8th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson.)’ took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers..
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Loan Bill’ (£12,000,000).
Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill,. 1922-23.
Message recommending appropriation reported, and reierred to Committee of the whole.
– I wish to know if the Prime Minister intends to submit at the forthcoming election proposals for the amendment of the Constitution. As it is in contemplation to hold the elections at an early date, will it not be necessary to take immediate action in this matter, in order that the provisions of the Constitution governing its amendment may be complied with?
– The honorable member is quite right in what he says. But may I point out to him that only the other day he professed himself a warm and enthusiastic supporter of the proposal for an immediate appeal to the people. Yet he has brought before the House since the session opened so many serious and important matters that his recognition now of the importance of amending the Constitution is a little belated. The honorable member has had his innings, and during it no one could work. However, I will consider his question, and let him know what I resolve.
– Has the Prime Minister yet been furnished with a reply to a question which I asked about the middle of July - two months ago - regarding the number of Commonwealth employees outside the ambit of the Public Service Commissioner ?
– No doubt the information is being compiled; but I shall make inquiries, and let the honorable member know the result.
– I have received the following telegram from Sydney: -
Notwithstanding. . shipbuilding agreement, shipyard department of Cockatoo paid off all boilermakers and ten assistants. Please ask if Government is aware of this.
I should like to know whether the Government has decided to stop shipbuilding in Australia, ls that its policy?
– I have no information about any action that may have been taken at Cockatoo Island, but there has been no alteration of the policy of the Government. I shall make inquiries into the matter.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that some dissatisfaction exists because bounty has been refused to persons who are canning parts of the carcasses they receive and exporting other parts?
– The Government subsidy was . provided, not to assist meat canning works, but to help the cattleowners, and it will be paid to meat canning works only when the Government receives definite proof that it has been already given to the cattle-owners, or that a price has been paid to them which includes it. If. there be associated with freezing works a canning branch, and part of a beast is canned and part frozen for export, I do not think the Government will prevent exportation, provided that the grower has received the benefit of the subsidy.
– Lhave received from Mr. W. Waugh the following letter. It is dated yesterday, and is typewritten on his official notepaper: -
With reference to the Prime Minister’s statement that I refused to tender for the purchase of the above vessels, if an opportunity had been given to me to publicly tender for same, I would have most certainly submitted a tendder.
– On Friday last tha honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) made some observations in the House to the effect that I had deliberately misled honorable members regarding the extension of timegranted to quartermastersprior to retirement. He said that I had bluffed the House. What I said was this -
As a matter of fact, it has been almost the invariable practice of the Department to extend the services of quartermasters to the maximum period of two years.
– The Minister said in answer to me, in the course of my speech, that it had been the invariable practice.
– The statement that I have just quoted appears in the Hansard report of my reply to the honorable member for Yarra. A Minister must rely in matters of this sort on the information furnished to him by his officers, and in this case I not only referred to the officer who was in attendance behind Mr. Speaker’s chair, but also got the Assistant Minister to ring up the Department, and my honorable colleague told me that the officer with whom he had communicated confirmed the information which bad been given to me, and repeated by me to the House. I have since had the records for the last ten years looked through, and I find that in only one case was there no extension granted, and then there were special circumstances. The quartermaster concerned was ill, and the Board recommended the grant of a sum of money, but as the man died before the money could be paid to him, it was paid to bis widow. In every other case an extension of time was granted. In three cases this extension was not for the maximum period, but in other cases, owing to the exigencies of the situation, it was considerably over that period. In every case but the one I have mentioned an extension of time was given.
– I also rise to make a personal explanation. On Friday last I quoted a list of quartermaster-majors and quartermaster-captainswho were compulsorily retired, some within a couple of months, and some a little more, of their ordinary retiring age, and, in answer to my speech, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene) made several statements. If honorable members will refer to Hansard, page 5013, they will find that the Minister stated, by interjection, when the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath) was speaking, that it was the invariable rule to give quartermasters an extension of two years. They will also find that he made a long interjection when I was speaking on Friday last, in which he again referred to the invariable rule. The only place in which the qualification “almost” is ito be found is in the Minister’s own speech, the proof of which, of course, he has the right to correct. I wish to make my position clearto honorable members, because I have taken some trouble with these cases. When the Minister stated on Thursday last that it was the invariable rule to extend the service of quartermasters for two years I referred to the officers’ list to ascertain what quartermasters were born- before June, 1862, so that I might see what happened to them this year. I wanted to quote the most recent retirements. I found that only three quartermasters were born before June, 1862, and were, therefore, due for retirement before June of this year ; the three of them were retired on their sixtieth birthday. The Minister then explained that those three men were retired because they were to participate in the compensation benefits provided by the Defence Retirement Bill. That statement is very doubtful. Honorable members who study the measure will be surprised to be told that the quartermasters who have reached retiring age are covered by its provisions; probably those officers will be included now. After being contradicted on Friday I again looked up the records. Of course, I have not Departmental officers at my command to do this research work for me; I had to make a search in the public documents in the Library, and turn up the officers’ list in order to see what quartermasters were born in 1861. I could not find any. I then, looked for men born in 1860, and turned to the Gazette for 1920 in order to see what happened to them. I found that only one quartermaster was born on the 11th September, 1860, and he was retired on the 11th September, 1920.
– The honorable member is going beyond personal explanation. The Minister rose to make a personal explanation, because he said he wished to correct a misrepresentation. The honorable member for Yarra is now bringing forward fresh matter, to supplement a speech he made last week. He is not entitled to do that. A personal explanation can be made in respect of something in regard to which the member speaking has been misrepresented, or in respect of some omission from a former speech, which may be necessary to clarify something that otherwise would be obscure.
– I desire to make my position clear, and if I am transgressing the rules I ask leave to make a statement.
– The fact that the quartermaster-major who was born in 1860 was retired on his sixtieth birthday in 1920, shows that the extension of a quartermaster’s service is not an invariable rule.’
– That is the case I mentioned.
– I find that another officer was retired in 1920; he was born on the 23rd February, 1859, but as he reached the retiring age in February, 1919, about four months after the Armistice was signed, his term was extended, presumably, because other officers had not returned from the Front. But the extension was not for two years; he was retired on the 23rd February, 1920, when he reached sixty-one years of age.
– Quote the other instance in that year.
– Two others were retired at the age of sixty-two in that year, but as they reached the retiring age in 1918, when the war was in progress, and it was the rule of the Department, so I read in the press, not to retire any officer while the war was on and other officers were absent, the fact of those two men getting a two years’ extension does not prove the existence of an invariable rule.
– Why did not the honorable member go back to the two preceding years ? Did they not suit him ?
– I have not a number of officers at my disposal to dig up data for me, but honorable members will admit that I have shown a good deal of industry in regard to this Bill. It is not a very small job to look up the records for even one year. One has first of all to look through the officers’ list in order to get the number of officers who were born in a certain year, and then search the Gazettes, probably eight or ten, in the year when -those officers would be due for retirement, in order to ascertain whether they actually were retired. I did not refuse to look back further because the facts might not suit me. I looked up the records sufficiently far back to substantiate my statement. In regard to a statement made by the Minister on Friday that the three officers who were retired before June of this year will come under the provisions of clause 3 of the Bill, I point out that the clause refers to those whose term of engagement expired after January and before the 30th June, 1922. The term of engagement applies to the rank and file, men who were engaged for a period of five years, and then had to bere-engaged, and that clause was drafted to bring them within the benefits of the Defence Retirement Bill. The age of retirement, on the other hand, is referred to in clause 13, which says that the measure shall not apply to any person discharged on account of having reached the age of retirement. There is no question that the age of retirement for quartermasters is sixty years, and clause 13 says that the Bill shall not apply to those who reach that age. But clause 3 brings under the measure the whole of the rank and file whose term of engagement had not expired between 1st January and 30th June, 1922. To sum up my attitude, I have quoted three- cases of men who retired in 1922 on their sixtieth birthday, another man who retired in 1920 on his sixtieth birthday, and still another, who retired in 1920, on his sixty-first birthday, proving conclusively that it is not the invariable rule of the Department to extend the service of quartermasters by two years.
– Has Mr. Little, the Commonwealth Trade Commissioner at Shanghai, been re-engaged, or is he now representing the Commonwealth at Shanghai without engagement?
- Mr. Little has represented Australia at China without interruption from the time of has appointment.
– I promised the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) to ascertain whether the 3s. a bushel which the Government have undertaken to guarantee in the coming wheat harvest covered handling and all other expenses. I told the honorable member that I would discuss the matter with Sir Denison Miller, Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, and this I have done. I now desire to say that the Government are prepared to leave this matter in the hands of the Commonwealth Bank; but they are willing to guarantee the Bank uo to an amount not exceeding 3s. 8d. per. bushel, the extra 8d. to cover all handling charges between the railway siding and the ship. The matter, therefore, is now one for the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank to decide.
Billpresented by Mr. Bruce, and read a first time.
The following papers were pre sented: -
China - Trade ‘between the Commonwealth and - Report by Senator Thomas J. K. Bakhap.
Ordered to be printed.
Public Service Act - Promotionof Mr. B. Harry, Postmaster-General’s Department.
Mr. Cattermull’s Statement
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– To the best of my recollection, theonly recent conversation I had with Mr. Cattermull waa during my visit to Queensland in June last. I then saw him and many others representing the sugar industry, and to all of them I gave the same advice, viz., that they should send practical men - cane-growers - down south to put their case before the men on the land. I most certainly did not, in Queensland or anywhere else, state that if they did this we would renew the agreement. On the contrary, as the press reports will show, I refrained from, indicating the policy of the Government in regard to the future, although I made it quite clear that the Government, regard ing the sugar industry as one inseparable from the policy of a White Australia and of land settlement in the tropical portions of the Commonwealth, would not allow the industry to be imperilled.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice–
Whether he will submit the following question to referendum at the next Federal election: - “That the Commonwealth Constitution Act be amended to provide that 10 per cent, nf the electors in any electoral division of the Common wealth comprising an area of 50,000 square miles or over may petition the Commonwealth Parliament to cause a referendum to be taken of the electors in their electoral division as to the creation of a new State comprising their division; and providing further, that if said referendum is carried by a majority of the electors residing in the division, the Commonwealth Parliament shall have the right to create such new State?
– The matter will receive consideration.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– It is not considered advisable to furnish legal opinion in answer to questions in the House.
Unemployed Returned Soldiers: Sustenance Allowance - War Service Homes: Remuneration of Acting Commissioner: Salaries of Deputy Commissioners : Consulting Accountant
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The Department is also subsidizing the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, whose returns to the 31st August, 1922, show the following: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Paymentof Wheat-growers’ Representatives.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– On 31st August, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) asked the following questions: -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows.: -
The Commandant, 3rd District Base, to whom the matter was referred, has received the following statement from Major Conder: - “It is correct that 89 sheets, or so-called sheets, were washed for me. Some of these sheets have been in my possession for the past six years, and a number of them used by me for bed linen, and others for saddle cloths. An occasional sheet had a stamp “ Langwarrin” on, but was not the property of the Defence Department. Any linen at the camp was always marked “Langwarrin,” and occasionally some of my property got . mixed up with other laundry at Mrs. Thomas’. The box containing about 50 of these sheets had not been opened for at least three years. These sheets, clothing, &c, were my own personal property. Some brought from Tasmania in 1914, and others purchased by me. On my return from Rabaul in 1919, my gear had not returned, and I had to make fresh purchases. Hence the quantity.” The Commandant reports that all sheetsissued to the Langwarrin Camp have been accounted for.
Promotions in Electoral Branch: Views of Public Service Commissioner as to Section 50 of the Act and Regulation 281.
– On 7th September, the honorable member for
Bourke (Mr. Anstey) asked me the following question: -
In view of the undertaking given by the Minister to obtain an expression of opinion from the Public Service Commissioner as to his understanding of section 50 of the Public Service Act, and Regulation 281 prescribed thereunder, will the Minister ask the Public Service Commissioner to supply direct answers to the following questions: -
Do not section 50 of the Public Service Act and Public Service Regulation 281 thereunder clearly contemplate that an officer himself shall be the judge as to whether he is likely to be “aifected” by a report or recommendation or action taken by the Public Service Commissioner, and that, in the event of an officer lodging an appeal, there must be no final determination by the former until after he has received the recommendation of the Board of Appeal ?
Does not Public Service Regulation 281 impose upon the Commissioner the duty of communicating, either directly or by public advertisement, with officers likely to be affected by any report or recommendation made or action taken by him, in order to afford such officers the opportunity of complying with the provisions of Public Service Regulation 281?
If affirmative answers are returned to the two preceding questions, will the Minister ascertain whether the senior officers of the Electoral Branch of the Home and Territories Department who were superseded by the junior officers, Messrs. Turner and Ainsworth, of the same branch, had communicated to them directly or by public advertisement the nature of the report or recommendation made by the Commissioner in favour of the said junior officers?
If not, why were such senior officers not so informed?
In view of the fact that the Public Service Commissioner has referred the appeals of some officers to a Board of Appeal, will the Minister ascertain how such officers became possessed of information relating to the Commissioner’s reports or recommendations, and were thus enabled to have their cases referred to a Board of Appeal?
The Acting Public Service Commissioner, has now furnished me with the following information : -
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this measure is to grant the sum of £85,000 to the State of Tasmania. The circumstances under which a grant has been paid to this State for some years past are well known to honorable members, and it is probably within their recollection that the term over which these payments extended expired during the last financial year. In 1910, a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into any losses that Tasmania had suffered from the advent of Federation, including losses through Customs leakage. The Commission, when it met, found that the losses through Customs leakage were practically nominal, but it was recommended that a grant of £900,000 be made to Tasmania in accordance with section 96 of the Constitution’, which reads -
During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth, and thereafter until Parliament otherwise provides, Parliament may grant financial assistance ‘to any State, on such terms and conditions as Parliament thinks fit.
The Commission sat in 1910, and in 1912 the Government of the day introduced a Bill to make a special grant to Tasmania of £500,000. In the following year a further grant of £400,000 was made, making £900,000 in all, to be paid over a period of ten years. The last of those payments was made last year, and was an amount of £85,000. The payments in the preceding years had been £90,000 a year, with the exception of the first, year, when it was £95,000. When this arrangement was made it was, I think, a little unfortunate that it was not so provided that during the latter years of the period over which the £900,000 was to be paid, the amount should be a. reducing one. In the case of a more or less similar arrangement with Western. Australia, that was done, and the payments were reduced by £10,000 each year. Under the Tasmanian agreement, however, the full amount, or practically the full amount, of £85,000, instead of £90,000, was paid in the last year. Apparently no steps were taken, when the termination of this agreement was at hand, to deal with the position and see whether any arrangement could be made. The impression left in Tasmania, from everything I have been able to learn, was that there would be no sudden cessation of this grant. Honorable members are well aware of the size, population, and financial position of
Tasmania, and they realize that the cessation of the payment of £85,000 in one year would throw a strain on the State finances which the State would find very difficult to bear.
The matter has been the subject of serious negotiation between the present. Government and the State Government of Tasmania. In my Budget statement I indicated to the House that it was proposed by the Federal Government to submit proposals for the continuation of the grant for the present year; and this Bill is now introduced to give effect to that indication. The reason which has dictated this course to the Federal Government is that for many years, or for some years, at all events, the question of the financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth has occupied the consideration of the most serious thinkers in this community. Considerable efforts were made to deal with the question when the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) was Treasurer, but no finality was reached, and no arrangement was come to. But I think it is clear that the whole question of the financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth must come up for review by the representatives of both Commonwealth and States.
– Why not, at the next general election, elect delegates to a Convention to settle the. matter ?
– That might be one way of dealing with the subject, but I am now faced with the practical difficultv of the moment; how the difficulty is to be solved in the future remains to be seen. With the possibility of a review of the whole of the financial arrangements between the States and the Commonwealth, it did not appear to the Government to be desirable that this grant should be suddenly cut off, and that Tasmania should have to make arrangements for the raising of what, to that State, is a very large sum, and thus seriously dislocate the whole of its finances. Having in view the possibility of the whole of the financial arrangements between the States and the Commonwealth shortly coming under consideration, the Government determined to recommend to the House that this arrangement should be continued for the present year by the payment of £85,000. It is for the House to give its consideration to the matter, and to express its opinion.
I only now wish to say that this arrangement with Tasmania cannot continue indefinitely.I do not wish the people of Tasmania to think for a moment that, because the Government have made this arrangement for the present year, the matter can be allowed to rest there. If the whole of the finances of all the States and Commonwealth are coming under review in the near future, as I certainly hope they will, the position will have to be dealt with as one for negotiation between the Commonwealth and the State of Tasmania.
– Was Tasmania given to understand that there would be a renewal of the agreement?
– I would not go so far as to say that Tasmania was given an undertaking or guarantee that it would be renewed, but, from all the information T can get, the impression was certainly gained by Tasmania that the grant of £85,000 would not be suddenly cut off. I think there was an impression in Tasmania that quite possibly new proposals would be made which would gradually reduce the grant as the years went on. However, I think I can go so far as to sav that, from the information I have, Tasmania was certainly led to believe that the whole grant would not be suddenly cut off at the termination of the agreement.
– The amount was £90,000. Fow is it reduced to £85,000?
– The grant was £900,000 in all, but £95,000, for pome reason I have not discovered, was paid in the first year, and, to round off the £900,000, the last payment was one of £85,000. This Bill merely makes provision for the payment of £85,000 for the present year, and I recommend it to the House.
.- I do not intend to offer any opposition to the Bill. I realize that Tasmania is in such a very impecunious position - if I may so put it - that she appears to be in great difficulties. Although the Act itself provides that payments shall cease at the expiration of a certain term, the Treasurer has told us that he understands there was an impression in Tasmania that the payments would not suddenly cease, and under the circumstances this Bill appears to be justified. When this matter was inquired into by a Royal Commission in 1910, it was found that in addition to the per capita payment to which Tasmania was entitled along with all the States”, she was entitled to a certain amount per annum. I think it was the Fisher Government which, in 1912, made available £500,000, though the Royal Commission had recommended £900,000. Subsequently, in 1913. I think the late Lord Forrest, as Treasurer, increased the amount to £900,000. Thus, Tasmania received the allowance which has ever since been allocated to her. It appears, however, that the situation to-day is no better, and that it is still necessary for the Commonwealth to come to the aid of the little State. But 1 agree with the Treasurer that the time is rapidly approaching when there must be a better understanding between the Commonwealth and the States regarding the financial assistance tendered by the former to the latter. While the Constitution makes certain provision to that end, it does not necessarily follow that the practice of granting Commonwealth aid must always be continued along the £ame lines. It will become the duty of the Treasurer, before the close of the present financial year, to (go very closely and carefully into this important question.
.- I support the motion for the second reading of this measure, which will involve the continuance of the financial grant to Tasmania for the ensuing year. I was pleased to hear the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) say that he recognised the necessity in the near future of completely revising the whole question of financial relationship between the various States and the Commonwealth. One reason why Tasmania is finding herself in such a difficult financial position may be found in the fact that the Commonwealth and the States are to a large extent dipping into the same sources of revenue in order to carry on the activities of government. During the past ten years the position has become very much worse for the island State compared with the period when the grant was first instituted. The Commonwealth has meanwhile imposed in- co[me taxation, and lessened the amount available for the States. It has demanded the payment of probate duties, and of an entertainments tax; and there has also been an increase in the imposition of land taxation. After all, it is to the States that the people must look for development. To that end, the earliest possible opportunity should be taken to leave wide and clear scope for the gathering of revenue to all the various States.
– In esse and in posse!
– Exactly ! I had intended to make special reference to that very consideration. Although the grant to Tasmania has been in existence during the past ten years, I agree that it should not be cut off hurriedly. Its withdrawal is bound to interfere with her financial position, which is already far from flourishing, from causes for which Commonwealth treatment is partly responsible. Quite apart from that aspect, it should be borne in mind that Tasmania’s isolated position places her out of the stream of Commonwealth progress. That is to say, she does not secure the same degree of practical interest. There is not the same consideration for her advancement and welfare as is inevitably won for themselves by the other States on the mainland. Tasmania’s best means of protection lies in the active support of the proposition for the subdivision of Australia into numbers of smaller States. I do not suggest that these would necessarily be companions in her financial distress, but that there would be, at any rate, some degree of team work in obtaining a fair deal for the smaller States in regard to Commonwealth disbursements.
One important fact to be remembered is that, in recent years, much of the public expenditure of Tasmania has been in the direction of establishing the hydroelectric scheme, in connexion with which £3,000,000 has already been spent on construction work. It is only fair, because of this progressive action, ‘that she should receive assistance on this account alone. Considerable capital outlay is necessarily involved in the early stages of any such proposition, and no one expects to see lucrative returns for the first two or three years.
– One of Tasmania’s strongest arguments is for assistance until her hydro-electric plans shall have come to fruition.
– Happily, the hydro-electric proposition has now almost arrived at a stage in which it should begin to pay all charges ; but, in order to secure the best service from the scheme as . a whole it will be necessary for the State authorities to carry out considerably greater extensions of the transmission system. In this undertaking the Tasmanian Government are performing a service, not merely to the citizens of that State, but, indirectly, to the Commonwealth as a whole, for the scheme should ultimately make available considerable capital from overseas as a fresh source of Federal taxation and Australian development.
Altogether, apart from these arguments, Tasmania has some reason to feel that she has not been given a fair deal in connexion with the administration of the Navigation Act. That she has to contribute her share of payment for the mail contracts from Europe is held up in contrast to the fact that those mail services are not permitted to be availed of by the island State producers for the consignment of cargoes abroad. In this regard, Tasmania- has very real cause for complaint.
Before Federation, Tasmania was in a very sound financial position; she had no reason to ask favours from any source. During the financial period from 1895 to 1900 a continuous run of surpluses was enjoyed. These grew from £13,026 in 1895, to £131,249 in 1900. But at the birth of the Federation a considerable part of Tasmania’s Customs revenue, which had been a very considerable factor in her prosperity, was withdrawn. The State deficit in 1901 was £44,289, and in1 902 it had leaped to the alarming total of £116,022. In 1903, the deficit was £21,658; and, in 1904, £12,496. Thus in the first four years’ history of the Commonwealth Tasmania had accumulated deficits approaching £200,000, which sum represented a serious problem to the people of that small State. And, although strenuous efforts were made in the succeeding five years, by “emptying out” practically every Ministry which had been in office during the term in which the deficit accumulated, and by employing every available means of raising revenue, Tasmania continued to be faced by financial difficulties.
Mr.Watt. - When did she import Tattersall’s as an aid to raising revenue?
– I am notsureof the date; but I recall that, during the period when she was in sorest straits, she began an action against Victoria because of the latter State receiving more than was considered her share of the refund from Customs revenue under the terms of the “ Braddon blot.” I cordially support the Bill.
– I am struck with the unanimity with which the Leaders of the various parties in this House have indicated their anxiety about Tasmania.
– The measure must be a good one when all parties agree upon it.
– I do not know that all parties agree. I, personally, do not; and, although I do not speak as a party, or as the leader of a party, I represent nearly as many electors as are represented by all the members sent to this House from Tasmania. The probabilities are that the division of Eden-Monaro contributes more towards the revenue than the whole of the little island State.
– The honorable member is wrong, and he knows it.
– My electorate is probably the richest and the largest contributor to the Federal revenue among, all the divisions in New South Wales.
– The honorable member’s division could certainly establish an excellent hydro-electric proposition.
– Undoubtedly it could. The Snowy River - the largest hydro project in Australia - as well as the Shoalhaven scheme. But I wish to see these things left to private enterprise. Trouble comes of Governments meddling with matters they should leave alone.
– Could not the provision of an hostel at Canberra be left to private enterprise? ‘
– Yes. Tasmanian representatives have the effrontery to condemn Commonwealth expenditure at Canberra, repudiating a contract embodied in the Constitution, and at the ‘ same time ask us to give effect to what they term an inferred agreement! The Treasurer told us that Tasmania has been under the impression that the grant made to her would lae renewed: but can he point to anything in our records in support of thp policy of keeping the State an object of Commonwealth charity? The Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Charlton) has spoken of Tasmania as an impecunious State. Some of the representatives of that State, such as the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) have taken a reasonable stand in this Parliament in reference to Commonwealth expenditure, and but for such members Tasmania would now be in a sorry case. What would be her fate if the representatives of the big State of New South Wales, which contributes about 421/2 per cent, of the total revenue of the Commonwealth while Tasmania contributes only41/2 per cent., took as parochial views as those of the other Tasmanian representatives?
– It is a matter of right or wrong.
– -Is it right for Tasmanian representatives to disregard the solemn contract between New South Wales and the Commonwealth -which is set out in the Constitution and at the same time to ask for a charitable grant for Tasmania? The application for this grant affords an argument against the creation of more tinpot States. We do not need more Parliaments, with their cost and pomp. Were the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett), or some other rich man, to buy up Tasmania, as he might easily do, it would save the Commonwealth a lot of trouble. The representatives of that State severely criticise Commonwealth expenditure in other States, and yet ask for monetary assistance from it. I would remind the Treasurer that the original grant to Tasmania was made before the war, and that, therefore, it might be desirable to reduce the amount of the present grant. The practice seems to be to spend and to keep on spending, although what we should do is to economize. The taxpayers, if they have a bad season or two, will find it very difficult to provide us with the revenue which we now require from them. The taxation is up to breaking point. The Government should bear in mind the burden, imposed upon us by the war. We have wounded and maimed soldiers to look after. If we go on spending in the old reckless way, our taxpayers will be unable to foot the bill. Therefore, I raise my voice in warning. I have never heard three speeches so unanimous as those of the leaders of the three parties in this House, yet the true position has not been put before us. Tasmania has more representatives in this Parliament than she is entitled to on a population basis. Six senators are elected by Tasmania and only the same number by New South Wales, whose population is many times greater.
– What about the Federal agreement in regard to the Senate?
– Surely the honorable member would not break an honorable compact?
– Compact or no compact, we must look things in the face. Our people are groaning; under taxation, and we should not be bluffed into making a grant merely because a certain number of votes are at stake ; we should be satisfied, before voting for this proposal, that it is in the best interests of the whole community.
.- There is a Latin proverb which says that ho gives best who gives quickly, and as the proposed grant for Tasmania is a charitable one, it had, I suppose, best be made quickly. But will the State regard these grants as involving repayments to the Commonwealth Treasury, when she is in a position to make them ? The Treasurer would be glad to get the money back. A grant of £900,000 was made to Tasmania mainly owing to the action taken by Mr. Jensen, towards whom Tasmanians acted most ungratefully.
– I drew lots with Mr. Jensen to see who should take the matter up, and he won.
– When the original proposal was before the House, a Tasmanian said to me, “ For God’s sake, let some one say something against the proposal, or it will appear too unanimous,” and I got up and spoke much on the lines that I am now following.
– I was not the member who said that.
– Not one of the representatives of Tasmania has spoken in favour of the present proposal.
– That is so. Not one of them has advanced logical reasons for the granting of this money to the State.
– Did not the Treasurer do that?
– He is not a representative of Tasmania. Honorable members know that our soldiers and our oldage pensioners are not getting a square deal. The Tasmanians are shrewd enough to get the annual Commonwealth payments to the States based on population statistics collected at Christmas time, when tourists from other States swell the population of Tasmania. For each of those tourists the State receives from the Commonwealth 25s. per annum. If this generation makes these grants to Tasmania, future generations should have the right to claim the repayment of the money. Tasmania is blessed as no other State is blessed, with a good rainfall over her whole area; with a central lake at a high altitude, from which water can be drawn to make electricity at a nominal cost; with large tin deposits; with coal mines and with gold mines; and her soil is equal to that of any other State. Yet she is the only mendicant State in the Union.
– But look at her Government.
– A Labour Government has held sway in Tasmania for only a short period; Liberal and National Governments have been in power for the rest of the time. Notwithstanding her advantages, the State comes to the Commonwealth for assistance. It is due to past Tasmanian Liberal Governments that Tasmania is the most uneducated State in the Union, and possesses the worst land laws. The representation of Tasmania in this Parliament is most liberal. In the Senate she has the same representation as New South Wales, although the latter’s population exceeds that of Tasmania by 2.000,000. The time must come when representation must be in accordance with population, and I hope to be able to give my vote for that. In this House Tasmania has a. representation of five members, although entitled, on a population basis, to less than three.
– The Constitution, makes provision for that.
– The Constitution has done good service in the past, but being the work of man, it can be altered when the Australian people wish to alter it. We are to go before the electors soon, and I care not how soon; but I claim from Tasmania the acknowledgment that these grants shall be regarded as loans. If the people of the State act as honorable men would act, when it gets to its proper height - and it will never rise higher than I wish it to rise - it will repay these grants to the Commonwealth with interest. In Melbourne financial men have failed, and on recovering their solvency have repaid their debts. One man whom I hold dear in memory paid in full and with interest every man whom he had owed, and who had helped him in his time of trouble. I do not wish Tasmanian representatives to think that I have any adverse feeling towards their State; I merely regard this advanoe as a loan which an honorable State will ultimately repay to the Commonwealth.
.- The Treasurer’s proposal appeared to have been received absolutely unanimously by the House until the apple of discord was thrown upon the table by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr- Austin Chapman). He had never known any proposal to be threatened with such ready acceptance, and consequently he intervened to cause disruption and to frustrate, or defer, the hopes of Tasmanian representatives. If any other honorable members had objected to this grant, we could have understood their action, but there is surelv something sardonic in the opposition of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. It was only during this very session that, primarily through his own sustained and persistent efforts, a round half-million pounds was taken out of the coffers of the Treasury for a spot in the centre of his own electorate, named Canberra. If Tasmania is called a “speck,” how shall Canberra be described ? If Victorian members, who are accused bv the honorable member and his colleagues of being provincial and absurd on the question of economy, had made use of his language, we would . have been understood, if not forgiven; but the honorable member is not an advocate of economy, as we in Victoria understand the word. He advocates economy at every other spot in the Commonwealth except one portion of his own electorate, and whilst, doubtless, his electors are proud of the skill with which he wields the magic wand within this House, and secures such largesse from a Treasury which is not over swollen, as the Treasurer admits, it ill becomes him to object to a small grant for a State that is in need of the money.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro ought to reprint this speech and circulate it to aid his return at the next election.
– I had not intended to provide the honorable member with a recommendation to his electors. Those of us who like, as we all do, the honorable member: for Eden-Monaro, forgive a failing of this kind. He cannot see the inconsistency of his own conduct. However, streaking seriously, I think the Treasurer’s proposition is a temporary cure of a very difficult problem - difficult in point of moral obligation to the Commonwealth Government, and difficult also to the Treasury of Tasmania.
– How does it arise?
– Because we do not wish the termination suddenly of the average grant of £90.000 ner annum that has been made to the State’ of Tasmania for the last ten years. A sum of £900.000 was voted, and the Treasurer started to measure it out at an average rate of £90,000 per annum. The arrangement terminated on the 30th June, 1922, and, as I understand the history of the grant, during this current financial year, unless Parliament provides something of the kind proposed in the Bill, no money will be paid by the Commonwealth to the Treasury of Tasmania. It is, of course, wrong, when the Commonwealth has financial relationships with a State in this way, to terminate them suddenly and without due notice. Whatever the resources of the State may be, grants of this kind are measured in some way according to the need of them, and no doubt £85,000 is a very substantial sum to the Treasury of Tasmania. For that reason, I feel entirely sympathetic to the proposal to tide over this year, and bridge the difficulty of both the Commonwealth and State Governments, by this further gift of £85,000. The Treasurer stated that he thought that in the near future an attempt should be made to settle the relationships between the Commonwealth and States in matters of finance. The Braddon clause extended until 1911, and the fixed per capita payment which was recommended by all the Governments concerned at that time for embodiment in the Constitution, but to which the people, by referendum,- declined to give assent, was subsequently embodied by the Fisher Government in a Statute to cover a period of ten years and until Parliament otherwise provided. We have now passed the period of the second contract with the States, and I think any Government that slumbers on this question of financial relationships would be recreant to their duty, not only from the stand-point of Commonwealth finance, but also from the, stand-point of the expectations and hopes of the States. With the Constitution in its present form, it is clear that the States are ‘ primarily responsible for the railways, land settlement, conservation of water, and the utilization and exploitation of the natural productivity of the country, and it would be wrong for the subsidizing Government to leave them long in doubt as to what amount of money is to be measured out to them. Holding that view, I, as Treasurer, had the temerity some time ago to frame a tentative proposition for consideration by the States. It was not accepted, but it was not intended that it should be accepted instantaneously; it was merely a basis for argument between the Commonwealth and the States. It meant the gradual reduction by 2s. 6d. per annum to a fixed minimum of the 25s. per capita which the Commonwealth is at present paying to the States. Whatever may be the basis of future negotiations for settlement - of this question, I share the Treasurer’s view that in . respect of not only Tasmania, but all the States, the payment from the Commonwealth should be shaded, and its reduction graduated, so that as State revenues grow, as the revenue of every State owning railways and conducting big public enterprises must grow if- it is wisely governed, the Commonwealth’s contribution shall diminish.
– But the Commonwealth has invaded all the avenues of taxation.
– And, as the honorable member knows, I do not propose that the
Commonwealth, should continue to invade. In the inevitable re-adjustment of taxation, the chances are that, whilst this Parliament may not feel disposed to definitely and permanently assign a prescribed area of direct taxation to the States, we shall be able probably to step out of the area we now occupy, and, as we withdraw, give the States a chance to further explore direct taxation. By that means only can the Commonwealth be fair. However, I support the Bill, and I indorse the hope enunciated by the Treasurer that in the early future some Government of the Commonwealth will, in conference with the States, endeavour to re-adjust, at least for a further period of ten years, the financial relationship with all the States. When that takes place, those two States which apparently have suffered most, Western Australia and Tasmania, to which the Commonwealth has in the past made, and is still making, special grants, will have their circumstances specially considered in some way. As the representative of the Government during the war period I gave the States of Western Australia and Tasmania only this assurance - and I think it is all they have ever had - that when the time came for the Commonwealth to , review its commitments to them, it would, I felt sure, sympathetically consider the history of these grants and the future need of their continuance in some form and to some extent. However, there is no promise of an indefinite continuation to Western Australia or Tasmania.
– But that promise is quite sufficient to justify this Bill. ‘
– It is, and it is unfortunate that the Government of Tasmania should have been obliged to wait so long before getting an assurance that this Parliament will help the State to finance some of its operations during the year.
– The State Government knew that this grant was terminating; why did they not make provision accordingly?
– I assume that the archives of the Treasury would reveal the anxiety of the Tasmanian Government for some assurance, as well as the reluctance or indecision of the Commonwealth Government in regard to giving it. How ever, I hope the Treasurer will push forward the idea of an early conference and an early settlement for another ten-year period, of the whole of the financial transactions between the Commonwealth and the States.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I have explained to the House that this Bill has nothing to do with the basis upon which pensions are paid to soldiers. It is merely an appropriating measure to enable the Government from time to time to pay sums into a TrustFund from which will be made the payments due under the law to war pensioners. Up till the year 1920-21 the war pensions were paid from annual votes; but since that year they have been paid out of a Trust Fund. The practice has been to appropriate a large sum, which is usually £10,000,000, but it does not mean that this amount is paid in any. financial year for war pensions. The amount to be paid for this purpose this year is just whatever may be due under the various Acts passed.
– The Bill merely removes £10,000,000 from one Trust Fund to another.
– It is merely a machinery measure to give us power to appropriate £10,000,000 to the Trust Fund from which war pension payments axe made when required. It is purely a machinery measure. It authorizes us to pay portion of the surplus of general revenue in hand at the end of the financial year into the War Pensions Trust Fund. Another portion of the surplus is paid into a similar Trust Fund, out of which invalid and old-age pensions are paid. For the present year we shall require to draw upon the War Pennsions Trust Fund for an amount of £6,750,000, but as the appropriation available does not exceed £5,000,000, it is obvious that a further appropriation is necessary. We are ask- ing for £10,000,000, but it does not necessarily mean that the full amount will be utilised this year. We simply want the appropriation authorized, so that at the end of the financial year any surplus in hand on General Revenue Account, which, according to the Budget, is estimated to be £3,700,000, may be paid into a Trust Fund for the purpose of paying pensions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– I move -
This motion is to give effect to the policy announced by the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) in his financial statement. While preserving the principle of affording protection to the local manufacturer, it will secure to the users of wire netting, fencing wire, galvanized iron, and tractors in the Commonwealth a supply of these commodities at practically the world’s competitive prices.
– I would like that point explained a little more fully.
– I am quite aware that my honorable friend may bold the view that the Government’s proposal waters down that fiscal faith of which be himself is a stout and consistent upholder, but surely a measure that secures a double-barrelled benefaction should commend itself to honorable members, because, while insuring for the primary producers of Australia supplies of their requirements at world’s competitive prices, it will also provide a local market at remunerative prices and continuity of employment for the Australian manufacturer and his employees, providing only that they put forth their best efforts to hold and secure these benefits.
– But this motion says nothing about affording protection to the manufacturers.
– The honorable member knows that the motion will be supported and sustained by the immediate introduction of a Bounty Bill, which will secure to the Australian manufacturer no more and no less advantage than he has enjoyed under the law of the land to-day. The measure is ready, but must necessarily follow the motion which I am now submitting. The first step to be taken is to reduce the duties affected.
– Should not the two measures have been brought down simultaneously ?
– Not necessarily. The amendment to the Tariff effected by the motion I am submitting will operate from to-morrow morning, but there is no guarantee that a Bounty Bill, when submitted to this Parliament, could be passed with that expedition which characterizes the effect brought about by the submission of a Tariff resolution. However, the Government undertake to submit the Bounty Bill forthwith, and that measure will provide for equalizing the basis upon which the Australian manufacturer works to-day. Strong representations have been made for a bounty which in some respects would represent an increase as compared with the duties proposed to be removed, but those requests could not be granted. At the present juncture it is not intended to deal with any proposition other than the giving of a bounty in actual substitution for the duties now about to be removed.
– Will the bounties equalize the present duties?
– I undertake to provide, as far as it is mathematically possible to do so, an equalization formula. The Tariff Board have prepared the details and the machinery included in the motion, and it will be their duty, and that of the Government, to see that the
Bounty Bill gives no more and no less advantage to the manufacturers than is given to them by the present duties.
– Are the manufacturers perfectly satisfied?
– I do not know.
– Will the honorable member promise, on behalf of his Government, to repay to the primary producers an amount equal to that of which they have been robbed by these duties?
– The primary producers have not been robbed. There never has been, and never will be, in the history of Australian politics a period during which it would be possible to give to the primary producers of Australia the advantages they have enjoyed in the last few years. Whether they were brought about by circumstances arising from the war or not, I venture to say that the benefits they have derived have been mainly due to Government instrumentalities and activities in respect to wool, meat, wheat, butter, fruit, hops, sugar, and so forth. There is also a further period, carping critics notwithstanding, during which the primary producers have had their millions, though possibly there may have been one or two little matters which might not have been regarded by them as altogether satisfactory. I ask some of the “ lip servers “ of the primary producers to point to such benefactions elsewhere as have been bestowed on those producers by the organization and financial assistance afforded them by the Government. Apparently they are afraid that later on they will be deprived of an opportunity of showing that all the drawbacks and disadvantages referred to have not been remedied; even at this juncture the honorable member for Wimmera will not admit that something has been done for the primary producers.
– This climb-down on behalf of the Government-
– I ask the honorable member to think more of climbing up, which would represent more the attitude to which the primary producers in this country have been used. However, the proposals now before the Committee, plus the Bounties Bill, will insure to the primary producers a plentiful and full supply of all their requirements, and. at the same time protect the Australian manufacturers and the workers in the secondary industries. I was engaged in primary industry when the honorable member was not; indeed, I have never been out of a primary industry, and I know the life from A to Z.
– Not to Z, because the honorable member has not finished yet - nor is he finished with!
TheCHAIRMAN. - I must ask honorable members to cease these interjections.
– If the honorable member for Wimmera had not the good fortune to own a Mallee block he would be on the Yarra. bank !
– Order ! I ask the Minister to confine himself to the question.
– I shall, but I object to being interrupted by the honorable member for Wimmera and others when I am submitting proposals that are for the benefit of primary producers. Why should the honorable member for Wimmera oppose a measure of this kind ? It is one that we might expect him to welcome, and to me his attitude seems most illogical. Conditions, economic and industrial, are most unsettled at the present time.
– Will the honorable gentleman-
– Imago animi vultus est, indices oculi! The honorable member always shows by his face the workings of his mind.
– I rise to a point of order. There is a standing order which forbids anybody to speak in this House in a foreign tongue, and I wish the Minister to give us a literal and correct translation of the words he has just used.’
– I remind honorable members that all interjections are disorderly, whether they be in English or a foreign tongue.
Mr.Pratten. - Has an honorable member any right to use words in this House that are not understood?
– To which words does the honorable member refer?
– ‘The sentence uttered by the Minister in his speech is certainly not in the English tongue.
The honorable member for Batman in
– I must ask the honorable member for Batman to cease interjecting. I have called for order several times, and I do not intend to continue doing so. If there were words uttered to which objection is taken, I ask the honorable member who raises the objection to state what (the words were.’ Owing to the babble of interjections it was impossible for the Chairman or any one else to hear what was said ; and I ask honorablemembers to assist me in maintaining order.
– Unparalleled industrial conditions confront some of our industries. It is well known that in this country paralysis is facing some of our great manufacturing industries, and that many are suspended; and this is not a time when the primary producers should be asked to pay high prices, plus a duty, for what they require if a local industry is notproducing their requirements. It is to be hoped that present conditions may be merely temporary, and that soon industry generally may get “ into its stride.” In connexion with supplies, from fuel right up to the finished article in many lines, interrelated industries are “held up” in a manner that is most disconcerting. A special effort is ‘being made to promote land settlement, including soldier settlement, and the Government recognise that fulness of supplies should be assured at prices which the producers can reasonably bear. This is an endeavour on the part of the Government to give relief at a time when relief is most necessary. It should be recognised that we are not living under normal conditions. The manufacture of tractors, for instance, is a most involved one, calling for plant of an intricate character, andit is not possible in these days for great factories to be established for the supply of such requirements at the rate necessary to meet the needs of primary producers. The Government feel that revenue duties, or what for the time being really amount to revenue duties, should not be imposed under the circumstances.
– They never should have been imposed.
– Those duties were never intended as revenue duties. I have in my mind the firm of Jelbart and Sons, of Ballarat, who were the pioneer builders of tractors in this country.
– How many tractors have they made up to the present?
– Within the limits of a young firm, they have done remarkable work. The Jelharts were formerly on the land, but, recognising the problem that faced the primary producers, they established their works in Ballarat, and, as I say, have done good work in competition against the imported articles. The firm will receive full protection for all they can produce, and in connexion with what they cannot produce the primary producers will not be handicapped. Surely such a position must commend itself to the approval of the primary producers. At any rate, I hope that honorable members will realize to the full that conditions in the manufacturing world are not normal.
I am aware that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) and also the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) will, judging from their interjections, take the stand that this proposal is an interference with the settled policy of Protection - a policy which, from their point of view, should be severely continuous.
– Had you not better, wait until we speak?
– I have heard your interjections, and I am entitled to anticipate objections. Are we to wait until industrial disputes are settled, and in the meantime levy an impost which was never intended to fall on the primary producers? This the Government are not prepared to do; but, on the other hand, offer a liberal measure of relief.
– “ Liberal “ on the eve of an election!
– Of course, the honorable member places his own interpretation on the proposal, and I can see him swinging himself both ways before the electors, and endeavouring to show that all this was pointed out by the primary producers long ago.
– And so it was, and the honorable gentleman knows it.
– One representative of the Country party (Mr. Gregory), who is not now present, adopted a definite and consistent attitude when the Tariff was under consideration,- fighting the duties from A to Z. Members of the Country party hold that Protection is not a natural policy; but if to-morrow the Government were to face the country with a proposal to repeal all duties on primary productions, there would be an agitation by the producers throughout Australia. If the policy of Protection is worth anything, it must apply to primary industries as well as to secondary industries; but over and over again we have arguments to the contrary from members of the Country party, who really know better.
– We cannot protect primary industries, or, if any, very few of them.
– The greatest body of primary producers owe their position on the land to Protection; these include fruit-growers, dairymen, onion-growers, and hop-growers.
– How does Protection apply to the dairymen?
– By means of the duties on butter as against New Zealand, and the duties on cheese, condensed milk, preserved milk, dried milk, lactose, and so forth, with the additional advantage of free separators and pasteurizers. On the one hand, these primary products aro highly protected, and, on the other hand, the necessary implements and tools are admitted free; and it is about time the true story was told.
– Finish your side, and we shall then present ours!
– The honorable mem- ‘ ber is a dairyman, and must know that the industry is highly protected.
– I have not learned that so far.
– Then will the honorable gentleman kindly look up the Tariff schedule, and say how much of the protection there afforded he would like to wipe off? Dairymen are protected in regard to such articles as I have mentioned, and they have free timber from New Zealand for their butter boxes.
– You are getting into deep water now.
– I am not.Under the recent reciprocal arrangements with New Zealand an agreement was made by which softwood timber for the manufacture of butter boxes for the dairying industry was admitted free of duty, and this without clashing with any industry in the Commonwealth.
– Is there not a report by the Tariff Board upon this matter?
– I intend to read it.’ The matter was remitted to the Board in the ordinary coursefor investigation and report. These proposals are in accordance with its recommendations, and the Government are satisfied that they will not place any Commonwealth industry or industries in jeopardy. At the time when the proposals were originally made, no opposition was expressed, but I understand that a protest has been recently lodged in behalf of manufacturers.
– The Minister stated that the Government had directed the Tariff Board to do certain things in regard to this matter.
– I said that, in the course of ordinary procedure under the Act, the matter was remitted for investigation and report by the Tariff Board. These proposals represent the definite policy of the Government; they do not conflict with the Protectionist policy of the country.They will operate at a time when industrial paralysis is gripping many of our industries. The coal industry, for example, is in a precarious state. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) will not deny that there is probably more unemployment in his electorate than, at any other time in its history, due to the failure of all parties in the coal industry to arrive at a common understanding. The Government regret such a state of affairs. We would prefer to know that the industries of the Commonwealth can and do supply the whole of the country’s requirements. Honorable members will note that item 181 in the Tariff schedule has to do with measuring and recording instruments, and that the proposed amendment of the item provides specifically for alternating current- recording Watt-hour meters, and that the proposed duties are - preferential 35 per cent., intermediate 40 per cent., and general 45 per cent. These meters are not protected under the existing Tariff. They are of a type which is required by municipalities inconnexion with electric schemes. The Sydney City Council has in contemplation the placing of a large order, which may involve the utilization of much Australian raw material and labour.
– What percentage of the demand throughout the Commonwealth, can the one firm supply ?
– For the time being, at any rate, it can meet full requirements. This organization is an enterprising one; its work has been highly commented upon by the Tariff Board, which has inspected its plant and made full inquiries into the conditions of the industry. Unless immediate precautions are taken, large contracts will be lost to Australia, and there will be every prospect of the industry closing down. Many of the employees of the firm concerned are themselves interested in the proprietary. The business is one of those which it is the policy of the Government to help and encourage.
– Will the imposition of these proposed rates increase the price of the commodity?
– I understand that the Sydney City Council is quite satisfied with the price quoted, and has assured itself that the locally-manufactured’ article is of high class. One of the duties of the Tariff Board is to continuously, investigate the conditions of industry, and to report from time to time, not only generally, but upon individual branches of industry, and to deal with applications both for reductions and increases of duty.
– Was this particular industry brought into existence without the assistance of protective duties? Or was there a previous duty; and, if so, what was its extent?
– At the time when the Tariff schedule was being considered by Parliament, this company did not represent that Protection was required.
It is not the intention of the Government to seek such opportunities as the present to make separate and individual amendments to the Tariff schedule. But at settled periods, after the Tariff Board has conducted investigations following upon reasonable requests for alterations, either in the direction of increased or reduced rates of duty, alterations will be effected in groups. [Extension of time granted.] For the information of honorable members, I shall read the report of the Tariff Board, which is as follows : - electricitymeter Manufacturing Compact, Sydney. - Application for Duty on Electric Meters.
An urgent requesthas been received from the Electricity Meter Manufacturing Company, Sydney, for a duty to be imposed on electric ureters asmanufactured by them.
It was upon, that report and recommendation that the Government deemed this matter to he one of urgency. We believe that in taking this step we are using our best endeavours to meet the peculiar circumstances of the time. We deplore the fact that while so much is needed in Australia, and that while our importations are so considerable, it would seem impossible for the component parts of industry to arrive at a working basis. The Government appeal both to employers and employees, and to all those engaged in providing the fuel with which industry is kept going, not to lose this country’s magnificent opportunity for the extension of industry. But, while works remain closed and there is unemployment, which inevitably leads to distress, the Government cannot accept the proposition to levy a revenue Tariff upon the needs of the primary producer.
.- Most honorable members will have been a little surprised by the action of the Government. It is just twelve months since the Tariff was dealt with, and the members of . the Country party then endeavoured to get Ministers not to impose the duties which it is now proposed to take off, and, if necessary, to foster manufacture by the granting of bounties. There has been a complete change of front on the part of Ministers. The reason for this is apparent: it is that an election is to be held in the near future. This proposal is another sop given to the electors in the hope that Government candidates may obtain their votes. Twelve months ago the Government held it to be vitally necessary to impose these duties ; now the Minister tells us it is vitally necessary to repeal them. The only real reason for the proposal is that there is to be an appeal to the people shortly. I believe in the protection of industries, but, as I have said on many other occasions, I am always prepared to give the primary producers fair treatment. When a Tariff inflicts suffering on the primary producers, we should give them relief. The Government has come to the conclusion that it made a mistake in what it proposed twelve months ago, and it now proposes that bounties shall be given to certain manufacturers to enable them to compete against importers. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company has been referred to, At its seventieth ordinary general meeting, held in Melbourne on the 26th of last month, the chairman said that -
Feeling that the future was assured under the Protection policy, the company duplicated the wire rod mill, and has made other material improvements to this plant, so the sudden change from the fixed duty has come as a considerable shock, and it is difficult at present to say how things will work out.
However, I have little consideration for that, company. Its actions during the past six months have proved that it is not worthy of consideration, by this Parliament. We gave it protection to enable it to carry on its industry, but immediately it suited its purpose to do so, it endeavoured to make the conditions of the workers worse.
– It “ double-crossed “ the Labour party.
– It did not “doublecross” me, because I have always stood for Protection; but I say of the company that those responsible for its policy are a bowelless lot, as their recent actions have proved, and that they are not worthy of consideration. This is strong language for one in my place to use, but I make the statement without reservation. After Parliament had assisted them they took advantage of their position in an endeavour to make the position of the workers worse, and they are to-day asking men to accept less than the living wage. During the financial year which ended in June last, the company’s works were closed down for seven months, and 800 or 900 men were employed on overhauling plant and making necessary repairs. Yet, notwithstanding this stoppage of operations and dead expenditure, the company made a profit of £104,000. It is evident, therefore, that had it not closed down it would have made a still bigger dividend.
– Is this one of the struggling industries for which you asked protection last year?
– We admitted that this company had made big profits; it was for a number of subsidiary industries that we desired protection. If it were not for the workmen concerned I would not consider even the granting of a bounty in this case. Strongly as I am in favour of encouraging Australian industries, I cannot forget that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company made hundreds of thousands of pounds during, the war, and yet as soon as some cessation of orders appeared likely,, it closed down its works, and asked the workmen to accept a wage of £3 10s. a week, although the basic rate was equal to about £4 2s. a week. A company that will do that will receive no consideration from me, and I make that publicly known. I have, always stood for Australian industries, and I believe that this country should be self-contained; but I. have no wish to place an undue burden on tha primary producers, and to avoiddoing so, I am prepared to agree to the granting of a bounty, although the granting of bounties does not place industries in so good a position as that in which they are placed by the imposition of fixed duties. The latter give more stability than bounties. As the Tariff Board has investigated this matter and recommended the granting of a bounty so that the primary producers may be relieved, I shall make no objection to the course proposed. I rose chiefly to make it clear that I do not stand for the way in which the Broken Hill Proprietary Company conducted its business last year. Its inroad upon labour conditions was entirely unwarranted, as its balance-sheet shows, and had I orders to place, they wouldgoto other firms. The Lithgow Iron Works have received from the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales an order for 250,000 tons of rails, and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, instead of closing down, might have tried to get similar orders. I have never held a brief for Messrs. Hoskins Brothers, but I say that if they can make rails at a price acceptable to the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company should be able to do so.
– It has a better plant.
– Yes ; the other is more nearly obsolete. Messrs. Hoskins Brothers are paying the ruling rate of wages. By reason of the action taken by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, thousands of persons at Newcastle, including returned soldiers, have been thrown out of employment, and are practically starving. -The Country party can congratulate itself in having scored over the Government, because what it urged and was denied is now being proposed.
– The Country party did not move for the granting of bounties instead of the imposition of duties.
– Together with the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) and the Minister in charge of the Tariff (Mr. Gireene), I followed the discussion throughout, and I remember that Country members urged the granting of a bounty, if necessary, instead of the imposition of duties.
– The Leader of the Country party was one of those who did so.
– Yes. It is to the credit of the Country party that it has at last got the Government to change its mind.
– : The approach of the election has been a potent factor.
– Yes. Had the election been twelve months ahead, the Government might not have yielded. The fact that we must presently go before our masters accounts for many of the things that have been done by the Government lately. It wishes to influence country votes in favour of Nationalist candidates.
.- I thank the Government for having made this proposal, even at so late an hour, though what has been done would have been more gratefully appreciated had the action been taken when the Tariff schedule was before the House last year. On more than half-a-dozen occasions I have suggested that when it is thought necessary to foster an industry the whole community should bear the cost of doing so by the granting of a bounty, instead of the cost being put on the small section that would be compelled to pay any duty imposed. What has been done in the past has been the levying of class taxation. . I have also pointed out the impossibility of protecting primary products for export. Those who are exporting commodities from Australia should have received more sympathy from any Government desiring the prosperity of the country. It is not possible, as I have shown, to protect the growers of wheat. It was I who moved for the removal of the duty on fodder. Even the farmers, who might occasionally benefit by such a duty during a drought, would not “desire that it should operate to exclude the importation of fodder needed for the feeding of starving stock. The only year in which a duty on imported wheat might have had any effect was 1914, and then that duty was removed to admit wheat into the country free. I have always advocated that the exporting industries should be left unburdened by heavy taxation and import duties, such as are imposed by the Tariff. I am pleased with this amending Bill, for the simple reason that it is an admission of this principle. The Treasurer, in his Budget speech, spoke of the help that must be given to the primary producers. That argument was advanced a couple of years ago, and the facts have not altered in the meantime. Whether these amend- merits of the Tariff are brought forward for election purposes or for other reasons, I am grateful that an important principle has been admitted in even a few items. Two years ago I stated in the Blouse that I had 40 miles of wire netting to put down in order to keep the rabbits off my crops and the fodder for stock, but that the proposition was too expensive to face. I was only one of hundreds of thousands of people in Australia who were similarly situated. The rabbits were getting the wealth of the country in order to help a few people to fabricate a little wire netting in Melbourne and Sydney. I said that the proposition was absurd, and detrimental to the progress of Australia, and that the State of Western Australia was handicapped by the imposts which were imposed for the benefit of a few manufacturers in the eastern States. I am glad that the Government have, in respect of a few items, at any rate, admitted the soundness of those contentions, although there is no greater claim for a reduction of duty in respect of them than in respect of dozens of other items. These few reductions do not solve the whole problem, but they do admit a principle. Unless honorable members desire agricultural machinery to be manufactured in Sydney or Melbourne at a cost greater than that at which it can be imported after paying heavy freights, unless they desire the employees to work shorter hours for higher pay, and sell their product at a tremendous cost to the primary producers, they should apply to such machinery the same argument as has been appliedin connexion with the items mentioned in this schedule. I welcome what I hope is only the first instalment of a very necessary, reform.
.- I. am pleased with the proposals which have been introduced this afternoon to help industries which need protection at the present time. The statement has been made that these amendments have been brought forward as political capital.
– Why did you not vote for them twelve months ago ?
– The Tariff was brought before Parliament as a non-party measure, and the Government,, when submitting the Tariff Board Bill, informed the House that it was intended to have a judicial inquiry into, and oversight of, the working of the Tariff by an independent Board, whose recommendations the Government would be prepared to accept. The House expressed the view that the Government should expedite the creation of that Board, so that we might be guided by the judgment of an independent Board, which would give consideration to both sides of every industry. I commend the Government for having so quickly adopted the first recommendations of the Board.
– All the items mentioned in the schedule were not recommended by the Tariff Board.
– I understand that they were. Of course, the proposed bounty is notintended to’ be permanent; it is an expedient to help an industry through a trying period. The manufacture of electrical implements is a new industry which has sprung into existence during the past few years, and badly needs protection.When the Tariff was before Parliament, the people engagedin the industry said that they did not require protection, and that, if they could compete with the manufacturers in other countries, they would not ask the people of Australia to bear the burden of a duty. They have employed seventy skilled men, who have been specially trained in the manufacture of very delicate instruments, and, in the opinion of Mr. Forbes Mackay, the City Electrical Engineer in Sydney, the instruments they are producing compare favorably with those from any other part of the world.
– Has the honorable member any idea of what wages are paid to the men who are making these instruments in. other countries?
– I am almost certain that they are very much lower than are paid in Australia. Of the seventy highlytrained employees in the industry,’ forty are returned soldiers.
– The duty paid on the output will amount to more than the total wages.
– I deny that. Already seventy men are employed, and if the work which is likely to go out of Australia is retained, that number will be doubled within the next six months. The Minister stated that,, owing to the delay in the introduction of this duty, the staff has decreased from sixty-six to forty-four within the last few weeks. But seventy men have been employed in the industry, and a pleasing feature is .that the majority of the shares in the company are held by the employees. The manufacture of these instruments is a very intricate work, and honorable members will readily understand the .advantage of training men to .produce such articles, and keep them employed in an industry that will retain a lot of money in the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) said it would be better to pay the wages of the men and send them on holiday rather than subsidize the industry. Tha* is no way to help Australia to produce skilled mechanics capable of manufacturing instruments that are vital to our welfare. If this industry can be kept going, a ‘tender worth £37,750” will be retained in Australia. If the tender, which is now before the Sydney City Council for the supply of foreign-made meters at 28s. each is accepted, a sum of £46,200 will be sent abroad. That is not a good proposition.
– It all depends on what we get in exchange for the money.
– If the industry is helped, seventy men will be continued in their employment, the .industry will develop, and further employment will be provided.
– Does not the honorable member consider the people who have to use the product of the industry?
– They support the industry; they are patriotic Australians who will stand by Australian enterprises. I do not believe in the policy of sending money abroad because goods can be bought a little cheaper. It is better to keep the money in the country by supporting local industry. According to the report which the Minister read from the Tariff Board, unless this industry is given some Protection during this week, at the very latest, it will close down. Surely there are enough unemployed in the Commonwealth without adding to their number. The Sydney City Council is calling for .tenders for 33,000 meters. During the last few weeks .a tender for 5,000 meters made abroad was accepted at 2Ss. each. This amendment of the Tariff will frustrate the effort to place the larger order outside Australia, and I hope, at the meeting of the Sydney City Council next week, the order already placed will be cancelled.
– This item mean3 the payment of £27,000 duty on an industry which has a pay-roll of £17,000.
– I hope that the Committee will agree to the items with little further discussion, particularly in view of the recommendation of the Tariff Board - an independent body created for the purpose of inquiring into the operation of the Tariff and reporting to the House how industries can best be protected and helped.
.- I have never been favorable to the principle of attempting to develop’ the industries of Australia by the payment of bounties, because they are of no real, practical help owing to the absence of permanency. However, I propose to support the Government in their present proposal, although, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has pointed out, it has ‘ evidently been brought forward with a view to placating the electors.’ I have never been one who sought to penalize the farming community, but, realizing that more than primary industries must be considered in the proper development of the country, I have always stood up for the protection of our secondary industries. There is a very unfortunate situation at present in regard to the wire-netting and wire-drawing industry. When iron and steel works were established at Newcastle, for which other honorable members on this side and I fought hard to secure further protection, they became the producers of the raw material required by surrounding subsidiary industries. But, unfortunately, these large works have been closed down for a prolonged period. Some re-adjustment may be necessary to enable them to meet competition and seek other openings’ for trade to replace those which the war had brought to them; but it appears to me that the time has certainly arrived when they should begin to realize the effect of “their closing down, not only upon the thousands of people who were induced to settle down in the Newcastle district, but also -upon the subsidiary industries depending upon them for supplies of raw material. There are many people in Newcastle who, while in the employment of the Broken Hill Pro- prietary Company, commenced the purchase of homes upon terms and who now find that there is every possibility of their losing their homes. They can see no likelihood of securing employment while the iron and steel works remain shut down. Rylands, who had commenced the weaving of wire netting, and were employing 600 men, were in actual process of installing further machinery for the development of their works when they were shut out of their supplies of raw material. In order to continue operations, they would have had to buy rods from abroad and pay a duty of £2 4s. per ton ; but imported wire, presumably coming from England, although a lot of it may be German, has rendered it impossible for the firm to re-open their works. It would be a godsend to the Newcastle district if the Government took some step, either by a reduction of the duty on wire rods or by the giving of a bounty for the manufacture of drawn wire, towards the re-opening of these works. The employers and the employees have recently been before a Court with a view to the readjustment of wages, and I believe that they agreed to approach the Tariff Board for the purpose of getting the duty on wire rods suspended until the Broken Hill Proprietary works could resume the production of them. The proposition seems to be a fair one. In fact, the absence of the production of the raw material in Australia is practically the only reason I can have for supporting the Government’s proposal to pay a bounty and temporarily suspend the duty on the raw material. However, I understand that the proposed bounty will be about 2s. per ton less than the amount the duty actually represented to the industry.*
– The alteration will not affect the value of the previous protection. It will be worked out with such mathematical accuracy that the industry will get by the proposed alteration the exact equivalent of what it previously’ had.
– My information was derived from the delegates who came over from Newcastle, and I have no means of testing their figures any more than I have of testing the Minister’s statement. While I am on principle opposed to the payment of bounties in respect to the development of industries, I want to say that I am compelled by circumstances to do so on this occasion, trusting that the basic or key industry on which the Newcastle subsidiary industries must lean will speedily get going again and play the game,, especially after the treatment which this Parliament: has- extended to it.
1.- Although this little concession to the primary producers may be described as a vote-catching device on the part of the Government, I am very pleased to welcome it. On a recent visit to Queensland I saw able-bodied men drawing sustenance! at 4s. per day, and met squatters and large land-holders, who said they! could have employed, these men but for the high, price of wire and wire netting. The action of the Government in imposing a duty on wire and wire netting simply spelt ruin to an industry in. which millions of acres need fencing.- The Government have already come to its assistance with a meat bounty, and the proposal now before us is another step in the right directions If we want population in. Australia, we must open up and develop’ our resources. What gain will there be inspending millions of: pounds on immigration for land settlement purposes if we at the same time penalize the settlers in respect to the tools of trade with which they are to gain products from the soil? I hope that this instalment of help will be very largely extended. That it is necessary is proved by the fact that a little while ago a good double-furrow plough could be bought for £18, whereas at the present time is costs £38. These figures show that a protective policy which is not exercised with common sense is harmful to the primary industries. I am a Protectionist, because I realize that we must have secondary industries following up our primary industries, and must afford them protection.; but greater judgment should have been exercised in the framing of a Tariff. It is. wise of the Government to seek to rectify anomalies when they discover them.. For instance, I am very- pleased that it: is. now proposed to allow traction engines, to come in duty free. When I was ki Western Australia recently I saw traction engines on which I was told £1,00.0 duty had been paid; they were purchased! by the- Western Australian Government for clearing land on the Peel estate for the settlement of Imperial exservice men. There is no common sense in imposing such a burden on developmental work, and I am pleased that the Government have seen fit to remove this anomaly. Tractors were also giving good service in New South Wales and other parts of Australia, proving of enormous advantage to the farming industry - each engine does the work .of many teams of horses - just at the time of the imposition of the duty. It practically brought to a stand-still the use of these aids to farming at a time when the agricultural community were beginning to get accustomed to them. I will assist the Government in replacing the duty when they find that these tractors can be manufactured in Australia at a reasonable price; but when articles are manufactured in small quantities only, although they are required in large quantities, it is the bounden duty of the Minister for Trade and Customs to look at the proposition reasonably and sensibly, and bring, about a reduction or the abolition of the duty just as has been proposed to-day.
– Even before this alteration, in the exercise of my discretion, as the honorable member for Swan well knows, I agreed to allow caterpillar and trailer tractors to come into the Commonwealth duty free.
– I trust we are not placing duties on the statutebook simply for the purpose of making a few men wealthy at. the expense of the great multitude of others who require the goods. I shall give the measure my heartiest support, trusting that common sense and reason will be exercised along the lines indicated, and that this is simply the inception of greater concessions, with a view to removing the injustice that has been done to primary production generally.
– As this schedule has been placed before the House for the first time to-day, I have not had an opportunity to become fully acquainted with its subject-matter. However, several questions occur to me which, I think, require very plain definition. The first question is, “What will be the incidence of the finances of the Bill upon the general taxpayer?” The second is: “Whether or not the Tariff
Board have, in their wisdom, recommended the schedule as before the Committee “
– Let me answer straightway by saying “Yes.”
– Then I shall have a word or two to say about the Tariff Board later on. The third question that suggests itself to me is : “ What is proposed to be substituted in order to help those industries already established under our Tariff?” We have been told that the remission of duties set out in the schedule before the ‘Committee will save the primary producers a sum of about £3-50,000. We have also been told, I think, by the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce), that the Consolidated Revenue will have to find a sum of about .£250,000 to pay the bounties that it is proposed to substitute for the duties we are remitting.
– That, of course, is, and must be, a mere estimate.
– But it is an estimate arrived at by the Treasury officials, of whom it has been proved that they know their business, and 1 think we may fairly accept the figures that have been submitted. Thus, there is a remission of- £350,000 in the duties on these particular articles, and a liability placed on the Consolidated Revenue to pay an estimated sum of £250,000 as bounties in substitution for the duties remitted. I do not know whether the difference of £100,000 means, in effect, a reduction in the protection by way of bounty, or whether it means that, seeing the whole of these goods are not made here, but some ‘ are imported at the present time’, the bounties to be provided will not equal the taxation remitted. I shall assume the latter, for the sake of my argument. I wish, however, to point out to the ‘Committee that we are imposing a burden on the general taxpayer of £250,000, instead of imposing duties amounting to £350,000 on those who use the goods.
– In other words, we do not propose to ask the farmer, but the community, to pay. The farmer pays his share as a taxpayer.
– We do not propose to ask the farmer to pay, but to ask the whole of the community to pay.
– And quite right!
– I am not sure that it is quite right. I fail to. see what injury it does to the farmer to contribute 3d., 4d., 5d., or 6d. per sheet on galvanized iron on the few sheets he uses in the year, in payment of duties imposed for the purpose of building up a very big industry in Australia, and making the country more self-contained and selfsupporting. I fail to see why those men on the land, who are at present engaged in grazing and growing wool, cannot afford to pay a little more for wire netting out of wool at 2s. per lb. These are points that strike me in connexion with the finances of the matter.
– Will the honorable member say what wool is 2s. per lb. ?
– Will it make the growers sell their wool cheaper if they get cheaper wire?
– My honorable friends know as well as I do that a great deal of the best wool to-day sells at a great deal more than 2s. per lb.
– What percentage ?
– If we come down to averages, there are many graziers who average ls. 6d. for their clip. However, the Tariff Board has reported to the Government that what is now proposed is fair in relation to some of the duties imposed in our Tariff in order to protect local industry. I well remember the time when the ex-Minister for Customs (Mr. Greene) grew eloquent over- the development of the galvanized-iron and wire-drawing industries at Newcastlegrew eloquent over the great development that would take place if we imposed the duties which we are now asked to remit. I also well remember the time when that honorable gentleman was in close collaboration with the present Chairman of the Tariff Board over these duties. I believe it has been stated in the House that it took two years to inquire thoroughly as to what measure of protection various industries were entitled to, and as a result of those inquiries we were asked to impose the duties which we are now asked to remit. When the Tariff went to another place, what happened? With great eloquence, the representatives of the Government,, against the opposition that was displayed in some quarters by representatives of the primary producers, carried the duties as proposed by the ex-Minister of Customs’.
At that time there was a strong effort made to increase the duties on galvanized iron for the reason that they did not bear adequate comparison with some of the other duties proposed. The Cinderella industry which has been started at Newcastle by John Lysaght Limited, a firm which has invested about halfamillion of capital there, and has built eighty or 100 workmen’s cottages-
– There is not much “ Cinderella “ about that!
– Yes, there is; it was the first industry of the sort in Australia. The company laid themselves out to supply the whole of Australia with galvanized iron,provided fair and reasonable protection were given to the industry.
– Are we reducing that protection ?
– Of course we are. The fair and reasonable protection which the company asked was about 20 per cent., and I think the Committee will agree that such a duty is fair and reasonable as compared with some other duties, which went up as high as 40 per cent.
– All the protection afforded by the Tariff will be preserved to this company in another way.
– I am making another point just now. My present point is that this company could have supplied the whole of Australia with galvanized iron had it been given reasonable protection. What was the position of the company? What did it ask for?
– Their headquarters were in the wrong place.
– Perhaps. The raw material of the company, first of all, has to be brought from the Broken Hill Proprietary, which, in its turn, is protected’, and their zinc is bought from the Zino Corporation, which, at the time the discussion was held, was charging the company a higher price than they would sell at in London. As a result of all this, with a meagre duty of £3 12s. per ton on galvanized iron, only one mill has been put down to supply New South Wales, it being found impossible to do an Inter-State trade. There are two fine industries in connexion with wire netting and wire drawing in New South Wales, one on the Parramatta River, that has been in operation for the last twenty-five or thirty years, and another developed at Newcastle by Ryland Brothers, who, speaking from memory, have invested about half-a-million of money. At these latter works it was intended to turn out wire grading almost from needle wire to fencing wire, all made out of our own iron.
– Will you explain how it is that one State only can be supplied? Why not all States?
– It is on account of the freights. The freight from Newcastle to Fremantle or Adelaide is probably greater than the freight from England to Australia. What does the Minister propose to substitute in order to equalize even the present position? The only proposal I have seen is that set out in the Budget statement of the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce). If the Minister proposes to give only a bounty on galvanized iron such as existed in 1918, he knows and admits that that bounty, plus £1 per ton duty, would only amount to 48s. per ton as against the £3 12s. specific duty now in existence. But I am glad to hear the assurance given to the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins). Repeating the sense of the interjection of the Minister, as I understood it, he pledges the word of the Government that, so far as established industries are concerned, the bounty shall in no case be less than the present duties we are asked to remit.
– The bounty, plus the duty, will afford exactly the same measure of protection as at present.
– That is to say, the duty and the bounty will afford the same protection?
– The duty “or/and” bounty.
– This will afford the same protection that we are now being asked to remit.
– Nothing more, and nothing less.
– The Minister will quite understand that if anything less is attempted, or if no alteration in the Budget proposals is made, this industry cannot exist.
– I promise to bring down a Bounties Bill setting the whole thing out in full.
– I thank the Minister for hisassurance, which I am glad to accept. I may say that the honorable gentleman has privately given me the same assurance; but for the life of me I cannot understand the position of the Tariff Board. Twelve months ago, those duties were urged upon us by the Government of the day, and I think it was admitted at the time that what was regarded as a fair duty had been arrived at in the . year 1918, or thereabouts. We know that industrial conditions today are more onerous than they were in 1918, and that what was, in many cases, a fair measure of protection at that time is not so now.
– It is the same protection; it all depends upon who has to pay it.
– I cannot follow the honorable member. I believe that Australia ought to make all that it can. The crux of our prosperity lies in an increasingly favorable balance of trade. I do not want to see anything done that may diminish employment in Australia.
– The honorable member may rely on the certainty that the manufacturers will “go for their lives” in order to get as much of the bounty as they can.
– I trust that the Minister’s optimism may be fully justified ; but I am greatly concerned, with respect to basic industries, that we should do nothing to jeopardize their development. The confident assurance of the Minister has palliated my opposition to these proposals; but I wish to know definitely for how long the bounties will be continued. It has been customary, in passing -Bounty Bills, to provide for their operation over varying periods from three to about ten years. I maintain that the Minister should now specifically commit the Government to some definite and reasonably long period over which the bounties shall extend.
– “Until Parliament otherwise provides.”
– At any rate, my request is a fair one. I should like to be assured that the industries affected shall not be sacrificed for what some people might describe as political exigency. The remainder of my objections to the proposed bounties would vanish if I could be given the confirmation that I seek. The industries under review are already established and well developed; but they are not yet supplying the requirements of Australia.
– Then why should the Tariff Board have made such a report as it is stated to have presented?
– I do not know why the Board should have blown hot last year and cold this year.
– It is not fair to make such a comment.
– The report and recommendations of the Tariff Board should have been made available simultaneously with the announcement of the proposals of the Government. I wish to know why the Board has recommended an- alteration of the basis of protection to be afforded the galvanized iron industry. The product is one which is used by all classes throughout Australia; but probably as much of it is used in the cities as in the country. More is used by people who are not interested in primary industries than is purchased by primary producers themselves. This Committee has a right to know what were the reasons which caused the Tariff Board to make its recommendations. The disturbance of the duties upon these products may mean the closing down of very promising and creditable industries and the direct loss, to one firm alone, of more than half-a-million sterling.
– Maybe a question of policy is involved, with which the Tariff Board has nothing to do.
– Either these proposals are the outcome of direct recommendations by the Board, after careful investigation, or they form part of the policy of the Government. Honorable members are told, however, that they are based upon the Board’s recommendations.
– Only in the one instance of the imposition of duties upon imported electric meters.
– On the other hand, there are these proposals of the Government associated with the announcement of policy in the Budget speech. In all such serious matters as those which now exercise the minds of honorable members, the arguments employed by tile Board in its reports should be placed in our pos session. We want to know the attitude which the Board hae adopted. We desire to know the basis upon which it has mads its recommendation. Otherwise, we are called upon merely to open our mouths and shut our eyes, and swallow all that the Tariff Board advises and the Government require of us. I intend to stand up stoutly for my principles. I do not consider that a bounty, the extent of which the Minister will not indicate, is a decent substitution for the specific protection afforded important Australian industries by Parliament last session. I certainly do not wish to see these industries develop at the expense of the primary producer; but much camouflage is being built around the case for the primary producer. I repeat that there is much more galvanized iron used by people who have no connexion with primary production than by those who are engaged upon the land.
– Has the honorable member any figures to support that assertion?
– I have the figures dealing with the output of the industry, and, if I know anything of primary producers, I am certain that many people do not use many dozen sheets of galvanized iron in a year.
– There is no question of the farmer using tiles to roof his house, or his stable, or his .bam, or his wool shed.
– Are there no other buildings in Australia than farmers’ barns? I feel very strongly upon this matter in the interests of two infant industries which the proposals of the Government are jeopardizing.
– Does the honorable member describe the Broken Hill Proprietary Company as an infant industry ?
– That proprietary company has nothing to do with any matter before the Committee. I again ask the Minister, as a fair thing, what period do the Government propose shall be covered by the bounties?
– What period does the honorable member suggest?
– Ten years for a start, so that matters may be stabilized. If the Government intend that the bounties shall remain in force for only three years, where will these industries find themselves? No one can say that bounties covering such a term would be the equivalent of the degree of protection afforded under the Tariff measure of last session, and no one will dare to suggest that such bounties would afford the same degree of stability. I speak with the greatest sympathy for those firms which have established plants, for example, in the manufacture of galvanized iron, running up to the value of £500,000, If those plants are to supply the requirements of this country they could employ, not merely 500 or 600 men, but between 3,000 and 4,000.
– Does not the law require that all recommendations of the Tariff Board shall be laid on the table of Parliament within seven days?
– All that the Minister will concede is that the Tariff Board has made certain recommendations, upon which the Government have based their proposals. In connexion with the proposed imposition of duties upon a certain type of electrical meter, the Minister has not hesitated to read the report of the Board. I am convinced that the facts respecting the manufacture of those instruments are such as have been indicated by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr), and I heartily support the proposal of the Government. I believe that the imposition of the proposed duties will build up another industry in the Commonwealth; but, at the same time, I am an>xious to do nothing which may jeopardize two very fine and promising industries which have been only recently established here.
– Has not the Tariff Board reported that the duties upon galvanized iron and wire have proved disastrous to the primary producer?
– I do not know what the Tariff Board has reported, because I have not had an opportunity to see or read or hear of its report. I am eager to know just what the Board has recommended.
– I repeat, for the third time, that these proposals are along the lines of the recommendations of the Tariff Board.
– I have a right to know why the Tariff Board has come to the conclusion to which it has come. I cannot be expected to give a silent vote on all or any of the proposals based on its unknown recommendations.
– The honorable member has reached the time limit.
.- Like the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Pratten), I am very pleased that protection is to be given to the manufacture of meters for the measurement of electricity. This protection has been withheld too long. Objection may be taken to it on the ground of the cost to the country; but the extra charge for a meter will be a mere trifle to the household using it, and the industry will give , employment to seventy or eighty men. and a living to their dependants. This is in accordance with the policy of the country. I understand that it is also proposed, on the recommendation of the Tariff Board, to give up revenue from import duties amounting to £350,000 per annum, and to pay out another £200,000 on bounties to subsidize the industries from which we withhold Tariff protection, and that this is to be done to help the farming class. But when a man takes a farm, and buys corrugated iron, wire, and other things that he requires,’ he puts down their cost as part of the expenses of his business.
– -He cannot add it to the price of the produce he sells.
– The farmer cannot pass on these costs as a city landlord can.
– How do the fanners live if they cannot pass on these costs? The man who buys corrugated iron and other articles the local manufacture of which is protected by import duties, charges a rental which will make good any extra price that he may have to pay, and the producers of .wheat, butter, and , other agricultural produce act similarly. Indeed, the butter producers are a close corporation; the prices of butter are regulated by the sellers, and, in addition, the public is asked to pay subsidies to a shipping company for the conveyance of surplus butter to the other side of the world. I do not object to assisting the farmers, ‘but it is fair to ask what benefit the community will derive from the remission of duty. Will the cost of living be reduced?
– I do not think that the remission of these duties will have the slightest effect on the cost of living.
– It will aid in the development of primary production.
– I hope that it may; I hope, too, that it may be made easier for men to go on the land. Reference has been made this afternoon to the Broken Hill Company’s Newcastle steel works, which have been spoon-fed from the beginning.
– The honorable member helped in that.
– Yes; but I have since had my eyes opened to the operations of the company. It was able to get cheap land at Newcastle, and the Government dredged a waterway for ships going to its works, and gave it contracts, and Parliament imposed a Tariff to protect its business. Notwithstanding all this, those directing the company have practically entered into a conspiracy to bring down wages. Mr. Delprat, the former manager of the steel works, is a prominent member of the Single Purpose League. Although he will have nothing to do with Wages Boards and arbitration, and objects to all interference in the matter of wages and hours, he does not support Free Trade, and asks for the protection of the industry in which he is interested. This industry has been well protected, and I do not find fault with that, because it is a key industry. But no industry thatwill not pay fair and reasonable wages and consent to -proper working hours has the right to exist, and I would have nothingto do with protecting such an industry. I am glad to have the assurance of the Minister that the removal of duties and the granting of bounties will not injure any of the industries concerned, and, as I am willing to do what I can to benefit the farming industry, I shall support the proposal, though I doubt that the community will benefit much- by the cheapening of commodities to the farmers. These persons will say, “ We have a right to buy things as cheaply as we can and to charge the highest prices we can get for our commodities.”
– The effect of what is proposed will be that instead of the farmers as a class having to pay the whole cost of fostering the secondary industries, the community will pay it.
– Every section pays part of the cost of fostering the protected industry whose goods it buys. It would be impossible to abolish all duties and to substitute bounties for them. If that were done, an army of men would have to be employed to see that the conditions attached to the granting of bounties were observed in every factory throughout the country.
– We now employ an army of Customs officials.
Sitting suspended, from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
.- I rise to support the resolution. On this occasion I am a whole-hearted supporter of the Government - rather an unusual position for me to occupy - and I now make this public confession of faith. Unfortunately the proposals do not go far enough. We have laid down the principle that in a certain industry there shall be this measure of relief in the form of a bounty, and I want to know why the same principle is not to be applied to other primary industries.. If the bounty system is right and proper for one industry, is it not right and proper for others? But we have to be. satisfied with very little from the present Ministry, and for this measure of relief, on behalf of the primary producers I represent, I now publicly tender my thanks and congratulate the Government upon their timely climb-down.
– You are in the position of the sinner whose prayer has been heard, and you have lost your faith,
– remember the peroration to the very excellent speech delivered by the former Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) when he introduced the Tariff Bill.
– Let us have it.
– That is what I propose to do. When painting a picture of ‘ the marvellous industrial activity which would follow ifwe passed the Bill, the then Minister said -
We stand on the threshold of great develop ments. The door of opportunity is open widely for us. . The path beyond lies clear and plain if we Save only the courage to tread it and put our country’s interest before all other considerations, bending to no influence, yielding to no pressure, and refusing to be diverted one hair’s breadth from our purpose, pressing on in our endeavour to lead our country to the goal of national greatness.
– What did he say about onions?
– If the Chairman would permit me I would gladly discuss onions with the honorable member for Kooyong. Having quoted from the speech delivered by the then Minister for Customs, I direct attention to the statement made by the present Minister this evening in this House. “ The conditions to-day,’’ he said, “ are not normal, with industrial paralysis holding many industries in its grip.” That, we are informed, is the position after only twelve months’ operation of this wonderful Tariff! Then the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has also declared that there is more unemployment in Newcastle to-day than ever before.
– I also said that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company are responsible for it. They have caused unemployment deliberately.
– I was about to refer to that aspect, of the situation. During the Tariff debate the honorable member and the party which he leads joined forces with their erstwhile political opponents. They formed an alliance which if we, the members of the Country party, had made it, would have been termed an “ unholy alliance,” with the Ministry against the Country party and one or two of the more enlightened members of the Nationalistparty, to bludgeon the steel duties through the House. They were out then to assist the “ struggling infant” industry known as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s steel works at Newcastle. I expressed the opinion then that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, after fighting for these duties, would seek to bring about a reduction in wages and lower the standard of living of the Australian workman. The duties asked for were imposed because the Broken Hill Proprietary Company were paying certain wages. It was upon these representations that Parliament agreed to the duties in the schedule, but after they got the protection they set about reducing wages - the industrial standard of living. As the result of the duties imposed, the price for agricultural machinery to-day is high beyond all reason. Our primary industries cannot successfully carry on owing to the high price of steel within Australia. While good seasons continue, the primary industries, such as wheatgrowing, will be able to struggle along, but immediately adverse seasons are experienced - and at present the outlook is by no means encouraging in nearly all’ the wheat-growing States - wheat production will very substantially decline.
– Or prices will drop.
– Probably both. I was rather surprised to notice tractors areincluded in these proposals. Why tractors? I spent a good deal of time studying the position, and trying to find a solution of this most mysterious, and apparently insoluble, problem. I discovered the reason when a friend of mine reminded me of a particularly lively and influential deputation that had waited on the present Minister for Customs in his own constituency. I was informed - if incorrectly informed, I am sure the Minister will promptly interject and deny it - that outside the door there was a tractor bearing a notice that a certain sum, by way of duty, had been paid on tractors,, and asking what the farmers were going to do about it.
– Wonderful !
– Evidently I was correctly informed; but still I should like to know why tractors were included, and not reapers and binders, or harvesters. Why have one rate for a certain set of industries and ‘another rate for others?
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that this is another class of tractor altogether.
– The duty on tractors was imposed largely to assist the industry known as the Jelbart tractor, and I understood the Minister to say he was ‘ a personal friend of the family.
– I said nothing about being a personal friend.
– I am sorry if I misquoted the Minister, but that certainly is what I understood him to say. I now withdraw the statement.
– They are a family of better farmers than you.
– The Minister now is becoming rather personal.
– The honorable member said that they were personal friends of mine, and I reply that they were bona fide farmers, and are now manufacturers.
– The Minister’s interjection is quite in keeping with remarks made earlier in the evening, when he suggested that if I had not been on a Mallee farm I would have been found on the Yarra bank.
We have been told that the Tariff Board have recommended this system of bounties. Why? Is it not strange that the Tariff Board should recommend a system that is going to be, or which the Government hope will be, of great assistance to them during the forthcoming elections? Did the Government instruct the Tariff Board to make this recommendation? Did they, because of the incident to which I have referred in the Minister’s constituency, instruct the Board to inquire into the duty on tractors? If my memory serves me aright, the Tariff Board inquire only into matters that are specifically brought before them by instruction from the Minister.
– Only in those circumstances?
– I am not sure. I am asking the Minister.
– And, therefore, you make the statement recklessly!
– I make no statement recklessly. I specifically qualified my statement by adding that, if my memory served me aright, it was the duty of the Tariff Board, upon direction by the Minister, to inquire into the incidence of taxation.
-i think the South Australian farmers have been complaining.
– The South Australian farmers, and farmers from the other States also, are asking why the Ministry opposed the Country party’s proposal for a bounty system. I believe the Minister has questioned whether the Country party ever referred to that proposal.
– I think it was I who raised that question’.
– No; the Minister in charge of the House did. In proof of my statement that the Country party urged the adoption of bounties in certain circumstances, I refer honorable members to some remarks made by the honorable member for Swan (Mr.Prowse) on 3rd March, 1920. They will be found on page 135. ofHansard -
We contend that if the protection of secondary industries is tobe continued; to the detri ment of the -more important primary industries those who hold the belief that the secondary -industries are the more important should play their part by supporting those industries, and by establishing a bonus system, to which all the taxpayers of Australia should contribute equally, and arranging that the burden shall not be wholly placed on the shoulders of the primary producers.
The Leader of the Country party repeatedly referred to the necessity for bounties if the Australian primary industries were to be properly safeguarded.
In connexion with the protection of Australian secondary industries itappears to me that there is a screw loose somewhere.First of all, we have the declaration that the Australian workman is the best in the would. I am not going to question that. It is a statement that is frequently made. Then . we have, in most industries, the cheapest raw material in the world, as in the case of wool, coal, and, I believe, iron. In addition, our Australian workmen have the cheapest food in the world, and the Australian manufacturers have not long ocean freights to pay. In these circumstances is it not extraordinary that our secondary industries should require to be spoon-fed by legislation in order to carry on? I have repeatedly said that if Protection is to be the settled policy of Australia, we should have protection all round.
– Hear, hear! And you have got it.
– We have not. Take the two staple articles of food, bread and butter-
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss the general Tariff, but to- confine his remarks to the items mentioned in the resolution.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, although, it is rather difficult to refrain from replying to the arguments of other honorable members who- have referred to these matters. We have heard solemnly debated this afternoon an industry for the manufacture- of measuring and recording instruments,, and we have been told that it formerly employed sixty-six men and now employs, fortyfour. To-day, the National Parliament of the Commonwealth is hurrying to the rescue of the industry in order to save it from destruction. This industry made certain contracts under present conditions, but those who support these duties claim that the contracts will have to be cancelled unless this Tariff relief is afforded. That indicates an extraordinary state of affairs. Apparently, any little industry can be established and make certain contracts; it can then raise the cry that it cannot carry on without Tariff assistance, and the Government will ask this Parliament to hurry to its assistance by passing certain legislation. That is fundamentally wrong. ‘Where will such a policy land us - in connexion with the duties on fencing wire, for instance? The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Pratten) showed clearly by his remarks that there is a lot about the primary industries that he does not know. He said that most of the galvanized iron was used in the cities, and not much in the country, because there a sheet of iron lasted for years and years. The inference is that galvanized iron perishes rapidly in the city but lasts a very long time in the country. He also spoke of wool ‘being priced at 2s. per lb. The honorable member did not know, or deliberately ignored the fact, that at the present time crossbred wool is unsaleable at anything like a reasonable price, and negotiations are now being conducted with a view’ to keeping crossbred wool off the market for the time being. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) said that the increase in the prices of galvanized iron was added to the cost of primary produce. T am sure the honorable member would never have made that statement if he knew the position of the primary industries. The standard of value of most primary products is export parity. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Pratten) said that it was necessary for Australia to establish a favorable trade balance. I wonder if he has given consideration to the class of produce that enables the Commonwealth to maintain a good trade balance. If the honorable member will look into the statistics, he will find that the great primary industries connected with wheat, wool, meat, and butter are the mainstay of Australia’s commercial and economic existence, and if the export of those products ceased the Commonwealth would be bankrupt in six months. If when the price of fencing wire and other articles was raised, the primary^ producers had been able to engage in the national pastime of “pass it on,” they would not have been any worse off than other sections of the community; but the fact is that the price of their produce is governed by the price offered for it in the markets of the world, and they cannot pass on their increased costs. This resolution is a very small instalment of a system of relief that must be more widely extended if ‘Parliament is to carry on the policy of spoon-feeding the secondary industries. The Government have admitted that the duties imposed upon these items have been an unfair tax upon the primary producers. A few days ago they asked us why we did not tell them twelve months ago what they have since discovered in connexion with the War Service Homes. We told them twelve months ago- what would be the result of the high Tariff that they insisted upon passing, and to-day they admit that we were right and they were wrong. But what of the money they have in the meantime filched from the pockets of the primary producers? Will they refund it ? They have admitted that the duties they have collected were an unfair tax; will they repay them to the men from whom they were collected? The Government have made a disgraceful climb down on the eve of an election.
– That is all the thanks we get.
– It is a good deal more than the honorable member and his colleagues deserve. The only reason why I congratulate the Government on the introduction of this resolution is that it has landed them in an impossible position, because they have laid down the bounty system as a means of assisting three or four industries, whilst they still stick to Tariff Protection as a means of helping all the other industries of the Commonwealth.
.- I have listened with surprise to some of the remarks that have fallen from honorable members in the Corner. Instead of hailing with pleasure the introduction by the Government of this proposal for the assistance of the primary producers, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) has been endeavouring to be- little, the Government, and to claim for his party any credit that is due in connexion with this resolution. We are told that tractors are being dealt with only because some person in the Minister’s own electorate has had to pay duty upon one. That statement is not a fact. I represent a large agricultural electorate) and for some time some of my constituents have been endeavouring, through me, by correspondence with the Minister, to get tractors placed upon the free list.
– The honorable member voted for the imposition of these duties last year.
– Yes, some; not being able to get the two things I wanted, I took one. A great young country like Australia cannot expect to thrive or settle its vast areas with people unless the secondary, as well as the primary, industries are safeguarded by a Protective Tariff. Every secondary industry that is established means an increase of so many consumers of the products of the primary producer. I should like honorable members in the Corner to broaden their minds a little, and realize that it is useless to try to settle this great continent by legislating for only one section of the community. I do not believe in sectional legislation; the whole of the industries of the Commonwealth should be properly safeguarded. Therefore, I am not ashamed of any vote I recorded in connexion with the Tariff. Any delay that has occurred in relieving the duty on tractors has been due to the desire of the Government, I understand, to have the important question of bounties investigated by the Tariff Board. That has been done, the Board has submitted a recommendation, and legislation has been brought before tb* House to give effect to it. But, instead of those who pretend to be the friends of the primary producers receiving these proposals with whole-hearted support, they seek to belittle the Government for having proposed concessions, merely because they do not suit them politically. I would remind the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Pratten) that these proposals are not submitted for. the benefit of the wool-producer alone. In my electorate there is not one sheep station, but there are thousands of men settled upon the land, and the State Government is now proposing to settle an additional 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 acres of land. All those people require galvanized iron for buildings, and the cheapest machinery they can get. I am glad to say that a great proportion of their requirements are being manufactured in my own electorate, and supplied to them without heavy freight charges. All farmers need fencing wire, and many of them wire netting also. These requirements are not manufactured in my electorate. It is to help these people, and encourage immigrants to come to Australia and make a success Upon the land, that this measure of assistance is offered. I know of many thousands of such men who came out to Queensland in the early days, and by working hard and talking little have made good. They started, as it were, at the survey peg, and worked hard. Now they are in affluent circumstances. I could point to thousands in my own electorate who have done this. We want to put others in the position of being able to start from the survey peg and work their lands properly to the great expansion of the development of the country. Their labours will aid in developing the secondary industries, and these in return will create a demand for the products- of the primary industries. as in America. In fact, both primary and secondary industries must work hand in glove, and it is the duty of this Parliament to see that a fair deal is meted out to both. I am sure that it is with this object in view the Minister has come down with his proposals. He is only fulfilling a desire expressed for a considerable time past by honorable members on the Government side of the House that relief in this direction should be afforded.
.- I do not intend to make a. speech on this question in the true sense of the word. I cannot presume to answer that portion of the Minister’s (Mr. Rodgers) address which was delivered in a foreign tongue. He placed me at a (disadvantage. I raised the objection that he had no right to address the Committee in a foreign tongue, but Mr. Chairman said that my objection could not be sustained. However, I think that further acquaintance with the Standing Orders will convince him that my objection was quite well founded.
– The honorable member must not reflect upon a decision, given by the Chair.
– I am not reflecting on the honesty of that decision, although I think it was entirely wrong.
– The honorable member must withdraw that statement.
– I hasten to do so. No one could withdraw more rapidly than I do. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), who has just finished his appeal, says that the Ministry have come down with the proposal. Most certainly, they have “ come down.” It is that which strikes me more than anything else about the attitude of the Ministry. It is a. point upon which I must congratulate them. The only regret I have is that the Minister (Mr. Greene), who first bobbed up with these Tariff proposals, did not appear in the Chamber to “ come down” instead of the new Minister (Mr. Rodgers) with new proposals. I remember being in this Chamber when that eloquent and inspiring address of the old Minister for Trade and Customs was delivered in introducing the Tariff, and I was in the Chamber most of the time when he was fighting his schedule through the Committee. Although, at the beginning I had some doubt as to the soundness and logic of the proposals submitted, the Minister by his eloquence, supported as it was by great persistence; and backed also as it was by numbers, succeeded almost in converting me to the view that these largely-increased duties upon farming implements and the commodities used by farmers made these things cheaper. He quoted such a wealth of statistics that he almost baffled rejoinder on my part or on the part of those hapless members of the Country party who sit in the Corner. He told us in a word that these duties on farming industries meant thousands of pounds in the shape of cheaper commodities in the pockets of his friends the farmers. Yet now the new Minister for Trade and Customs comes down and says that if the farmers are not satisfied with the relief that they got in the shape of cheaper commodities from the operation of the Customs Tariff, surely they must be satisfied with the great benefit he proposes to give them by relieving them of the Customs duties which were to benefit them in the first place. Let the Country party be reasonable. If they were not satisfied with the old Minister’s proposals for reducing the prices of their commodities, surely they are satisfied with the present Minister’s contrary proposals for effecting the same purpose. I am in Opposition, but I have a good deal of the milk of human kindness in me, and I have bowels of compassion. Therefore, I do not wish to hold up the new Minister to the ridicule of the community when I describe him as a well-meaning, penitent member of the Ministry which imposed these duties on the farming community. If members of the Country party are not satisfied with the Minister who proposed the duties in order to make their commodities cheaper, and if they are not satisfied with the Minister who takes away the duties in order to give superabundant relief to the farming community, they ought, at all events, to be satisfied with the Bounty Bill, which is going to do in equal measure what the other things were going to do but which it is now decided cannot be done by either. I think the position is perfectly clear when put in that way. Yet these ill-conditioned critics in the Corner say that this belated proposition is put forward for electioneering purposes. It is true that it is done on the eve of an election, and in flat contradiction of everything the Government have done heretofore in regard to the same matter ; and it is true that it has been done following on a great deal of unfortunate criticism in the country of the Nationalist party, and also a great deal of discussion in the press and elsewhere about the formation of a new party that is going to take over the disgruntled Nationalists and join them to the Country party so as to form a new and dangerous party. But I say that it is done from pure patriotism.
– Pure coincidence.
– Well, it is a happy blend of coincidence and patriotism. Look at the attitude of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr), who is the Government Whip. After the passage of the Customs Tariff Act, the honorable member suddenly became interested - I do not know how far, if at all, he was pecuniarily interested - in the manufacture of some kind of meter - the Watt-hour meter. As I understand the position, the manufacture of these meters waa not undertaken in Australia at the time of the passing of the Customs Tariff Act, but that measure having been passed and the Tariff Board having come into existence, some halfdozen people put their heads together and said, “ We will establish a great Australian industry.” So they put on three men and bought a dog and said, “ Now we shall start this great industry of manufacturing Watt-hour meters, and we will say to the Government that under the new proposals we must have a bounty, or some additional duty which will protect and sustain our great Australian industry.” Who more fitting could we have to stand up in this House, and support the Government in their present policy than the Whip of the Government himself ? I told you, Mr. Chairman, and I am sure you were greatly consoled and edified by the statement, that I did not intend to make a speech on this matter, and I do not propose to say any more except to add that the three men and the dog, having commenced to make these Watt-hour meters, proceeded to get a handsome Government subsidy in order to maintain and continue their great industry. If the people of this country want subsidies, if they want support of any kind, if they want anything at all out of the public purse, now is the hour- of salvation, now is the accepted time to come down and get it from the Government, because what they ask for. they will get if it means votes; and any one knows that the ladling out of public money is a sure way of getting support at election time.
Mr.Rodgers. - Now, where does the honorable member stand?
– I stand’ convinced of the Minister’s patriotism, and that is all I got up to prove; but I would ask him to call in the Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene), the ex-Minister for Trade and Customs, and beg of him to repeat in part the speech he delivered in this Committee in support of the original Tariff.Finally, I suggest that it would be becoming and proper if for some charitable purpose the matter might be publicly debated between the new Minister for Trade and Customs and his predecessor, as to whether the proposals of the old Minister for giving cheap materials to the farmers were more beneficial to them than the proposals of the new Minister for taking away the protection and giving them a bounty may prove to be. It seems to me a very fair proposition. I would be willing to preside at any such public debate with absolute impartiality. I stand in this matter where I stood on the Tariff debate, and the only difference substantially between myself and the new Minis- ter who has introduced this amusing proposal is that the Government and the Minister have made the most amazing acrobatic volte face ever witnessed in this Parliament.
– I congratulate the Government upon their proposal. Ever since I have been in this Parliament I . have been opposed to placing a tax upon any class of the community for what may be described as a national industry. For such industries I have always contended the responsibility rests upon the nation as a whole rather than upon a. few individuals, and acting upon this principle I hold, as I have always held, that the duties should never have been imposed upon the articles from which, it is now proposed to remove them. When the Tariff wasunder discussion in this Parliament honorable members of the Country - party did their best to prevent duties being levied upon the articles in question. The honorablemember for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), who gets up in the Chamber to-night with a kind of hypocritical speech,had pointed out to him twelve months ago the very necessity for the removal of these duties which he is now urging. He says now that the farmers in his electorate need fencing wire. Have they commenced to use wire netting and wire fencing within the last few months only, or has the honorable member discovered that the duties impose a tax upon his people just when he is about to face them? A speech such as that delivered by the honorable member puts national patriotism in contempt. The honorable member was one of the loudest in demanding the imposition of these duties upon the requirements of primary producers. He voted for every high duty on the tools of trade of the agriculturist - the high duties which he now says he has been partly responsible in inducing the Government to remove. Again I ask, Why this sudden conversion? I hope that the principle now adopted will go further, and I welcome the present measure as an instalment. The whole of the tools of trade of the agriculturist of Australia are being taxed to-day to an extent that is unreasonable and cannot be defended. If it is right that the wire netting used by the farmers should be placed under the bonus system, why not apply the same system to the reaper and binder, the plough, and his other tools of trade? A person who buys an agricultural tool to-day has to pay three times what he did in pre-war times. Why is that? I appeal to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers) whether it is fair that the agriculturists of Australia, should be compelled to pay such high prices as compared with the prices of some ten years ago? There is no justice in such a position. The signs of the times are that the man on the land is not going to have the rosy time during the next year or two that he had during the war time, and his outlook is not a happy one. We protested against the spray and every appliance used by the fruit-grower being unreasonably taxed.
– The honorable member must confine himself to the question before the Chair.
– I shall not transgress further. I congratulate the Government on introducing the bonus system inthis way, and I express the hope that they will go further in the same direction. There is the item, electrical meters, in regard to which I desire to enter my protest. According to the report read by the Minister from the Tariff Board, it appears that in its hey-day this industry employed sixty-six people, and at £5 a week each this gives a yearly wages roll of £17,000. If we place the output at 33,000 machines, as stated by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr), the cost of the machines being 35s. each, it means that the duty, if the importations come from England, will be £20,000, and if from elsewhere £26,000. It will be seen, therefore, that we are imposing a duty to the amount of £26,000 to protect an industry the annual wages of which amount to £17,000. If we were toadmit these articles free it would pay Australia to give those sixtysix employees £5 a week, and let them go fishing, rather than saddle, the whole people of the country with this expense.
– They might catch no fish!
– It would still pay, even if they did not bait their hooks. This instance shows the absurdity of the position. Electricity is only in its swaddling clothes here, but it is becoming a power from one end of the country ‘to the other, and, instead of throwing any obstacles in the way of its progress, such as an increased cost of meters by nearly 50 per cent., every inducement and assistance should be given to those who use these articles. I am a low-Tariff man, but in the case of big industries I can see some reasons for an endeavour to establish and maintain them ; it is the small industries that place such an unjustifiable tax on the whole people of Australia. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr,. Marr) spoke of one order from the Sydney Municipal Council, but these articles are used all over the country. Are we to ask the people to pay this enhanced cost on articles, 45 per cent, of which come in under the general Tariff? Is it reasonable to ask people to pay such duties for the sake of keeping going a small industry like this? Is it fair to saddle the whole of the electric-power industries of Australia with such a charge ?
Referring now to the bonus proposals, I congratulate the Government on what they have done; but the articles affected are used by farmers from one end of Australia to the other, including, as they do, the ordinary plough, harrow, and reaper and binder. Is it right that, for the sake of a few industries, the whole of the people of Australia should have to pay such enormously enhanced values? A reaper and binder before the war cost £37 10s., and now the cost is £110.
– The honorable member is again going outside the question beforethe Chair.
– Honorable members know, or ought to know, that we cannot compare whatwe had to pay during war time, when we had no ships and no trade, but rather whatwe paid before the war, when we hadships and trade, with whatwe pay to-day. I hope that in all cases where there is one class, and one class only using a particular article, if this House, in itswisdom or otherwise, decides that high duties shall be imposed in order that local industries may derive the benefit of enhanced values, the bonus principlewhich the Government has introduced now will be applied. If there is a national industry,let it be supported by national contributions, instead of a particular class being called upon to pay tribute, as agriculturists are now called upon to pay to the proprietors of a few large factories, who are treating them in the most unfair and ungenerous manner.
– I am one of those old-fashioned politicians who, with great humility and deference to my friends in the Corner, is disposed to still proudly regard our secondary industries. I have had a little say in the establishment of some of them, and remember that these industries employ upwards of 350,000 men, und thai their output is valued at over £200,000,000 per annum. I remember that, as a result of the establishment’ of local industries, agriculturists; are able to obtain cheaper implements than can be obtained in other countries where there are .no local industries, and where the farmers are entirely dependent on importations. These are facts which were definitely established when we had the wider debate on the Tariff. I voted for the duties then fixed, and I frankly say now that I do not feel at all enthusiastic about the measure introduced by the. Minister for Trade and Customs: (Mr. Rodgers), or about the new expedient adopted by him. During a political career of thirty-three years, my deep anxiety, on every occasion, has been to extend the utmost consideration tol secondary and primary industries alike. No country has ever succeeded by the development of its primary industries alone. True national wealth and development arise solely by reason of the cooperation and combination of both primary and secondary industries. That is the lesson of the world’s history, which further shows that the process we are now adopting of protective aid at the ports is the system whereby national industries are established, and the progress of the nation secured. I voted, as I have said, for those duties when they were first proposed by the Government, and I did so because, in the case of one of the industries, upwards of £4,000,000 had been invested in laying down plant and machinery for producing, amongst other things, the raw material for cognate industries. For instance, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company expended such an amount, and when we voted for the duty with the object of protecting the product of that industry, we did so because we felt that any industry which showed such enterprise was entitled to every en couragement we could extend to it. But the Minister for Trade and Customs now tells us that since we voted those duties extraordinary industrial conditions have arisen as a reactionary effect of the war, and their works have, as a result, been closed down. This Broken Hill enterprise was relied on to provide raw material in. the shape of steel rods and wire for the wire-netting industry, but it has been unable to proceed by reason of industrial dislocation. We do not levy duties for the purpose of penalizing industries, but for the purpose of encouraging them; and, by reason of ephemeral circumstances and happenings of the last twelve months, the Minister frankly tells us now that this Broken Hill industry is unable to produce those steel rods and wire, and, consequently, he desires that for tho present they shall be admitted free. The result will be that the wire-netting industry will have those rods and wire made available to it, and be able to proceed at least with its portion of the work. I am not prepared, therefore, to ignore those facts which are the result of the experience of the last twelve months. Though I dislike the Minister’s proposal, I feel that I am not justified, under present circumstances, in voting against it. But I do suggest to the Minister that this is not the true and proper method of procedure. The proper thing to do is to suspend these duties for a definite term, or until a proclamation has been issued by the Minister at such time as the industry will have become capable of meeting at commercial rates the requirements of local consumers. There are in the Tariff many items under which duties are deferred and made to come into operation upon the issue of a proclamation by the Minister, and in tho case under discussion power should be taken to issue a proclamation at some future date to bring into operation then the duties which are now being abandoned. The granting of a bounty is not a satisfactory way of encouraging an industry, though, as a temporary expedient, it may be well enough in this particular instance. But we do not know how long the industry is to be without the benefit of protective duties, and, therefore, I urge the Minister to consider the advisability of proposing tol suspend or defer the duties with which we are dealing until such time as the local industry may be capable of producing the goods needed by local users.
– I do not see any proposal to admit rods for wire drawing free.
-I have the assurance of the Minister that that is intended; that a crisis has arisen by reason of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company being unable to produce the rods required by the wire-making industry, and that therefore these rods are to be admitted duty free.
– The Minister has power to grant free entry under conditions like the present to an article that is a necessary part of the finished product.
– Item 136 of the Tariff schedule specifically imposes a duty of 44s. per ton upon rods for wire drawing, and that item is not mentioned in the schedule before us.
– There is no doubt as to the power of the Minister to assist the wire-making industry in the manner proposed.
– None whatever.
– The members of the Tariff Board and the Minister, having closely investigated the matter, tell us that the manufacturers of steel rods;and wirewill be fairly and reasonably treated until the present crisis is past; but I should prefer the method adopted in the Tariff for the protection of industries which, showing signs of development, may in the future justify protection. For the benefit of such industries power is reserved to the Minister to impose deferred duties as soon as they are able to supply the requirements of the community.
– But in those cases the rates of the deferred duties are specified to take effect on stated dates.
– As a rule, the date on which the duty shall take effect is stated, but there are cases in which power is given to the Minister to still further postpone the operation of the duties.
– The schedule says nothing about the remission of the specific duty of 44s. per ton on iron rods, and the Minister has no power of remission beyond that given to him by law.
– I made an inquiry similar to that of the honorable member, and I was assured by the Chairman of the Tariff Board that the effect of this proposal, combined with the exercise of the power of the Minister to exempt, will be to admit these rods free for the present, and until it is within the competence of the local industry to manufacture them at commercial rates.
– There is power to remit the duty.
– Surely the farmers are entitled to this relief?
– The farmers have always got relief from this Parliament. I am not enthusiastic about the proposals of the Government, but, in the circumstances stated by the Minister, and on the recommendation of the Tariff Board, we are justified in accepting them.
.- Mention has been made several times today of a recommendation of the Tariff Board in support of the proposals under discussion, and the debates on the Tariff Board. Bill left on my mind the impression that the Board’s reports would always be available when questions of this kind were at issue. I have not seen the recommendations to which reference has been made, and I ask the Minister whether the report of the Tariff Board is available to honorable members?
– -These proposals have been made oh the advice of the Tariff Board.
– Every report of the Tariff Board should be laid on the table of the House seven days after it has been received.
– That is not so.
– Had the report of the Tariff Board been laid on the table, we should know the reasons for these proposals, and they would then cease to appear merely an electioneering device. I welcome the admission of the Ministry of the evil effects of certain duties imposed last year, contrary to the wishes and arguments of members of the Country party.
– There has been no such admission.
– We were told that the Tariff was to be protective, its object being to assist the development of Australian industries. Now, protective duties, if truly protective, must tend to reduce Customs revenue ; but we find that the duties in the present Tariff are not doing this. Actually they are revenue duties, and the revenue which they produce is continually increasing. We are budgeting this year from Customs duties for far more than we obtained last year, and although the total value of our imports last year declined 41 per cent. - that is, to £90,000,000 from £153.000,000- the Customs revenue declined only 13 per cent. Apparently, therefore, the rates of duty were increased merely to increase revenue.
– The honorable member is not now addressing himself to the question before the Committee.
– In reference to the’ laying of the reports of the Tariff Board upon the table, let me read section 16 of the Tariff Board Act of 1921. It provides -
When was the report on which these proposals were made presented to the Minister? Was it given to him before the preparation of the Governor-General’s Speech, some three months ago? In that speech it is stated that the Ministry intends to propose the reduction of certain duties in order to assist agriculture.
– Would it not be better to adjourn the debate until we have got the Tariff Board’s report?
– The Tariff Board’s report ought to be tabled. We should be informed of the specific reasons which determined the Tariff Board in mating its recommendations. As for this particular method of dealing with certain industries, I am glad that the Government have at last come to the right way of thinking and acting. When I spoke on the Tariff Bill last year I urged the Government to adopt this very system. My chief regret now, however, is that they have started at the wrong end. They have begun with the payment of bonuses upon the manufacture of completed articles. I suggested, in behalf of my party, that the initial basic industry -in this case, the iron and steel industry - should be assisted by moderate duties, and the payment of bounties in connexion with production. As for the industries associated with the production of copper, I urged that that should be the method of procedure. The repetition of my remarks in this connexion furnishes a complete reply to the criticism that the Country party had not put forward any specific proposition.
– The point is that, as Leader of a party, the honorable member did not test the House in regard to his proposed method.
– We brought forward our definite suggestion upon every possible occasion; but the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) denied that ours was the proper method. Speaking upon the second reading of the Tariff Bill last year, I pointed out that the imposition of duties was not sufficient, and I continued -
What is necessary in addition can be illustrated with regard to capper, which is practically a primary product and basis for other manufactures. We produce something like 40,000 tons per annum, but only about onetenth of this is absorbed by Commonwealth industries. The surplus is exported. I propose to show how the duty on the initial product operates against manufacturers, while being of little use to itself in the secondary industries in which copper is employed. To those engaged’ in drawing copper into tube, wire .making, and so forth, we give a certain measure of Protection, .say 25 per cent.; but by reason, of the fact that we add 10 per cent, to the price of the copper they have to use - although producers of copper tell me that they really do not need a duty, because the bulk of the product .has to be exported - we lessen to that extent the Protection against foreign manufactures from the basic product of the secondary manufactures, making it practically only 15 per cent. The producer of copper here gets the -world-‘s parity, plus 10 per cent.
This was borne out in practice, because on the 1st August a bronze-making works in Australia was compelled to close down for the reason that English bronze.makers were able to get copper at £10 a ton less than the price at which the Australian manufacturer could get his raw material. The English makers were practically able to sell their bronze articles here at a lower price than that at which the original copper could be obtained in this( country. Members of this party pointed out last year that in Canada the same system had been adopted in building up the iron and steel industry; that is to say, by the imposition of a moderate duty, and with bonus concessions.
– If the honorable member, as Leader of a party, believed in the principle, he had a definite duty to perform in testing this House upon it.
– On every occasion we emphasized what we considered should be done. Rut the Minister knows what was the outcome of our efforts time after time; we found ourselves in a minority of about five to one. However, we are glad to note this belated change of attitude on the part of the Government, even, if it should prove merely a pre-election scheme.
– But the honorable member docs not seem to be really pleased.
– We are, although the Minister keeps on suggesting that the duties will be ‘re-imposed. I want to know whether the re-imposition will be as soon as the election results have become known.
– I have neither said nor indicated any such thing.
– If they could receive a definite assurance from the Minister honorable members would know where they stand. Can we not be given some definite indication as to when these duties will be re-imposed?
What do honorable members find in connexion with tractors? At any rate, upon this issue we actually brought the same principle forward and fought it. We were given to understand, if not definitely assured by the. Government, that tractors of the type under review would be permitted to enter the Commonwealth free of duty if a similar line was not being manufactured in Australia. That promise was accepted, but it was soon found that the man on the land could not get any tractors at all. Certain critical months passed, in which he should have been breaking up the ground with a tractor, but the opportunity was lost. There were no tractors available.
– I have anticipated the acceptance of these .proposals, and have admitted several tractors already.
– The Government could have made a similar anticipation from the moment when the Tariff Bill was passed last year, and as soon as their promise had been given. I understand that in one particular factory six of these tractors were turned out; but there were perhaps as many as 600 of them required in one State alone. And, although it was admitted that the firm concerned could not supply anything like the number required, no relief was given to those primary producers who were anxious to get busy breaking up their ground preparatory to going in for that “ more and more production “ which the Government are always advocating. Primary producers, I repeat, were forced to go slow. However, we are glad that at this late stage the Government have seen reason to change their ways. I can only hope that they will not seek to re-impose these duties immediately after the elections.
In respect of wire netting, we are up against another proposition. The bounty will not be applied at the right source, as a counter to the reduction of duty. Here we have to deal with the galvanizing of the wire, and the utilization of the zinc. Wire-netting works have been thrown idle because zinc, so much of which we export, could not be obtained in Australia at world’s parity rates. The activities in Tasmania in connexion with zinc production should be encouraged to the utmost capacity of the works. One is bound to commend the industry for the way in which it is being run ; that is to say, upon the best modern lines, with a display of complete harmony between employers and employees. Zinc should be obtainable in Australia at the same price as that at which it is being sent abroad. The same principle applies to all similar basic industries. In conclusion, I emphasize that honorable members are entitled to see the report of the Tariff Board, and that they should be given an assurance that these proposals do not represent merely a “ flash in the pan,” hut embody a permanent policy on the part of the Government.
.- The proposals of the Government should afford a good deal of satisfaction to users of the commodities under review. They certainly will do so if they have the effect” of reducing prices; but I am not so sure that such will be the outcome. Certain commercial men have told me that prices will not come down as the result of the withdrawal of duties and the distribution of bounties. Certainly, there were those who said, when the duties were imposed, that the effect would not be to increase prices. If they were correct, it is obvious that the abolition of the duties will not mean a reduction. I am closely interested in the cost of wire and wire netting. I doubt if there is any electorate in the Commonwealth of the same size which uses more wire than the division of Darwin. Although I have been engaged in primary production all my life, and represent very many primary producers engaged, particularly, in agriculture, I do not overlook the fact that there are other interests besides those in which I am personally and politically interested. It will be difficult for honorable members to be consistent if they now abolish the protective duties upon the articles specifically under consideration, while continuing to support the operation of duties in respect of other products which are equally important to primary industry. The mining is another great primary industry of equal importance with agriculture and pastoral, and it cannot be denied that it is more depressed at the present time than is agriculture. I represent very many miners, but that is not the reason why I . advocate that if Parliament is to relieve one class of producers it should, to be fair and consistent, give equal relief to others.
– It all depends on how many votes the other classes can muster.
– It does; and I notice that some honorable members who claim to speak for the primary producer, speak particularly of the man who grows wheat. I assume the reason to be that the wheatgrower is the only class of producer in the electorates of those honorable members. Without claiming to be more honorable or more consistent than others, I do say that I represent both the miner and the man upon the land, though my personal interests are more in agriculture than in mining. If we are to abolish the duties on fencing wire, wire netting, and traction engines, and if honorable members ii the Corner are right in urging the abolition of duties on reapers and binders, ploughs, and other tools used by the farming class, why should we not do likewise in respect of the tools of trade used by any workman? If traction engines are to be admitted free of duty, why not “also engines that drive pumps for raising water from the ground or engines for hauling minerals from the bowels of the earth ? Why not remove the duty .from steel that is used in the manufacture of picks and shovels, if not from the manufactured articles themselves? Once we adopt this particular form of encouraging local manufacture, what will be the cost to the country ? Members of the Country party often claim that the primary producer bears the whole burden of the Tariff. The Commonwealth collects through the Customs Department upwards of £30,000,000 per annum, and the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) has alluded to the Tariff as a revenue-producing one. If we forgo that huge amount of money that is derived from the Tariff, where shall we turn to recoup the Treasury? We must get the revenue somewhere. The proposals contained in this resolution are for the benefit of the primary producer, and some have said that they are really an election appeal. Of course, that statement is wrong ; if this schedule were intended as an election cry, it is a very poor one, inasmuch as by benefiting ona class we shall cause dissatisfaction amongst others, who will say, “If those people are to be relieved, why not us also? We are good Australians, and willing to pay extra money in order to give protection to local industries!, but if they are to get the extent of relief that is proposed we also should get the same.” I think the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) gave the reason for the introduction of this schedule very clearly when he said -that the only justification for it was that the Newcastle steel works, upon which we are depending for the iron and steel for the manufacture of the various classes of goods dealt with in the schedule, have not been able - the reason does not matter - to continue to produce.
– I think I said that in my introductory speech.
– If that be the reason for abolishing these duties at the present time there can be no real cavil against the Government’s proposals, but if, as has been suggested, we are to offer bounties in lieu of a Protective Tariff as a means of encouraging local industries, we shall land ourselves in difficulties and place an even greater burden upon the primary producers. The secondarv producer is a customer of the primary producer, and if secondary production languishes there will be fewer mouths to eat the primary products. Furthermore, the only body in Australia that advocates Free Trade is the Single Tax League.
– Are there any Singletaxers in Tasmania?
– No. The man on the land in Tasmania is too sane, and he can see what would be the effect upon him if some of the proposals advocated by the so-called friends of the farmers were put into effect. There is no doubt that the Tariff produces a huge revenue, and if that revenue was lost, the land tax would be increased, and the farmer would be more hardly hit than he is at the present time. However, I shall not oppose this resolution. It will give a good deal of satisfaction to farmers and agriculturists, but I am. afraid that, to the same extent, it will displease those who are engaged in the other branches of primary industries, because they will demand to know why a similar measure of relief is not given to them. I am prepared to give it. When these items were discussed last year, I opposed the proposed duty on wire and machinery, not because I wished agricultural implements to be admitted free of duty, but because I was of opinion that, with such high prices ruling in Australia for these articles, the proposed measure of protection was unnecessary. Immediately before the war I bought fencing wire for £11 per ton. To-day I cannot buy plain fencing wire for less than £28 per ton. If local industries cannot carry on with such high prices ruling for imported wires, no measure of protection we can afford will keep them in existence. For that reason I opposed, last year, the duties which the House ultimately imposed. I think we are justified in repealing those duties to-night, but I am far from sure that we are justified iin giving a bonus to an industry that cannot establish itself, or, when established, cannot continue to operate when such high prices are ruling for the imported article. The establishment of secondary industries, in the interests of primary producers especially, is absolutely necessary. Nothing would benefit the farmers in Tasmania so much as the establishment of large secondary industries in any part of the Commonwealth, but particularly in that State. While the mining industry on the northwest coast is prosperous, the farmers, too, are prosperous, because they have a market at their . door. We want , primary and secondary industries to develop side by side, and it is the duty of the National Parliament to consider every section of the community and every interest. No Australian interest can prosper standing by itself. All our interests are interwoven. I am sure that we have overdone the imposition of duties, and have simply made a few people wealthy and a few others lazy. There was no need for the high duties imposed, upon wire netting, wire, and galvanized iron, and I am quite in agreement with the relief proposed by the Minister even at this late stage.
– A short time ago this everting the honorable member for Franklin said that I had voted in favour of an increase in the duty upon wire netting. As a matter of fact, I voted against it. With fourteen others I voted for an amendment submitted by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) on the 10th ‘ June, 1921, to make the duties British free, intermediate 10 per cent., and general 10 per cent., and the honorable member for Franklin, who has said that my attitude to-night is hypocritical, paired on that occasion. No one has the right to makea statement that is not true. If any one is hypocritical it is one who, like the honorable member, claims to be a representative of the primary producers, but confines his,, support to the interests of the primary producers of his own State, and absolutely opposes the welfare of many of the primary producers in any other State, including my own.
– I should not have risen again in connexion with this matter but for several new phases which have been introduced into it, and because I wish to know exactly where we are before I record my vote. In the schedule before us there are three large and important industries affected. I do not desire to debate the question as to whether or not the primary producers should buy portions of their raw material at a lower price, but I wish to make clear the position in which these three important industries will be placed if the proposal before the Committee is agreed to. I express my regret with others that simultaneously with this schedule we have not the bounty proposals of the Government before us. I also regret the absence of the report of the Tariff Board in connexion with the three industries in question, namely, the newlyes.tablished industry of wire drawing in Newcastle, the long-established industry of manufacturing galvanizediron wire netting on the Parramatta River, and also, I believe, in Newcastle, and the young industry - a war infant it may be termed - of the manufacture of galvanized sheet iron. In each case the proposal abolishes the duty affording the industry protection. It has been said by the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) that he understands that the Government’s proposal in connexion with the Bounty Bill is to admit duty free the raw material for wire drawing in the shape of iron rods, and, I take it also, the proposal extends to the raw material for galvanizediron making iu the shape of iron blooms or billets. . At all events, when the honorable member stated that he had been so informed, and the Minister (Mr. Rodgers)’ confirmed his statement by saying that the iron rods required for wire drawing would be admitted free, I assume that the same thing- will apply to the raw material for the manufacture of galvanized iron. The proposal to-day, although it refers specifically to item 136 -of the Tariff, which includes all classes of primary manufactures of iron and steel, does not refer, in any shape or form, to sub-item c of that item under which bar, rod, angle, tee iron, &c, is subjected to a duty of 44s. per ton. This item covers the iron rods which are the raw material for wire drawing, and there is no mention whatever in item 136 of the words “ subject to departmental bylaws.” There is, however, in item 404 of the Tariff something in connexion with a limited discretion that may be exercised by the Minister on the advice of his officers. This item reads -
Materials and minor articles, as prescribed by departmental by-laws, for use in the manu facture of goods within the Commonwealth, ad val., British, free; intermediate, free) general, 10 per cent.
I do not think that this item was intended to apply to matters specifically dealt with elsewhere in the Tariff that are the product of other established industries. Although the Broken Hill Proprietary works at Newcastle have been closed for some time past, it is generally understood, and is, in fact, admitted, that the closure will only be temporary. However, if they do not again produce the raw material for wire drawing and galvanized iron, iron rods, which are the raw material for wire drawing, will have to be imported, and pay a duty of 44s. British, 65s. intermediate, and 80s. general; and iron blooms and billets, which are the raw material for the manufacture of galvanized iron, will have to be imported, and pay a duty of 32s. British, 52s. intermediate, and 65s. general. At the same time, overseas manufactured articles in the shape of wire, wire netting, and galvanized iron will be .admitted free of duty. If the motion submitted by the Minister is agreed to, the three industries I have mentioned will be entirely in the hands of the Government in connexion with their bounty proposals. I have already pointed out that a temporary bounty is no substitute for a real permanent protective duty, and that, if encouragement were given to these three industries to supply the whole of Australia’s requirements of drawn wire, wire netting, and galvanized iron, it would mean adding to the industrial population of Australia, not -merely 11,000 men, but at least 5,000.
– And about 50,000 others would have to desert the land.
– I am not impressed with the arguments of some of my friends, who seem to think that a few pence more or less added to the cost of a sheet of galvanized iron stands between the farmer and ruination. I desire to point out where we are in connexion with the proposal before us, in view of what has been said in the course of the debate, by way of interjection, by the Minister, and in view of what was said by the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) in his Budget speech. We are taking a risk of jeopardizing extremely important industries. Had the galvanized iron industry been established in the Commonwealth before the war, supplying the whole of the Commonwealth’s requirements, the price of imported iron would not . have rocketed, as it did, to as much as £90 and £100 per ton: The establishment of successful industries within the Commonwealth is a great protection to the consumer from operations from outside.
– That is so if they are suitable industries.
– I have in my mind, too, the illustration of oil.
– I admit that there are lots of them.
– But I want to put the position clearly. I believe that the Minister realizes it.
– If it will shorten the discussion, I can assure the honorable member that the Government are perfectly satisfied that there is ample power under the Customs Tariff Act for the admission of the iron rods referred tq by the honorable member; so that, in addition to the present proposal, there is perfect safety for the industry of wire drawing. We would not come down with a proposal like this and take the risk if we were not satisfied.
– I cannot read into the Customs Tariff Act any power given to the Minister in regard to these specific duties outside the sovereign power of this Parliament. I am quite aware that great latitude is given to the Minister and the Department when these little words are included, “ as prescribed by departmental bv-laws.” But those words ar.e not included in connexion with the rod-iron duties I have mentioned. I have risen for the second time for the purpose of pointing out plainly what the position is. I am not satisfied as one who seeks to encourage in every legitimate way the secondary industries of Australia. With a temporary bounty proposal as opposed to a permanent Customs duty-
Mr. Jowett. Surely the farmer is entitled to this consideration !
– All classes are represented here, and I presume I have just as much right to put the position from my side as my honorable friend has to put it from his; and I have put the position plainly as I see it. I believe and. hope that the Broken Hill enterprise will get going, and will be able to supply the raw materials of those other industries which depend on it. If the Broken Hill enterprise does get going, I take it the duties will be operative; but if it does not supply the raw material, then the Minister has told us the Government have power to remit the duty. That, I understand, is the position. With regard to the bounty itself, I repeat that I am satisfied with the assurance given by the Minister that it will total as a maximum, and as a minimum, the duties that are operative to-day in connexion with these industries. I hope that the Minister will further realize that such a bounty, to satisfactorily take the place of a fixed duty, should , be of a reasonably permanent character. If that is so, what will happen will be that the manufacturer will be in- such a position as he was before, that the primary producer, will bc able to get some of the materials he uses at a lower price, and that the Consolidated Revenue will lose in Customs duties some £350,000 per annum, and will have to pay an estimated sum of £250,000 per annum in the shape of bounties. That, so far as I see, is the net effect of the proposals of the Government. But I am not criticising that aspect of the Government proposals now; I wish to assure myself, as one who. feels that industries are almost as much a part of our national defences as the most direct defence expenditure, that the lives of the industries affected by the Government proposals will not be jeopardized.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported, and adopted.
That Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Groom do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
In Commute? (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Sir Granville Ryrie). agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to provide for the representation of the Northern Territory in the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
Resolution reported, and adopted.
T10.71. - I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I shall not take long in submitting this measure, which, I take it, is not, or should not be, regarded as contentious. 1 am rather surprised, therefore, to hear from the Leaden of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) an intimation across the table that the Bill may gave rise to a good deal of discussion. My own opinion is that we are all agreed that some measure of representation should be given to the people of the Northern Territory. They are the people out-back, the pioneers who are making it possible for us to retain this Territory as part of a White Australia. At the present time they have no representation. Prior to the transfer of the Territory from the South Australian Government to the Commonwealth they were represented by two members in the Legislative Assembly, and one member in the Legislative Council of the State. At the first Federal elections, however, the people of the Northern Territory had a vote, and, moreover, they had also voted on the question whether the States should form a Federal Union.
– Why waa the vote taken away from them?
– It was taken away from, them onthe Commonwealth assuming control of the Territory. They might at that time have been given some representation, but could not have been given full representation. When the Territory was taken, over by the Commonwealth, on the 1st January, 1911, they lost their citizen rights bo far as parliamentary representation is concerned. Section 122 of the Constitution provides that the people of a Territory may be given, representation to the. extent and on the terms which Parliament may think fit. Under the Constitution the people of the Northern Territory, after it was taken over, could not be given a vote without a quota, and there are only 1,600 or 1,700 possible eleotors there. At all events, this Bill, following the example of the United States of America in reference to the territories of Alaska and Hawaii, gives representation to the extent that the Territory would have a voice, in this Parliament - the representative of the Territory may be present and speak, but will have no vote. Further, it is provided that the representative shall not be entitled to affect the question whether there is a quorum present or not.
Of course, great dissatisfaction has been expressed by the people of the Territory at their not being represented in this Parliament. A Bill was introduced into the Senate in 1918 to provide for the representation of the Territory in that Chamber, but it was defeated. The opinion of the Commonwealth SolicitorGeneral is, I understand, that the people of a Territory cannot be grouped with the people of. any other State for this purpose. Therefore the only way in which they can have representation is by having a direct voice in this Parliament. In December, 1921, in answer to the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson), the Prime Minister promised that a ‘Bill would be introduced at an early date to give the Territory representation. In order to avoid expense, it is provided in the Bill that the election for the Territory shall take place on the same date as the general election for the House of Representatives. I do not think it is necessary for me to labour the matter. I say again that I am surprised at the intimation from the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) that there is likelv to be opposition to the Bill.
– We . are. not offering opposition, but wish to improve the measure.
– I take it that that could be done at the Committee stage. Honorable members might well let the second reading pass without discussion, and deal with the details of the Bill in Committee. I think that it is the opinion of honorable members that representation should be given to the people of the Northern Territory, so that the pioneers there may at least voice their grievances. No one but residents in the Territory will have the rignt to represent the people there, and these representatives will be elected, the Territory being divided for electoral purposes into three subdivisions. The only subdivision which contains much population is to be called the subdivision of Darwin, and comprises the Hundred of Bagot, within which is the town of Darwin anda smallertown. Within this subdivision the electors will vote in the ordinary way at polling booths, but in the northern and southern subdivisions, which are of immense area, and throughout which the population is scattered, the voting will be by post. I am sure that members generally will look sympathetically on the Bill, which is in no sense a party measure.
Debate (on motion ry Mr. Charlton) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 September 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1922/19220913_reps_8_100/>.