, and, until we do, we must not simply sit down and allow the dingoes to ravage the outlying country. This item affects the wool industry, which is the biggest in Australia. Are we going to hamper that great industry, and production all over the interior of Australia, simply because a manufacturer has started to turn out barbed wire here? If we are going to stand by this manufacturer, I see no other course open to us than that suggested by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), namely, to give a bounty instead of imposing a duty. At any rate, something must be done by the Government, in their own interests as well as in the national interests. Squatters who were doing fairly well at one time are being ruined, and no revenue is obtained from them, either through the Customs or by way of income tax, while the wool industry, which is the largest in Australia, and as a wool industry the largest in the world, is jeopardized.
These remarks apply equally to the wheat industry. We cannot get rid of the rabbits, except on little garden crops, by which I mean small farms of 200 or 300 acres. Farming is conducted in Australia on large areas, and it is practically impossible to do without wire, netting. I know that shire councils have passed by-laws and made provision for simultaneous destruction, but that has never proved effective. The only effective means is to give the individual farmer wire netting at a price which will enable him to encircle his own property. I am reminded that there are large areas of Government lands which are open, and form breeding grounds for pests; this, to my sorrow, I know to be a fact. Every State Government of Australia is equally wicked in this relation, and it is the State Governments who ought to be made responsible.
– They never take the responsibility.
– And they never will; it is hopeless to expect it. The position, during the war, was simply one of helplessness, and it is nearly so now, because, as I have said, the price is nearly 300 per cent, higher than before the war. I urge the Government to look at the matter from a national point of view. Honorable members should see that this proposed impost cannot be. to the national interest, if it is simply for the purpose of building up one manufacture while many millions of acres are laid waste.
– That statement would appeal to anybody if it were true, but what caused the 300 per cent, rise in the price of wire netting - was it the Tariff?
– I am glad the honorable member has raised that point, for it is one with which I propose to deal. “We are told by some honorable members that the establishment of this industry in Australia, even if only by the creation of one big company, will give us a cheaper article. Let me tell the Committee that, in pre-war days, if there was profiteering amongst importers, there was none in regard to this particular article.
– They must have been angels from heaven.
– No; I shall tell the honorable member the reason. The Governments of the various States, following the lead of South Australia, given nearly thirty years ago, viewed this as a national question. The great object was to stimulate and increase production, and it was arranged to supply farmers and graziers at prime cost. The Lands Department of South Australia imported “wire netting, as also did Elder, Smith, and Company and other big firms, and every farmer and pastoralist was supplied with it at, as nearly as possible, prime cost; in no instance were they called upon, to pay more than 5 per cent. Without such an arrangement, what would have been the position of the wool and wheat industries in the districts chiefly concerned? I ask the Government to take the matter into speedy consideration; and I say definitely that I shall not vote for this impost unless relief is given in some other direction.’
.- I do not know whether it would be practicable to offer a bounty in order to encourage this industry, but” I believe that the proposal of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) has the sympathy of the majority of members. To come straight to the point - we require cheap wire netting. If it is necessary to protect this industry to the extent that the Minister considers essential, the only alternative to the high duty proposed is a bounty. I want the Committee to realize the seriousness of the vermin trouble in many parts of Australia. I am not familiar with the portions of the Commonwealth where the dingo pest prevails, but I know the serious state of affairs that the small farmer and settler is up against with regard to rabbits- The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) last night, in reply to something I said, wanted to know why settlers who had been on the land for thirty years did not fence their holdings while wire netting was cheap. The honorable member is evidently not familiar with the position that prevailed in Gippsland, a district that I knew a good deal about some fifteen or twenty years ago. We had no rabbits there until about twenty years back. Eventually a ,few appeared, but the settlers would not believe that they were ever likely to be a serious menace, although they knew that rabbits were eating out the graziers in other parts of the Commonwealth. Until about ten years ago the rabbits had not increased to such an extent as to be a menace to the holders of land in Gippsland, but- to-day there are districts where numerous settlers, after clearing their land of virgin forest and making it productive, are being compelled to abandon it to the rabbits. This applies particularly to areas of cleared land surrounded by second and third class country, some of it worthless and overgrown with rubbish, and offering a harbor for the vermin. It is absolutely impossible for the settlers to make their own land productive unless they can fence it securely. About that time wire netting began to increase inc price, and about six or seven years ago the price was almost prohibitive. I am not going to argue as- to what the cause of this was. The question that confronts us to-day is, How are we to get the necessary wire netting at a lower price? Will the system of giving a bounty to encourage the industry meet the case? The position in Tasmania to-day is very similar to what it was in Gippsland fifteen years ago. The rabbit is now making inroads on the settlers’ holdings, and in a few years’ time I can see a state of affairs arising there exactly parallel with what it is in many portions of Australia, and the settlers having to walk out ruined. Can we afford to see a vast area of some of the finest land in the Commonwealth become absolutely unproductive ?
– That is a pretty black picture.
– It is. One honorable member last night accused honorable members on this side of crying. I shed a few tears after listening to him because of the absolute want of knowledge he displayed of the conditions prevailing in the agricultural and grazing industries.
– If they were put on some of that land they would talk pretty eloquently after a few years.
– I am afraid that many honorable members, especially those who come from the cities, continually focus their attention on the wealthy farmers and graziers, forgetting that the overwhelming majority of those on the land, both in agriculture and grazing, are strugglers. They have been strugglers even during the last five or six years, and it is their interests that I am trying to look after. There are too few members in the House familiar with the circumstances and struggles of these people. I am sure that if other honorable members had the same knowledge of their circumstances that some of us have, they would extend their fullest sympathy to these struggling people. I want the Committee to look at this case in the light of the absolute necessity of providing cheap wire netting in order to save large areas of the finest land from the ravages of vermin. As to what the Minister said about the duty to-day being less than previously, it must be clear to the Minister and others, after consideration, that the wire netting industry to-day is getting more protection than it did under the 1914 Tariff. That is the point, and there is nothing else to consider. Whether or not that protection is necessary for the industry, obviously the price of wire netting will increase in proportion to the increased protection that we grant. We have heard from high Protectionists and Prohibitionsts frequently that to give more protection to an industry does not increase the price. I have not yet been able to satisfy myself that that is” the case. On the other hand we have heard, during the debate on this division, and particularly on pig iron, that, unless a high duty was imposed, certain industries would run a serious risk of being wiped out, and that the working people engaged in them would have their wages reduced. How can that come about unless the greater protection is going to increase the price of the commodity? We want cheap wire netting, and I urge the Minister to consider seriously whether it is not possible to adopt a bounty, as suggested by the honorable member for Dampier, in preference to the high protection which the Minister wishes to extend. If the Minister has any other scheme to propose that will be acceptable to the Committee I shall be delighted to hear it, but it is absolutely imperative, if we are to save many struggling “settlers, and if our land is to continue productive, that we should have cheap wire netting. If we can bring that about without doing any injustice to the people engaged in the wire-netting industry, I hope that means will be taken, so that the settlers for whom I am pleading may be given a measure of relief.
– I urge the, Minister to give further consideration to the arguments of the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). I am not in accord with the honorable member as a rule, but it seems to me that in this matter he has a very good case. The Minister has said that the duty to-day is lower than it was.
– You need not be frightened. They are making wire netting in Australia to-day more cheaply, I believe, than it can be imported.
– That is the trouble. It is contended with good reason that, although they are making it cheaper in Australia to-day, they are not selling it cheaper. That is the experience of my constituents who,, I suppose, are typical of many others. If some of them are big holders and “squatters,” that is not a crime. Years ago many of those big holders were struggling selectors, and they have worked their way up from the shearing sheds and the agricultural fields. These are the men who pioneered this country. Surely it is no crime for some of them to be wealthy to-day, but, as a matter of fact, the rabbit pest has brought a number of them back to scratch. There can never be a golden rule in fiscal . matters, applying the same degree of protection to all things; and this particular article, I contend, is an exception. The industry does not require a big plant, because wire netting is being manufactured in many of our gaols. The admission that the effect of the duty would be to increase the cost of the material should be sufficient for us to cry halt, because wire netting is as essential for the orchardist and the grower of other primary products as for the farmer and grazier. The rabbits have become so plentiful in recent years that in some quarters, unfortunately, they have come to be regarded as an industry instead of a pest. Freezing works and other large establishments have been erected throughout the Commonwealth, and the business of rabbiting gives employment to a large number of people at high wages, but it is not an industry that we should encourage in any way. We ought never to lose sight of the fact that the rabbit is the greatest curse that Australia has ever experienced. The Minister should tackle this problem seriously and see whether, by means of a bounty, it is not possible to encourage the manufacture of wire netting in Australia, more especially as it is not likely that the bounty would be collected by two or three big companies or firms. That has been the objection to bounties hitherto, but the manufacture of wire netting might bo undertaken in quite a number of country centres, because, as I have already shown, an extensive plant is not required. Unless something is done to make it possible’ for the producer to get cheap wire netting there is very gi-ave danger, as the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) has pointed out, of . many of the richest districts in Australia becoming depopulated. I appeal to the Minister to give serious consideration to. the proposal
Mr. Austin Chapman. made by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). This is not a party question.
– The debate last week on another item was made a party question.
– That is no reason why this should be, and I hope the honorable member for Newcastle will not regard it as such. I am always glad to know that good wages are paid in any industry. The go-slow policy is’ the curse. I believe that the higher the wages, provided the men earn them, the better it will be for Australia. We should do everything possible in this matter for the man on the land, because, unless we have a prosperous and contented yeomanry, the . industries of our cities must suffer, and eventually we shall find the grass growing on many of our city streets. The argument of the honorable . member for Dampier is an appeal to common sense. We should, by means of a bounty, help the small manufacturers to engage in the manufacture of wire netting, so that the struggling settlers, especially those in the isolated districts of the Commonwealth, may be encouraged to check the inroads of the rabbits. Taxation is increasing every year, and these people are up against difficulties at every turn. If we impose the duty provided in the item, we shall only be adding to their troubles. Quito recently, a member of the Ministry paid £90 per mile for wire netting for fencing purposes; how on earth is it possible, then, for our struggling settlers to buy wire netting in order to keep the vermin off their land, especially when,, in some cases, they are’ alongside Government reserves that are unfenced, and are nothing more than breeding grounds for the rabbits?.
– Then, why not appeal to the State Governments? Why ruin’ the wire-netting industry?
– I am tired of all this talk about appealing to State Governments, because, after all, the taxpayers of the Commonwealth have to bear the burden, and I think the State Governments are just as anxious as any one else to prevent the increase of the rabbit pest. I again appeal to the Minister to consider the request made ‘by the honorable member for Dampier. Surely, if three or four experienced men got together and inquired into this matter, they could evolve some proposal which this House could accept, because we are all aiming at the one goal, namely, to promote the industry and at the same time cheapen wirenetting for the man on. the land. Personally, I favour a bounty.
.- If I thought that, by voting for this duty, I should in any way be imposing an additional burden on the farmers of the Commonwealth, I would readily agree to the proposal made by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). But all the arguments that have been used to-day may be applied to every vote that has been taken upon those Tariff items which deal with articles required by our producers.
– So they may.
– I can understand the honorable memberfor Franklin agreeing with my statement, because he believes in a Free Trade policy.
– I do not believe in sacrificing one class of the community to benefit another.
– Well, that is the position of the Free Trader. I cannot understand the attitude of those honorable members who were returned at the last election on a definite pledge to protect the industries of the Commonwealth and foster new industries.
– Including our primary industries.
– Wire-netting manufactured in Australia will, I presume, be just as effective in checking the rabbit pest as the imported article.
– Nobody disputes that.
– I believe the manufacturer produces a good article, and that he was quite prepared to carry on without any duty, provided he could get his iron free.
– Of course. We frequently meet that class of manufacturer. Many years ago, in Sydney, they wanted to get black wire free from Germany and galvanize it here. Does the honorable member for Dampier stand for that?
– We always had a duty on the Continental wire, and you know it.
– I am not very much concerned about the Continental wire. I would always prefer the British wire if we could be sure that it really was British, and not wire imported from Continental countries through Great Britain. The prices of many articles have increased enormously, and the men on the land have been affected, because it has been impossible to get supplies of many things from overseas, but the position to-day is quite different. There is in existence in Sydney one big firm which is producing considerable quantities of wire netting. We have been told by another honorable member that that article is being produced elsewhere in the Commonwealth, and we know that one establishment has been started which will be able to supply more than Australia’s total requirement of wire netting. That being so, what have the farmers to fear?
– They are paying 300 per cent, more than they paid before the war.
– Wipe out the local industries, and then what will they pay?
– For many years before the war we never paid more than 5 per cent, profit on imports.
– We are trying to establish Australian industries that will furnish the farmer with adequate supplies.
– At what price?
– The cost of production plus an ordinary profit.
– If the present prices are to be continued, these establishments might as well be shut up.
– The honorable member would like to revert to pre-war conditions, and reduce the wages in this industry.
– If things continue as they are there will be no sheep and no wagesat all on the stations.
– I ask honorable members opposite what sections of. the community were best looked after during the war. Were they not the producers of wheat and wool?
– We are afraid of the rabbit and the dingo.
– During the war the consumer in Australia got wool and wheat cheaper than the consumers anywhere else in the world.
– That is beside the question. If the Government had not come to the aid of those industries, what price would the producer have received for his products? I did not object to what the Government did in time of trouble. We desire to see the people on the land prosper, and we do not wish to set the land-owner against the people in the cities, but that is what is being done. We must all realize that city and country are dependent on each other.
– We recognise that, but the city does not.
– When the farmers were in trouble with their wheat and wool the Government came to their rescue. When there have been droughts, have not the State Governments helped the farmers with free seed-wheat and the cheap carriage of their stock over the railways?
-Free seed-wheat is unknown to the farmers of Victoria.
– The honorable member is speaking of only one State. The farmers have never beenneglected in their time of trouble.
– I know some who are in trouble always, and have never had assistance.
– That, applies generally to the community; there is always some section in trouble. Compare what has been willingly done by Federal and State Governments to help the people on the land, with the treatment meted out to men who invest their money in mines. If a disaster happens in a mine, the owners are liable to be put on trial. If their mine is ruined, they get no help from the Government.
– The coal mine owner has done all right.
– And, according to the returns, so have many of the pastoralists.
– I do not believe in imposing a duty on the miners’ shovels and explosives.
– The honorable member is consistent in his attitude.
– The honorable member should advocate bounties instead of duties.
– I have never been in favour of bounties except when we could get nothing else, and even then only at the inception of an industry. The fawners have nothing to fear in regard to wire netting. The Australian production within the next few months will be greater than local requirements. There is far too much decrying of the locally-made article.
– We are not doing that.
– Particularly not in regard to onions. I stated last night some of the many unfair things that are done to interfere with the progress of Australian industries. I mentioned the higher tests to which engineers subject Australian metals in comparison with those imported from abroad.
– Every honorable member in this corner disapproves of that test.
– To disapprove of it is one thing, but to take action to benefit the foreign tenderer is another.
– It may mean paying two or three times as much when the article is purchased here.
– Australians should patronize their own industries. Firms are already manufacturing wire netting, and the consumers are not paying as much as they would be compelled to do if our industries were wiped out and those consumers were depending on overseas supplies. I hope the Minister will not agree to any reduction in the duties, so that our industries may be adequately protected. One plant now being established will produce more wire netting than we have ever used in Australia, and will manufacture the wire netting, not from imported material, but from iron ore raised in Australia.
.- I have listened with considerable interest to the debate, and I trust the amendment will be agreed to. I feel that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) is honestly endeavouring to do whatis right, and I also believe that the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) is quite in earnest. I am a protectionist, but I desire to afford protection to all classes in the community. We have heard a great deal of the importance of the wire netting industry; but very little has been said concerning the pastoral and farming industries. Are we to sacrifice the greater for the benefit of the lesser? The arguments adduced up to the present appear to be in favour of supporting those industries that are of the greatest consequence to the Commonwealth, and I trust the vote will be recorded in that way. There has been a good deal of repetition, and it is not my desire to discuss points that have already been mentioned, but I wish to submit a few figures of interest. During the years 1880 to 1919 Victoria has spent .£1,082,458 on the eradication of pests. The losses in stock during that period amounted to approximately £6,000,000, whilst those on crops amounted to £4,000,000. Private expenditure in the matter of poison costs, fumigating, the digging out of burrows, &c, amounted to £3,000,000, or a total of £14,082,458. The New South Wales Government expended from 1890 - I could not obtain the figures before that year- to 1919, £69,800 in fencing, and private individuals spent, in erecting division fences, £6,166,466. The direct losses in stock from 18S0 to 1919 were approximately £20,000,000, whilst the losses on crops were £7,000,000, or a total of £33,236,266. The grand total for New South Wales and Victoria is therefore £47,318,724. Private expenditure in New South Wales on fumigating plants, digging out, &c, has amounted to £15,000,000. I have not the figures for South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, or Tasmania, but I understand that thousands of miles of wire netting are required for adequately protecting the orchards in the last-mentioned State. We can safely estimate that the expenditure in the States for which I have not the details would amount to another £15,000,000, on the basis of the figures I have quoted. I have been very conservative in my estimate; and during the past few months I have been to considerable trouble in obtaining the information. The Victorian Government are at present considering a Bill to provide for the eradication, of pests, and recommendations have been made to the effect that wo should submit to an increase of 5 per cent, in the Land Tax in order to provide money for destroying vermin. In the magnificent Gippsland district, which for some years has not ‘been affected, rabbits are now becoming numerous, and are threatening to be a menace to settlers. We have settled 22,000 returned soldiers on the land, and after many years of bitter experience, I believe, their chief means of protecting their holdings from vermin will be by means of wire netting.
Frequent reference has been made to the importance of the wire netting industry; but what has wheat and wool alone meant to Australia during the recent war? The value of these two commodities alone has been £400,000,000, which would be sufficient to discharge Australia’s war obligations. Notwithstanding the importance of these industries to Australia, they have not been given the consideration to which they are entitled. The wire netting industry is not at present in a position to supply our immediate demands, and until it is we should not give it a monopoly and allow it to bleed the consumers in our community. In 1908, 7,604,453 pairs of rabbits, valued at £336,093, were shipped abroad; and in 1917-18, 13,154,307 pairs valued at £985,109, were exported. I estimate that eight rabbits are equal to one sheep; so that the 26,308,614 rabbits exported in 1917-18 were equal to 3,288,579 sheep. If those sheep were valued at 10s. per head, which is a conservative estimate, because many of them were worth 30s., their total value would be £1,644,289, whereas the value of the rabbits was only £985..109. ‘Thus we have a loss in one year - 1917-18 - of £659,099. Then, in 190S, 65,391 cwt. of rabbit skins were exported. These skins had a value of £304,999. Allowing eight skins to a pound, and assuming that eight rabbits are the equivalent of one sheep, had we been exporting sheep instead of rabbits, the exportation would have been worth £3,500,000. Thus there was a- loss of £3,,195,000 incurred by exporting rabbits instead of sheep. The following table shows the exportation of frozen rabbits and rabbit skins, and their value, from the year 1908 to the year 1917-18 :-
The Minister, of course, is possessed of these facts, but some honorable members are- ignorant of them. Last night the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) said that when the farmers had got in their wheat they had nothing more to do until the Great Giver produced the golden grain for their harvesting; but the honorable members for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) and Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney), who know the true position of the farmers, have pictured it quite differently. As a practical man, I know that the rabbits are a pest, and that they and the dogs will be a greater pest in future unless Parliament helps the primary producer by letting him get wire netting at a. reasonable price.
.- I cannot allow the occasion to pass without again expressing the hope that the Minister will do something to relieve the man on the land, who is struggling against adverse circumstances. I should be loath to injure the’ trade of Newcastle, but I am opposed to allowing its interest to drain away the life-blood of the country.
– We are concerned, not with building up Newcastle, but with making the Commonwealth self-contained. Wire is made all over Australia.
– Newcastle is apparently destined by nature to be the great manufacturing centre of Australia, and is at present the chief seat of the iron and steel industry. I know New South Wales, from the coast to beyond the Darling, and from the Murray to the Queensland border, and to me it seems that the octopus-like city of Newcastle is draining the life-blood of its country districts. As a boy, I used to see coming along the Barwon 30.,000 wethers, four and six-tooth, one mark, which means that on the stations where they were bred there were at least 60,000 lambs in two years. Does any one see flocks like that to-day?You can travel from one end of New South Wales to the other, and will not cross three stations with such magnificent flocks of sheep as used to be seen in my boyhood. Men are being driven off the Western Plains. The flocks that I speak of gave employment to camps of thirty men and fifty horses, and indirectly provided work for scores of trades connected with the pastoral industry, and assisted to maintain the homes of hundreds of shearers. The question now before the Committee is of such importance to the men of the western districts of New South Wales that it as tonishes me that the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), who is president of the Australian Workers Union, is not here to protest against the imposition of high duties on wire netting, because his people are vitally concerned, and the bread and butter of thousands of working” men throughout the Commonwealth is jeopardized, Paterson has written of Clancy, of The Overflow, riding behind his cattle singing, but there is very little of that nowadays. Men like Clancy have mostly disappeared. Will Ogilvie tells how many of those who put up a hard fight to break in new country have gone’ down. This Committee, by putting high duties on farm requisites, is helping to destroy the homes of the people outback; homes which have been built up with such stress and trouble. What did Henry Lawson prophesy of the men of those great Western areas of New South Wales whom this Committee, would now ruin?
There are boys out there by the western creeks, who hurry away from school,
To climb the sides of ‘the breezy peaks or dive in the shaded pool,
Who’ll stick to their guns when the mountains quake’ to the tread of a mighty war,
And fight for Right or a Grand Mistake as men never fought before.
And did they not fight? This Committee would destroy those who have done so much to make Australia great, and merely for the sake of a small concentrated city industry. I appeal to honorable members to take the broader and more generous view, and to desist from trying to tie Australia’s grand manhood to the city streets and lanes. I ask them to help to maintain that happy and vigorous people, for the rearing of whom Australia is already noted, of whom the Empire is proud, and of whom the whole world stands, perhaps, in some awe and, certainly, in respect. We know that the men who set the pace in the recent great conflict were those Australians who had been bred in the bush . Men from the cities played the game well, and to the utmost of their ability; but those who really set and forced the pace came from Australia’s broad acres, where they had been face to face with nature, and knew the hardships of life through drought, and flood, and fire. To-day we would fatally injure their prospects, in casual fashion, because one or two powerful voices have made themselves heard in the cities, and, perhaps, because one who should be present in this Chamber to speak for those men, women, and childrenof the great Western districts-since they are his constituents - is absent. In making that passing’ reference, I do not impugn the honorable member at whom it is directed. He, no doubt, has some good public reason for being elsewhere. But I spent my young days on the wide Western plains, and I know full well the fight which the settlers there have had to wage against every variety of obstacle, natural and otherwise. Shall we now take away their birthright ?
.- I intend to use every opportunity to thwart the miserable cry that we are belittling Australia, and that all our actions tend to throttle the man in the bush. The honorable member for Indi . (Mr. Robert Cook) deluged the Committee with’ a mass of figures. The effect of his onslaught was similar to that which I nearly always secure when I have to face a hostile crowd at a public meeting. I fill them up with figures, which get them mystified, and distract their attention from myself. The statistics of losses furnished by the honorable member were so startling that one would believe that Australia to-day is all loss and no profit. As for the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Fleming), I pity him, because he is one ofthose unfortunates who has “chopped over” from one party to another. He knows, as I know, that the National Caucus is now doing its best to poison his electorate. He has made his pathetic speech to-day with that fact in mind ; and, no doubt, since he knows the game, he will have copies of his beautiful thoughts, as recorded in Hansard, printed off, and forwarded in pamphlet form to every one of his electors and all the newspapers, if any, in his electorate. , AlthoughI live in the city, I am not without friends in the country, I actually have friends in the electorate of Cowper, who, although they are good Labour people, made the best choice possible, in the absence of a Labour candidate, when they sent Dr. Earle Page into Parliament. More than one of these poor miserable struggling farmer friends of mine in Cowper has written, asking me to look out for the best brand of motor car that I could recommend them. One of them, who has been for nine years in the electorate, bought a farm for about £55 to £60 an acre. To-day this poor, miserable country man tells me he has been asked to sell at £115 an acre. What a shocking state of affairs after nine years on the land ! I would like to find a way in the city for turning over capital as rapidly as that. Even in an alleged drought season my friend wrote, telling me that he was doing very well, considering. He said, “I can only send down a little bit of butter, but I get an awfully big cheque back.” There are honorable members sitting behind the Government, whose life interest is in the land, who could buy out the whole of the members of the Opposition. When any one of them dies the probate duties connected with his estate will swamp all the means of the living members of the Labour party. Poor, miserable country folk! Look how soft and sick they are. The delicate honorable member for Robertson, if a drayhorse were to kick him, would never feel it; whereas, if a hard and wiry city man, who has to spend his life in the salubrious atmosphere of a factory, were to receive that same kick, he would not live to learn what had struck him. Altogether, the man on the land is doing very well. There is no need to cry over him. He has only to “raise a holler,” and the Government come to his rescue, whether it be a matter of wool or wheat or onions. Millions are advanced to see him “ round the corner.” Bank deposits throughout Australia are enormous because the bank is where the wretched, struggling farmer puts his hoardings.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– I listened with great interest to the speech made by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Robert Cook). Whilst the honorable member, and other honorable members, have dealt with the duty on wire-netting as it affects pastoralists and large land-owners, I want the Committee to bear in mind that, perhaps, the smallest land-holders in Australia - I refer to the holders of orchards of 10 or 15 acres in extent - must have wire-netting if they are to carry on their industry. I do not know of one district in Tasmania in which it would be safe fora man to plant out young trees in his orchard without first putting a rabbit-proof fence around it. Even when this is done, it is often found necessary to flag the trees to prevent them being ring-barked by hares and rabbits as effectively as if a man went round them and scraped the bark off with a knife. We are placing many hundreds of returned soldiers on orchard properties in Tasmania and in Victoria. We often speak of the value of closer settlement in Australia, and there is no industry which is more useful for closer settlement than is the fruit-growing industry. In my own electorate, there are hundreds of men whose orchards do not exceed 20 acres in extent. It is considered that 25 acres is as much as an ordinary man and his family, with a little outside help occasionally, can attend to. We are being asked to-day to impose a tax on every one of the owners of these small areas to keep one industry going.
– We deny that. We say that if you wipe out the duty, those who require wire-netting will have to pay more for it.
– I admire the fight which the honorable member is putting up from the stand-point of encouraging a particular industry at the expense of those engaged in other industries. I wish to encourage the wirenetting industry; but I utter my protest against encouraging one industry at the expense of men who, in my view, are more deserving of encouragement than are those engaged in the wire-netting industry.
– Is the honorable member referring to onions?
– I am referring to something which the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) does not understand, and that is common sense. The honorable member waves the flag in this House, and would die for the flag, but he will not trade with it. It is about time that kind of hypocrisy was put an end to. What does the honorable member think about that and onions? I was not here when the debate upon the duty on onions took place. It would spell ruin to the orchard industry in Victoria and Tasmania if the orchardists did not use wire-netting for the protection of their orchards. Hundreds of miles of it must be used. I have said that we are putting returned soldiers into the orchard industry, and before the returned soldier can plant his trees, he must protect his orchard with wire-netting. Those engaged in the fruit-growing industry have to labour hard for seven or eight years before they can look for1s. return from their labour. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) is exceedingly fair. He says that we require to encourage the wirenetting industry, and are prepared to do so by the payment of a bounty. That bounty would be paid by the whole of the people of Australia for the protection of the wire-netting industry, and not by a particular class or section of the community. This duty is absolutely a class tax imposed on those who use wire-netting. Without wire-netting, the pastoral industry, the agricultural industry for the most part, and practically the whole of the horticultural industry, cannot be carried on. The Minister (Mr. Greene) is asking that orchardists, who have to wait for seven or eight years before they can look for a return from their labour, shall pay tribute to a wealthy company like the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. I am prepared to assist the wire-netting industry, but I am not prepared to allow the Broken Hill Proprietary Company to levy tribute on a class of the community who are unable to bear it. During the last few years, orchardists have had to meet particularly bad times. Every honorable member knows that, in the orchard districts of Victoria, Tasmania, and New South Wales, thousands of tons of fruit have rotted on the ground because there was no market for it.
– The fruit would have rotted whether there was a duty on wirenetting or not.
– Of course it would ; but my point is that men who have laboured under such serious disadvantages, because of high freights and the disorganization of the markets should not be taxed on their only means of salvation. We are being asked to tell those men that they must put wire-netting fences around their properties, and before they can do so they must pay tribute to one of the wealthiest companies in Australia.
– The honorable member for Franklin (Mr.
McWilliams) has made a speech typical of all those which have been made during the debate in opposition to this duty. He has talked of the tremendous hardship it will be to the small orchardist if we impose this duty. I take the typical orchard of, say, 30 acres, and I ask the honorable member what is the distance around it in chains ?
– Let the honorable gentleman work it out.
– It is 26 chains, or a little over a quarter of a mile.
– Is the honorable gentleman sure of that figure ?
– Yes . Ten chains by 1 chain is an acre. There would be two sides of 10 chains and 3 at each end : does that not give 26 chains?
– The honorable gentleman has said that 10 chains by 1 chain is the distance round an acre; that is two sides of 11 chains, and that should be multiplied by 30 for an orchard of 30 acres.
– No ; but I think that the distance round a 30-acre orchard would be 80 chains, which is 1 mile.
– That is a little more than the honorable gentleman said at first.
– That is so. The prewar price of wire netting was £25 per mile, and this duty represents 12£ per cent, on the pre-war price.
– Is the honorable gentleman sure that the pre-war price was £25 per mile? I think that his figures are all wrong.
– I am speaking of wire netting 42 inches deep, l1/2inch mesh, and 17 gauge.
– And you can get a rebate of 50 per cent, if you take a mile of it.
– I am talking from the trade circulars put into my hands. Take the price as £25 per mile, and I say the duty represents 121/2 per cent, on that. Assuming that 1 mile of fencing is required for a typical orchard of 30 acres, that would mean a mere bagatelle per orchard; and yet the honorable member for Franklin talks about this duty as a crushing burden on the man on the land.
– I did not say that it was a crushing burden. I said it was a burden that we had no right to place upon him.
– I do not admit for a moment that the imposition of the duty means dearer wire; but supposing that the whole of the duty were borne by the man on the land, how much would it represent to a man with 30 acres of orchard? It would be a mere bagatelle; and yet that is the sort of argument we have been listening to all the morning.
– What about the wider areas?
– I admit that, in the case of the wider areas, if the whole of the duty is passed on to the land-holder, it may represent a considerable burden. The argument of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Richard Foster) this morning was that during the war we could not get wire; that the pastoralists were absolutely helpless, as the dingoes were coming in, and that they could do nothing to keep them out.
– And we are helpless now.
– The honorable member said, further, that the price of wire netting went up so high that it was utterly impossible for our land-holders to fence out the pests. That is exactly the reason why I believe we should endeavour to establish the wire netting industry in this country.
– We got cost price from the factories at Home before the war, and no firm in Adelaide put more than 5 per cent, on that.
– That does not interfere with my argument that it would be desirable to have this industry established in Australia.
– I can tell the honorable gentleman further that the cost of the netting was more than the rent of the land.
– None of these statements affect my argument that our war experience has shown us that this is an industry which, perhaps, above all others, we should endeavour to establish in Australia.
– Is the Minister aware that, years and years ago, miles and miles of wire netting were being made in Pentridge?
– The authorities there were importing the actual wire and the inmates of the gaol were simply weaving it. It was because of that policy that we found ourselves in the position of being unable to effectively help ourselves during the war. Instead of having built up this industry from its base the blast furnace, we had merely undertaken the work of weaving the netting from imported wire, with the result that we found ourselves in an extremely parlous position during the war, as we could not obtain any wire.’ The high price which we have been paying for some considerable time for Australianmade wire netting is largely ‘ accounted for by the fact that that netting has been made from imported rods. Had we been able to manufacture our own rods and draw our own wire from our own material, using our own spelter, we would have been in a position to supply the farmers and graziers of Australia with wire netting at a reasonable price. The remarks of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Robert Cook) in regard to the immense losses which our people have sustained through their inability to obtain wire netting, are perfectly true. It is because the Government are cognisant of those losses and realize that they are the direct result of the industry not having been established in the right way, that we are now attempting to build it up from the base. The honorable member for Wakefield has complained that we are seeking to impose a duty upon the raw material for this industry. But we are doing that because of the lessons which we have learned as the result of our war experience. It is perfectly true that we have had for some time in Australia looms for the weaving of wire netting. Our difficulty has been that we had not the wire to weave.
– Give us the old duty.
– ‘Under the old Tariff wire netting from the United Kingdom was admitted free. Those honorable members who have spoken upon this item have recognised the desirableness of establishing the industry in this country. Even the honorable member for Dampier. (Mr. Gregory), strong as are his leanings towards Free Trade, has said that we ought not to destroy it. He has urged that we should stimulate the production of .wire netting by the payment of a bounty. But the policy which we have hitherto adopted has been to give a bounty only in cases in which it -was necessary to gradually build up an industry until it was capable of supplying the reasonable requirements of our own people. Where an industry is in a position to supply the whole of our requirements in any . particular line, we have always protected it by means of a duty. What is the position in regard to wire netting? There is one establishment in Sydney, the capacity of which is 1,600 miles per month. Another factory is in course of erection at Newcastle, and part of it is already producing. That establishment has a still greater capacity than have the works in Sydney. There are several other firms which are manufacturing wire netting, but which are not in a position to draw the wire. Because we found ourselves in such an awkward predicament during the war, I believe, the Sydney factory extended its works very considerably. Then, Messrs. Ryland, one of the best English manufacturers, whose product is more favorably known than is that of any other manufacturer in the world, have come here, and have erected a very large factory which, within a short space of time, will be in a position, along with the other factories already established, to supply our whole wire netting requirements. We are not in the hands of a monopolistic institution in respect of this commodity.
– Would not the British firm mentioned by the Minister have been willing to conduct operations without the aid of a duty, if their raw materials had been admitted free?
– They may have been. But have I not been attempting during the past ten minutes to show -that it was because we had admitted iron and steel wire free that we found ourselves in such a hopeless position during the war! Yet the honorable member says that we ought to continue that sta/te of things. I say that it is a suicidal policy to follow.
– The industry was built up under Free Trade.
– It was not an indus*try. In effect, the honorable member says that we must not use our own raw material, our own iron ores, or our own blast furnaces, but that we must use the material, ores, and blast furnaces of other countries. He says that we should import the rods . and weave the netting from them. That is not my conception of an industry. Here we have an opportunity to make Australia self-contained in regard to one of the commodities which I regard as essential to our’ welfare. The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) suggests that we should revert, to theold condition Which was responsible for one of Australia’s greatest drawbacks during the war period, and one which caused greater losses’ to our primary producers than did any other factor. I have the interests of the primary producer as dearly at heart as has any honorable member. But I do not believe that it is in the interests of our primary producers that they should be told that we are imposing a crushing burden upon them by means of these duties. I believe that the very opposite is true; and that is why I stand for duties which I conceive to be necessary, not only in the interests of the community as a whole, but in the interests of the primary producers in particular.
– Is there sufficient wire of the finer gauges being manufactured in Australia to enable the industry to be carried on?.
– Undoubtedly. The wire-drawing establishments we have at the present time can supply all our requirements.
– Has the Minister seen the telegram which was received by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) ?
– Yes, but that does not affect my argument. I know where that telegram came from, and all that lies behind it. As a matter of fact a similar telegram was sent to me. I do not wish to occupy further time, but I do suggest that we should take a vote upon this item immediately. The Government feel that the duties proposed are not high, but that they are sufficient to permit of the establishment of the industry.
– The honorable gentleman has not yetdealt with the bounty question.
-When an industry has been definitely established I do not think that the payment of a bounty is the right way in which to assist it. Of course, a bounty may sometimes be usefully employed to build up an industry in its earlier stages.
Mr.Watt. - But if we impose duties upon this item we shall destroy what has previously been done.
– Of course, no bounty could be granted except for wire netting manufactured from Australian wire rods. One cannot conceive of the payment of a bounty for the manufacture of netting from imported wire. We shall have to leave the duty upon wire at the rates set out in item 136e.
– Does the amendment submitted by the Minister yesterday for the imposition of a duty upon barbed wire of 25 per cent, under the British preferential Tariff, of 30 per cent, under the intermediate Tariff, and of 35 per cent, under the general Tariff, cover wire of 14 gauge and under?
– I have promised the Committee, and I told the honorable member himself that it was not intended to apply those duties to this particular wire, and that I would take the necessary action torestore that class of wire to the duties which are set out in item 136e.
– Only in regard to the bigger sizes of wire.
– I thought that I had made it abundantly clear that it was intended to entirely remove from the higher duties the class of wire of which I was speaking at the time, and, if the Committee will permit me to do so, I shall take action to that end at the earliest opportunity. The proposal to grant a bounty for this particular purpose would, if the duties were arranged in the manner suggested by the honorable member, entirely close up the smaller manufacturers of wire netting. They would find it impossible to operate. I gave careful consideration during the luncheon hour to the question as to whether it would be possible to substitute, either in part or in whole, a bounty for this duty, and have come to the conclusion that it is practically impossible to do so.
– If the Minister would agree to recommit the item later on, our party would promise not to debate the question.
– It is difficult for one honorable member to speak for the whole Committee in that regard. . If, on further consideration, the Government desires to doanything to meet the honorable member and those who have associated themselves with him in thisrequest, I will recommit the item; otherwise it will not be recommitted.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Gregory’s), as amended, bo agreed to put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Wire n.e.i., also woven wire measuring over 40 holes to the lineal inch, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.
.- I promised honorable members that I would take the earliest opportunity to free wire for netting and barbed wire from the higher rate of duty that we put on the finer gauges the other day. With that object in view, I move -
That the item be amended by adding “ And on and after 11th June, 1921, (b) Wire, iron and steel, for use in the manufacture of barbed wire and wire netting as prescribed by departmental by-laws, per ton, British, 52s. ; intermediate, 72s. 6d.; general, 90s.”
On the passing of this amendment, all that we shall have to be satisfied as to is that the wire is being used solely for these purposes. On that being shown to our satisfaction, the wire will come in at these lower rates under the departmental by-laws.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I should be glad if the Minister would agree to revert to the wording of the old Tariff, “ woven wire, measuring over 20 holes to the lineal inch.” The item, as it stands, deals with woven wire measuring over 40 holes to the lineal inch. This is a matter of importance to the mining industry. The amendment I suggest would not interfere with local production. I. have been asked by the Chamber of Mines to bring this matter before the Committee, and if the Minister is not. prepared to reduce the measurement from 40 holes to 20 holes to the lineal inch, I hope he will at least reduce it to 30 holes.
– I will accept an amendment reducing the measurement to 30 holes to the lineal inch.
– Then I move-
That the following words be added : -“ And on and after 11th June, 1921, (a) Wire n.e.i., alsowoven wire measuring over 30 holes to the lineal inch, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 15 per cent.”
.- I want to know what will be the effect of this amendment?
– It relates only to battery mesh.
– I think we ought to have an explanation from the Minister, who has so readily consented to this amendment. ‘ In’ the absence of any explanation as to what the effect of the amendment will he, we shall be voting in the dark
.- The amendment is intended to apply to woven wire ordinarily used for battery screens. Under the old Tariff the item related to woven wire measuring over 20 holes to the lineal inch instead of 40 holes, as provided for in the schedule as it stands. By substituting “ 30 “ for “ 40 “ we shall make it possible forthose using battery screens in the treatment of ores to obtain their requirements under better conditions. The amendment will not affect any Australian industry.
– Is not this particular class of woven wire made in Australia?
– No. The class of wire covered by the amendment is of the greatest value in the most remote parts of Australia where mining is carried on. Men working a show witha small battery use wire of this mesh, whereas the big companies, working large reduction plants on a scientific basis, have practically done away with its use.
.- I am not quite satisfied yet. I wish to know definitely from the Minister whether this particular wire-mesh is made in Australia. I quite understand that it is used for battery purposes, and that there may be anxiety to have the duty reduced, or, if possible, abolished. We ought not to pass these items in such a hurried manner, but should be furnished with reasons for any action taken. The statement that this mesh is not made in Australia may be altogether erroneous, and the Minister ought to let us know why he has agreed to accept the amendment. Of course, if the honorable gentleman can satisfy us that it is not manufactured in Australia, we may agree with the amendment, but we ought to have further information. There was an arrangement made, in which the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) concurred, that certain items should be passed by 4 o’clock to-day ; and, though it is now 3 o’clock, we have not finally dealt with the item with which we started this morning.
.- The position, roughly, is that there is one manufacturer who can manufacture this mesh up to 40 holes to the inch. The finest mesh made by the other manufacturers is 30, and I thought that, as by far the greater amount used is the larger stuff, we might agree to the amendment.
– Does the same firm manufacture the larger stuff?
– I think so.
– If this mesh is let in free, may it not be used for other purposes, and thus compete with other wires ?
– I do not think so; the various gauges are used for specific purposes. So far as I can see, the amendment will make no material difference.
Amendment agreed to.
Item, as amended, agreed to.
Item 160 (Agricultural machinery, &c.)
– It will be agreed that, in dealing with this item, it may be necessary for honorable members to also refer to the succeeding items up to and including item 167, all of which deal with agricultural machinery and implements. I rise now to ask that threshing machines be removed from the item before us to item 163, in order that they may have the advantage of the higher duties. I do not ask that all threshing machines be removed from one item to the other, but only those machines with a 3-foot drum or under. Many years ago threshing machines were largely manufactured in Australia, but the industry was destroyed by importations. It has never yet been proved that increased prices are brought aboutby the imposition of duties. In Free Trade countries, where there is no local opposition, the highest prices are obtained. It cannot be shown that in Free Trade New Zealand agricultural implements are any cheaper than they are in Australia.
– I think that can be proved.
– The Prime Minister of New Zealand takes a great interest in the agricultural industry, and is fully conversant with the position in the Dominion, and he emphatically says that because of the high prices there for agricultural implements the farming community are brought to a dead stand-still.
– These implements are dearer here than there.
– The honorable member may prove that if he is able to. I know that the price of the imported article has increased to an enormously greater extent than has that of the locally manufactured article, quite apart from any effect of the duties imposed. This I shall prove by figures, showing the relative increases in price of the imported and the local articles.
– We shall be prepared to go fully into that matter on Tuesday, when we are dealing with larger items.
– That may be; but I fancy that much that is now being done may have to be reviewed. I know the Country party intend to put up a. fight on these items; if so, after the waste of time on wire netting and kindred items, we cannot dispose of the matter within the next fifty minutes. Further, I may say that I do not see why the implements and machinery mentioned in item 161 should not also be placed in item 163, seeing that all are used for the same purposes and by the same class of persons. The debate has shown that unless an honorable member has the support of the Government, it is impossible to obtain any increase in the duties, andI do not intend to weary the Committee in the absence of any prospect of success. I leave the Minister with the suggestions I have made.
– I do not propose to do anything at present.
.- This is, comparatively, only a small item, but I ask the Minister to include in it side-delivery reapers, side-delivery hay rakes, combined hay rakes and tedders, hay loaders, and grain drills, n.e.i. These machines are very rarely used; for instance, the side-delivery reaper is an old type of harvesting machine that was used before the reaper and binder was invented. The total annual sale of these machines in Australia amounts to less than fifty. Most of them are sold in Queensland, where they are used for harvesting lucerne seed, and on account of the small demand no Australian manufacturer would undertake to make them. At present they fall under item 161, agricultural implementsn.e.i., 35 per cent, general . Tariff. That is the side-delivery reaper. Then, there is the side-delivery hay rake. A very limited number of these machines are imported, and they are used mostly in harvesting sub-irrigated lucerne. On account of their large size they cannot be used to advantage in irrigated paddocks checked for irrigated lucerne. As they are not bought in large quantities, no Australian manufacturer is likely to interest himself in them. I shall be satisfied if the Minister will make a record of these matters at present. It would be unfair to ask him to make an alteration now, but he can look into them, and may be able later to see his way clear to place on the free list certain machines, some of them fairly well obsolete, that are still required for specific purposes, and are not being manufactured in Australia.
– We might postpone the item, and if, after we have concluded dealing with agricultural implements there are any which, on investigation, we find ought to be included in this item,we can then include them.
– We might pass the item, and then, if the Minister finds that what the honorable member says is correct, it can be recommitted.
– I am willing to do that.
– If all the items up to 164 are passed, will the Minister agree to report progress?
– Yes, if you give me up to 164 inclusive.
– Then, when we reach item 165 I want to deal with the whole aspect of the importation of agricultural machines into Australia. I propose to show the cost of these machines in foreign countries, New Zealand and elsewhere, and to deal generally with the question in all its phases in order to prove that the statements supplied to the Minister were not wholly in accordance with the facts. Of course, in saying that I have no desire to reflect on the Minister in any way. I shall hand’ copies of my suggested amendments to the Minister, so that he may have them investigated, and let the Committee know what he thinks about them.
. - The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) wants, in an “ airy-fairy “ way to get rid of every item up to 165. If we pass items 161-4 as they stand we shall place ourselves in an anomalous position as regards item 165. The articles enumerated in those items are just as important as those in item 165. I do not see how item 165 can govern them, but if it is to govern them the position may be made worse. Will the Minister do anything in connexion with the thresher’ I have mentioned in item 161?
– I do not know anything about it, and do not propose to deal with it now in any case. If; later on, after investigation, we see that it is desirable to do something, we may.
– I understand that the Minister has promisedthe honorable member for Dampier to re-open theitem later for the inclusion in the free list, if necessary, of any machines that the honorable member for Dampier desires. I shall not oppose the honorable member for Dampier’s suggestion to place the machines he has enumerated on the free list, because I do not think they are manufactured in Australia. I understand that item 160 is to be passed now, and may be recommitted if that is found necessary. Will the Minister promise that if I can satisfy him in the meantime as to the position of the thresher referred to, he will recommit the item for that purpose also ?
– I will promise the honorable member to reconsider it.
Item agreed to.
Item 161 (Agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery and implements, n.e.i.).
.- Why is the duty different on item 163 from what it is on 161 and 162? The machines covered by item 161 are dutiable at 221/2 per cent. British, 30 per cent intermediate, and 35 per cent, general.
– They are nearly all Canadian and American, so that you can say 35 per cent, for pretty well all of them.
– Thirty-five per cent, is not nearly enough for anything associated with Canadian machinery manufacture.
– I do not propose to give any more. .
– The natural protection at present is over 50 per cent.
– If it were not so serious one could laugh at the natural protection which the honorable member so frequently quotes.
– On the single grain drill, without any duty at all, the importing cost is actually81 per cent, of the invoice value.
– There is no such thing as natural protection when a manufacturer is determined to get a market, because he can dump until he has. thrown his local competitors out of business, and then charge what he likes. Local manufacturers would do the same thing if they could. I; do not claim that they are angels. In this matter the . Canadian and American.’, manufacturers assist one another whenever they can.
If the Canadian manufacturers are not making a certain portion of a machine they get it. placed on the free list, so that it can come in from the United. States of America from the same firm, with the same money invested.Now the war is over, we have to face the question of re-establishing our position. Europe and Australia are burdened through having borrowed enormous sums of money. The United States of America is in exactly the opposite position, although there the people have their own difficulties to face. They find that, with the high rate of exchange, it is impossible to trade with other countries. They are forcing down wages in that country by the threat of withdrawing food supplies. It is essential for them to get into the markets of the world again, and they will do it by hook or by crook. I do not want Australia to suffer in consequence. I do not wish to see thousands of men in my electorate thrown out of employment.
– They will not send us machinery unless we can send them something back.
– The politicians of the United States of America are racking their brains to discover some method of improving the position in which they find themselves. The cables show that they recognise the peculiar position they are in, and I am sure that some peculiar method will be. resorted to in order to remedy it. That country is our principal competitor in agricultural implements. What position are we to occupy so far as trade with the United States of America is concerned? Although we have the “ stinking fish “ crowd, headed by Knight and Ashworth, the “ buttoners “ for the Age newspaper, talking about economy, and howling that we are “ going to the dogs,” we know that Australia is as financial, and offers as good a market as any other country in the world. Our finance’s are just as stable, and we are certainly one of the countries that the United States of America will look to to trade with.
– A lot of credit is due to us, is it not, for the way we paid our debt to the Old Country for the upkeep of our troops?
– Whatever peculiar methods we may have resorted to to pay our debts, they are not one scrap more discreditable than those which some nations adopted to reach their present financial position. I do not give a “ jot “ for the men who own the big manufacturing industries in my electorate or for the millions of money they have invested, but I am deeply concerned about all the people who are employed in those industries.
– What do you want?
– I want the whole of these articles placed under the same heading as 163a, and made dutiable at 271/2 per cent. British, 35 per cent, intermediate, and 40 per cent, general: The Minister has promised certain legislation to obviate the effects of dumping on our industries, but a great deal of damage may be done before he can interfere. The honorable member for Dampier is “ wagging his ear” for joy at the thought of all the items up to 164 inclusive being put through as they stand, becausethey are so near to Free Trade.
– Free Trade, with duties of 35 per cent, and 40 per cent.?
– They are just as near Free Trade as the honorable member can desire for those commodities.
– The articles mentioned in this item are not used very much, and so I was asking the Minister to consider my suggestion.
– I know the honorable member desires to have them passed for a certain other purpose.
– You will change your opinion next weekwhen we are dealing with other items.
– I know the honorable member wants to get to item 165 for a very special reason. In my opinion the articles covered by these intervening items are not sufficiently protected, though I know it is useless to submit any amendment unless I can get the Minister’s approval. These items deserve very special consideration. Will the Minister say why it was thought desirable to differentiate between these items and item 163?
– Because we think the protection is adequate’ in each instance.
– I am not going to ask the Minister if he has given each item his personal consideration, because I might be inclined to doubt his assurance if he said he had, as I know that certain resolutions have been passed on to him.
There has been a considerable increase in the importation of agricultural machinery mentioned in these items. For instance, in 1910-11, the imports were valued at £392,835; in 1915-16, £275,706; in 1916-17, £234,918; in 1917-18, £183,369. These were war years, but, in 1918-19, after the armistice, the imports were £418,196; in 1919-20, £302,336; and for the ten months of the current year, £341,549. This is evidence enough, surely, that the higher duties have not prevented importations.
– Perhaps the Minister will meet the member for Melbourne Ports by allowing item 161 to pass, and making the Tariff in item 162 the same as in item 163.
– I cannot agree to that, because I think these duties are sufficient.
Item agreed to.
Chaffcutters and horse gears; corn shelters; corn huskers, cultivators, n.e.i. ; harrows, ploughs other, plough shares, plough mould boards; scarifiers, ad, val., British, 221/2 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
– The secretary of the Agricultural implement Union assures me that this duty has had no effect upon importation, and that they are unable to extract satisfactory wages from the importing companies. I suggest that the Tariff be the same as in item 163. The figures show that for the ten months of the current year there have been large importations. The articles mentioned in this item are of as much importance as wire.
– I admit that; but I think you will admit there has been a substantial increase in the duty which, with the extra cost of freight and insurance, ought to be sufficient.
– I have already shown that if the United States of America and Canadian companies desire to get into the Australian market, the present duty and the higher freights will not prevent them.
– That is a reflection upon our local manufacturers and employees.
– It is no reflection at all.
– Yes, it is. There must be something wrong somewhere.
– Even the Japanese with their allegedly cheap labour have found it necessary to take action to prevent dumping in Japan, and it cannot be said that their purpose is to protect Japanese manufacturers from cheaper labour in, say, the United States of America. We know that their antidumping legislation is not aimed at Australia, bo it must be against some other country.
-It is quite likely that the Japanese manufacturers are afraid of Canadian and American brains and efficient plants.
– Now, if I made the suggestion that the farmers of Australia were afraid of the brains and energy of farmers in other countries, the honorable member for Wimmera would feel insulted; but I would make no such statement, because I know our farmers are as efficient as the farmers of any other country. I know also that our manufacturers are efficient, and that our workers use their brains in an endeavour to maintain their present conditions of living. These duties, together with the natural protection which some honorable members so often refer to, are not sufficient. They are today in the position of a man conducting a lolly shop at a profit of £5 per week on a capital of £10,000. The firms in the United States of America are overcapitalized, and are sheltering themselves behind the high rate of exchange. But they find that that is having a boomerang’ effect, and no one knows to what methods the industrial magnates may resort in order to collar the world’s markets. Australia being a ‘ financially solvent country our market is one that the Americans would endeavour to exploit. I shall not further deal with this matter now, but on item 165 I shall have more opportunity of placing on record the methods of importing firms in their dealings with their employees and customers. I know that. I shall be told that if they are charging more than they should they are making things easier for the local manufacturer. I shall take another opportunity of discussing the whole subject.
Item agreed to.
Item 163 (Combined corn shelter, husker, and bagger,&c.) and item 164 (Churns) agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to make an appeal to the Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie) in regard to the compulsory drill of students in the various technical educational establishments. The theological students throughout Australia are exempted from compulsory drill, and I ask the Assistant Minister to consider the placing of ordinary technical students on the same footing. The various schools of mines, technical schools, and continuation classes cost the States a good deal of money, and they are a boon to parents who, through them, can give their children an education that would not otherwise be possible. I have in mind’ particularly the Kalgoorlie School of Mines, the students of which are mainly the sons of working miners. During my recent visit to Kalgoorlie I heard of four graduates from that school who have gone to different parts of the world to take up good scientific appointments. Whilst I desire to say nothing to the detriment of theologians, I think that well-trained scientists are just as good an asset to the community, and they are also a decided advertisement for Australia if they obtain important positions in other parts of theworld.
– I am prepared to see that consideration is given to the matter raised by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who may rest assured that the Government are favorably disposed towards trainees, and will do their utmost to insure that no hardship is placed upon them. Everything possible will be done to see that their studies are not interfered with by the drill. However, the consideration of this matter may well be deferred until the new. Defence Bill is before the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 June 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210610_reps_8_95/>.